Ministers say there is no alternative. But both of the government’s two key decisions are political choices, not economic necessity.
- Eliminating the deficit in just four years is a savage timetable that does not give economic growth the opportunity to raise the nation’s tax take. Indeed the deep cuts promised will depress the economy making deeper cuts necessary to meet this timetable.
- Raising four pounds through cuts for every pound raised through tax—and doing most of this through a rise in VAT that hits the poor and those on middle income the most—is deeply unfair. The recession was made in the finance sector, yet banks and those now enjoying gigantic bonuses once again, are not being asked to make a fair contribution.
Yet none of these policies were put to the British people at the election, indeed we were told that there was no need for cuts in front-line services.
People round the country are already campaigning against these deep, rapid cuts. Students have shown their opposition to cuts, the ends of EMAs and increases in fees. Parents and teachers have opposed cuts in school building. School sport, libraries and public woodlands all now have strong defenders. Few towns now don’t have their own campaign group.
The TUC’s March for the Alternative has two key aims:
- First we want to give a national voice to all those affected by the cuts.
This will be a huge event that in its breadth and support shows just how much opposition there is to the government’s programme. It will bring together public service workers and those who depend on good public services. Those involved in national campaigns, and those defending what is special in their own community.
- Second we want to show that people reject the argument that there is no alternative.
Of course the recession did damage to our economy. But these deep rapid cuts are not the best way to solve our problems, and may well make them worse.
That is why it is the March for the Alternative—an alternative in which rich individuals and big companies have to pay all their tax, that the banks pay a Robin Hood tax and on in which we strain every sinew to create jobs and boost the sustainable economic growth that will generate the prosperity which is the only long term way to close the deficit and reduce the nation’s debt.