Almost every day brings fresh news of the impact of the cuts on our public services, on the welfare state and on jobs across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Meanwhile high inflation (RPI inflation is now 5.1%) is eating into our living standards.
We are being asked to pay for a crisis triggered by the irresponsible greed of a few top bankers. But even given the economic mess, the cuts are still not necessary (see below for more information).
The councils in Greater Manchester are being hit by much greater than average cuts in central government funding over the next two years. For example, Manchester faces a cut of £110m (21%), far higher than the (bad enough!) national average of 15.2%.
UNITE is part of a broad coalition fighting to protect our livelihoods and services from the impact of the cuts. To be successful, this needs to be a powerful movement involving many people.
What you could do:
- Get involved in local campaigns to save services
- Encourage colleagues in your workplace to join UNITE to strengthen the organisation so that we can all achieve greater success
- Sign the online petition opposing the disproportionate cuts hitting Greater Manchester councils
- Sign up for updates from the Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Lobby your councillors and MPs
- Lobby Lib Dem MP John Leech, from 3:30pm, Friday 18th February, Chorlton library
- Attend the Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts public meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 22nd February at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, M2 5NS (behind central library).
- Join the Manchester March Against the Cuts on Saturday 5th March. Assemble 12:30pm, All Saints Park, Oxford Road, Manchester for a march to a rally at Manchester Town Hall.
- Join the TUC’s national demonstration against the cuts on 26th March. UNITE is organising free transport for members and their families and friends, but it’s important to book your place as soon as possible.
You can find out more about UNITE’s campaign against the cuts here: www.dontbreakbritain.org
The deficit is not as huge or disastrous as it has been presented
Ministers (and some of the press) throw around scary numbers about the deficit. But they are being used to frighten people, not to explain the problem. Here are some facts:
- The UK deficit is not high by historical or international standards – Germany, France and Japan have all got higher net debt than the UK.
- The IMF states the UK has the lowest government debt as a proportion of GDP in the G7
- Debt is currently around 70% of GDP which sounds high, yet between 1920 and 1960 government debt was never less than 100% of GDP
- UK debt is comparable to other countries’ debt levels, and the vast majority of it is held by UK institutions and is structured over a longer period of time than most other countries’ debts
- The costs of servicing the debt as a % of GDP are lower today than compared to almost every year between the end of World War 2 and 1997. </li
There are fairer ways to reduce a deficit.
- Approx £6bn a year could be raised by introducing the 60% tax rate on incomes over £100,000 – just as they were during the first 7 years of Mrs Thatcher’s Government.
- The tax justice network shows that approx £70billion is lost annually in tax evasion and avoidance by some large companies and very wealthy individuals – spend money on closing these loopholes and the deficit will be reduced
- The government owns approx £800billion in assets in those financial institutions it nationalised – this figure is roughly equal to the total UK debt. Obviously it makes little economic sense to sell these stakes all at once, but clearly the money is there and could be used over time. The coalition has taken no account of this.
- The richest 1% of the UK’s population own 21% of our country’s wealth. A one off 10% wealth tax on the richest 1% of the country’s population would bring in a one off £7.7 billion.
People Power can change things.
Will demonstrating make a difference? Yes it will. On a grand scale we have seen the people of Egypt challenge a military dictator and win. But on a much smaller scale every week in Britain union members make a difference to their terms and conditions by mobilising collective people power within the specific company or section or area.
Many key aspects of government policy were in neither manifesto of the coalition parties. Many have nothing to do with cutting the deficit. The £3bn cost of handing most of the NHS budget over to the private sector via GPs is a good example of both.
There is ALWAYS more than one way to do anything. Governments can and do change their minds. Employers can and do change their minds.
If the union has a meeting in your workplace on an issue and no-one turns up, then the company concerned will assume that no-one cares about the issue and will not listen to the union about it. If however everyone concerned turns up then the company concerned knows that it has to listen to the union.
So view the March 26th demonstration as a mass meeting called by the TUC. It is seeking to negotiate with the Government and persuade it to change course. If no-one turns up (very unlikely) nothing will happen. If tens of millions turn up (also unlikely) the Government will find a way to completely change course. It is up to you how this demonstration turns out.
Think about the future. The changes proposed by the coalition are not the end of the assault on public services. They are the beginning. There is no guarantee that tuition fees will not be increased again or of no future changes to the NHS.
In the future will your children or grandchildren be able to afford to go to university? Will there be a free health service for them to use?
The answer to both those questions depends upon whether you support this campaign. One Saturday is not a lot to give up for the future of our country.
The welfare state was the reward won by the generation who fought World War 2. It is up to us to defend their heritage.