progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

Rally for Darlington's jobs & services

The Tory/Lib-Dem coalition's rush to cut spending doesn't just threaten half a million public sector jobs, it also threatens half a million private sector jobs. The speed and size of the reduction in public spending puts 50,000 firms at risk.

One of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize for economics, Professor Antoniou Pissarides from the London School of Economics, whose work deals with reducing unemployment, has called for a more gradual approach to reducing the deficit, warning of entrenched unemployment.

That's why it is important that people rally to protect jobs and services on Saturday:
Workers from Darlington Borough Council will be holding a rally in Darlington town centre this Saturday, ahead of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, to raise awareness of the cuts being imposed on public services by the coalition government.

The event, on Saturday 16 October, is being organised by the Darlington Local Government Branch of UNISON. The branch represents approx 1,800 workers in the council and voluntary sector. The event will take place at Joseph Pease Place between 10:00 and 13:00 with speeches commencing at 11:00.

Darlington MP, Jenny Chapman, will be among the speakers at the rally. Speakers will be highlighting the effects the savage cuts will have on our community. Services such as arts, libraries & leisure are expected to be particularly severely hit but the cuts will hit every council service. However, cuts to the public sector will also harm the private sector as businesses such as shops rely on public sector workers for custom.

As well as the rally the public will be able to get information detailing the effects of the cuts and arguing that fair taxation would be another way of reducing the deficit. The public will also be asked to sign up to UNISON’s Million Voices campaign in support of public services.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Phillippa Scrafton said “We must raise awareness of the massive cuts which are coming our way. It has already started. Earlier this year the Council made cuts to bus passes & taxi vouchers but that was only the start. Just last week they started a consultation on cuts to school meals. We are in a battle for our services. If we lose the public of Darlington will suffer cuts of a scale we’ve never seen before. Please come along on Saturday 16 October and support your services.”

cutting our way to another bank bailout?

The New Economics Foundation have produced a timely report into the bank-bailouts of 2008, asking "Where did our money go?"

The most worrying conclusion reached is this: "We believe the public sector is likely, once again, to be asked to bail out the banks for the emerging funding gap." (p.2)

There's a lack of freely-available information as to the terms and conditions of public support for the banking system - what has been done with public funds? The banks are back in profit. But having shut branches, sacked employees, increased fees and the size of deposits, they face a "funding cliff":

"In order to support a banking system that is in aggregate withdrawing lending from the private sector, UK banks currently have to borrow £12 billion a month. In 2011, they will have to borrow an additional £13 billion a month. It seems unlikely that under such circumstances the economy will see an improved service from the banking system over this period. Indeed the taxpayers should be bracing themselves to provide the additional loans." (p. 52)

This feeds into the current debate about spending cuts - reducing the public stimulus to the private sector. Could it be because the government will need to give more support to the banks? In which case, the productive parts of our economy will be suffering to rescue the destructive.

As Arthur Bough wrote a few days ago:

"Once you have a bike up to speed it takes less effort to keep it there than if you let it slow down, and have to get the speed back. Capitalist States poured huge amounts of Surplus Value into stopping the system collapsing after 2008. They largely succeeded, but those economies hadn't speeded up enough for momentum to take over. Stopping the stimulus would be like stopping pedalling just before you could get into top gear."

There was no defeat at the election for the policy of securing the recovery. Members of Parliament from Labour, the Lib-Dems, and the nationalist parties were elected on the basis of a gradual and fair reduction of the deficit - not another round of bank-bailouts paid for by cutting jobs and services.

The current Tory/Lib-Dem government, its cabinet packed with multi-millionaires, has more interest in eroding the living standards and attacking the economic rights of working people than in restructuring the banking sector. There's a good reason for this, and it isn't about ideology, it's about interests. Not the "national interest" as the Tories claim, but that of capitalists.

Our response to the government's agenda, which is backed to the hilt by the ruling class, could easily be deferential and grudging. However, the current situation in the Republic of Ireland shows the chaos caused by cutting spending in a slump and bowing to the bankers.

Labour's new generation must have more than a thirst for change, it must have a hunger for the truth. And we need to offer people on modest and middle incomes a co-operative alternative to the failure of capitalism.