Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Tories' Manifesto for Class War

Let's not beat about the bush. Today's "emergency" budget from the Tories and their LibDem lickspittles is nothing less than a manifesto for class war. While the welfare state for the unemployed, the poor and the vulnerable is further dismantled, socialism for the rich is very much alive. There will be plenty of pudding and pie for Georgie Porgie and mates in the form of extending tax relief on the first £5m of capital gains tax, one per cent yearly reductions of corporation tax, small companies get tax reduction, and a bank levy will raise a mammoth £2bn. I guess this is what Osborne and the Tories call spreading the pain.

Meanwhile working class people can look forward to a national insurance increase, an increase in VAT (that frugal-living Tory gentleman Nigel Lawson said earlier on BBC News the poor wouldn't suffer unduly because they'd "still be able to afford food and clothing"), an increase in pension age, a freezing of public sector salaries, a cutting of housing benefit to unemployed people on the dole for more than a year, cuts to housing benefit claimants who live in homes larger than their family warrants (what a bureaucratic nightmare that will be!), cuts in grants to pregnant women, and linking benefits to the consumer price index. Government departments are expected to shoulder cuts of up to 25%, which can't mean anything other than massive job cuts, and come the Autumn Labour turncoat John Hutton will be delivering a review into public sector pensions. No prizes for guessing his recommendations will be regressive.

There is some robbing Peter to pay Paul going on. To try and dress the budget up as an example of "progressive austerity", there have been sops to capital spending projects outside London, a guaranteed link of the basic state pension to earnings, a flat rate wage increase for lowest waged public sector workers, more child tax credit for the poorest and an increase in basic income tax allowance.

So while the pain falls unevenly on the working class, it represents the kind of wealth redistribution the Tories have no problem with. Put simply, it's a case of making the poor pay while the rich make hay.

If we take the perspective of capital in general, this is a dumb budget. Depressing the disposable incomes of the working class and throwing hundreds of thousands on the dole is no recipe for an economic recovery. As any Marxist will tell you, underconsumption is a core component of capitalist crisis.

But this assumes the agents of capital are rational. The state maybe the general committee for managing the common affairs of the bourgeoisie, but like New Labour and the Tories under Thatcher and Major, today's ConDems are closely aligned to finance capital. The hard monetarist policies it favours at best extricate it from social responsibilities, and at worse requires it to pay lip service to the Tories' rhetoric of "being all in it together". This is a government that cares little for manufacturing outside of the geopolitically vital "defence" industries, so it's not going to give a fig about those who will bear the brunt of the crisis. Rhetoric about "rebalancing" the economy is so much hot air.

There is only one force with the potential to stop these cuts in their tracks, and that's the labour movement. Unfortunately, despite talk of a summer of strikes and predictions of Greek-like conflagrations we remain historically weak. Of necessity the movement will fight and hundreds of thousands more will be drawn into the labour movement, but there's no use pretending the situation can be resolved by peddling the line that all the working class needs is the "right leadership".

A problem related to the weakness of the labour movement is the legitimacy the ConDems have. The Tories alone polled almost 11 million votes in May compared with Labour's comparatively paltry 8.6 million. All the mainstream parties were offering were variations on the cuts theme. It's an unfortunate but unavoidable fact that many millions of working class people
accept cuts have to take place: this most recent YouGov poll is one among many polls that backs this up. Media churn blaming Labour's "profligacy" and fat cat public sector workers reflect as well as inculcate actually existing mass sentiment. If the labour movement is to win we not only have to mobilise our core constituency of workers and service users facing the chop: we have to mercilessly criticise the ConDem's policy and rhetoric, form a coherent alternative narrative of our own and win over the many millions of working class people who've been hostile or indifferent to the labour movement in the past.

The Tories and LibDems have their coalition. We have to build our own.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do not know because for me and I'm disabled new labour has been flogging me, I once talked to Blair when he accidentally met at conference and I said well Mr Blair what about the scroungers the time waster work shy, he went red and said it was a figure of speech and his security guard took my wheelchair and pushed me out of the way, and boy did he push me I had to wait an hour for somebody to find me and take me back.


In September I will be seen as being fit to work, after last week i was told about a chap who had cancer who had both legs removed, he was then told he had incurable cancer of the bowel, the nineteen year spotty twat behind the computer deemed him fit to work, lucky his wife went to the CAB who wrote to his MP a Tory, who took it to the DWP, who looked at the case again but decided to send it to a tribunal, which deemed hairline case, but stated he could go onto ESA and not JSA.

This was under a Labour government, hence he was obviously work shy.

SamG said...

