Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Demand a General Election - This government has no mandate for cuts

Guest blog from Mike Shaughnessy of Haringey Green Party

From what I hear about advance coach and train bookings, it appears that the TUC demonstration on Saturday 26th March is going to be very well attended, with some predictions that a million people will join the march through central London. But, let’s not be complacent, and everyone who can possibly attend this event should resolve themselves to do so. A huge show of opposition to the ConDem government’s attack on public services and the welfare state itself, is necessary to display for all to see, the strength of feeling aroused by these damaging slash and burn policies. This is no less than an attempt to turn back the clock to Victorian era social policies.

I know that there is some cynicism amongst the public about single set piece demonstrations after the massive anti-war march in 2003 was pretty much ignored by the Labour government, but a low turn-out will be easily dismissed as a ‘vested interest’ protest by public sector employees. Communities (service users) need to show solidarity with the unions on this, and to be quite frank, to encourage the often ‘conservative’ minded union leaders to escalate the battle and call coordinated strikes which they can do legally, over things like the proposed changes to occupational pensions.

I also expect this protest to be a bit different from other large scale marches, in that I expect there will be perhaps hundreds of smaller direct action type protests surrounding the main demonstration, where organisations like UKUncut have led the way with sit ins at high street banks. It is important that large numbers attend the main protest to make the smaller flash mobs more difficult for the authorities to contain. There are hundreds of legitimate targets for protest in London which given a large main demonstration, will be impossible to police.

The establishment has been busy lecturing the population that there is no alternative to the cuts, but there is indeed an alternative to this devastation of our communities, it just doesn’t get much publicity from the mainstream media, so we must make them listen, and this protest can be the beginning of the process.

We could start by ditching the ridiculous white elephant that is the Trident nuclear weapons system, saving billions of pounds. Then there is increasing income tax and National Insurance contributions for high earners (those on more than £44k per year pay only 1% NI on earnings above this figure, whilst everyone working pays 11% below this amount). It is further estimated that £120 billion is lost in tax revenue from wealthy individuals and corporate bodies to tax avoidance and evasion, these loop holes should be closed. Investment in energy efficiency measures like insulation would save millions of pounds. And the tax exemption for private schools must end and the savings be channelled into state schooling. That’s a starter for ten anyway.

The UK deficit is not even all that large by historical standards and we have the sixth largest economy in the world as measured by GDP, so why the urgency to cut public provision so savagely? Well, that’s because these cuts are ideologically driven by a government that wants to shrink the state, whatever the level of public debt, and they want to try and get the pain out of the way now. So in four years’ time they can call a general election and hope everyone has forgotten what they did to country.

Now is the time to stop the ConDem government dead in its tracks, and we should demand a general election immediately, because this government doesn’t have a mandate to inflict these policies on the people, since most were not in the Tory or Lib Dem manifestos at last year’s general election. Mubarak said there was no alternative in Egypt, and look what happened to him.

LINK to Haringey Green Party blog

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