When did austerity start?
Nine years after Tory PM David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg ushered in “an age of austerity” it’s a scam that neo-liberals are still fully behind writes Kevin Vickers
Like Theresa May’s infamous “Strong and Stable” slogan, the phrase “All In It Together” might have made you laugh out loud - or cry - on hearing it after the global financial crash in 2009.
It was the Queen’s cousin, Cameron, who made the pronouncement. Most British people know, the Conservative Party is, and has always been, the party of the privileged. From Eaton, to Oxford, to a job in PR, to Parliament, Cameron was the establishment pick to be the “Heir to Blair” (his words).
Their “solution” to the global financial crash? Us Tightening our belts.
The coalition government quickly introduced a raft off policies that starved local authorities of funding and slashed public services. Real terms cuts were to be the norm for NHS, housing and education budgets. Public sector wages were frozen. “Sure Start” centres, for families with young children, shut. Disabled people’s support stopped. Legal aid denied.
Parroted on every airwave, Tory austerity policies were painted as the “difficult decision” a responsible government had to take at a time of national crisis. Complemented, of course, by tax cuts for the richest. Activist and film maker Ken Loach described the measures as “conscious cruelty”.
UK Corporation tax, already the the lowest in the seven biggest industrialised nations (G7), was lowered further to 19% - a boost for Tory backers in big business. UK tax revenues are the third lowest in the G7. Trillions in avoided and evaded taxes are stored offshore in British Tax Havens. A political priority over mental health services, youth centres, schools, libraries, fire fighters and much more. And the price of rent, food, clothes and fuel keeps going up. The least well off have been squeezed so tightly they can barely breathe.
A street homelessness crisis not seen in living memory. Child poverty. Knife crime. Desperation. An estimated 150,000 dead due to the impact of austerity. Ongoing crises in health and social care at all levels. The appointment of a Minister for Suicide.
For those affected, Austerity has been a socio economic failure of nightmarish proportions.
Voted for and backed at every stage by Tory MPs in Parliament. So, why do Conservative MPs still say it was the right thing to do - even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
Why? Privatisation and profit.
The Tories are funded by big business. When services begin to fail due to underinvestment a private sector solution is suggested. 15% of prisons are now run by private firms - costing23% of the prisons budget. Cutting off councils’ money supply leaves them with little other option but to outsources their statutory duties - often to the same multinationals with links to the Tory party. More than 72% of UK secondary schools have now been converted into privately run academies. At every turn the failure to invest in public services increases costs to the tax payer - and lines the pockets of the wealthy.
Austerity has failed
Tory Austerity has not only failed to deal with the debt, now a record £2.1 trillion, it has punished working people for the crimes of the bankers. Disaster capitalism in full effect. They’ve got to go.
Can you help?
The People's Assembly is a grassroots organisation which is supported by many trade unions, campaigns and local networks, as well as many individuals. But we need your help. It costs money to organise events, meetings, demonstrations and campaigns. Unlike those who are enforcing austerity, we do not have wealthy businessmen backers. We rely on donations from our supporters. Over the past few months we have organised or supported campaigns over the NHS, closure of libraries, housing and in support of trade union rights. We held a demonstration in early January calling for a general election.
We need to step up our campaigning and help give a voice to those trying to stop library closures, end Universal Credit, defend the NHS and provide a better future for our children.