I think we should now think of New Labour as a transitionary vehicle for what we are seeing now. As anonymous says, many of the micro level changes to welfare and working daily lives were well under way before the Condems arrived on the scene. Many of the policies within the public sector, introduction of internal markets, public-private partnerships, PFI, cheque book schools etc etc etc have facilitated the current attacks. And New Labour has disciplined the workforce to accept low pay 'rises', often below inflation. So from the Toffs point of view there could not be a better time to introduce these cuts and assaults on the working class. They have them just where they need them, all thanks to New Labour. And the Labour movement is in such a piss weak position after 15 YEAR OF NEW LABOUR that the Condems can tell them anything knowing they will get away with it. So they have actually said their inflation target is 2%! Happy in the knowledge that when it ends up being much higher no fucker will question them about it or even see it as significant!

For the Tories there has never been a better time to fully implement their ideological views on society at large, this will be done step by step and be subject to outcomes. But if they can get away with it, 25% cuts will be the first stage of the project. Coming next, no sick pay for public sector workers, privatisation of backroom functions and the further pauperisation of the working class.

Anonymous said...

I work for the DWP and the Anonymous story above is no surprise to me. We have had people at work(I used to work on ESA) who have failed there Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and died the next week. You name it; cancer, paralysis, cerebral palsy, I've seen them all fail the WCA.

This happens for a couple of reasons, firstly because the government (as was) told the people who run the medicals a quota. Secondly, and most of all, the private company who run the medicals ATOS are paid per assessment. Appointments that were supposed to last 45 minutes are routinely rushed through in 5. There's not much logic or reasoning behind it either. I spoke to a customer who was asked, "do you have any trouble going to the toilet?" "Yes", they replied, "I wear a nappy as I cant control my bowels, Ive had an operation that leaves me incontinent." Pretty straight forward answer, on the results of the examination: "No trouble going to the bathroom". Whether they dont listen because they're in such a rush or stick very strictly to their quota, I don't know.

Very often this results in a lengthy appeals process that costs the department thousands (£10-12 thousands) of pounds, and a dispicable amount of anxiety and stress to the customer, who, lets not forget, is often extremely unwell.

ATOS also performs medicals for other companies and government departments. It is not unusual for a customer to have passed a medical with ATOS for their employer (Royal Mail is a good example) and fail with 0 points when they claim with ESA after their SSP has elapsed. This shows the crass attempt of the previous (and I suspect the incumbant) government to traffic people off benefits, because take it from me, it's a lot cheaper to throw sick people off benefits than to investigate fraudulant claims.

This is a prime example of what happens when state sector services are outsourced to a private company. By the way, ATOS, despite record complaints, are doing very nicely.

Arthur Bough said...

Phil,

I've written a few blogs on the Budget, and ideas we could mobilise around to provide the Liberal-Tories with the ideas they claim to want to hear from us. I have today posted a blog about a proposal I think the Labour Movement could put forward to pay for the deficit.

How To Pay For the Deficit

Essentially its this. The government requires all Limited Companies to issue new shares equal to 10% of their issued Share capital, and to hand these new shares over to the Government. There is well over a trillion pounds in the value of shares listed on the Stock market, so this amounts to more than £100 billion, which the Government could sell at the best times.

It doesn't affect profits or cash flow and so on, as I set out. What it does do, which all previous forms of taxation have failed to do, is to ensure that the crisis is paid for by Capital itself. It is not a measure of income redictribution, but directly a measure of Capital redistribution. That's why the Liberal-Tories will not agree to it, but why the Labour Movement should propose it.

TGR Worzel said...

I think its the tone of postings like this which are actually fuelling the class war.

The hard fact is, that under the Labour Government I've become much worse off. Labour were a complete and utter disaster. I hope they are never returned to power again, during my lifetime.

I'm not too keen on the Tories either, but the coalition is doing OK in my book, so far.

At least the coalition are trying to look after those who are worst off. Increasing personal allowances by considerably more than inflation, for instance.

I know Housing Benefit may seem like an attack on the poor, but we'll have to see how it works out. The intention, as I understand it, is not to make people homeless, but to save the taxpayer from paying excessive rents to greedy Landlords. If you think about it carefully, its the Tories battering their own (the greedy Tory Landlords) rather than specifically battering the working class...!

If you want to criticise past Governments (Tory and Labour), criticise the selling of Council Houses and the stubborn refusal to build new ones. If Housing is provided by the public sector, the benefits system would not need to pay private sector rents and rental costs would be much more effectively contained...

Phil said...

Class war isn't a rhetorical phenomena, it is an apt description of currently existing policies and policy outcomes. Under the Tories, New Labour, and now the Tories again there has been a massive redistribution of wealth from the poorest sections of society to the richest. While firms' profits have soared real wages for most have more or less stagnated, giving us one of the most obscene inequality divides in the developed world. And now on top of that, some 1.2 million public and private sector workers face the dole to pay for the bailing out of the banks.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ...