Austerity in Britain: undermining resistance

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 11:03 Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

Johnny "Wheelz" McGovern from Black Triangle's Scottish delegation at Trafalgar Square

With 80% of the Coalition’s proposed public sector spending cuts yet to be implemented, the 20% that are in place are causing misery for millions of working class people.

Tens of thousands are being evicted from homes across the country as housing benefit caps are implemented making their existing accommodation unaffordable.

Raising the threshold for eligibility for Working Tax Credit from 16 hours to 24 hours work per week will cost 200,000 of the poorest families up to £3,900 a year.

Council services for the disabled, for children and the elderly have been slashed; overall 400,000 public sector jobs have disappeared over the past two years.

Median household incomes have fallen by 6.4% over the last two years and will fall by 0.6% this coming year, 1.5% for the poorest 20% of the population (Institute for Fiscal Studies, IFS).


Worse is to come if the ruling class has its way.

The new Universal Credit system will be introduced six months earlier than planned. This will set a cap of £26,000 per annum on the benefits a single household can receive. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced that ‘suspected’ alcoholics and drug addicts will be denied benefits if they do not attend AA meetings or enrol on addiction treatment courses.

Assessments will be carried out by benefits officers.

Half a million disabled people will lose their support as the Disability Living Allowance is replaced over the next four years by Personal Independence Payments.

Using figures for 2010 as a baseline, the IFS estimates that a further 700,000 children will fall into poverty by 2020, 4.2 million children in all, a rise from 26.9% to 31.6%.

This is not all.

A recent report by millionaire venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft recommends lifting a whole range of regulations from small businesses. He says they should be allowed to fire workers at will, that they should be able to opt out of equality legislation and that they should no longer have to seek licences to employ children.

The ruling class mantra is that business is being strangled by red tape – this in a country where employment protection law is the weakest of nearly all OECD countries.

These are the actions of a government which as yet faces no serious opposition.

It is presiding over the double-dip recession it said would not happen, where it has even alienated natural supporters such as business leaders, police and prison officers and where its leaders have been exposed as up to their eyeballs in corrupt relations with the press.

Responsibility for a situation in which workers are being hammered without offering resistance lies squarely with the trade union apparatus.

10 May was another one-day stoppage in the futile trade union campaign against public sector pension cuts. There may be a further one in June. There again, there may not. The NUT doesn’t want one, the PCS will have one if others agree – it is all a case of pass the parcel.

There is no conviction, no determination.

The changes to pension arrangements, which mean that workers have to pay more, work longer and receive less when they retire, are now in place.

The trade union leadership just wants the issue to go away, and its strategy is to take the steam out of its members’ outrage with its series of ever more empty on-off one-day stoppages.

Underlying this is the political dimension: that the trade union leadership is not prepared to break with the Labour Party and mount a serious challenge to austerity, and the social democratic left outside of the Labour Party is not prepared to break with the trade union leadership.

Together, they have failed to mobilise serious resistance to, for instance, the privatisation of the NHS or education, or to the huge cuts in council services and consequent job losses that continue to take place week by week.

The Labour Party has no alternative to the ConDem Coalition other than slightly slower cuts.

The alliance between the trade union leadership and the Labour Party means that the trade unions too have accepted the need for slightly slower cuts, and because of this they are not prepared to challenge Labour-run councils slashing jobs and services. They have not even mounted a serious struggle against Tory-run councils because to do so would involve breaking the anti-trade union laws, and the trade union leadership will not allow this to happen since it would threaten their £1bn-plus assets.

To stifle resistance the leadership has relied on the forces which control local union branches, which in the public sector white-collar unions are mainly lower and middle management.

These layers may be experiencing lower living standards and sometimes job losses, but not to the extent that they want a serious struggle which threatens further their still relatively privileged position.

The absence of sustained resistance is also the responsibility of the social democratic left, organisations like the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and the Socialist Party, whose strategy of gaining elected positions in trade unions at local, regional and national level has drawn them into the trade union apparatus where they have to play by the rules of the game. Their criticism of the leadership becomes muted as they are forced to work through labyrinthine trade union processes.

Thus, when the NUT on 10 May rejected a further strike in June, SWP industrial organiser Martin Smith complained that ‘it is further evidence that those at the top of our unions, even in one controlled by the left, are not pursuing this fight with the same determination as the rank and file.’

The point is that the ‘determination’ of the leadership is to prevent anything from happening at all, and the left is too compromised to be able to change this.

For signs of serious resistance at the moment we have to look outside the trade unions.

On 18 April Disabled People against the Cuts (DPAC) organised a protest at Trafalgar Square halting traffic for more than two hours. The protesters used chains and locks to bolt together dozens of wheelchairs to block the roads; police were unable to cope.

