The last five years saw “austerity” policies reduce wages across the working class by an average of 10%, and more for the pubic sector workers - the biggest fall in income since Victorian times.
It also saw the acceleration of privatisation and introduction of swingeing cuts that have thrown the Majority of NHS trusts into financial crises, and threatens the existence of the NHS itself. Council budgets have been decimated and services closed or pared back to the bone.
Benefit claimants, many of them sick or disabled or made unemployed due to the recession, have been vilified as “scroungers”, and the country’s economic problems dumped squarely at their door as if they caused the countries debt and recession and not bankers’ gambling on risky loans.
Food banks were unheard of in 2005/2006 when they helped less than than 3,000 people in crisis. Last year this had grown to over 300,000 - with a million 3 day parcels of food being handed out to desperate people. A fifth of these donations are to working people with wages too low to meet basic needs.
In spite of all the cuts for working people and the poor, government debt under the Tories grew by £400 billion pounds. This should come as no surprise because while the axe fell on those at the bottom of society, those at the top had a bonanza with tax breaks.
The richest 1,000 people alone have saw their wealth more than double since 2010 with a rise of over £250 billion. The newly elected government has made it clear they intend to ram through more cuts and privatisation as soon as they can.
An emergency budget has been announced for July with planned cuts to welfare of £12 billion plus further cuts to slash a total of £30 billion off public spending. To help contain any strikes that might challenge their plans they have announced plans to make it more difficult for workers to take strike action.
At the same time they want to divert any backlash away from themselves onto migrants and Muslims with more racist scapegoating.
Some will be disheartened by the Tory win but we can’t afford to sit back for 5 year, but politics doesn’t end at the ballot box. Now we need to look to the potential for campaigns, protests and strikes to fight for an alternative to austerity - the government and the rich can afford it - we can’t afford not to.