The 2011 UK Budget will once again be more fuel on the Tory Government’s class war fire.
The class war being fought by business and the bosses is to prepare the economy to withstand and facilitate the worst cuts and attacks on the working class and labour movement since Thatcher. Whatever Goerge Osborne says about it being a “budget for growth” this is what is going on. Unenploymement is rising. Living standards are falling. Average earnings are falling. Those trends will continue.
Lib Dem coalition partners are saying this budget will be more compassionate and fairer than a straight Tory budget would have been. The facts give the lie to that.
Increasing the threshold by which the lowest earners pay tax to £8000 may seem a small step in the right direction, but coupled with cuts in tax credits, services, pensions and the rise in VAT, those on the lowest income are still suffering hard and that will continue.
Recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) outlines the factors that are involved in a fall in real incomes and the fact that all of these factors have been acute in the last three years. They are: lower employment, lower interest on savings, lower real earnings, and tax and benefit changes.
Between 2008-2011 median incomes have fallen by 1.6% or £360 a year. This is the first time median incomes have fallen in a three year period since 1990-93 and it is the biggest drop since 1980-83.
Moreover in the previous 50 years the lowest earners could have expected their incomes to rise. Not so now. The same group’s income has dropped by just over 2%.
The TUC’s statement on the economy, coming days before the “March for the Alternative” is completely uninspiring stuff. While condemning the Chancellor’s pro business outlook and empty rhetoric about job creation it calls for a ‘“sustainable recovery”. That is just weasel words for “some cuts”, but slower. There is no programme for the labour movement to fight these measures.
The demo on 26 March will show the scale of opposition to these cuts but it is up to the rank-and-file to transform their unions into combative bodies that are prepared to organise, strike, demonstrate, link up across sectors and with local communities to mount a genuine fightback.