“It’s time we substantially taxed wealth and unearned income as part of an economic alternative for the many, not the few.”Jon Trickett MP
By Logan Williams
On 15th March the Conservatives will put to the nation their Spring Budget which appears to be a continuation of the rhetoric of the need for the nation to ‘tighten our belts’, ‘live within our means’ and to ‘be fiscally responsible’, as well as the repetition of Thatcher’s declaration that there is no alternative.
However, the labour movement has clearly organised a show of opposition to the continued policies of economic misery offered by the Tories through the largest coordinated day of action in the British labour movement since the 1980s. Budget day will see around 300,000 NEU teaching staff members, 133,000 PCS civil service members, 70,000 UCU lecturers, tens of thousands of Junior Doctors from the BMA, tens of thousands of Prospect civil service members and both ASLEF and RMT members on the London Underground all taking to the picket lines and streets to join the fight to gain an above-inflation pay rise. It is vital that we on the Labour Left seek to offer these striking workers an alternative “People’s Budget” which will seek to better the lives of the many.
Arise Festival are hosting an event in the run-up to the day of the budget which seeks to aid in the formation of this “People’s Budget” called Investment not Cuts- the #peoplesbudget we need. This event will see leading figures from across the labour movement, socialist parliamentarians, community campaigners and academics come together to discuss how we as a movement should respond to the Spring Budget and the alternative we should seek to organise around.
The event will feature key figures of the Labour left, such as former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP who argues that “each day shows the Tories’ total indifference to the cost-of-living emergency millions face.” He continues to argue that “in response, we need to propose a People’s Budget based upon the government providing people with extra financial support and taking real action to control costs.” He goes on to state that the “redistribution of wealth must also be part of our alternative – including an excessive profits tax.”
John will be joined by Sarah Woolley, General Secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, who highlights the extreme situation facing the people of Britain “with child poverty due to hit a record 5 million” which is further exacerbated by the fact that “800,000 children in England in poverty are not even given free school meals.” Despite this situation, Sarah argues that the Tories preach that there is no alternative while pushing pieces of extremely authoritarian legislation to limit those who seek to offer one. Sarah goes on to call for the labour and progressive movements to “resist the Tories’ class war and show that there is an alternative that puts people before private profit, based on investment not cuts.”
The event will also hear from Jon Trickett MP, who stated: “It’s time we substantially taxed wealth and unearned income as part of an economic alternative for the many, not the few.” Jon has recently written on the need for the Labour leadership to be crystal clear “that if we enter government we will end austerity – and this means concrete pledges to increase funding for public services, including local authorities.”
We will also hear from Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, who has called upon the Conservative Government to “stop the planned energy hike before more families are plunged further into poverty. Wholesale gas prices are dropping, so there’s no excuse for bills to keep rising.” She continued to argue that the priority of this Spring Budget must not be further tax cuts for the rich; instead it “has to be free school meals for all primary school children as part of real action to tackle the cost-of-living emergency.”
Arise’s Investment not Cuts event promises to be a key step in forming an alternative political agenda to the stale neoliberal dogma currently offered by the Conservative Party. It is vital that we come together to offer those workers undertaking industrial action on 15th March a popular, progressive and positive message of hope against the Tories’ reactionary austerity agenda.
Join us on this evening (13th March) to discuss how we win a Labour government and how we as a movement win policies that put people before profit.
- Logan Williams is an NEU activist and an organiser for Arise Festival. This article was originally published by Labour Hub on March 11th, 2023.
- “Investment not cuts – What a People’s Budget would look like” takes place tonight at 6.30PM. The online discussion will be joined by John McDonnell, Rebecca Long Bailey, Jon Trickett, Fran Heathcote (PCS Union), Professor Ozlem Onaran, Sarah Woolley (BFAWU), Donna Guthrie (BARAC UK) and more. Register here.