Workers'Weekly On-Line
Volume 41 Number 32, November 26, 2011 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Hands Off Pensions!
A Decent Pension Is a Right!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

Hands Off Pensions! A Decent Pension Is a Right!

Cameron’s Mansion House Speech:
Crass and Anachronistic Jingoism

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Hands Off Pensions! A Decent Pension Is a Right!

Pensions Justice
We Didn't Cause this Mess

Workers’ Weekly salutes all the millions of workers taking action on November 30 in defence of their right to a decent pension. It is completely unacceptable that the government is attempting to dictate and issue threats to the public service workers who are fighting to defend their pensions.

It is the people who should be holding the government to account. Why is the government issuing threats and attacking pensions in this way when the workers fight for what is theirs by right? It is a similar story with the National Health Service. The government is attempting to steamroller through its dictate that the NHS should be re-organised to serve the interests of the private monopolies. This is wrecking activity of the social economy, its infrastructure and its social programmes.

The Coalition has entrenched its dictate with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act so that it can pursue its aim to confront the workers’ movement and impose the interests of the monopolies over the rights of the people. This is not only an affront to the working class and an attack on the people’s claim to a decent standard of living and the public good. It is proving extremely destructive to the economy and the fabric of society as a whole.

This is a government made up of two parties that each received a minority share of votes cast at the general election, and who together are in power with a minority share of the electorate’s votes. What kind of legitimacy for a governmental programme is this, never mind the fact that the measures they are imposing were not in their manifestos and are ones for which they cannot conceivably be considered to have a mandate?

Then the government has the effrontery to claim that the strike mandated by up to 3 million workers is what is damaging the economy. The Coalition sang a different tune when it declared a public holiday for the royal wedding. No, it is the striking workers who are declaring enough is enough and that the wrecking of the economy to serve monopoly right has to stop. Marches, rallies, picketing and protests are being held the length and breadth of the country with this sentiment.

The government and the media in its service have been doing everything in the build up to the strike to blame public sector workers for the so-called disruption to public services that is supposed to be caused by this strike. Far from it. It is the government that is behind the disruption of public services. It is giving priority to the massive interest payments to the owners of government debt, a debt which is run for that very reason. The government is further robbing the pension funds of their surplus to pay the financiers under the guise of paying off the government deficit, and is further proposing earmarking £20bn of pension funds money to be paid to construction monopolies and the like. It is the government which is ignoring the claims of public service workers who are the producers of added value in these services and should have first claim on it. It was the government that arrogantly said that they would impose on public sector workers their plan for cuts to pensions if the trade unions did not agree it these cuts by the end of October. Therefore, it is the government's refusal to consider the claims of the public sector workers and their trade unions on their pensions which must be considered the cause of any disruption to public services.

Hands off Our pensionsOnly when the government received intelligence that told them that public sector workers were not going to stand for it and were about to vote overwhelmingly for the strike did they appear to make some “concessions” at the last minute. Those “concessions” were not an offer in negotiations according to the trade union negotiators. They were political statements from Parliament which have no weight in law and cannot be challenged. This “offer” from the dispatch box of changes on protection for more older workers and increasing the calculation of average pensions nevertheless still maintained the increase of the pension contributions from public sector workers by up to 50% and still reduced the pensions overall and still would force younger public sector workers to work to nearly 70 years of age to receive their work pension.

There is an urgent need for an effective Workers’ Opposition to hold the government to account. The government’s attack on pensions must be defeated. An alternative direction for the economy is required so that workers’ rights are guaranteed, their livelihoods, including pensions, safeguarded, and responsibility for the public good put as the centrepiece of the social economy.

Hands Off Pensions! Fight for Decent Pensions for All!

Article Index



Cameron’s Mansion House Speech:

Crass and Anachronistic Jingoism

On November 14, Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a keynote speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, the annual gathering of representatives of the major financial institutions at which it is customary for the Prime Minister to speak on the government’s foreign policy. Cameron’s speech on this occasion was entitled “Foreign Policy in the National Interest”.

Of course, by “the national interest” the Prime Minister only had in the mind the interests of his immediate audience, the representatives of the financial oligarchy and the big monopolies. Therefore his speech was devoted to championing the need for more intervention by the government of Britain in the internal affairs of countries, and to defending the values of neo-liberal globalisation neither of which are in the interests of the majority of the people of Britain or other countries.

The destruction of Libya by NATO It was in this context that Cameron celebrated the government’s criminal military intervention in Libya and its policy of assassination and regime change, which are completely contrary to the UN Charter and international law. For Cameron the instigation and support of a rebellion in a sovereign country has established “a new partner in the Southern Mediterranean”, not to mention the mineral resources of this “partner”, and further cemented alliances with other reactionary governments throughout the region. Indeed the British government and its allies who even present themselves as the saviours of the so-called Arab Spring have demonstrated that they remain the friends and chief supporters of all that is backward in the world, that they plan to divert the popular uprisings into harmless channels, or intervene in them for their own purposes. It has already become clear that the government is intervening in Syria and openly encouraging the opposition to the Syrian government while the Prime Minister used his Mansion House speech for more sabre-rattling and threats of increasing intervention in Pakistan as well as Somalia, a country which will become a major focus for the government in the New Year.

Throughout his speech, the Prime Minister continually emphasised that in the face of the economic and political crises that are ravaging Europe and other parts of the world his government would be adhering to the path of its predecessors. This is the blood-soaked road of military and other forms of intervention, neo-colonial exploitation and the expansion of the global reach of the big banks and monopolies. The failed and dangerous orientation of the past was not just defended but presented as the path of glory and salvation. This was particularly the case in regard to the EU, which the government views mainly as the mechanism which opened up the markets and resources of Eastern Europe and now views as a mechanism which may be used in a similar way even outside Europe’s borders.

The Prime Minister’s speech which boasts of Britain’s military prowess and “influence” in the world is full of the jingoism of the old imperialists as well as that of their modern successors who dream of making Britain “great” again. For all its rhetoric, it shows no concern for the “national interest” not any grasp or concern for the lives of the vast majority of people of Britain or other parts of the world. The Prime Minister has indicated that as the economic crisis intensifies the government will stick to its warmongering and dangerous course. It will continue to adhere to and promote the values of neo-liberal globalisation as if they are the values and in the interests of all. It will continue to threaten other countries, to interfere in their internal affairs and intervene militarily if this is in the strategic and financial interests of the big banks and monopolies. It is a road which creates great dangers for the world, which will bring greater instability and to which the vast majority are resolutely opposed. In these circumstances, it is the responsibility of all to redouble our efforts to create the conditions to establish an anti-war government which truly represents the interests of the people of Britain.

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