THE MAIN battle arena in the general election campaign will be the economy in the continuing aftermath of the 2009 banking crisis — whether to raise taxes or cut public services.
Both Labour and the Tories will be forced to use both measures to some extent but the arguments are over which is the most important tool to use to reduce Government debt.
And though Brown’s Labour government is a long way from socialist the differences between the two approaches is running along class fault lines.
And to prove it Cameron last Tuesday wheeled out another 30 business leaders to say they did not approve of Brown’s plans to raise National Insurance contributions for those earning over £20,000.
But since Cameron has been berating Brown for the slow pace of his plans to tackle the budget deficit, he would have to replace the NI cut by raising some other tax or making the sort of instant drastic cuts that would put more people on the dole and send the country plunging into further recession.
It seems most likely he would raise Value Added Tax instead. But this would raise prices and impact disproportionately on people on low incomes. Businesses would still lose as hard up customers cut back on their spending.
The global economic crisis and the general mantle of the bourgeois state under which Brown, Cameron and Liberal-Democrat leader Clegg operate allows little latitude for significantly different policies.
But those small differences are widening along class lines. Brown is raising taxes on the rich. Just this week the 50 per cent tax rate on people earning over £150,000 a year came into force. It’s not much and many of the richest will “restructure” their finances to avoid it. But it is better than raising taxes on the poor, which is what an increase in VAT would be.
Brown is planning to spend to create more jobs in “green” industries and is allowing councils to build a few of the desperately needed council houses. It is not nearly enough but better than forcing the sale of the remaining council housing or raising council house rents to market level — average £80-a-week to £250-a-week — and ending secure tenancies, which the Tories are planning.
They claim that “low” council rents distort the housing market. In reality the dire shortage of council housing is keeping house prices artificially high. Over the last 50 years house prices have multiplied about several thousands times — way above the general rate of inflation — and housing now takes a higher proportion of workers’ wages than it ever has.
.Workers’ wages reflect only a fraction of the wealth they create for their bosses. But before they can spend any on their families they must enrich the bankers by paying instalments on their mortgages and other debts at high interest rates while the Government and Bank of England supply these finance institutions with money at a virtually non-existent interest rates. And increasing numbers of workers now also have to fork out high rents to private landlords from their meagre wages.
It’s high time they got angry about it but too many workers are working too long hours; they are tired and cynical and do not trust any political party. There will not be a revolution tomorrow but it will come, eventually.
In the meantime voting on 6th May to keep the Tories out is vital to stop our situation getting significantly worse than it is.
When filthy rich business tycoons publicly back the Tory party no one can be surprised. They are our class enemy and they are rich and powerful. If they are attacking Brown he can’t be all bad.
The Tories have the might of the Murdoch press and media empire on their side — as Blair used to. And they have Lord Ashcroft’s millions to back their election campaign — a man who chooses not to live or pay taxes in Britain but lives in his own fiefdom in Belize.
To him, Britain and the people of Britain are just something to make more and more money out of while giving back as little as possible; we are just a gullible and willing business opportunity. If we let the Tories back in that is exactly what we could become. We must keep them out.