|Year 2009 No. 62, September 15, 2009||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBBOOKS||SUBSCRIBE|
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Today, September 15, Gordon Brown is due to address the TUC Congress in Liverpool on the necessity to make cuts in public spending. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has been warning of a new era of spending restraint and argued to reduce the budget deficit after the current deep economic crisis alleviates. This is supposed to be a test of character for the Labour Party. That old chestnut, much beloved by Tony Blair and others, of the need to make the hard choices has informed the Chancellors arguments. In particular, his speech at the Callaghan Lecture in Cardiff on September 8, was said to prepare party and country for this cut in government spending.
In this argument, Alistair Darling is covering over the nature of the economic crisis and what the government has done to exacerbate it. It is the mechanisms to ensure that the wealth created nationally and internationally goes to paying the rich that have been deepening the economic crisis the root of which is a social economy and global system in which the ownership of capital and the means of production is in private hands. That the government has been bailing out these owners of monopoly capital has been a powerful force in exacerbating the crisis.
Alistair Darling is leaving decisions on which services will have to take the strain until the autumns Pre-Budget Report and next years pre-election Budget, but in his speech he did not ring-fence any areas, making plain that even sacred cows for Labour, such as the health service, would have to make a contribution.
The Times reported on Saturday that the Chancellor, backed by Lord Mandelson, has persuaded Gordon Brown to abandon the notion that a Labour government could somehow avoid spending curbs.
Gordon Brown is now reported to have admitted that Labour would be forced to rein back spending drastically if re-elected, and this is said to be his message to the TUC. The Prime Minister, who had insisted on contrasting Labour investment in public services with Conservative cuts, said that hard choices on spending would be required, telling a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in London, We wont flinch from the difficult decisions that will be necessary. Britain, he said, would halve its budget deficit over the next five years. The strategy would be front line first.
The argument from the government, and all the big parliamentary parties that form the Westminster cartel, is that it is necessary to make cuts to reduce the national debt. This is the same national debt that has grown out of all proportion with the governments billions of pounds in hand-outs in order to bail-out the banks and pay the rich.
These hand-outs have amounted to a criminal abuse of the funds of the public treasury. Far from being necessary to the economy, they have been made to ensure that the well-springs of the crisis have been rescued when the necessity has been to root them out and deny them the right to suck billions upon billions of pounds out of the social economy for private gain. On the other hand, the very path that will lead the economy out of the crisis, which is to increase investments in social programmes, end the hand-out to the monopolies, stop gearing the economy to paying the rich, and concentrate on the production of social wealth, is deemed expendable, a secondary or tertiary claim after the demands of the financers have been met.
A healthy economy can only be one that addresses the peoples well- being, that is geared to the public good. The ruling elite, prior to the collapse a year ago of the financial institutions, presaged by the collapse of Northern Rock, and before that by the wracking up of the peoples debt to unprecedented proportions in order to channel funds to the rich, had been swearing that this was the only way the global economy could be run. It is important that the necessary conclusions are drawn by the people, and that they do not accept the sophistry of Gordon Brown and his Chancellor.
What is being left out of the equation is that if the public debt is of such proportions that it is disastrously destabilising the public finances and wrecking the governments budgets, then this debt must be called in, and the repayments to the financers stopped immediately. These funds must be channelled where the people demand, that is to social programmes and into production to meet the needs of society. It will not wash and must not be allowed to pass that the government and the whole ruling elite say that now public expenditure must be cut and the claims of the financiers take priority.
Brown and Darling say that setting priorities inevitably means tough choices, that private endeavour takes priority and the vital role for the state is to intervene on behalf of the financiers. This is completely unacceptable. This government-speak of more efficiency, continuing to reform, cutting costs, public and private sectors working together signals the reality that the people must be prepared to be devastated and the economy wrecked. In opposition, worker politicians must get organised to demand that investment in social programmes and wealth production is stepped up, and that if the monopolies do not agree then it is they who must leave the scene of history together with the politicians who sing from their hymn sheet.
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
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