Government of liarsPosted: June 6, 2015
This afternoon, hundreds of people marched through Brighton to protest at the continuing austerity that is being imposed on us by the Tory government. We ended the march at Preston Circus, where a former bank building that has stood empty for some years has been reopened and is currently being cleaned up in preparation for use as a community space and food distribution centre, following the example of the Bank of Love in Liverpool.
I spoke briefly at the start of the march, on behalf of Brighton People’s Assembly against Austerity. Here’s (more or less) what I said – with bonus links if you want to find out more about any of these issues:
The government are liars
They are lying when they say there’s no money
There’s enough money to spend £100 billion on renewing Trident – our own weapon of mass destruction.
There’s enough money to spend billions every year subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
There’s enough money to hand over £9 billion a year to private landlords in housing benefit payments.
There’s apparently enough money in the treasury that they don’t need to deal with the corporate tax avoidance and evasion that costs us £120 billion every year. [PDF]
They are lying when they say that austerity will help get the economy back on track
The opposite is true. Holding down wages and benefits just means people have less money to spend and the economy stays stagnant.
It was reckless gambling by bankers and unsustainable levels of private debt that caused the crisis in the financial industry, not spending on public services.
They are lying when they say that we’re all in it together
In a single year under the coalition government, the richest 10% of people in the UK increased their incomes by 4%, while the incomes of the poorest 10% went down by 15%.
They are lying when they say that workers from the rest of Europe are putting pressure on public services
They are lying when they say they will look after the most vulnerable
A government that cared about looking after the most vulnerable wouldn’t be closing the Independent Living Fund, which enables 17,500 people with the highest levels of need to enjoy fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities.
A government that cared about looking after the most vulnerable wouldn’t cut £20 billion from local government funding, leaving care services stretched to breaking point, with devastating knock on effects on the NHS
A government that cared about looking after the most vulnerable wouldn’t have allowed refuges all over the country to close down, so that women fleeing domestic violence have fewer safe places to run to.
A government that cared about looking after the most vulnerable wouldn’t have introduced a punitive sanctions regime that leaves people without any money for food for weeks on end.
A government that cared about looking after the most vulnerable wouldn’t be planning to stop all housing benefit for people aged 18 to 21.
They are lying when they say they have a long term plan
Their plan is embarrassingly short term. They are just setting things up for themselves and their mates to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible.
A long term plan would involve increasing the minimum wage to a living wage and capping rents at a level people can afford, so that we can build stronger communities.
A long term plan would involve investing in health and social care services, and getting rid of the destructive and costly internal market in the NHS.
A long term plan would involve a massive investment in insulating and renovating housing to make it energy efficient.
A long term plan would involve redirecting investment in technology and skills away from the arms industry that fuels wars around the world and into renewable energy, which is urgently needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.
They are lying when they say they have a democratic mandate
They are not as strong as they think. Their majority in parliament is very small, and only a quarter of the population voted for them.
Before the election there were a small handful of anti-austerity MPs in the House of Commons. Now there are nearly 70, including 56 elected following an extraordinary upsurge of democratic engagement by people in Scotland.
Let’s focus on creating practical solidarity and real democracy. Let’s support each other, expose the government’s lies and fight back against their vandalism.
We can’t rely on the Labour Party to save us.
We have to do this ourselves.