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'Worse than Thatcher'...
We will not pay!
The National Health Service under Thatcher:
So similar are the policies of the three main political parties that you couldn't get an anorexic fag paper between them. So much so that in the Channel 4 'debate' on Monday night chancellor Alistair Darling and shadow chancellors Vince Cable and George Osborne were in danger of actually morphing into one person.
Nancy Taaffe, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition election candidate, Walthamstow, east London
These three representatives of big business were so united that at one point Vince Cable described it as a "love in". Phrases such as "working together", "having consensus" and "staying united in troubled times" were the buzz words of choice.
Video: Watch Nancy Taaffe explain her union's campaign against privatisation
All three of them support a public sector pay freeze, a reform (read attack) on pensions and a machete to be taken to public services. And when they talk about getting rid of public servants they don't mean MPs (how could we possibly do without them) or top civil servants. No, they mean those at the bottom, the nurses, the teachers and those at the coalface doing crucial jobs.
Mad Axe Woman Margaret Thatcher. Cartoon by Alan Hardman
After some quibbling about where to cut and where to tax us the host asked for a simple yes or no answer to the question: "Do you all agree that the cuts that the next government will have to implement will be deeper and broader than the Thatcher government made?" And to a man they agreed.
When Margaret Thatcher came to power I was ten years old. I was 21 when she was booted out by the poll tax defeat. I watched her decimate the northern towns and manufacturing industry.
I watched her hand over huge tax cuts to the rich in the 1987 budget. A generation of young people were forgotten, heroin gripped whole communities, and people turned against each other as crime became a way of surviving. The elderly were abandoned and those at the bottom paid with their lives.
Those at the top saw their incomes increase as Thatcher resolutely defended finance capital and the profits of the rich. The working class fought back and, both in Liverpool and during the anti-poll tax campaign, we won, but her "shock therapy" was an unmitigated disaster for the working class and the country as a whole. Thatcher was a barbarian, or rather the representative of a barbaric system.
On this Channel 4 programme nobody on the platform came in and said that the working class should not pay, nobody argued for re-nationalisation of the utilities, for the money from these to go into the infrastructure of the economy.
Nobody called for a planned programme of public works to get our young people working, to use their brains and their talents through public projects that are socially useful. Nobody mentioned the £100 billion in unpaid tax from the big multinationals and rich, nobody spoke of saving the £60 billion spent on war or the cancellation of PFI debt.
Chancellor DarlingOsborneCable spoke with one voice and said: 'Those with the least must pay'.
It will be the role of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to say Thatcher failed, so did her heirs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as will her heirs in the next government. Trade unionists and socialists must also speak with one voice, to say: we will not pay!
In The Socialist 29 July 2010:
PCS strike action
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review