March on Saturday to keep up the pressure on a government on its knees, says CHRIS WILLIAMSON
THE Conservative Party spent the recent general election campaign saying there was no “magic money tree” to address the crisis in the NHS and schools. But they have managed to find a bag of swag to fund a squalid survival deal with the DUP worth at least £1 billion to buy a parliamentary majority.
It means that Theresa May’s coalition of chaos will continue with the Tory’s ideologically driven austerity project. A review of the impact of seven years of austerity on the British economy doesn’t make for pretty reading.
The Tories said they would eliminate the deficit by 2015, then claimed it would be eliminated by 2020 but have now abandoned that goal altogether. Astonishingly, they said they would reduce government borrowing, before managing to increase it by more than half a trillion pounds.
At the same time, most people have experienced a squeeze on living standards, which has caused a full-blown cost of living crunch for millions.
Alongside the brutal assault on social security, targeting unemployed workers, disabled citizens, lone parents and young people, we have seen a rise in low-paid, insecure employment too. Britain is experiencing a wages crisis with more than half the people living in poverty in work.
While earnings in Britain have fallen by 10.4 per cent since the financial crash, workers elsewhere in Europe have seen their incomes rise over the same period. Only Greece has seen as big a reduction as Britain.
Not only have British workers seen their wages fall, they also have to work the longest hours in Europe to make ends meet. The UK’s average working week is now over 42 hours, while the European average is 40.3 and France limits its working week to just 35 hours.
The consequence of this squeeze on living standards is that nearly 17 million people of working age throughout the UK have less than £100 in the bank.
At the same time, a funding drought in our schools and hospitals has led to deteriorating standards, while cuts to our police and fire services compromise our safety.
Today, in Tory Britain, millions are trapped in expensive privately rented dwellings unable to obtain a lower priced council house or afford a mortgage to buy their own home.
Millions are stuck in insecure low-paid employment, with little or no prospect of promotion.
Millions have seen the public services on which they rely systematically destroyed. And millions have been forced to endure the indignity of social security cuts, which have left many utterly destitute and reliant on charity.
It doesn’t have to be this way. More and more people are crying out for a different approach and recognise that a different world is possible.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is proposing to invest in the economy to create decent, well paid, secure employment, grow the economy and generate additional tax revenues that can then be deployed to expand public services.
In a stark contrast with the Tories, Labour’s fully costed alternative programme of government stands ready to provide Britain with the leadership that will truly end austerity and unite all nations and regions of our country.
The plan to establish a National Investment Bank with a £500 billion investment fund will transform Britain’s infrastructure, revive manufacturing, boost renewable energy and nurture the digital technology sector.
The proposal to build a million new houses before the end of the next parliament, 500,000 of which will be council homes, will also deliver a huge economic stimulus and create around 900,000 jobs.
But to implement this positive programme for a better Britain, we need to force the Tories to step aside. Labour will provide a strong opposition to the Tories in Parliament, but we also need civil society and communities up and down the country to peacefully mobilise to oppose further austerity.
As John McDonnell put it this week: “The public has lost trust in Theresa May and the Conservatives… the Tories had their chance and they’ve failed. It’s up to every one of us to make sure they step aside so we can have a government that cares for the many not the few.”
As part of this resistance to May’s unpopular agenda, a massive national demonstration will take in London this weekend.
It has been organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, supported by Britain’s major trade unions, and encompassing a #JC4PM bloc called by Momentum and the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.
Austerity has failed and this government’s legitimacy diminishes by the day. So let’s keep building the opposition to further cuts and the support for an alternative that invests in our future.
If we stand together, we can build the momentum to secure a Labour government that will put people first.