Monday, 27 February 2017


We live in the Age of Austerity. 
To working class people that means savage pay cuts since the 2008 bankers' crash to at least 2021, according to the Tory government's own forecasts. 
It means rampant job insecurity, underemployment, zero-hours and zero-rights contracts. 
It means literal starvation, despair, even suicide, as a result of the cruel sanctions regime against those unable to find the jobs that don't exist. 
It means privatisation for profit to dodge the deficits in council budgets, with catastrophic losses in pay, conditions and rights for workers, as well as slashed local services.
But there's no austerity for the rich. Barclays and Lloyds banks announce trebled profits (£3.2billion and £4.2billion, respectively) whilst at least 10,000 Scottish bank workers' jobs face slaughter. And the capitalist chief executives earned the average worker's annual wage of £28,200 in just their first three days back at work this year!

Austerity is not an act of God, nor a natural disaster, nor an unavoidable economic necessity. It's a choice, a political choice, made according to the class interests of the bankers and billionaires - hammering the real and only wealth creators, the working class, in order to turbocharge profits for the 1%.

SNP/Green Austerity Budget 
In Scotland, the ruling SNP government, with the aid of the Scottish Green party, has passed a Scottish budget that chooses to continue several previous years of austerity - despite smoke-and-mirror efforts to disguise their measures.
The SNP/Green deal squeezed an extra £160m for local authority funds compared to the SNP's original budget plans. But that cannot disguise their £170m cut to funding for Scotland's 32 councils. Against the devastating background of over £3billion in cuts to councils from 2010 up to 2019, a 10% cull in money for jobs and services, as researched by UNISON. 

Nor will Scotland's 240,000 council workers forget that the looming thousands of further job losses will pile up on top of the 40,000 already slashed since 2010, and the subsequent back-breaking workloads for those that remain. A crisis exacerbated by the huge loss of skills and experience in successive tranches of mass redundancy for the over-50s, in Glasgow and other councils.
And the reward? Another year of the Scottish government capping public sector pay at 1% for all earning over £22,000 - following an average loss of over £1,000 a year in real wages for council workers since 2010. 

Devolved Destruction 
Every year since they've been elected to the devolved Scottish government, successive Labour-Lib Dem and SNP administrations have devolved the devastation handed down from the Westminster block grant to Holyrood. Devolved decimation to councils, health boards, colleges and universities. This year, with the aid of the Scottish Greens. This year, despite the newly devolved powers over income tax bands and rates.

Failure to Tax the Rich 
The SNP/Green Scottish budget did nothing to tax the obscenely rich, freezing the additional rate threshold at £150,000 and the rate at 45%. The only, minuscule alteration to taxation of the better off was their decision to freeze the 40% tax rate threshold at £43,000, rather than raise it to £45,000 as the Westminster Tories have done, or inflation-proof the threshold at £43,430 as the SNP wanted to do. The 372,000 Scottish taxpayers enjoying incomes over £43,000 will hardly need to turn to food banks as a result of this featherlight 'sanction'! 

Labour: Taxing the Working Class 
Labour's alternative budget was little better; they wanted to raise income tax by 1p across the board; hammering low and middle income workers - already victims of a lost decade of stagnating wages - instead of mounting a genuine struggle to win back some of the £3billion stolen off Scotland by the Tories, as SSP MSPs would have fought for.

Rather than defy Tory cuts, the Scottish government has once again devolved the destruction. They've lifted the 8-year-old Council Tax freeze, allowing local councils to increase Council Tax bills by up to 3%.
It's like a game of pass the parcel in a bomb factory! 

Council Axewielders 
Labour, SNP and coalition-led councils are now spinelessly passing on the cuts in funding awards from Holyrood, with various combinations of job losses; attacks on workers' conditions; offloading services to Arms Length Organisations (ALEOs); outright privatisation; brutally reduced services and facilities in our communities; and income-slashing Council Tax increases. The SNP's jiggery pokery with figures assumes a full uptake of the maximum 3% rise on Council Tax bills by all 32 councils for £70m of their revenue. 

The mainstream parties play an elaborate blame game, with both eyes on May's council elections, whereas what's needed is an honest, hard-hitting explanation of the choices we face, and a call to mass action to defend every job, condition and service, as the basis of building a mass movement to enforce progressive taxation of the rich alongside the demand "Give us back our stolen £billions".

Give Us Back our Stolen £3bn!
The Scottish Socialist Party is selecting council election candidates to advocate this fighting alternative. To demand an end to meek compliance with Westminster butchery. For councils to set No Cuts Defiance budgets - or reverse planned cuts after the May elections. To instead unite with council workers' unions and community groups in coordinated battles to win back at least some of the tens of £millions stolen off each council, and the £3billion plundered from Scotland's budget since 2010. 

Axe the Council Tax - Make the Rich Pay
We aim to popularize the progressive alternative taxation system the SSP devised after our formation in 1998 - the income-based Scottish Service Tax, which would have doubled the money raised for local jobs and services last year compared with the regressive, unfair Council Tax: £4billion instead of £2billion.
We aim to expose the unaccountable, wage-cutting, service-slashing ALEOs that councils have hived off many services to, demanding a return to direct control by elected councillors and elected representatives of communities and council staff.

Choose a Decent Life - Choose Socialism!
The SSP are the modern inheritors of a long, proud socialist tradition of struggle through local government, whereby working class fighters don't seek election to run the machine, but to mobilize working class people in resistance and pursuit of radical reforms. The SSP won't just beg for the money to retain the status quo. We will appeal to communities and council workers to unite and defy all cuts, but also demand that councils blaze the trail against poverty pay and zero hours contracts, banning the latter and demanding the money to pay all council workers a £10-an-hour minimum wage, not years hence, but here and now!

You have a choice: austerity dressed up in various party colours, or socialism.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment. Comments are moderated, so be nice.