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Brown's Spending Mirage
GORDON BROWN'S Comprehensive Spending Review for the years 2001-2004 made heftier spending promises than this 'prudent' New Labour chancellor has done before.
But this is no 'socialist' give-away budget. He's kept to Tory spending limits for years, including keeping pay low in the NHS, education etc despite the problems that causes. Now the fragile boom has given Brown extra cash including £12 billion more for education.
Schools in richer districts can give kids a better start to life than those in working-class areas. Brown's plans mean that by 2004, funding per pupil will have increased by £300 per pupil compared with 1997. But even this sum will make only marginal impact on a class-ridden education system.
What's more, Blair and Brown's government has also introduced university tuition fees which discriminate against working-class students. Obviously once the employers have got a certain level of literacy and numeracy from their future employees, that's as equal as you'll get!
Even then Brown says that schools will only get the money if they achieve literacy and numeracy "targets".
Meanwhile local councils are still underfunded. Tory controlled Hillingdon is already on the verge of bankruptcy (see page 2) and councils are still making huge cuts.
Health gets the £13 billion increase already announced. But how much of this will go to improving the crisis-ridden NHS and how much will be swallowed up in building schemes under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI)? The wasteful PFI system enriches rich profiteers at the expense of public services.
Some of the priorities are less welcome. Military spending's up for the first time since 1985. Labour's priorities are new smart missiles for RAF planes! Why not use workers' talents to produce something useful?
This budget is about as good as we'll get from capitalism. There's a relatively booming economy. The government faces an election and has loads of money in the bank. What type of budget will they come up with when the bottom falls out of the economy?
A socialist society could use the colossal wealth available today to seriously tackle the huge problems which capitalism has created. Join us in the fight for socialism.
SAVE FREE Education (SFE) and Socialist Party Youth and Students. Lobby of Gordon Brown for hypocrisy in condemning elitism at universities whilst supporting tuition fees. Wednesday 26 July, 5.30pm. The Treasury, Parliament Square, London SW1.
In The Socialist 21 July 2000: