Austerity Isn’t Working: UK Uncut Protest Outside Downing Street on Budget Day, March 21, 2012


Tomorrow morning, please join me as I help the campaigning group UK Uncut cause a stir on Budget Day by lining up with hundreds of other people outside Downing Street to declare that “Austerity Isn’t Working,” recreating the Tories’ notorious “Labour Isn’t Working” poster that helped Margaret Thatcher win the 1979 General Election. Click on the image to enlarge.

If ever there was a time to say to the government that its plans are an unmitigated failure, it is surely now, with unemployment at a 17-year high, and youth unemployment and women’s unemployment at even more historic levels — over a million 16-24 years old, for example (22.5 percent of the total number of young people), cannot find a job.

In response, of course, while pushing ahead with a disastrous and unwanted NHS reform bill, the Tory-led coalition government has also savagely attacked those who are unemployed (as the recent workfare scandal demonstrated), as well as the working poor and, most wretchedly of all, the disabled — and, in particular, the disabled people who are unable to work, but whom the government is portraying as scroungers.

These assaults on the most vulnerable members of society would be disgraceful at the best of times, but represent an almost unspeakably cruel failure of empathy and responsible leadership, in the interests of the country as a whole, during an economic depression. And make no mistake, this clearly is a depression, as part of the slow collapse of the West after the self-inflicted economic crash of 2008, the refusal to deal with it adequately, and the fact that most manufacturing now takes place in other countries.

And so, in response to George Osborne’s Budget, in which he is expected to announce that the 50p top tax rate is to be cut, proclaiming that it has been a failure (while ignoring the widespread accounting irregularities exposed by Channel 4 News last night), and while still maintaining that this is a government that believes in fairness and that still proclaims that “we’re all in this together,” I’ll be outside Downing Street tomorrow to try and hammer home the message — to a public that still appears to be largely comatose — that “Austerity Isn’t Working,” and that we need to wake up and seriously challenge these clowns before they destroy the country completely in the achingly long three years until the next General Election.

Below, with minor amendments, is UK Uncut’s press release for tomorrow’s event, which you can sign up for on the Facebook page:

Whether you’re unemployed or fortunate enough to still be in a job, join UK Uncut’s “Austerity Isn’t Working” Queue outside Downing St at 11am on Wednesday 21st March and help wipe the smirk off of George Osborne’s face.

Tomorrow, as the man in charge of Britain’s sinking economy, George will present his government’s third austerity budget. In it, he will set out a continuation of the cuts that have decimated Britain’s public services and put up to 6.3m people out of work.

George will tell us that “there is no alternative” to his slash-and-burn economics; that austerity is the only route to recovery. But even George can’t have failed to notice one thing — austerity isn’t working.

Whilst George attempts to get us to focus on Britain’s rosy relationship with the ratings agencies, he knows a million 16-24 year olds are out of work. As he bangs on about low borrowing costs, Britain’s female unemployment rate has hit a 25-year high. Austerity may be working for the bond markets and the banks, but it isn’t working for Britain.

This Budget Day, don’t let George get away with it. Whether you’re unemployed or fortunate enough to still be in a job, join UK Uncut’s “Austerity Isn’t Working” Queue outside Downing St at 11am on Wednesday 21st March.

By recreating of one of the most iconic images in British political history, together we can make sure the photos in the papers aren’t of George’s smug face, but of a scene that demonstrates the human cost of the government’s failed austerity policies.

The queue was initially conceived of as consisting of 630 people — one person for every ten thousand Britons seeking full time work — but that number has now been exceeded. However, many of those who said they would be there on Facebook probably won’t turn up, so please continue signing up, and come along!

As UK Uncut’s press release concludes:

On March 21st, be outside Downing St at 11am. Join the queue that will wipe the smirk off of George’s face and demand an economy that bails out people instead of banks. Austerity isn’t just unfair and unnecessary — it isn’t working. Britain’s better off with the alternatives.

See you at Downing St.

Below is a short video of an “Austerity Isn’t Working” poster being put up, guerilla- style, in Brockley, one of London’s most secretly seditious neighbourhoods, and I’d also like to mention that UK Uncut will not be the only protestors outside Downing Street tomorrow morning. Coalition of Resistance is also organising a protest with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and the Stop the War Coalition, with the messages, “Not one more cut to public spending,” “Welfare not Warfare” and “Scrap Trident.” The press release asks, “If you can, come wearing hospital scrubs, nurses uniforms, academic mortarboard and gown, a firefighter’s helmet or any other outfit that represents what this government wants to cut, privatise or scrap! Others will be dressed as bankers and politicians.” There’s also a Facebook page, and the organisers also note, “If you plan to attend wearing an outfit that represents a service being cut or can help on the day please phone Sam on 07872 481769.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

6 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Lotus Yee Fong wrote:

    UK and US Uncut should work together as much as possible to cut the special relationship and de-mystify American exceptionalism so we can end the Anglo-American Empire and give the Chagos Islands back to the Chagossians without the Diego Garcia base! Thank you, John Pilger and David Vine for both of your fine work on DG!!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Lotus Yee Fong wrote:

    It’s time for the pound and the dollar to take their rightful place alongside the global basket of currencies, which would allow all humans in all countries to eat and care for their families!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Zena Kayat wrote:

    I couldnt have said it better myself.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lotus, for the interesting observations, and thanks also, Zena. Good to hear from you.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Benjamin Mackie wrote:

    Remember, austerity is working: delivering benefit, pension and wage cuts, privatization and increasing exploitation. This means bigger corporate profits. That’s how austerity “works”, for some.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Benjamin. Yes, that is how “austerity” works — for those who have run out of any positive or constructive ideas, and are the equivalent of a medieval army raping and pillaging while retreating after sacking or besieging some innocent town. Another way of putting it would be that the economic policy that underlines this is stealing from the poor to give to the rich, but it’s not something that can work forever. This type of bloodsucking capitalism needs consumers, and after the last attempt at keeping the malignant machinery going, based on ridiculously easily available credit, the exploiters are running out of ideas. What happens when more and people don’t have enough money to buy into the whole charade? What happens when, as the Occupy movement noted, educated middle class students are asking why they were robbed? A system that can’t even be bothered anymore to try and find a way to guarantee jobs for the educated is one that’s in big trouble ..

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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