The grim fate awaiting us after the next election in 2015 has been exposed by the revelation that the Treasury, under orders from the Tories, has called on senior civil servants to start drawing up a hit list of an extra £25-30 billion pounds worth of public spending cuts to be implemented over the period April 2016 to March 2018. Only socialist policies can stop these cuts!
The grim fate awaiting us after the next election in 2015 has been exposed by the revelation that the Treasury, under orders from the Tories, has called on senior civil servants to start drawing up a hit list of an extra £25-30 billion pounds worth of public spending cuts to be implemented over the period April 2016 to March 2018.
Would you like cuts or cuts?
The severity of these cuts would be so high that, according to a report in The Guardian from November 10th, some ministers are protesting and even refusing to co-operate out of fear of what will be the public reaction. They are right to be afraid. As The Guardian report notes:
“One source said ‘The planned cuts would have a massive impact on departments. You could see the Department of Communities and Local Government facing eventual cuts since 2010 of 80%.’ The source added that this would have a devastating impact on the housing budget and on local council services.”
In other words, directly impacting on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society yet again. Sectors previously semi-protected, such as health and education, would come under additional pressure in the face of such brutal cuts. The Tories have already made it clear that the only way public spending cuts can be reduced is if the cuts are passed on to welfare spending. In other words, no reduction at all. The choice we are being offered is between cuts and cuts.
Osborne’s plans go awry
All this talk of further austerity arises from the fact that Osborne and co. completely mispredicted how the deficit could be reduced. Whilst the economy has been growing (albeit on a completely the unsustainable basis of credit and consumption), the money generated from taxes has dropped as the Tories reorientate the economy to one based on low pay, self-employment, and zero-hour contracts. So much for the so-called “recovery”. As the Economist (29th November 2014) notes:
The problem is no longer growth, which is roaring ahead at an annual rate of around 3%, nor spending cuts, which have largely gone to plan, but income-tax receipts. They were meant to grow by £11 billion this financial year, but have managed only an eighth of that. That’s mostly because many higher-paying jobs have been replaced with lower-paying ones, and tax cuts for low earners have therefore left the Treasury short. As a result borrowing, which was meant to fall in 2014-15 from £108 billion to £96 billion, has risen by £4 billion and debt will grow as a percentage of GDP this year. At 5.3% of GDP, Britain’s deficit is bigger than those of France, Italy and even Greece.
In turn, the level of cuts required will only serve to threaten the already-fragile recovery that Cameron and Osborne have boasted about in recent times, as the Economist continues:
Such cuts would needlessly put the recovery at risk when global growth is slowing and interest rates are pinned near zero, and would further savage departments that have already suffered…as the easiest cuts have already been made, the Tories’ plan is tougher than the numbers imply.
The Financial Times, meanwhile, has analysed the government’s financial plans and concluded that spending cuts may have to be even higher than the figure already stated with a possible figure of £48 billion in cuts during the next parliament being needed to enable Osborne to reach his targets. Anne McAvoy, the Economist journalist writing in The Guardian on November 11th, called the mismatch of figures the “result of a combination of tricksy accounting and memory lapses…figures on deficit reduction have become fantastical.”
Stop the Tories! Fight for socialism!
These cuts, if implemented by the Tories, would represent a devastating attack on public services that would hit every worker. This is a call to arms. The Tories must be stopped.
However, the question must also be raised about the Labour leadership’s statement that they will match Tory spending plans – i.e. cuts. Will a Labour government implement the £25 billion figure or the £30 billion figure or even the £48 billion figure? We cannot sit back and wait to find out. The trade union movement must mobilise to fight these cuts, whichever government tries to implement them. The demand for a TUC-called one-day general strike must be taken up.
Above all, workers must understand that these cuts are the direct expression of capitalism in crisis and that only the implementation of socialist policies can resolve this nightmare by ditching this rotten system.