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

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Spending Review - What about us?

The latest Spending Review does not need a particularly detailed analysis to reach an inescapable conclusion - the current government has no economic agenda but it does have an ideological one.
   Only a Tory optimist could believe that this country is in any way approaching “recovery”. For the coalition at the receiving end of public spending cuts - those who have seen their wages and salaries plummet in the past five years, those working households whose wages are on poverty level and who depend on tax credits, families who rely on child benefit, those who rely on disability benefits, there is no recovery. For all those dedicated public workers whose jobs have been slashed there is no recovery. There is only more of the same for us.

That’s more cuts, cuts based entirely on an anti working class perspective. That’s an end to automatic pay progression for public sector workers - increments to you and me, and an interesting court battle possibly. Does an announcement in Parliament overrule current contracts? That’s a promise of 1% pay increases for us – or in other words further pay cuts. That’s further cuts to local government. That’s a cap on the welfare budget.

As Jermy Hunt (spelling mistake intentional) said that it is what hard working families want, millions of hard working but very low paid families dependent on tax credits wondered what it meant for them. Reasonable hard working families want to know why no one believes that they deserve a fair day’s work for a fair day's pay. This government certainly doesn’t.

That’s cuts in the justice budget, which will affect the ability of working class people to access justice. That’s cuts to programmes that are designed to assist working class children to access higher education.

Even those departments declared as "winners” are part of the class war being waged. More money for the “intelligence services” and cuts in the Northern Ireland budget to fund  "counter –terrorism” must worry every person active in any activity against this government, from those of us who write for UNISONActive to every community activist.

It was the Thatcher government who fought the undeclared war against the miners and spied on Greenham activists. In the week where the extent of surveillance on email traffic and phone calls of ordinary citizens has been revealed , it seems that the war on the "enemy within” as Thatcher called us is about to be stepped up. Is there another logical explanation?

It is time that we recognised explicitly that this is a political war. This isn’t the rough and tumble of politics as fought at Westminster at prime minister’s question time. Cameron says “Whoa” Miliband says ”bah” and the respective backbenchers barrack and cheer, and return to the bars and their other interests.

After the recent announcements from Balls and Miliband, it is very difficult to escape the notion that the political class in this country is a class apart, every single one of them. The Labour Party of Nye Bevan and James Maxton seems dead, replaced by a party of political nerds with one aim. Not the advancement of the working people of this country, but political office as a stepping stone to money through directorships and consultancies  Before you differ, consider how many Labour MPs spoke up against the recent policy changes?

Who are the Labour Party speaking for, because it is not us. Who can hand on heart say that they believe our interests will be served by the election of a Labour Government? And unfortunately union leaderships seem complicit. What influence do we have on the Labour Party? Do we exert it? If we do, why is it to so little effect? We need to express our anger before it really will be too late.