Osborne’s latest autumn statement combined ferocious new austerity measures with U-turns on a series of proposed cuts, to working tax credits, to the police and to the NHS.
This combination of fierce attack combined with tactical retreat reveals the Tories’ real position - they are a weak minority but will relentlessly pursue savage cuts where they can.
The mass campaign against austerity remains in an upturn and the victory of an anti-austerity leadership of the Labour Party are elements in Tory calculations. The anti-austerity movement, including the Labour Leadership and others, remained firm in our opposition to cuts to working tax credits and forced Osborne into a U-turn for now, even if he intends to make the same cuts through the Universal Credit in coming years.
It is absolutely certain that even this U-turn would not have been made if there was a pro-austerity Labour leadership, or if there hadn't been such big mobilisations, and public outcry, against the government since the election. The same point can be made on proposed police cuts and the health budget, where the Tories have provided just enough money to halt the sharp decline in the NHS.
But austerity is far from over. The Tories have doubled down on it, and the effect is likely to be the same. The economy will slow to a crawl, living standards will fall and the deficit will rise once more. One of the biggest areas of cuts is to local government, where spending will fall by more than half over this parliament. It is doubtful whether local councils could meet even their minimum statutory obligations with these cuts, and Osborne has put a gun to their heads by demanding asset sales to cover day-to-day spending.
The Osborne claim to be increasing investment is a straightforward lie. Under his own plans net public sector investment will fall in this parliament from 1.8% of GDP to 1.4%, from £37billion to £32 billion. This will damage the economy and deter investment more widely.
This all shows the need to redouble the efforts of the anti-austerity movement. Campaigning works, as the U-Turns show and we have strong allies in parliament. More and more people are going to be dragged down by the effects of the cuts. The task for the movement is to ally with all those fighting any aspect of austerity and to build a broad movement with clear opposition to entire austerity project.
The People's Assembly is holding our National Conference on Saturday 5 December in London to discuss, debate and decide on the next steps for the anti-austerity movement. All welcome, please join us.
How to Stop Austerity | People's Assembly National Conference 2015
...be part of the movement
Saturday 5 December 2015, 10am - 5pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London
John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor), Francesca Martinez (Comedian & Activist), Dr Rory Hicks (Junior Doctors Campaign), Dr Yannis Gourtsoyannis (BMA Junior Doctors Committee), Christine Blower (National Union of Teachers), Dave Ward (Communication Workers Union), Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Steve Turner (Unite the Union & Chair, The People's Assembly), Sam Fairbairn (National Secretary, The People's Assembly)