Their freezing “blue” statement calls for a red hot response

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
10 December 2014

Predictably, Osborne's "Autumn Statement" combined self-satisfaction, electioneering and anti-working class austerity.

Predictably too, Osborne stopped short of boasting that his "deficit reduction" is a success - with a deficit twice the size of what he promised back in 2010! Of course none of this is a surprise. The ConDems' handouts to the capitalists - whether it be their huge cut in corporation tax, their handouts to wealthy taxpayers or their countless injections of public funds into the banking and construction industries - do come at a cost. And so does the drastic fall in income experienced by the majority of the working class under their rule - which has resulted in a comparable fall in income tax receipts.

Scavenging for votes

Of course, the spectre of the coming general election hung over every word in Osborne's statement.

His main target for "help" was the Tories' traditional middle-class electorate: the minority of those who can afford to buy a house in order to benefit from his cuts in stamp duty; or the minority of retired taxpayers who have a pension pot which qualifies for his tax cut.

Osborne's announcement of a "Google tax" was just as much electioneering - but aimed at Labour's electorate. This tax is supposed to target multinationals which manage to use sophisticated tax evasion schemes in order to avoid paying taxes on the profits they make in Britain. But significantly, Osborne himself does not expect his "Google tax" to bring in more than £360m of additional tax revenue per year - less than 1% of the actual cost of tax avoidance to the Treasury!

There must have been roars of laughter in the boardrooms of the said multinationals, especially in British ones. Shire, for instance, a pharmaceutical giant and one of Britain's 100 largest companies, has its shares listed in the City. But it is incorporated in Jersey (a very British tax haven) and domiciled both in Ireland and Luxemburg for tax purposes - which are also tax havens. Clearly Shire has nothing to fear!

Likewise for Osborne's "clampdown" on "non-doms" - very wealthy individuals who live in Britain but pay hardly any tax because they're domiciled abroad. Under Osborne's scheme, the most these "non-doms" will have to pay in tax will be £90,000 a year - which is peanuts for such parasites. But then Osborne said he didn't want to make Britain "unattractive" for "non-doms". Could this have anything to do with the fact that two deputy-chairmen and famous donors of the Tory party were "non-doms" - Lord McAlpine, under Thatcher, and Lord Ashcroft, under Cameron?

A bill that we have no reason to pay

So what about the rest of us - the working class majority of the population?

Well, we only get a little "tip" - a 20p per week reduction in our tax bill as a result of the £100 increase in the personal tax allowance threshold! And even this won't benefit the poorest, whose incomes are too low to pay income tax.

The rest is in the small print of Osborne's budget, when it is actually spelt out. The planned £12bn cut in annual welfare spending by 2020, which was already part of this year's budget, is confirmed - and so is the public sector wage freeze.

However, there's more and worse. Calculations made on the basis of Osborne's figures, show that his targets imply an additional £60bn cut in public expenditure by 2020, including a £21bn cut in welfare spending and one million job cuts in the public sector.

So it is the working class, the poorest, the most vulnerable, who are supposed to foot an even larger bill equivalent to tens of billions of pounds! Welfare for the poor is so "unaffordable" according to the government that, over the past year, in addition to benefit cuts, 900,000 unemployed claimants were subject to sanctions involving the withdrawal of their benefits for not complying, to the letter, with the punitive rules they are supposed to follow!

Meanwhile, welfare for the capitalists is reaching new heights. Already, there was the housing boom generated by the billions injected by Osborne into the construction of homes which are unaffordable for the working class majority. And now, he's just announced another £450m "benefit" - this time for the North Sea oil industry which is supposed to be "suffering" from the fall in oil prices.

Of course, the working class doesn't have to foot the bill for the government's largesse to the capitalist class. It's up to us to refuse. We have the collective strength. We only have to use it.