If Labour have designs on representing those who crave a more equal society then they ought to be aware of the huge elephant in the room … Labour support for Osborne’s ‘Austerity Agenda’ .
Let’s begin by pointing people in the direction of the evidence. It quickly becomes apparent, once you examine Britain’s previous levels of debt, that there is no need for austerity, it’s an ideological attempt to shrink the state and in doing so punish the poorest people in our society for the crimes of those in the City of London who gambled, ‘crashed the economy’ and were bailed out by Gordon Brown and the Labour government.
Anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s superb ‘Shock Treatment’ will recognise that the signs were there from the moment Osborne killed a recovery dead in the water by warning that Britain, a sovereign country with its own currency, was in danger of becoming ‘another Greece’. The ‘Sage of Tatton’ warned that if ‘we’ didn’t cut our public service ‘waste’ and make huge cuts to government spending the national debt would ‘overwhelm us’ .It was deceitful, it was calculated and it was ideological and designed to achieve the Tory desire of a state with fewer ‘public services’ and less government. (Watch him on youtube.)
Cameron’s Mansion House speech of November 2013 went further when he revealed ‘austerity’ to be no more than a fig leaf for a ‘smaller state’. He announced that ‘We have a plan – and we are carefully implementing that plan … It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently’.
What this amounts to is a subtle way of saying that the Tories will reduce the State’s role in providing public services which will, henceforth, be open for tendering to private companies who are not responsible for the societal effects of running public services but merely there to accrue the profits. This is nothing new. Thatcher espoused these words and views in the late 70s and early 80s when they were new to our ears.Where she differed, however, was in attacking hugely loved public institutions such as the NHS and for good reason; in a YouGov poll of Oct 2013, 84% of respondents from all political parties believed that the NHS should remain a public service. (Results here)
There is no call nor demand for austerity outside the government but the Tories have embarked down an ideological path which continues to cut public services and offer the most profitable (Royal Mail, NHS, East Coast Mainline) up for privatisation, the beneficiaries of which will be Tory donors in the City of London.It could not be more apparent.
The time has now arrived for Labour to raise the standard and to oppose all that this current Government stands for and to commit the Labour Party to standing up for a better Britain; a country that will work for the majority and not just for the privileged few. The ‘austerity trap’ is a Tory trap as it is not in their interest to have a more equal society for it stands to reason that in a more equal and just society the Tories stand to lose their privilege and entitlement. Instead, many more people in our society will benefit from greater, widespread equality and that’s why Labour’s General Election campaign should revolve around greater equality, ending injustice and putting right the wrongs of this government before embarking upon its own grand vision for a new society that works in the interests of all its citizens and not just the interests of a shrinking minority.
The consequences of not doing so may be fatal for Labour.