“When the Chancellor gets up & talks about ‘giveaways’, ultimately he’s talking about giveaways for the rich.”Mick Burke, economist.
By Ben Hayes, Islington North CLP.
A vital job for labour and progressive movements is cutting through much of the media rhetoric and Tory spin around Sunak’s budget, and a great job was done in this regard by an online broadcast by The People’s Assembly immediately afterwards (which you can watch in full below.)
Economist Mick Burke led the discussion by rebutting the myth that Sunak is somehow anti-austerity, explaining that “Austerity has two aspects: one of which is taking money off ordinary people (through pay cuts/freezes and cuts to services), and the other is giving money to the rich. When the Chancellor gets up and talks about ‘giveaways’, ultimately he’s talking about giveaways for the rich.” and adding that “as he made clear today, Rishi Sunak is proud of his government’s austerity record over the past decade.”
Calling for an economic strategy of investment in decent jobs, homes and services, he argued that we must argue for an alternative, transformative economic strategy based on investment from the state, saying that “If we want to address the problems we face – the housing crisis, lack of infrastructure, the catastrophic consequences of climate change, what’s needed is serious government investment. Attempts to ‘incentivise’ the private sector to tackle these have failed for the last 11 years and will continue to do so.”
Outlining the potentially disastrous economic, social and human consequences of the government’s approach, he stated: “In terms of both public health and people’s jobs, the government has prioritised the needs of big business throughout this crisis. Whilst the Chancellor is congratulating himself on saving jobs, research from the Resolution Foundation shows around half of workers on furlough are at serious risk of unemployment.”
The broadcast was hosted by National Secretary of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Labour Party NEC member Laura Pidcock, who took the opportunity to slam the Tory Government’s policy on public sector pay, saying that “When you consider the trauma, stress, labour and pain that so many of our public sector workers have endured over the past year, for the Tories to follow up their PR stunts with a pay freeze is utterly shameless.”
Laura also highlighted the impact of campaigning efforts in ensuring continuation of the £20 Universal Credit uplift, terming it “a victory for Disabled People Against the Cuts, Unite the Union, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and the whole labour movement,” and adding that “this work cannot be brushed aside: the government would not have done this without significant public pressure.”
Now we all need to step up our campaigning, including to get the UC cut cancelled altogether.
The work of the People’s Assembly will play a vital role in the struggles ahead.
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