TUC 2012: Austerity is not failing. It is working well for Britain's ruling class, at the core of which are the monopoly finance capitalists.
The cuts are going ahead as planned. This financial year, £21 billion is being chopped from public services and public-sector wages, pensions and benefits.
That represents only 10 per cent of the £213bn reduction in public spending planned between now and 2015-16. Next year the cuts will be twice as deep, totalling £40bn.
This slash-and-burn offensive may not be reducing the deficit in public finances as quickly as originally anticipated. It isn't creating more jobs than it is destroying, nor is it restoring economic growth.
However, these were never the primary objectives of the Tory-led austerity programme.
Indeed, by talking only of "austerity," we are helping the blue and orange Tories to conceal their primary motive.
Theirs is an austerity and privatisation programme.
Making fewer public-sector workers work even harder and cutting their real wages and pension rights is intended to prepare our remaining public services for wholesale privatisation.
Indeed, privatisation is proceeding at full steam, and not only through the private finance initiative (PFI), public-private partnerships and contracting out.
We are also seeing it in England in the NHS, particularly through GP commissioning, and in the spread of academies and costly "free schools."
The issue for workers, pensioners, students and all service users is not whether the austerity and privatisation programme is failing, but how to combat it.
Here, the TUC and Labour Party responses have varied from the feeble to the shameful.
First, there has not been the campaigning unity to galvanise opposition to the government. National demonstrations and days of industrial action have confirmed that the potential exists for mass, organised activity at every level of society.
But some union leaderships have in effect sabotaged implementation of the 2010 TUC resolution to co-ordinate a sustained, united campaign of militant action.
Perhaps now broadening the battle lines beyond public-sector pensions to embrace terms and conditions, employment rights, trade union facilities, regionalised pay, marketisation and privatisation will provide opportunities to make amends.
Second, trade unions already have the policies to project a clear, unifying alternative to austerity and privatisation.
These have even been neatly wrapped up with a bow and given an attractive name - the People's Charter.
Yet ever since its adoption by the TUC three years ago there have been determined efforts by some union leaders to bury, supplant and sideline it.
We know what the real problem is behind the ducking and diving - the People's Charter strongly advocates public ownership and an end to Britain's nuclear weapons.
This is seen to embarrass the Labour Party leadership, which has so far refused to end its love affairs with big business and US foreign policy.
Surely Labour's whizz-kid PR merchants and spin doctors know that renationalisation of the railways, gas, electricity and water has never been more popular in Britain than it is today?
How many electors would object to public ownership of the major institutions and markets of the City of London?
We're already subsidising and underwriting the City spivs and crooks to the tune of £1.3 trillion.
To limit the labour movement's policy to setting up one or two state-owned banks is utterly inadequate. Why allow the City to continue manipulating the gigantic funds at its disposal, starving industry and technology of investment, while public money desperately tries to fill some of the gap?
Nor is President Obama's underwhelming stimulus to the US economy a substitute for the policies in the People's Charter.
Bailing out the motor corporations doesn't begin to fit the bill in Britain.
We need a clamp-down on the profiteers, a tax on financial speculation and the direction of private and public capital into the productive economy, into public-sector housing, public transport, sustainable energy and the environment.
Economic dependence on the City and the armaments industry must be brought to an end.
Democratic public ownership and progressive taxation will be central to rebuilding a modern, balanced and sustainable economy.
Why not say it loud and proud? Let October 20 mark the beginning of a new unity not only in the struggle against austerity and privatisation, but also for a real alternative - the People's Charter.
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