TOMORROW the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, will be presenting before parliament his last budget before the general election on May 7 – a budget he promises will contain ‘no giveaways, no gimmicks’.
Wednesday’s budget, of course, is meaningless and despite any promises will be designed precisely to convince the Tory faithful to turn out and vote.
What is crucial, however, is what the Tories plan after the election, should they win.
Osborne’s autumn budget statement on the economy last December spelt out the Tories’ intentions – years of permanent austerity with billions cut from welfare, accompanied by years of below inflation level wage increases.
Even the Office for Budget Responsibility’s analysis of Osborne’s plans concluded that cuts of this size would ‘shrink’ the size of the British state to its lowest since the 1930’s!
All these massive cuts have the sole aim of cutting the government’s budget deficit – the gap between what the government spends every day and its income – which according to the OBR stands at the moment at £100 billion and which they predict will rise to £280 billion in 5 years.
Osborne wants to implement cuts to bring this massive amount, which was incurred by the state bailing out the banks, and bring the deficit to zero.
Osborne is not the only one to be producing a budget this week – the TUC yesterday produced its own ‘alternative’ budget which reads more like a wish list than anything else and which highlights the complete prostration of the TUC before the capitalist crisis.
What is noteworthy about the TUC ‘budget’ is its complete disregard for the world crisis that is raging and its faith that bankrupt British capitalism can be revived if only there is an ‘investment policy developed with genuine social partner involvement’.
This is their recipe for putting all those bankrupt manufacturing industries back into profitability, partnership. What is worrying the TUC is that after five years of continuous austerity cuts – which the TUC in their budget admits has led to households losing £2,500 a year on average while the pay of chief executives has increased by a staggering 26% – the working class is not prepared to put up with being driven into the ground to pay off the bankers’ debts.
In offering themselves up as ‘partners’, the TUC is begging the bosses for a role and that role will be to try and keep the working class under control.
Even without the formality of a partnership agreement, this is precisely the role the TUC have been playing. While in their budget they condemn all the cuts in wages and the attacks on the NHS, they avoid the fact that none of these cuts could have been implemented without the passivity of the TUC and the trade union leaders.
Instead of leading any fight against pay freezes, hospital closures or benefit cuts, the TUC have deliberately avoided any struggle to confront this Tory-led coalition.
This refusal to fight was exposed at last year’s TUC conference where the bureaucracy prevented even a mention of its official policy to consider organising a general strike to fight cuts. The same conference passed unanimously a motion from the Bakers Union demanding a fight for a legal £10 an hour wage.
In February the TUC ran a campaign called ‘Fair pay fortnight’ which ignored this policy, instead calling for an unspecified increase in the minimum wage. No demand for industrial action just a plea to the government and bosses for ‘fairness’.
With millions of workers and youth up in arms over cuts and the smashing up of the welfare state and demanding action, all the TUC can do is plead for partnership with the capitalist class to head off revolution.
This treacherous leadership can no longer be allowed to carry on, it must be replaced with a new leadership prepared to mobilise the full strength of the trade unions by calling a general strike to kick out the government and replace it with a workers government and socialism – this is the only alternative for the working class.
Only the WRP is building this leadership.