More attacks against the working class, more reasons to fight back!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
4 December 2012

Over the past weeks, the ground has been well prepared for this Wednesday's Autumn statement. By now, no-one can be in any doubt that Osborne will forecast more doom and gloom, to justify turning the austerity screw even further over the coming months.

Not that the ConDems bother to explain why it is that their grandiose plans to boost the economy failed to produce decent jobs and that their massive public service cuts failed to produce savings.

Yet the billions lavished on the Olympics tell most of the story: the Olympic Park in east London has now turned into a Ghost Park - full of white elephants, while all the jobs have vanished along with all the flags and glitter.

Vanished too, are the tens of billions given in cheap government loans to the banks. Bankers were supposed to lend to small and medium businesses which, in turn, were meant to make up for the massive public sector job cuts. But none of that has happened.

And what about the money given to companies as a result of the ConDem's cuts in corporation tax - twice - since they came into office. Have companies used this large tax rebate to increase investment and create jobs? No way. They just filled the pockets of their shareholders!

Fuelling poverty

Having splashed out all these billions on bankers and big businesses and, in addition, reduced their taxes, predictably, Osborne is now telling us that the government deficit is not decreasing as expected.

And yet, it's not for lack of having made massive "savings" in the public sector. In fact, the ConDems have massively overshot their own job cuts targets. Their original plans predicted 65,000 job cuts in 2010-12. Instead, 370,000 public sector jobs have been cut!

Already the ConDems have let it be known that welfare benefits "need" to be cut by an additional £10bn before 2016.

So benefits will now increase at a lower rate than inflation. The new Universal Credit system will result in another set of cuts for many claimants, whether it is introduced next April as originally planned, or later, due to escalating administrative costs. And although the government seems to have abandoned (for the time being only!) its plan to end housing benefit for the under-25s, households will have to pay a rising share of their housing costs due to the drastic shortage in social housing and escalating private rents.

All of this will inevitably push more households into poverty. As if there were not enough people living under the poverty line - 11 million, or nearly one in five. As if such a level is tolerable in one of the world's richest economies!

But what do politicians care if Britain becomes even more unequal than it is already, as the world's 4th most unequal country. And what do they care if, along with this record level of poverty, comes another stigma? Yes, Britain has the 4th highest infant mortality among the world's 23 richest countries and the 7th lowest life expectancy!

They're waging a class war

None of this is about putting the economy onto "the hard road to recovery", as Osborne claims. But it's definitely all about boosting capitalist profit.

There's no possible economic common sense in wasting the skills of hundreds of thousands, by cutting their jobs and leaving them to choose between surviving on benefits and surviving on occasional non-skilled casual work.

Nor is there any sense in cutting the income of the working class - and its consumption - since it can only feed a vicious cycle driving the economy down the drain.

There's no sense in that, except for big business. It's not for nothing that ConDem "welfare reform minister", "Lord" Freud - who, as a welfare adviser under Labour kept insisting that single mothers should be forced to work - repeats ad nauseam that people are "enjoying" a life on benefits!

Of course, Freud, a former vice-chairman of Swiss banking giant UBS, knows nothing about living on benefits. But he does know what the capitalist class wants - that is, to increase its share of the wealth produced in the economy - both through increasing further the exploitation of labour and through parasitising public funds. By cutting welfare benefits to the bare bone, they want to kill two birds with one stone: siphon more cash out of the state coffers and force more workers into non-jobs on starvation wages.

Whether they succeed in their class war against the working class, however, will depend on whether we let them get away with it.