IN advance of the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, announcing to parliament on Wednesday his spending review, which will detail exactly how he intends to cut £20 billion from essential services, the TUC yesterday published its own report on the effects of all the austerity cuts made so far under the Tories and the previous coalition government.
This report, entitled ‘Making the case for public spending’, lists all the public services that have been slashed to the bone by previous cuts, with essential services such as health and education being ‘undermined’.
The report argues that Tory austerity cuts have suppressed demand in the economy – by cutting wages and benefits – leading to the UK having the ‘slowest economic recovery on record’. The appeal contained within the report and at the heart of the TUC’s reformist outlook is for the Tories to see sense and soften their austerity blitzkrieg against the welfare state.
This was summed up by TUC general secretary, Francis O’Grady, who said: ‘This government’s fixation with reducing the size of the state is the wrong political choice. Public spending is essential for sustainable long-term growth and for maintaining a cohesive society. A high-productivity recovery needs world-class public services, which means local authorities, hospitals and schools need to be properly funded, not run into the ground.’
The idea that austerity is just a ‘wrong political choice’ that can be corrected if only Osborne reads their report, exposes the complete bankruptcy of these reformist leaders. Austerity is not a choice, it is an absolute requirement of a bankrupt capitalist system that can only survive if it dumps its historic world crisis firmly on the backs of workers and the middle class.
It is not an accident that austerity is the ‘choice’ of every single capitalist class across the world. We only have to look at Greece, where the reformist government of Syriza made all the ‘reasonable’ arguments against the savage austerity imposed by the Troika only to be slapped down and instructed to get on with it by the ruling class.
In Britain, capitalism is drowning in debt in excess of £1.5 trillion – a figure added to daily as the budget deficit increases. This debt, run up by bailing out the banks from collapsing after the 2008 international banking crisis broke, is owed to the international banks and financiers who are demanding repayment.
This astronomical debt can only be repaid by reducing all the money spent on social provision, health, benefits, education etc., shrinking the size of the state to next to nothing. The TUC leaders dream of rescuing capitalism through government spending more to kick start the economy and somehow grow out of the crisis, while the reality is that British capitalism is collapsing with its entire industrial and manufacturing base disappearing overnight.
While the TUC issue reports that will just disappear into the ether, the reality for millions of workers is that their lives are daily being smashed up by capitalism. This was demonstrated this week with the revelation that more than 2,000 cases of malnutrition were recorded by hospitals across the country in the past year!
The figure of 2,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. Across the country, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of families are having to choose between paying the rent/heating or eating – that is the ‘choice’ capitalism is forcing on workers in 21st century Britain. When O’Grady talks of austerity threatening ‘a cohesive society’ she reveals the real fear of the reformists – that the crisis is revolutionising the working class, especially the youth, who will not accept starvation and homelessness as their only future.
These leaders are desperate to keep the lid on the revolutionary volcano that has built up in the working class. These reformist leaders, with their pathetic appeals to the Tories and their refusal to lead any fight, must be thrown out and replaced with a new leadership ready to organise the power of the working class in a general strike to kick out the Tories and advance to a workers government that will repudiate all capitalism’s debts and go forward to a socialist society.
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