UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Cuts are not the Cure‏

#uNDC11 "We need to nail the lies and the myths peddled by the Tories and their backers in the right wing press if we are to make the case for the defence of public services" said NEC member Jane Carolan moving Composite E on economic policy immediately following the General Secretary's speech:

"It is appropriate that the first major debate that we are having this week is on economic policy because they are trying to sell us a pig in a poke that this is the big society

That we are all in this together

That the cuts are the only way forward.

We need to make a coherent economic argument that yes, there is an alternative .

It seems that politicians of all persuasions, whether Cameron Clegg or Salmond agree on one thing. That this is clearing up the mess left by a spendthrift Labour Party.

There is one thing missing from that story.

That would be the crisis brought on by the collapse of the financial sector as bankers who sought to make money out of cheap credit and bad loans had their chickens come home to roost. Labour was forced to borrow to save the UK economy from collapse.

I think that we should put the blame where it is rightly due. This was a bankers crisis aided and abetted by those who allowed the financial and capital markets to go unregulated.

The Osborne tells us that the deficit needs to be dealt with now, in his 5 year plan. Only one question is never answered. Why?

The answer to that is that it is an ideological choice that the Tories have made. We were one of the strongest economies in the world before this lot got their hands on it. They have made a deliberate choice to gamble with the economic future of this country. To gamble with jobs and employment and with our public services.

Why is it that major economists all have the same viewpoint To quote Paul Krugman who has previously won a Nobel prize in the subject

Osborne is wrong on the economics — front-loaded spending cuts are the wrong policy for a still-depressed economy —

Then they tell us that we can’t afford our public services. But while people in this hall will pay their taxes week in week out those who are backing the Tories never pay their fair share. The TUC has estimated that £25 billion is lost by tax avoidance every year. plus an additional £8 billion is lost through so called tax planning by wealth individuals, the so called non doms

Instead of public adverts humiliating those who rely on the benefit system, I’d love to see adverts naming and shaming those who scam their way out of paying their fair share. Stop the loop holes and tax the rich whether they are corporations or individuals . And this conference would advise that raising the Robin hood Tax could also raise a pound or two.

The government austerity plan is suicidal. Half a million public sector jobs will be lost. Plus a similar number in the private sector .Then more as the private equity companies who moved into public services as a result of marketisation speculating in their assets as Southern Cross did fall apart, leaving the elderly and others dependent on care in the lurch. Private equity did not buy up those firms to provide a service but to squeeze their assets while exploiting their work force. Those services were public for a reason to provide services for the poor and vulnerable not to make profits for the city.

So where do those workers go but into the dole queue to claim benefits . Where public sector jobs are lost, where public sector pay is cut the economy suffers Osborne has crossed his fingers and hopes that the private sector will create 2.5 million jobs in 5 years when the reality is that only half that number were created in the past tens years when the UK economy was booming.

To quote David Blanchflower

This austerity package is likely to be the greatest macro economic mistake in a century.
So it is not self interest that motivates those of us who oppose it. It is the economic interest of the country.

And we are certainly not all in this together. For the public schoolboys sitting in the cabinet, the £50 a week that women in the public sector will get as their pension is probably the cost of a decent bottle of port old chap.

It is our jobs that are under threat.

It is our children who are out of work- nearly one million of them.

That’s before they are priced out of higher education, or unable to get an apprenticeship because the Tories cut that support .

Its our Health Service they are running down.
Its our schools that are being privatised
Its our mothers and fathers who lose out on care.
Its us who face rising child care costs .

I was bemused when one Ed Balls declared at the weekend that we don’t want a return to the eighties with its divisions and confrontations and strikes .

Rising unemployment, rising poverty , running down public sector provision? What does that remind you of? It is our homes our families our jobs our services our communities that are under threat

It is not the trade unions who have turned the clock back. But as trade unions we will defend ourselves

And I would frankly like to see the parliamentary labour party beside us in that fight rather than leaving the job of the leader of the opposition to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Having the best policies in the world however is not a lot of use unless we implement them

We said last year in the conference hall that we would educate agitate organise.
We have made a start. March 26 the was magnificent. But then there is more to do. – there is no rest for the wicked as we must be .

But to get our message across on public services we need to persuade people of our alternative.

We need to tell our members our message, taking our campaign for economic justice into the workplace. Every day our members get the message from the media that we are expendable in this financial crisis.
It is up to us to get our alternative across and we need to organise to ensure that as union branches we make the time for that, using all the resources at our disposal from the branch magazine or website to meetings with the members

We said we would work in our communities and lots of branches have made a start. The Public Services Alliance in northern Region is a magnificent example of that . On Monday in local government I was amazed to hear of the effort being put in by Liverpool branch, using Scouse celebs as part their campaign.
But every branch can may an input onto our campaign work. You don’t need to put out press releases Use the local press by writing letters."