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. Read the rest of this entry »

June 30: A National Day of Action Against the Incompetent Tory-Led Coalition and Its Savage Ideological Cuts

Next Thursday, June 30, is the first big day of action involving widespread strikes since the coalition government began its miserable assault on the state after the General Election last May. 750,000 public sector workers from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the University and College Union (UCU) will take part in a one-day walkout, primarily over the government’s planned pension reforms, which will almost certainly be the trigger for further strikes in the autumn. As the Guardian explained, the day of action “is expected to bring schools, colleges, universities, courts, ports and jobcentres to a standstill, and comes as millions of staff face pay freezes, job losses and pension reforms.”

Speaking to the Guardian last week, Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, the largest public sector union, with 1.4 million members, was already discussing a possible follow-up. Although he is hoping for a negotiated settlement with the government over pension reforms and other pressing issues of concern to Unison members, and is not taking part in the action on June 30, he “described plans for waves of strike action, with public services shut down on a daily basis, rolling from one region to the next and from sector to sector,” fuelled by “growing anger over a public sector pay freeze that could trigger more disputes further down the line,” and “changes [which] would unfairly penalise women, who form the majority of low-paid public sector workers.” He told the Guardian, “It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won’t be the miners’ strike. We are going to win.”

Prentis’ warning to the government has not yet materialised, of course, but, crucially, the striking union workers who are committed to action on June 30 will be joined by many other people who will be using the day to campaign more broadly against the bitter fallout from the government’s largely indiscriminate austerity programme, which has prompted a steep decline in the government’s popularity over the last 12 months. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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