The biggest cuts in living memory are creating massive opposition
everywhere, even in the leafy Tory shires, as the £81bn of cuts start to
bite. While the Coalition’s austerity policies have been cheered on by
the big business institutions of the IMF and the OECD, rage is bubbling
up amongst ordinary people. No wonder support for the Coalition
government has crashed. Even Cameron has been forced to recognise this:
“It will not make us popular. It will make us unpopular. It will make me
The biggest cuts in living memory are creating massive opposition everywhere, even in the leafy Tory shires, as the £81bn of cuts start to bite. While the Coalition’s austerity policies have been cheered on by the big business institutions of the IMF and the OECD, rage is bubbling up amongst ordinary people. No wonder support for the Coalition government has crashed. Even Cameron has been forced to recognise this: “It will not make us popular. It will make us unpopular. It will make me unpopular.”
He is therefore trying to defect this public anger, firstly by blaming local authorities for “mishandling” their budgets, after more than a quarter has been cut from their income by the government, and secondly by his half-baked idea of the Big Society.
As the cuts “slash and burn” local services, Cameron’s antidote is the Big Society. “The reason I talk about it is not because it’s popular or because I think I’m going to win an election with it, it is because I care about it,” he said. According to his vision, volunteer groups and charities will step in to fill the gap, taking control of services from libraries to gritting the roads to public lavatories. Self-help and philanthropy will take centre stage.
But people know the Big Society is a cynical con, a cover for cuts. Cameron’s plan is to drive us all back to the nineteenth century, to Good Old Victorian times where benign benefactors helped the needy and deserving poor, not with universal benefits but the Work House. Today, families are facing the biggest squeeze on incomes for 90 years and will be struggling to make ends meet, but will now be asked to spend their free time filling the void left by Coalition cuts. In effect, they are being asked to volunteer for jobs from which low-paid workers have been sacked. Although how they can volunteer at the local library, swimming pool, or day care centre, when they have been shut down remains a mystery.
Even Tory Middle England is up in arms. Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, an early supporter, correctly warned that the “draconian” cuts risked “destroying volunteering”. Charity leaders warned that up to 30 volunteer centres across England faced imminent closure. Government grants to the voluntary sector are estimated to fall by £5bn. “I find the idea of the Big Society insulting,” said Barbara Allison, a retired financial officer from Charlbury. “We’re already devoting an awful lot of time to charities and volunteering. Am, I not doing enough? Is David Cameron going to volunteer?”
Brendan Barber of the TUC warned that “the most worrying thing about the Big Society is that the prime minister believes that policies of slash, burn and sack will make all our lives better. The logic of this is that his ideal society is Somalia where the state barely exists.”
However, there is logic to Cameron’s madness. His government is of the rich, for the rich, by the rich, and this dictates their class outlook and interests. In order to disguise his intentions, Cameron has attempted to distance himself from Thatcherism. “I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative governments,” he asserts. But nobody is fooled by this.
Cameron and his government are the political representatives of big business. Their morality is the maximisation of profit. They are driven by the culture of egotism, greed and indifference to the sufferings of others. This is the real face of monopoly and finance capitalism, which they faithfully represent. They are not interested in the Big Society, but the interests of Big Business. It is the crisis of capitalism that dictates their policy of ruthless cuts and sackings, where working class communities are undermined and destroyed. As far as ordinary working people are concerned, if they cannot afford food, then “let them eat cake.” This is the real outlook of these champions of “free enterprise”, who have no concerns for the suffering of the weakest in society, apart from a little Victorian charity. For Thatcher, as with them, they do not believe in society, but the interests of the individual and egotism. It is the vision of a dog-eat-dog society, ruled by a parasitic privileged elite. Their only concern is to enrich themselves at the expense of society.
Capitalist society has gone rotten. All it has to offer is misery, based upon mass unemployment, falling living standards and insecurity. It has exhausted its role. It should be put in the dustbin of history along with this Tory-led Coalition government and its so-called Big Society.