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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 March 2013

Breadline Britain... Kick out the cuts coalition

Letter to the Socialist:

Student poverty:  Students on the NUS national demonstration 12 November 2012 against the government attacks on university education , photo Paul Mattsson

Student poverty: Students on the NUS national demonstration 12 November 2012 against the government attacks on university education , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

"I'm 24 and an undergrad at university. I'm also a mother.

Since I started at university I have had nothing but hell from the system. I'm currently homeless and my eviction has caused me and my son so much heartache.

I can't afford the rent - I'm not allowed any extra benefits because I am doing a full time course which is actually 12 hours a week.

I have been passed from one organisation to another and still, no one is willing to listen to me.

I'm living on 82 a week at the moment because my finances are in turmoil.

I'm not currently receiving any other financial supplements because again, I'm being passed through all the red tape.

I wonder how many other mothers are in my situation whose voice can't be heard through all the noise of paper pushing. I want to build a good productive life for me and my son but it is apparent that there are flaws within the coalition's infrastructure; as a result, I'm currently conducting my degree from a pile of bin-bags and boxes."

Stjarna Perry

The Socialist Party says:

Hundreds of thousands of young people could write a letter like Stjarna's (left), giving heart-rending experiences of struggles to study, have somewhere decent to live, find a job with reasonable pay and conditions, and have access to adequate childcare and other support services.

All of these needs should be satisfied by right, so that young people can develop their potential free of terrible hardship and stress, and can look forward to the future with expectations, enthusiasm and confidence.

But as Chancellor George Osborne prepares his next budget, responding to the needs of Stjarna, and others like her, won't even figure on his radar. He and his partner-in-crime Prime Minister David Cameron have again declared that "there is no alternative" but to continue with vicious, life-destroying cuts. The other two main parties also refuse to pledge to stop and reverse the brutal cuts being made.

Those suffering cuts will be sickened to see the wealth of the 1% piling up - billions in bankers' bonuses, hoarded cash piles and dodged taxes.

It is only us socialists who say firmly and clearly that there IS an alternative, cuts can be rejected; and that young people, indeed all working people, pensioners, the unemployed, carers, those with incapacities, and all others, have a right to a decent future and that we must unite in a determined struggle to achieve it.

Government propaganda failing

Even as the economy shows no sign of recovery, Cameron and Osborne have been sticking to their mantra that there's no link between austerity and lack of economic growth. They still repeat the increasingly unbelieved assertion that austerity measures are laying the basis for renewed growth.

A socialist alternative to cuts doesn't get a hearing in the mainstream media, and over the years of first the Labour government's cuts, followed by the present coalition's cuts, the central message churned out by the main parties has been that cuts have to be made to reduce the public deficit.

This propaganda has had an effect, but now, after five years without any real economic recovery and with the deficit remaining high, a significant shift in attitudes is underway. An Observer poll last Sunday reported that 58% of people thought that cuts are harming the economy and only 20% considered cuts to be necessary.

This change is aided and echoed by an increasing cacophony of unease and questioning about the speed and effect of the cuts by some economists, media commentators and politicians.

The Office for Budget Responsibility watchdog that was set up by Osborne himself, last week wrote to Downing Street to complain about being used by Cameron to suggest that cuts are not damaging growth. The OBR argued the opposite, that austerity has reduced GDP by 1.4% over the last two years.

Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable has called for increased government borrowing to generate funds for spending on public works, especially infrastructure, housing and skills. His comments were applauded by two former members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, David Blanchflower and Adam Posen. Another former member of that committee, Sushil Wadhwani, advocated a 'helicopter drop' of vouchers to stimulate consumption and tax incentives to encourage investment.

The British Chambers of Commerce has partly diverged from fellow bosses' organisation the CBI by saying that if the economy doesn't return to growth within six months the government should borrow more to fund "massive" business tax cuts as a "shock treatment".

Even 43 Church of England bishops including the new Archbishop of Canterbury joined the chorus, writing a letter to the Sunday Telegraph condemning government attacks on welfare benefits.

But driven by their ideological zeal, Cameron and Osborne's approaching budget will mainly contain more of the same, with Osborne preparing to be more specific on who will be the victims of the 10 billion tranche of cuts for 2015-16 that he spoke of in his autumn statement. Minor concessions will be thrown in as a very see-through smokescreen, perhaps on fuel duty and the personal tax allowance, along with some reshuffling of the cuts burden.

Bloated wealth of 1%

Cameron and Osborne have a dwindling chance of decisively winning a second term, considering Labour's consistent lead in the polls, their divisions with the Lib Dems and the electoral threat from Ukip which came second in the Eastleigh byelection. So why not continue to slash and burn, to do the utmost for their big business agenda?

Added to their weakness is their own party's infighting, with pressure from the right flank against the EU and for even more severe cuts to welfare, education and NHS spending to lower taxes and cut the "bloated state", as former defence secretary Liam Fox put it.

The obscene bloating however lies in the global sovereign wealth funds that are predicted to grow by $1 billion a day this year, to reach $5.6 trillion, much of which passes through the City of London. Or the trillions sitting idle in the banks and vaults of big business. Or the seven figure pay, pension and bonus packages of top executives.

Tory member of the Treasury select committee David Ruffley said regarding bankers' bonuses: "We cannot be seen to be against the wealth creators. If we attack them we just kill the goose that lays the golden egg". We are also told that "the markets" won't "tolerate" higher public spending, that they would be "unsettled"; as if the markets are supernatural monsters, out of the control of humanity.

It is in fact workers who lay the golden eggs, by creating the real wealth in society. And the 'markets', chaotic though they are, serve the interests of capitalism, a system that has long outlived its usefulness and isn't ordained to remain forever.

It isn't surprising that more and more people are taking an interest in the ideas of socialism, which would mean public ownership of the key sectors of the economy - including finance - under democratic workers' control and management, along with a planned economy. Then, the production and provision of goods and services, and the tax system, could be geared towards satisfying people's needs, rather than feeding an orgy of enrichment for the small layer at the top of society.

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In The Socialist 13 March 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Breadline Britain... Kick out the cuts coalition

Scrap the bedroom tax for all!

Welfare Reform Act will impoverish hundreds of thousands

Stop the Con-Dems ripping up our NHS

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela after Chavez: Which road for the working class?

Portugal: Revolutionary spirit in fighting austerity

Socialist Party feature

Energy starvation and climate change

Socialist history

Three decades on: We want the truth about Orgreave

Socialist Party workplace news

20 March: PCS calls budget-day strike

DfE walkout - huge demonstration of anger

Dundee demo against construction industry blacklisting

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Victory: TUSC strikes a 'real chord' in Maltby

Student occupation continues at Sussex

Justice for Alfie? Defend the right to protest

Warrington: One rebel defies the pro-cuts Heinz 47

TUSC Gospel Oak byelection rally: Offering an alternative

TUSC leads battle to save Mid-Staffs NHS

London: Save our fire service!

Campaigning against the cuts

Victory for attendance policy campaign at UEL

Sold-out non-sexist comedy night

Building Socialist Students in Manchester

Are you sick of your boss? Join the campaign!

Socialist Party review

Film review: Spirit of '45


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