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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 February 2011

Big society? ... big con!

Demonstration in Southampton by Unite and Unison against Tory attacks on terms and conditions and cuts in public services, photo David Smith

Photo David Smith   (Click to enlarge)

Fight all cuts - for real jobs and services

Behind all the talk of "localising power", "enabling" and so on, the Tory vision of the 'Big Society' has been exposed in all its gory glory. The Con-Dems want to sack hundreds of thousands of professionally trained public sector workers and to instead provide vital services on the cheap with volunteers.

Dave Reid

But things are not going entirely to plan. Even Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the so-called Mother of Big Society, said that government cuts to public funding for charities are "destroying" volunteering.

The Tories hope that charities and community organisations will provide public services, but the government is cutting the very organisations it has in mind for the job!

So now the Tories intend to force the unemployed to provide services for nothing. While there are five jobseekers for every vacancy, desks for charities like the Prince's Trust will be placed in Jobcentres to 'steer' the young unemployed towards 'volunteering'.

The Tories have threatened jobless young people with having to work for their Jobseeker's Allowance. Why should young people work for nothing? Apparently Lord Wei, the government's own volunteer tsar, was shocked to discover that he was not going to be paid for volunteering in his job.

He subsequently cut back his hours. This is supposed to be the model for the Big Society.

Imagine if the volunteer home help for the elderly decided to cut back their hours at the last minute?

David Cameron dresses cuts up with fancy words like "mutualisation" but the reality is that the Con-Dems want the most vulnerable people in society to throw themselves on the mercy of charities.

Crucial services like homecare would be available only to the 'deserving poor' at the whim of unelected, unaccountable charities.

The Con-Dems' model for their Big Con is the 'welfare state' of the United States. Look at the state of Florida.

In the richest country in the world a church has set up a camp for the unemployed who have lost their homes with 255 tents and 28 huts in Clearwater.

The Salvation Army provides a bed for some of the unemployed in Sarasota. But there is not even this scant provision for the jobless in Venice, Florida.

In a horrendous return to the conditions of the 1930s Great Depression, hundreds who have lost their houses are forced to camp out in the woods. But in Britain polls show that 65% of people already understand that the Big Society is just an attempt by the government to put a positive spin on cuts.

Working class people in Britain will not allow their rights, fought for by generations, to be swept away by this bunch of incompetent public school boys.

We will not return to the 1930s.

Assemble Victoria Embankment, London, 11am

Suzanne Beishon from Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) was recently quoted on the front of the London Metro free paper saying: "Volunteering is all very well but there's a risk it's just using young people as cheap labour, before kicking them back on the dole - there are no jobs being created.

"At the same time, this government is raising tuition fees and scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance, both of which would keep young people in education." YFJ calls for massive investment in education and a programme of socially useful work.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 9 February 2011:


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt in revolt


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Defend the NHS!: Fight the Con-Dem cuts

The madness of King George cuts


Anti-cuts campaigning

Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance established

Stop attacks on disabled claimants

Liverpool: Jobs axe must be fought

No to the racist EDL! Unite to fight the cuts

Hands off our forests!

Protesting against all of the cuts


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tommy Sheridan jailing: Political vendetta ends in draconian sentence

John Macreadie memorial

TV Review: Posh and Posher Why Public School Boys Run Britain


Socialist Party feature

'Struggle or starve!' 1932 - when Birkenhead workers beat the means test


Socialist Party youth and students

Young people march for a future

Tories have no solutions to youth crime

Police attack 'save EMA' protest in Leeds


Socialist Party workplace news

Justice for Unison Four

Unison self-destructs at TSA but unionism stronger than ever

Building action against cuts

Defending jobs at Leeds council

Ford challenged in legal bid: Pay the Visteon pensioners now!

Arriva Trains Wales - strike called off

Defend democracy in the CWU

Keep the post public demo

Discussing an electoral challenge to service cutters


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'In reality, Britain is facing a savage economic ice age'


 

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