time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?

In the lead-up to the latest national strike day on 28 March, Sheila Cohen asks whether the anti-cuts campaigns are working

I have been asked to write an article about anti-cuts campaigns, and said I don’t know much about them. I don’t know much about them because I don’t think they work. I don’t think they work because the government and ruling-class generally are rabid hyenas without an iota of inclination to give a flying **** about the needs and wishes of so-called “ordinary people” – if they did give such a thing they wouldn’t be, well, ruling. But I was asked to write nonetheless.

The several large demonstrations against the cuts programme have presented a confident outward image, mocking the Coalition: but what power do we actually have to stop Cameron and co.?

As a dutiful writer, I began preparing for this piece by doing (admittedly, a very small modicum of) research. One dedicated anti-cuts organisation I turned up which shall be nameless, but describes itself on its website as “a diverse collation of…groups and individuals that have come together to challenge social exclusion and promote social justice” includes as part of its many activities a project to unite unemployed workers, a “celebration” of its locality with a “one day community event” and, of course, intransigent opposition to racism – and quite right too. The community event was warmly received, with one participant commenting that it had, indeed, given “a real sense of community”. So what’s not to like? Continue reading “time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?”

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sheffield Labour Council targets workers and the vulnerable

Barry Biddulph reports on the 550 council jobs to be axed in Sheffield.

Anti-cuts demonstration in Sheffield

Julie Dore, the leader of Sheffield Council, will make council workers and some of the most vulnerable people, who depend on council services, pay for the financial crisis. While Julie Dore sneers in public at protesters with placards, she tells Sheffield Star readers and trade union meetings that she has protected the most vulnerable. This is a dishonest attempt to justify choosing to make cuts, rather than organise to fight the government. The image of the dented shield only makes sense if you have taken part in a battle, not surrendered before the fight has begun.

Continue reading “sheffield Labour Council targets workers and the vulnerable”

‘this could be heaven for everyone’

Public meeting on the student movement, hosted by the London Commune. From 7pm on Thursday 10th (the day after the NCAFC demo)

Last winter saw massive protests against the rise in tuition fees and cuts to EMA. We had the amazing riot at Millbank Tory HQ, school and college students marched and there were campus occupations and direct action up and down the country. But even all of this wasn’t enough to win.

The Lib Dems were wounded, the left groups picked up some new members, thousands of us could feel what solidarity means. But still students today face a harder position than ever. The cutters and privatisers are still on the offensive. Continue reading “‘this could be heaven for everyone’”

opposition and the cuts

The Commune’s editorial

BBC presenters sat mouths-gaping on 26th September as City trader Alessio Rastani proudly boasted on live TV of the financial sector’s power and its disdain for the victims of the recession. He proclaimed that a crisis was a great opportunity to make a fast buck and that he dreamt of the next such meltdown. Reeking of arrogant class prejudice, here was the true face behind our rulers’ democratic and liberal mask.

That same week, Ed Miliband spoke to Labour conference, calling for a ‘new morality’ rewarding the ‘hard-working’. Yet asked by a member of the public whether he would endeavour to protect workers’ pensions, ‘Red Ed’ said he could promise nothing, since workers getting older is no longer ‘affordable’. Not only did he drive a wedge between the employed and the ‘undeserving poor’, championing harsh penalties for rioters and ‘scroungers’: he disavowed strike action as a means of standing up for workers’ living standards. Continue reading “opposition and the cuts”

NHS: privatisation or reform?

East London GP Jonathon Tomlinson continues our series on alternative ideas as to how public services should be run.

The Government’s intention to privatise the NHS continues unabated after a so-called pause and ‘listening exercise’.

Most importantly, the secretary of state for health’s duty – enshrined in the NHS since 1948 – ‘to provide and secure the effective provision of services’ has been delegated to an unaccountable quango called the NHS Commissioning Board. Entitlement to a comprehensive range of NHS services will no longer be guaranteed by government.

The other significant non-change after the pause is the role of competition which was widely reported to have been watered down, but emerges intact and probably even more central than before, with the Competition and Cooperation Panel (CCP) taking on the role of preventing anti-competitive behaviour. They have made it clear that they regard existing NHS hospitals as ‘vested interests’ and that competition is an unmitigated good. Continue reading “NHS: privatisation or reform?”

italy: saving the first class passengers on the titanic

David Broder writes on the economic and political crises in Italy, and the lack of a viable left alternative to Silvio Berlusconi

In recent days punning headline writers have turned their focus from the Greek tragedy to the Italian Job as news came from Rome of economic woes and a cuts budget which couldn’t be built in a day. The Milan stock exchange is in steep descent, amidst growing fears that potential default by Greece, Ireland and Portugal may have a ‘domino effect’ on Italy and Spain.

the European Union has pushed hard for austerity measures in Italy

Mounting economic crisis is twinned with simmering political and personal headaches for Silvio Berlusconi. However, the parliamentary opposition is remarkably tame, while the Prime Minister has also managed to distance himself somewhat from blame for austerity.

Last week Economy and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti announced a  €48bn budget of public service cuts and tax rises. There will be less tax rebates for the poor, medicine will be more expensive and pensions will be worth less. Tremonti styles himself as a neo-liberal hawk, and assumed an unashamed class-warrior stance as he outlined his budget “We can’t be like the Titanic, where they didn’t even manage to save the first class passengers”. A bold statement from a man attacking millions of people already suffering after years of capitalist crisis: today over 8.2 million Italians live under the poverty line, calculated at two people having to live on €992 a month. Continue reading “italy: saving the first class passengers on the titanic”