‘We are fed up with being vilified as scroungers by successive governments,’ said DPAC co-founder Debbie Jolly. ‘We are sick of hearing about disabled people who have died from neglect and lack of services or who have committed suicide because services and benefits had been withdrawn from them.

We want to make sure politicians know we will not accept these attacks on our lives any longer.’

This is the determination that real resistance requires, together with creativity in deciding forms of protest.

As socialists we should also take encouragement from George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West. When the mass of the working class in one constituency, black and white, vote for an anti-war, anti-austerity programme and deliver a crushing defeat for not just the ConDem coalition but the corrupt pro-imperialist Labour Party, we can see that a new political consciousness is emerging.

As the cuts bite deeper and deeper it is inevitable that this consciousness will lead to real resistance.

Fight Racism Fight Imperialism

7 thoughts on “Austerity in Britain: undermining resistance

  1. jeffery davies says:

    welcome to britain 2012 where the torys take us back to 1750 where next they have us flogged for pinching a loaf of bread because we cant get benefits who are whre are those who leave this happen to those on benefits mps not many of those want to help as they all got their heads stuck up in the clouds and still got their fongers in the till .SO the torys aint going to change for no one taken us further down the road where they deny us even a roof over ones head ,n this not britaind how can you leave it go on on on we lossing enough of the disabled and sick daily and still the bast—- still take us furthr into no benefits and now talking about the next elections where they bring in no money for under 25yrs houssing .Where are we going please before they kill us all on benefits do something get rid of these not so nice people who beleive they doing right in whot they do ,god forgive but the benefits claiments cant they killing us daily jeff3

  2. muffie 02 says:

    history , an apparently weak subject at eaton and other toff unis, teaches that governments that kick the people too much – keep them in poverty and treat them like scum – eventually end up with revolution on their hands
    witness the french and russion events – and more recently those in egypt and other states – history repeates its self – in england we have never had a nation wide uprising – the nearest was probably the peasents revolt of 1381 lead by one wat tylor – later the government of the day showed what they where prepared to do to stifle dissent in what has become known as the “peterloo ” massacre of march 1819 – when soldures charged unarmed civilions and about 18 where killed and some 500 injured including 100 women and children – nearer to now of course the poll tax riots certainly put the wind up many politicos and we all remember ( or should do ) what happened there and the lingering aftermath of the mines closing and much unemployment .

    anyways my small history lesson aside – i wonder how long it will be before the british people are pushed too far and we have a revolution in this country ?? – IMO thats what will happen – and probably in my lifetime – of course many will say “oh the british are too apathetic ” well history also teaches us that the british are at their BEST when their backs are firmly against the wall (- something the politicos will do well to remember – when they have theirs against one – facing a firing squad ?????? ) – but how much MORE will it take for the british to be pushed too far ?? – as someone once obseved – “AYE , and there in lies the rub ”

    lets hope that they see sence before any thing comes to pass – but then when do politico’s ever use common sence ???

    ho -hum ……………….

  3. Humanity2012 says:

    Rulers of these Isles since Henry VIII Destroyed the Monasteries a Source of Help
    to the Poor and the Sick have in many Cases been Diabolical Idiots to Cut to the

    I am Sick of the Arrogance of Politicians the Division Caused by the Party Political
    System the Lack of Choice through this Consensus of No Choice and the Craven Failure
    of People to Recognise that to Improve in Real Life the Political Economic and Social
    Situation of the United Kingdom there Needs to be a Revolutionary Sea Change in the
    Political Economic and Social Situation of the United Kingdom where those who Hold
    Office put Principle before Party Politics Wealth is Shared Out Equally amongst the
    Many Not Hoarded by the Greedy Few and where People put the Welfare of the Poor
    and Vulnerable before Football the TV Idiot’s Box and Getting Drunk on Friday and
    Saturday Nights

    A Place to Live Food to Eat a Decent Standard of Living Basic Human Rights

    We Need the Direction Changed for the Better and Better Right Now than Never

  4. june heaney says:

    where is this all going to end, the government doesnt care how many people are driven to kill themselves, iain duncan smith is probably rubbing his hands together . { one less mouth to feed } i feel david cameron and iain duncan smith will not be happy until the mentally and physically handicapped and the people with mental health issues are back in institutions where they are out of sight and out of mind. welcome to the victorian era, begging children in the street where the rich get richer and the poor dont matter. these are men who have been elected by the very people they are abusing. this is just a smoke screen to hide the real people who have destroyed this country and brought it too its knees. surprise surprise it isnt the ones that the government is out to destroy but instead its the bankers and brokers of the money world who have caused this recession. the government bailed out the bankers and now intend to give them further money. WHY !!!!! because we let them, we let them beat us into the ground and thank them when they do it. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS if all of the people said NO we are not paying you to destroy us what could they do. instead we stand back and let them pick us off one by one. the problem with this is we need everyone to stand up and be counted but people are afraid to say anything encase they are put under the spotlight. i hate to tell you this is just the start the government will come up with as many schemes as we allow them. iceland managed to do it they sacked the government and jailed the men that brought the country to its knees. they picked a new government which was of the people and for the people they wrote new laws and refused to pay the debt. it was done peacefully and they changed everyones life for the better. of course you wont hear about it in the media WHY because the government pays them well for their silence. so we know it can be done now we just need to find the people who are willing to do it. it wont work if its just a few voices they can be silenced, it has to be us all together. when will it be the right time for you when will you say enough is enough.

  5. Andrew Healey says:

    This country needs a complete new political system, because the one we have now is totally corrupt in every sense of the word. The Labour movement set up by working class people to give them a voice in government now infiltrated throughout its ranks to the very top by Fabien multi millionaire socialists. The trade unions infiltrated by the very same, pulling strings everywhere as not to upset the status quo disregarding its members and their rights to a decent wage and working conditions, helping to turn public opinion against the very workers who built this country. The idiots in Parliament have destroyed our nation brick by brick, decent education once the envy of the world GONE. Manufacturing, our products envied and sought the world over GONE. A health care system the envy of the world being destroyed NOW.You just need to think of something that once put Britain at the top of the league and it’s either been destroyed or is being.The scary thing is, there is no redemption from this in any of the political parties, they are the same Fabien socialists, speak the same language, commit the same frauds and they will not stop till they drag us all into a poverty not known in this country for two hundred years. We are cannon fodder the common man in this country always has been. We need General strikes now together we can get rid of these Nazis, we are everywhere and outnumber these parasites hundreds of thousands to one. GIVE BRITAIN BACK ITS DECENCY ITS HUMANITY AND ITS SENSE OF FAIR PLAY

  6. DAVID A SHAW says:

    Yes to the restoration of Democracy, NO to discrimination of ANY kind, return the nation to the people. We need a party OF the people, FOR the people, and WITH the people, and if takes the formation of a new political party then so be it.

  7. Mike Caics says:

    Before the Bolshevik uprising, the Monarchy refused to open their food stores so that the starving of Moscow and St. Petersburg could eat. In fact, they held banquets instead – refusing to share the scraps with the emaciated children who wandered the frozen streets, half -mad from malnutrition and searing skin – diseases, lice and open sores from walking miles without rest. Remember, Czar Nikolai Romanov was NOT a nice man: he had no interest in his ‘people’ and saw them as a drain and unnecessary rabble: vermin who could be exploited any way He and His Family saw fit. Many of the Ministers of OUR present-day Government, PUBLIC SERVANTS ALL, are behaving as Quasi-Monarchs…

    The WHOLE of the Romanov Dynasty was exterminated. For a time, the people were free; but they fell back into a hierarchical system as bad as the Romanov Monarchy..

    However. Their mistake was to ‘trust’ the remaining ‘Aristocrats’ to become Comrades.

    The French never did such a thing…

    There is a lesson here to be learned, more valuable than any Communist Manifesto – should any man seek to ponder its meaning.

    “Every Man is MY Brother. Every Woman is MY Sister – and their children are MY children. Their happiness is mine, their sorrows are mine, their fate is mine and their glory is mine. This Earth is ALL we have, and there will be a day when NOT ONE MAN, WOMAN OR CHILD WILL WANT TO SHARE IT WITH THOSE WHO THINK ONLY OF THEMSELVES. I AM RESPONSIBLE, AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE AND WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER..” If not… destroy the Earth!

    The rich are an endangered species: it is why they fear anyone who is poor – that they might take everything from them: vermin that they are, they scrabble to become richer while making everyone else poorer. Millions aren’t enough: Billions aren’t enough. They want to feel like Gods… pathetic! We should pity them. We should have a whip-round for them. We should create charities for them to survive .. for some only have $620,000,000,000 Dollars to their name.. it’s just not enough.. is it?

    I say – strangle them with it: force their power back down their throats until they vomit. Smother them with their riches. Choke them all to death with their money. Let them perish: walled in a common silence – where not one of US hears them: let them die surrounded by wealth they CANNOT carry with them into the darkness from which there is absolutely NO return. Not even in ten thousand years has ANYONE come back from the dead to say anything at all!

    Perhaps like Syrian King Darius dealt with Emperor Valerian: we should deal with all these self – aggrandizing ‘Gods’ and their sycophantic lackeys by melting all of their Gold and feeding it to them..

    Unfortunately, if you REALLY want to get rid of this Government – the Monarchy has to fall too… For it is through the Crown and its corrupt ‘priveliges’ the foundation stone of Social Inequality and Class Distinction was lain, upon which they built an entire fortress called ‘Public School’ (Eton, Oxford, Cambridge et al…)

    This is the cold reality.

    If there is a God, let’s hope He IS listening to us all.

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