|Anti-Cuts Demo, Bath, December 2012|
George Osborne's Autumn statement has just been released, and it is as bad as everyone expected. Whilst in the past, the ConDems have frozen wages, introduced 'Workfare' slave labour, tripled tuition fees, upped VAT and begun dismantling public services, this government's policy hits the poorest and most vulnerable in society hardest, leaving the rich and bankers virtually unscathed. Whilst attacking benefits, pensions and teachers' unions, Osborne has been forced to admit that austerity measures are failing to save the economy, and will continue until at least 2018. And the scandals of private companies being handed over control of health services will mean widespread hospital closures, and the complete destruction of the NHS.
While we suffer, the Sunday Times Rich List reported that the wealthiest 1,000 UK citizens have seen their fortunes increase by over £18 billion over the past year, to more than £414 billion, ovr a third of the national debt. Their combined wealth has risen to record levels in the past year, despite the recession, whilst we still suffer. Restoring corporate tax to pre-Thatcher levels (£27.5 billion), closing down the rich's tax loopholes (£95 billion) and collecting their unpaid taxes (£28 billion), as well as getting troops out of the Middle East (£4.5 billion) and scrapping Trident (£97 billion) - these steps would also heal the deficit...
But the budget has more to do with the old Tory policies of privatisation, public sector cuts and looking out for their rich mates, than it does about helping average people, indeed, the current cabinet includes 18 millionaires, and over half went to private school: no, were not all in this together.
And all this is taking place whilst banks and companies like Marks and Spencer, SABMiller (brewers of Grolsch), Starbucks, Cadburys, Boots/Top Shop and Vodafone are graciously allowed to opt out of the taxes they owe - with the latter two owing £300 million and £6 billion respectively.
Meanwhile, B&NES council are making their own plans to carry out the governments cuts, including cutting 400 or more council jobs over four years, as well as privatising or winding down its youth services, healthcare, adult support services and libraries, as well as thousands of MOD jobs to be lost from all three Bath sites. In fact, by adopting its proposed new buzzword of being an 'enabler rather than a 'provider of services, the council itself will cease to have any relevance, or power to do its job and serve its community, in any way.
Just like with the fight against the poll tax at the beginning of the 1990s, a massive campaign has been started to defend our services and fight back against the cuts, up and down the country. We can win, but we need as many people as possible to fight back against these cuts and to defend their jobs and communities.
Standing out in the cold on a December night may not seem like the most comfortable way to spend an evening, but these cuts need to be fought at every opportunity. Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance, along with numerous other groups in the Bath area, including BARF, Occupy Bath, 38 Degrees, Socialist Worker Party and trade unions are doing what they can to fight them. Get involved with them - unless you are the 1%, these cuts affect you too. And if you are the 1% - where's your compassion for those less fortunate?
Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance
Occupy Bath Facebook Page
Note: Some text taken from Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance literature handed out during the demo