The Socialist 16 February 2011 |
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Reject 'TINA'- fight for socialism
Demonstration in Southampton by Unite and Unison against Tory attacks on terms and conditions and cuts in public services, photo David Smith (Click to enlarge)
The pages of the Socialist are bulging with reports from workers, young people and other service users who are organising to fight the cuts.
Con-Dem ministers and Labour councillors play the blame game. Councillors claim they have no choice but to axe vital services. Ministers say councillors have 'freedom to choose' how they implement spending cuts and could save some (popular) services by cutting others.
Both of these positions are unacceptable and working class people have no choice but to fight all cuts - whoever makes them.
Polls show that, despite a constant and exclusive diet of TINA (there is no alternative) from big business politicians, backed up by their media friends, almost a third of people believe the cuts are unnecessary. This number will multiply as the fightback develops, as it will be accompanied with increasing realisation of the amount of money that is swilling around in big business circles.
It's estimated that a tax on Barclays' £2.7 billion bonus pool alone would allow the government to reverse cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance, disability allowance and housing benefit.
A YouGov poll in 2010 showed that "74% of the population would favour a tax on the wealthiest six million (who have an average of £4 million of private wealth per household) to pay off the national debt and therefore avoid the cuts".
However, none of the main political parties has any intention of doing anything like this. Health minister Andrew Lansley has received an estimated £20,000 from private health care companies, while the Mirror reports that such companies have paid out £750,000 to the Tories. The Con-Dems and their Labour predecessors act in the interest of the directors and owners of these companies and those in other sectors of big business and finance.
"Too far, too fast" is not an effective rallying cry. Labour leader Ed Miliband is worse than useless in opposition, merely criticising the speed at which cuts are carried through.
In national and local government Labour has carried through a Tory agenda of privatisation. For instance, in the NHS the 'internal market' was massively expanded under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, preparing the ground for the Con-Dems to smash the NHS completely.
The Tories' motives go way beyond a temporary austerity drive. This was made clear when David Cameron blurted out last August: "Should we cut things now and go back later to try and restore them later? I think we should avoid that approach."
Working class people need our own mass party - one which fights all the cuts. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development of 700 employers revealed that firms in all sectors plan to shed 6.2% on average of their workforce in the first quarter of this year, up from 3.8% in the previous quarter.
A mass workers' party could demand a 35-hour week without loss of pay. And that the billions paid out in bonuses to bankers should instead be invested in a programme of socially useful job creation.
Many more measures along these lines are necessary, but we also need to take into account that capitalism, a system motivated solely by private profit, means there will always be crises, always be poverty and inequality. That is why, as well as fighting the cuts, the Socialist Party proposes a socialist alternative. That would mean ordinary people deciding how our lives are run, how the wealth and resources in the economy can be used to meet our needs - not to stack up in the vaults of bank executives and in the assets and luxuries of the rich.
Instead of making cuts, a socialist government would nationalise the banks and major corporations and place them under democratic workers' control and management. Compensation would be paid only on the basis of proven need. A state monopoly on foreign trade and transactions could stop the wealthy removing money.
A socialist planned economy would make us no longer subject to the whim of the markets. The resources made available would transform all our lives - providing living standards and services that are unimaginable under capitalism.