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Investment not cuts

1st September 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Jane West

Last week Ed Balls made a speech on the economy, entitled ‘There is an alternative’, which saw the first break in the political consensus in support of cuts and a framework of ‘paying down the deficit’, and puts forward a strong case for investment rather than cuts.

Not surprisingly, the speech was a leading item on the news the day after it was made and was widely covered in the print media, as Balls is the first senior politician – apart from Ken Livingstone in setting out his case as Labour candidate for London Mayor – to advocate an alternative strategy to that of the Coalition.

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Labour needs to fight the right wing offensive

26th May 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

The formation of the Conservative-led coalition represents a sharp rightwards shift in the British political situation. Working class living standards are set to face an onslaught with the deepest public service cuts since the Second World War and the weakening of pay and working conditions of millions of people. The coming assault on the public sector far out shadows that undertaken by Thatcher.

Whilst all the mainstream parties fought the general election on the basis of cuts – a blatant attempt to restore capitalist profitability by making the working class pay for the economic crisis – the balance of forces for the working class under a Conservative led government, with a large majority provided by the Liberal Democrats, is clearly much worse than it would have been under a Labour government or Labour-led coalition.

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Labour should not aid the Lib Dems

2nd May 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

The forthcoming election is being fought with all three main parties committed to unprecedented cuts in public spending. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has recently described, the Conservatives’ plans for public spending from this year onwards would make it the “tightest five-year period since (at least) World War Two” whilst Liberal Democrat and Labour plans would see the “tightest four-year period since April 1976”. The Financial Times has outlined various scenarios of what this will mean for the population here.
This consensus on cutting spending needs to be opposed by the widest possible coalition. Not only will these cuts unleash serious attacks on living standards of the population but they will undermine the restoring of economic growth, as the TUC has recently noted. Given that the recession has been driven by a collapse in investment and the government budget deficit is overwhelmingly a product of the falling tax receipts caused by the recession, the priority should be to increase investment.

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Blairites putting a coalition before Labour

23rd April 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

Following the Liberal Democrats’ rise in the polls, the Blairites have launched an offensive to secure their long held goal of a Lib-Lab coalition. The BBC’s Nick Robinson has reported that senior Labour figures see the prospect of a Lib-Lab post election deal as the “the ultimate fulfilment of the New Labour mission.”

It is now less than two weeks till election day and postal voting is commencing, so one would expect Labour’s campaign to be focussed on maximising its vote. But this is not happening. Instead in the official campaign, run by Peter Mandelson, the formation of a coalition is being promoted. Mandelson’s memo to Labour Party members on 18 April, in which he said he was “not against coalition government in principle”, was flagged up by The Independent as “the first time a senior Labour figure has spoken about a Lib-Lab coalition” in this election. To help secure this outcome the Lib Dems are being defended, with Mandelson criticising media attacks on them. Simultaneously, Labour and its Leader’s prospects have been deliberately run down, with the FT titling an article “Mandelson admits voters tired of Labour”.

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‘Tougher and deeper’ cuts than Thatcher budget has damaged Labour

1st April 2010 Socialist Action 0

by James Norton

All the opinion polls which have come out since the budget confirm the politically damaging character of the budget and the consequent deliberate decision by Alistair Darling to declare that public spending cuts would be ‘tougher and deeper’ than under Thatcher. 

Three new polls were published on 29/30 March. Opinium registered the Tories lead increasing from 7% on 22 March to 10% on 29 March. ComRes, which had give a Tory lead of 5% on 28 February, by 28 March recorded a Tory lead of 7%. YouGov, which prior to the budget had seen the Tories lead fall as low as 2%, on 29 March recorded the Conservatives having opened up a 7% gap over Labour.

In short the period prior to the budget, when Labour had been emphasising the difference between its position and Tory cuts, saw the Conservatives lead shrink dramatically. The moment that Alistair Darling delivered the budget, and deliberately talked about cuts worse than Thatcher, Labour’s position worsened significantly.

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Who benefits from the 2010 Budget?

28th March 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Nicky Dempsey

The 2010 Budget was not designed to aid the recovery from recession, or help narrow the public sector deficit or even boost New Labour’s electoral prospects at the forthcoming general election.

A useful analysis of the Budget measures can be found here. The most telling aspect of it is a complete reversal of the 2009 Budget stimulus measures. These amounted to £50bn in increased spending over the previous year, £26bn of which was an increase in discretionary spending, not just upward pressure on spending arising from the recession.