Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1075/30325
- Protest on Budget Day: Wednesday 11 March, from 1pm in Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD
We are the 99% - Take the wealth off the 1% Socialist Party placard, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Thieving cuts to incomes and services mean workers are dying younger and suffering sickness for longer. Austerity is killing us.
In fact, overall life expectancy has stopped creeping up for the first time in a century. The upward curve started flattening out ten years ago, when austerity began in earnest. Worse - among the poorest tenth of women in the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber, it's now going backwards.
"Austerity has taken a significant toll on equity and health," says public health researcher Michael Marmot, "and it is likely to continue to do so." Professor Marmot led the new review for University College London's Institute of Health Equity.
"Poverty has a grip on our nation's health - it limits the options families have available to live a healthy life. Government health policies that focus on individual behaviours are not effective. Something has gone badly wrong."
Meanwhile, in the time since the world financial crash, the wealth of the super-rich has expanded like a monstrous tumour. The number of billionaires in the UK has more than doubled, from 68 to 151.
And from 2007 to 2019, the Sunday Times Rich List recorded the fortunes of the UK's richest 1,000 growing from £360 billion to £525 billion! But workers' wages have only just 'recovered' to their pre-crisis peak in 2008 - and our public services continue to decline.
This is naked class disparity. In former 'red wall' areas in the deindustrialised Midlands and North, the more affluent long-held Tory areas can look forward to 65 years of good health. Poorer Labour and ex-Labour constituencies can expect just 61. And the report "is concerned with England, but in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the damage to health and wellbeing is similarly unprecedented."
"From rising child poverty and the closure of children's centres, to declines in education funding, an increase in precarious work and zero-hours contracts, to a housing affordability crisis and a rise in homelessness, to people with insufficient money to lead a healthy life and resorting to food banks in large numbers, to ignored communities with poor conditions and little reason for hope...
"Austerity will cast a long shadow over the lives of the children born and growing up under its effects." A higher proportion of children now live in poverty in the UK than in the Republic of Ireland or Poland.
It is criminal that the richest 1,000 have gained hundreds of billions while the rest of us have lost years off our lives.
It is a consequence of capitalism, a system where private profit, not social need, is the motor force.
The Socialist Party demands an immediate end to all austerity. Restore full funding to the NHS and public services. Raise the minimum wage and benefits so they're really enough to live on. Scrap zero-hour contracts and bring in free education and childcare.
And nationalise the banks and big business, under democratic workers' control and management, to plan provision for all.
Coordinated trade union action can force the bosses to give us more. And councils must set no-cuts budgets to meet local needs, and demand that Westminster fund them. Capitalism kills - socialist policies are a matter of life and death.
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Coronavirus crisis - 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.
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- 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 26 February 2020:
What we think