OSBOURNE’S CHOICE

by Daphne Liddle

HOW DO YOU want your lives ruined? That effectively is what new Tory Chancellor George Osborne is asking the British public.

The British government is £176 billion in debt because two years ago Gordon Brown used billions of taxpayers’ money to halt the banking crisis.

Osborne has accused his Labour predecessors of being spendthrift and careless with money — though at the time he supported the Labour government measures to bail out the failing banks that were part of a global economic collapse.

The bankers were careless with our money but Osborne is not calling them squander bugs and asking them how they intend to pay it back.

No; he is implying that we, the general public are the squander bugs and it is up to all of us to make up the deficit.

According to Osborne’s sums he intends to cut across the board with 20 per cent lopped off the budget of every ministry.

That will hurt but he doesn’t want to be hated, so he is going to go through the motions of a public consultations exercise to ask where we think the cuts should come. Then when the cuts hurt he can claim he is only doing what we asked and it’s not his fault.

He, and Prime Minister David Cameron, keep insisting “we are all in this together” and everybody has to share the pain. But accepting a flat reduction of 20 per cent in our social wage will be unpleasant for those on high incomes but devastating for those on low incomes.

wealthy elite

Osborne and Cameron, from wealthy elite backgrounds, have no idea how many low —income people are only just scraping by and keeping their heads just above water. If their income is forced down they will go under. There will be thousands of personal bankruptcies, home repossessions, people living on the streets and suicides.

All we can hope is that much of that misery is translated into anger and class consciousness and that enough people want to fight back against this psychotic system that is capitalism.

The public consultation will be just a propaganda exercise. He has already decided where the cuts will come and his rich banker friends will not feel any of the pain. There is no way he is going to put up their taxes.

It is the public sector that is going to take the big hits. He says he wants to cut unnecessary bureaucracy but he is intruding a new government office of budgeting accountability — a sort of court in which each Government ministry will have to justify all its spending.

Departments will be commanded to cut 20 per cent from all their spending and then relate how they have done it.

twice as hard

Osborne and Cameron say front line NHS services will be safeguarded. But if the department still had to cut its 20 per cent then the back-up services will be hit twice as hard. And this will cause real pain.

NHS secretarial and ancillary services will be cut — so nurses and doctors will have to do more of their own paperwork, cleaning, feeding patients and so on. Or it won’t get done. Non-emergency services for the chronically sick, elderly and disabled will suffer.

But it is safe to say that the financially draining PFI and other private partnership contracts really will be ring-fenced.

Cameron has made it clear he is not likely to withdraw from the imperialist war to suppress Afghanistan, that is gradually enveloping Pakistan as well; nor is he likely to ditch that expensive white elephant, Trident.

Big government departments like Work and Pensions or Revenue and Customs will suffer huge job losses. These departments are already failing from a lack of trained, permanent staff. They will descend into further chaos.

Millions of public sector employees will lose their jobs, only to find that benefits have been frozen or cut and there is no one to process their claims.

And transferring millions from waged employment — albeit low paid — to benefits will actually increase Government spending, increase the deficit and prompt a double-dip recession.

But Britain is not alone. Across Europe and North America working people are facing the same devastating cuts programmes — and many of them are fighting back (see page eight).

In Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany and in the United States itself people are starting to rise up and refuse to pay for the mess created by the big banks — a price that would cost them their jobs, their homes, their health and their children’s education.

We must link our struggles together and follow the call from the Greek Communist Party (KKE) written on that huge banner draped in front of the Parthenon last month: “PEOPLE OF EUROPE RISE UP!”