No alternative, no ‘plan B’

7th December, 2012 9:34 am

In the Autumn Statement George Osborne and the Coalition Government had yet another opportunity to implement an economic policy that could do some real good for people across the country.

They could have chosen to introduce changes to the tax system and cut unnecessary spending to rebalance the disastrous economic decisions they have made over the last two and a half years, giving hope to millions of people across the country that our future isn’t built upon austerity and belt-tightening – but growth and prosperity instead.

But they didn’t. They stuck to their guns. No alternative, no ‘plan B’.

No shift in public spending (such as reductions in the Cold War levels of defence spending) to remove the threat of redundancy that hangs over hundreds of thousands of public service workers who worry every day that they will join half a million of their colleagues who have lost their jobs already.

No ending of tax reliefs for the wealthy (like corporation tax relief on pay and bonuses) or introduction of more redistributive forms of taxation (like reintroducing the 50% tax rate) that could bring to an end the ludicrous pay freeze that takes money out of the pockets of the people who empty our bins, look after our elderly relatives and help young children to read and write.

There was no change to the plan to cut funding public services, like the huge 28% cut in local government funding that has seen Sure Start centres and libraries close, adult social care services withdrawn and public transport schemes scrapped. No endorsement of the principle that the wealthiest should help the most vulnerable, that “we are all in this together” and that people who earn the most should contribute the most through higher taxes for the richest, including on bankers’ bonuses.

A solid plan for growing the economy out of the financial crisis was also missing – whether ‘plan B’ or not. The £23bn interest paid on Quantitative Easing purchases will be used to reduce the deficit. But the Government could have been bolder and funded a programme of infrastructure investment, creating thousands of affordable homes, improving roads, building high-speed rail and dealing with our energy insecurity with the construction of renewable energy projects. This would have generated future revenue and productivity that could have helped reduce the nation’s debts long into the future, rather than acting as a short-term dog whistle for Conservative activists on cuts.

We will have to wait to see how new rules to address tax havens and tax avoidance will work out (particularly as despite some new money, cuts to HMRC have seen the number of staff working on these cases significantly reduced), but it’s a shame that there is no detail about what could happen with the money raised. Tackling aggressive tax avoidance schemes could fund a national legacy that we could all be proud of, generating the £10bn needed to solve the UK’s growing care crisis through the creation of a new, free of charge, national care service.

UNISON, alongside the Labour Party and many other campaigning organisations, has consistently called for the Government to ditch this damaging austerity programme – bringing together an alternative that sets out where the Government can raise new revenue and cut current spending. But in rejecting the need for an alternative we still face an economic emergency and a triple dip recession in 2013.

The deeper cuts in the Autumn Statement will fuel work force instability and lack of consumer confidence, only worsening the UK’s economic future.

Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of Unison

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • Come on Dave, stick your neck out. M.U. – Mids

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    So with Labour having taken the UK into military conflict first in Iraq and then Afghanistan you blame the coalition for not cutting defence spending?

    I would hope that whatever party was in government, if they took the UK into armed conflict they would provide sufficient Defence spending to ensure our military personnel, public servants risking their lives in war zones, went into battle well resourced and well equipped.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    So with Labour having taken the UK into military conflict first in Iraq and then Afghanistan you blame the coalition for not cutting defence spending?

    I would hope that whatever party was in government, if they took the UK into armed conflict they would provide sufficient Defence spending to ensure our military personnel, public servants risking their lives in war zones, went into battle well resourced and well equipped.

Latest

  • Comment Featured Uncategorized Britain seems to be fragmenting but English socialism is being reborne

    Britain seems to be fragmenting but English socialism is being reborne

      by Tom Kelsey and Jon Wilson The referendum brought to light deep fractures that risk destroying the left, and with the prospect of a bruising leadership election the divisions seem to be getting wider. Working class voters in once industrial towns and cities think their political leaders are out-of-touch with no understanding of life in a country many feel is rapidly changing for the worse. The idea of the nation, particularly of a resurgent England, has become a channel […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Uncategorized As the dust settles on the vote for Brexit, it is time to reach out to our democracy’s missing millions

    As the dust settles on the vote for Brexit, it is time to reach out to our democracy’s missing millions

    At a critical point in the development of the Labour party leadership, this article offers a few thoughts on a future Labour agenda for democratic reform that transcends internal politicking. After four years of working at Bite The Ballot, a party-neutral youth democracy movement – and one that unites decision-makers of all persuasions in its work – I can say that British politics still has a long way to go on the road to democratic renewal. Though the pieces are still […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured We must bring politics back to our communities rather than leave people to rely on Westminster “elites”

    We must bring politics back to our communities rather than leave people to rely on Westminster “elites”

    All told, it’s not been a good few months for the standing of our politicians. Whether you think there was a good case to have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU or not, the reason we were all put through it was ultimately one of internal Conservative party management. A fundamental question about who we are as a nation and how to best represent our interests was embarked upon because David Cameron thought it was his best […]

    Read more →
  • News Kinnock: Labour must show that its socialism can “work in practice”

    Kinnock: Labour must show that its socialism can “work in practice”

    Neil Kinnock has criticised “ideological flights of fancy”, and said that Labour needs to show that socialism can “work in practice” before it can be successful. The former leader has said that winning parties have to be “professional” as well as having a “sense of belief”, and launched a strong attack on “career politicians”. “You can enchant people by ideological flights of fancy, but that’s not going to help them at all,” Lord Kinnock told BBC programme Conversations this week. He said […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Wayne David: Top-down change no longer works – we must boost democracy from the ground up

    Wayne David: Top-down change no longer works – we must boost democracy from the ground up

    If we are serious about extending political engagement and closing the gap between people and politics, Labour needs to do two things. Firstly, we need to have a coherent and powerful narrative about bringing power closer to the people. And secondly, we need to have a series of practical proposals to make the political process more accessible and relevant to people. Even though Labour was the party which introduced devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and recently favoured “permissive” […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit