THERE IS a wanton savagery about the government’s attacks in so many areas, a recklessness that needs careful consideration. It is moving with unparalleled haste to undo much of the progress that the British people have managed to win over decades. Even right-wing Tories are muttering about “too far, too fast”. The challenge now for all thinking workers is to understand what is going on. How can this be happening? What can be done?
The first step must be to accept that the speed of proposed change would be impossible had the Labour government not laid the basis for it so impeccably.
The massive hikes in university fees could be pushed through without an Act of Parliament only because Labour, when it brought in, then raised, tuition fees, introduced a clause allowing future governments to change them by a simple administrative procedure. Academy schools were Labour’s idea.
GP consortia to replace Primary Care Trusts is not a Coalition concept. The idea was piloted by Labour, in Cumbria, with the aim of spreading it across the country. NHS Foundation trusts came from Labour.
Scratch a Coalition policy, and the chances are that you’ll uncover a thick thread leading back to the last government.
So one reason that the Coalition is moving with such haste is that, quite simply, it can. The path was already laid, the policies trialled, the laws ready.
That, though, does not explain the recklessness, the disregard for the very fabric of Britain. Leave aside the broken promises – consider what is behind their slash-and-burn cuts and reorganisations.
It all smacks of extreme short-termism of the kind shown so shamelessly by the capitalist class, especially but not exclusively by our banks. And in its decline, capitalism in Britain has turned its back on production.
Finance capital is in charge in Britain, but it recognises no nation. It is happy to invest in commodities one day, move the money to bonds the next, to food the day after, from country to country, from industry to industry. Why waste money on maintaining a social infrastructure in Britain when there are plenty of other places to employ workers and make a profit?
Why support an NHS when you can make a few billion out of privatising it? Never mind that the health and therefore productivity of British workers will suffer. By the time that hits production, finance capital will have moved on elsewhere: it is locust economics, and it breeds locust politics. It will make a desert of Britain if unchallenged.
The only money finance capital wants is easy money. Quick profits are the only profits worth having. Slash, burn, strip the assets. And it has free rein. Thatcher removed controls on the export of capital. Brown removed control over the Bank of England. The European Union says that state support for industry is illegal.
In truth, then, our fight is not against cuts – though fought they must be – but a fight for the future of Britain. To win it, we must do more, much more, than mobilise “users of services”.
Politicians of left and right will not save us. They argue only about the pace of destruction. We must go back to the only organisations we can rely on, the unions created by the working class. They must be reinvigorated, reclaimed, and become the authentic voice of a Britain that wants to live in a civilised society and plan how it will work, and is prepared to fight for its country. We have nowhere else to go.