Osborne's austerity has only fuelled capitalist profits

2 December 2013

Osborne's "Autumn Statement", this Thursday, will be all about the "achievements" of his austerity policies in securing what he calls "economic growth".

Of course, this is just cynical pretence. And the government's own figures are there to prove it. What with manufacturing production still 9% below its pre-crisis level, business investment down 6% over the past year alone and a property bubble which is coming close to what it was on the eve of the crisis - what sort of "economic growth" is that?

In fact, not only is the crisis as bad as ever, but it may be getting even worse. All the ingredients are there for yet another crash. Except that if this happens, the working class will find itself facing the consequences from an even more unfavourable position than it was in, in 2008 - after five years of on-going deterioration in its living standards, employment and working conditions.

Fool's gold for workers...

But since Osborne knows full well that talking up the economy won't cut any ice with voters, his "Autumn Statement" will be decorated with fool's gold, to try to make it sound as if his government is concerned with our problems.

This will include, for instance, the changes to parental leave which have already been leaked to the press. Except that apart from being totally useless for the majority of workers who can't afford to take several months of unpaid leave, these changes seem primarily designed to justify cutting back on already inadequate nursery facilities!

More prominence will be given to the promise of a £50 cut in household energy bills. A cut? But is it really one? In fact, it's not!

The main government measures involve the extension of a "green" scheme offering subsidies to energy companies, supposedly to ensure they help improve home insulation, as well as offering those "buying a new home" a grant of "up to £1,000" to spend on energy-saving work.

How this can really cut energy bills by £50 for the average household is anybody's guess! Nor will they help the 2.4 million households already in arrears on their energy bills and who don't have the first penny for insulation work, let alone to "buy a new home"! Anyway, what everyone needs is a big reduction, right now, in what they have to pay - not a dubious future freeze or, as with British Gas, a smaller rise than planned, masquerading as a "cut"!

But what does this government care if the number of cases of hypothermia reported by the NHS keeps rising, and the ranks of the fuel poor keep growing?

For Osborne, this is just politicking. The only point in it, despite his denials, is to try to go one better than Labour, which promised to freeze fuel prices - and which, by the way, is just as much of a con, since Labour has never been known to impose anything on big business, anyway!

... But golden days for big business

Meanwhile, a new survey of the City "upper-crust", defined as those earning salaries above £800,000, reveals that, last year already, it was doing better than before the crisis. Between 2011 and 2012, the membership of this "upper crust" grew from 2,500 to 2,714. Over that period, the "pay" of these selected few increased by no less than 43%, to an average of £1.6m, while their bonuses increased to almost four times their salaries!

What's even more remarkable is how this City "upper crust" compares to the rest of Europe. For instance, Germany's banking "upper crust" is 13 times smaller than Britain's and France's is 12 times smaller. And in France and Germany, bonuses are significantly smaller, compared to salaries.

But never mind. In their strenuous efforts to promote "economic growth", no doubt, Cameron and Osborne have been fighting tooth and nail over the past months to stop a European Union directive which would limit the size of bankers' bonuses!

Indeed, this is really what their "economic growth" is about - increasing the flow of value produced by the working class which is diverted into the hands of the tiny layer of capitalists. If the City "upper crust" manages to increase its salaries by 43% it is only because, in the meantime, wages are increasing by a paltry average of 1% for the rest of the population - when they are not actually decreasing, due to casualisation or redundancies. It is because poverty is increasing among the working class, including among those who are actually in work, as witnessed by the rise in personal indebtedness - once again at a record level - and the mushrooming of food banks.

Osborne's "economic growth" is just a measure of the growing theft that the capitalist class imposes on the working class - and getting rid of the capitalist thieves and their system will be the only way of putting the economy back on its feet, at the service of society as a whole.