The TUC has produced the latest and most detailed report yet
on the likely effect of the coalition’s plans to cut public services and
benefits. To no-ones surprise they have again confirmed that, contrary to the
government’s stated position at the time of the summer budget, these cuts will
hit the poorest hardest.
The report – Where The Money Goes – confirms that the
poorest 10 percent of the population in Britain will be hit thirteen times
harder by the cuts than the richest 10 percent. The predicted cuts will have the result of, in effect,
cutting household income by 20 percent for the poorest sections of
society. For the richest this cut
will work out at just 1.5 percent.
When you consider the relative effect of losing nearly a quarter of your
income when you are earning barely enough already as against losing hardly
anything when you are rolling in it, then the unfairness of the cuts becomes
even more obvious.
The TUC report also notes that lone parents and single
pensioners will be most hit by the government’s cuts programme.
This report is one of many to confirm what we all know –
that these cuts are aimed at the poorest section of society because that is the
section the Tories and their Lib-Dem chums want to attack.
Against this the promised arrival of Frank Field’s first
report on fighting poverty is nothing short of a sick joke. Field – who is
supposed to be a Labour MP but who has spent years trotting out one barmy
reactionary idea after another – has sought to justify his disgraceful decision
to link up with this government by saying that his ideas will finally get to
grips with poverty in the UK. Now
the Tory leaning Daily Telegraph has reported (11/09/10) that Field’s report
may be left unpublished after government insiders declared it to be unworkable.
As is the case with all Field’s previous grand plans, the report seems to
include ideas that are either too politically over the top for now – such as
stopping child benefits for all kids over 13 – or just unaffordable – such as
paying women up to £25,000 in advance benefits to stay at home and look after
Poor old Frank didn’t realise that when Tories talk about
tackling poverty they mean tackling the poor and getting them out of
sight. For these people, the poor
are poor because they want to be. Historically, this has always been the
position of the ruling class. At one time, those in poverty would be rounded up
into poor houses where they would be subjected to appalling conditions in order
to ‘encourage’ them to get a job or just drop dead. Bosses would ramble on
about ‘sturdy beggars’ and ‘layabouts’ who, if left to their own devices, would
hang around, drinking gin and refusing to work. Nothing has changed. Today, they still use this belief to
justify cutting benefits as the only way to ‘force’ people to get themselves
proper jobs. The fact that these jobs do not exist is not a problem apparently.
The idea of cutting the minimum wage level has also now been floated since, the
bosses argue, paying less wages will mean more jobs being created. The reality,
of course, is that all that will be created is more profits – driving down
wages has never created more jobs.
Now some have said that there are jobs out there are remain
unfilled because they are low paying and that what is needed is for benefits to
be cut so that people will then be forced to take these jobs. This thinking –
backed up by precisely nothing – is reflected in chancellor Osborne’s latest
statement on unemployment. According to Osborne, people who live off benefits
are doing so as a ‘life-style choice.’
There speaks a man who, like his boss and quite a few others in the
cabinet, has never had to live in anything other than the lap of luxury. So to deal with the ‘career unemployed’
Osborne wants to add a further £4bn in cuts to benefits. It seems the ruling
class and their parliamentary representatives want to cut both benefits for
those out of work and wages for those in work. At this rate the choice will be
between getting no dole or no wages – that will crack the problem!
This is a real face of this government – a coalition of the
rich. This government wants the poorest section of society to pay for the greed
of the richest. Some in government (and in the right wing of the Labour Party
it must be noted) say that giving huge tax cuts – in Corporation Tax for
example – will free up business to create new enterprises and new better-paid
jobs. However, the bosses would rather create lower paid jobs and pocket the
difference. The ‘tax-cut equals stimulus’ strategy has proved severely lacking
in the face of capitalism’s drive for ever greater profits and dividends to
cash lusting shareholders. The spiraling of such payments has been a key facet
of capitalism in recent years, even when businesses were struggling. So expect
no solution to the problems of poverty here.
remains only one workable solution to poverty – and you won’t find it from
Field or Osborne – and that is to struggle for socialism. As is clear from the
mood at this year’s TUC, the time has come to start the fight back against the
coalition’s programme of cuts. But this is not enough. An alternative must be
raised that provides decent jobs for all, not wage slavery, and helps all those
in need – and provides proper help at that. This is what socialism is. We are fighting for a society that is
not driven by greed and the lust for profit on the part of a few living off the
work of the many. A socialist plan of production, where the resources and means
of production are publicly owned for the benefit of all, would create the means
to solve all these problems once and for all. Capitalism and its system has
failed and must be got rid of. This is the task facing the labour and trade
movement and it is one that can be put off no longer.