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THIS month will see a major gathering of the left at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity online conference on Saturday November 27 — “Resisting the Tory offensive — winning an agenda for people and planet.”
The event, comprising a range of lectures and roundtable discussions, will bring together parliamentarians, activists and trade unionists to set out the alternative to a Tory government acting in the interests of the banks and the fossil fuel giants.
Rishi Sunak’s budget has put the government’s priorities into stark perspective, with a £4bn giveaway to the banks and tax breaks on champagne and domestic flights. Despite the Tories’ overheated rhetoric of being “the party of public services,” spending on schools and childcare is the same as it was in 2010.
Although the Chancellor boasts of decreasing the taper, the cut to universal credit has taken £20bn from the people who need it most. He said nothing about fighting the climate emergency.
While Labour’s front bench says its “big idea” is abolishing business rates, John McDonnell has higher ambitions in mind. In his lecture at the conference, he’ll set out the alternative to the Tories’ budget for the bankers.
Introduced by Apsana Begum, his lecture, entitled “The political economy to secure socialist change in 21st century,” will set out the economic framework for a green economy that not only transfers wealth into the hands of working people, but power, too.
We’re seeing a cost-of-living crisis, with inflation spiralling and the Office for Budgetary Responsibility predicting wages will continue to stagnate well into the 2020s.
Whatever the government says about rising pay, any bump they can point towards is because of a wrongheaded comparison with furlough, or because low-paid workers have been taken out of the economy altogether. All the while, the cost of transport and utility bills continues to rise.
The shadow chancellor may have ruled out public ownership as the solution, but Jon Trickett and Cat Hobbs from the We Own It campaign will argue that it’s a vital part of any plan to address the crisis in public services and cost of living.
In their conversation “Britain in crisis — the urgent case for public ownership,” facilitated by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity’s Sian Errington, they’ll describe what public ownership looks like in the 21st century and why it is a central component of any socialist political and economic strategy.
Just as the Tories are standing up for big businesses and banks at home, so they stand with the fossil fuel bosses and new “cold warriors” on the international stage.
The government’s new nuclear deal with Australia and the US, alongside their commitment to increase Britain’s stock of nuclear warheads, tears up the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and heightens tensions with China.
Not only that, but in advance of the international climate summit, Cop26, the government has pledged its support for a new Cambo oilfield, is opening another coal mine in Cumbria and financing offshore gas in Mozambique. Rather than invest in making our rail cheaper, last week’s Budget provided tax breaks on domestic flights.
And as the globe is plunged into vaccine apartheid, the UK government is one of the main opponents of waiving vaccine patents, standing up for Big Pharma as only 0.2 per cent of doses are administered to those in low-income countries.
While the Labour leadership has welcomed military spending increases and retreated from the 2019 policy of “net zero” by the 2030s, in our roundtable, “On the brink of catastrophe — for a socialist internationalism to end war, global injustice and climate chaos,” Jeremy Corbyn MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP and international guests — including US economist Mark Weisbrot — will discuss how we win the struggle for global justice and why it’s central to our alternative to the Tories.
As the government has enacted its agenda “for the few” domestically and internationally, we’ve seen a rising tide of struggle in our communities, on our streets and in our workplaces — from solidarity with Palestine, Black Lives Matter and action for climate justice, to the fight against fire and rehire or for a safe return to workplaces during the Covid-19 crisis.
But we have also seen a backlash from the government, with a vast extension of anti-protest and anti-trade union laws such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts and “Spy Cops” Bills — and only tepid resistance from the Labour front benches.
In our plenary “Building the fightback — for socialist solutions” Richard Burgon MP, Diane Abbott MP, Helen O’Connor from the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Mark Serwotka of the PCS union will discuss how we build these movements for change and fight for socialist solutions to the multiple crises we face.
Featuring voices from across the movement, “Resisting the Tory offensive — winning an agenda for people and planet” will unite the left around the alternative to the government’s agenda — log on for what promises to be a major event this autumn.
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