It's up to all of us to block their cuts

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25 October 2010

As everyone expected, Osborne's "Cutting Review" has nothing to do pulling the economy out of a "black hole". It is just a device aimed at allowing the capitalists to take advantage of the crisis they caused, by allocating them a larger share of public funds.

In addition to the £33bn of new taxes (mainly VAT) on our backs, its aim is to remove £81bn from annual public expenditure by 2015.

The details remain deliberately vague. But we do know that almost one fifth of this amount will be taken forcibly from welfare claimants - from the aged (including by raising pension age to 66 years), the poorest and from the young. But worst of all, the cuts in the provision of all services could result in over 1m job cuts, public and private! This is an all-out attack on the whole of the working class.

Creating homelessness

Since a significant part of the welfare budget goes to housing, Osborne aims to halve total expenditure on social housing. New tenants would face hiked up "flexible" rents, while housing benefit would be capped.

So in most of London, for instance, where council tenants are already in private accommodation because of the lack of council flats, rents would be totally unaffordable. Prospective tenants would have to move out of town. Local authorities, obliged to house the homeless would have to send them out of London too - and already they have made "block bookings" in hotels in places like Hastings! This policy is nothing but a recipe for creating further homelessness!

At the same time, Duncan Smith had the nerve to tell Welsh jobless to "get on the bus" to find work! Apparently he did not want to repeat, exactly, former Tory minister, Norman Tebbit's admonition to the unemployed to "get on their bikes". He told workers in Merthyr Tydfil that they should go and look for work in Cardiff. But he did not check his facts: in Cardiff today, 15,000 people are chasing just 1,700 temporary and part-time jobs! And that is even before this government's job cuts.

One of the other "items" on Osborne's chopping board was the subsidy to train and bus companies. So in order to make up for this, he has increased the maximum fare which train operators can demand from passengers. As a result, fares, already the highest in Europe, will sky-rocket!

And with what result? The unemployed and under-employed, pushed out of cities so that they can keep an affordable roof over their heads, won't be able to afford the bus or train fare to visit these cities to look for work!

Private and public jobs on the line

Not that there is likely to be work to find: 460,000 jobs are to be slashed directly from the public sector. Allegedly, this is to happen without the need for compulsory redundancies. But in fact, compulsory redundancies have already been made, since 15% of the workforce is made of temps these days. Local councils and the civil service (notably the Department of Work and Pensions itself!) have already sent these workers home, in their thousands, with no redundancy payment (even if they have been temps for 7 or 8 years!).

In addition, Cameron is giving councils a blank cheque to cut whatever they want and to outsource yet more local services - meaning even more cuts in jobs and conditions of local government workers.

A handful of companies will benefit from this bonanza, but they won't create new jobs. In fact the government's own leaked projections indicate 600,000 private job cuts, due to public expenditure cuts. So when Cameron says, as he again told the bosses' CBI this week, that the private sector will be the "engine of the recovery", he is spinning fairy tales. The bosses' "engine" is designed solely to pump public funds into their own pockets and to sweat workers, not to create jobs!

Whether by the Con-Dems or Labour - workers have been told there is "no other way". We were told we had to give up our benefits, services and our jobs to bail the bosses out of their self-induced mess. Wrong! We do not! We need not give up even one job, nor even one penny!

Instead of claiming that there are not enough jobs for everyone, these delinquent capitalists should be forced to divide up all available work between all workers and to pay living wages to everyone.

It is simple enough. But it can and will only happen if the working class uses its capacity to fight back, in the workplaces and in the streets, as our brothers and sisters have done over the past weeks in France - and without any further delay!