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Workers Power Britain editorial: We need an autumn of action against Tory cuts

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Editorial from Workers Power Britain on the need to organise resistance to the coalition government cuts

All across Europe, working class people are angry. Angry at job losses. Angry at VAT hikes. Angry at cuts in benefits that throw the poorest on to the streets. Angry that the bankers and bosses who caused the crisis are still getting billions in bonuses and profits, while governments try to make us pay for their crisis.

No wonder millions took strike action and marched all over Europe.


Ten million struck in Spain on 29 September. Three million marched in France on 2 October, with a general strike planned for the 12th.

Workers in Britain are angry too. This rotten Tory government, with a cabinet stuffed full of millionaires, backed all the way by the Lib Dem hypocrites, has announced a series of cuts that will push the poorest into misery. And there is worse to come on 20 October, when the “spending review” is announced.

Already Cameron and Osborne - whose smooth exteriors cannot quite conceal their deep seated Etonian arrogance – have announced a series of sickening measures.

A cap on benefits will axe over £90 per week from the income of 50,000 of the poorest families in Britain. A limit on housing benefit will leave landlords free to charge rack rents while poor tenants are kicked out of their homes.

And this is on top of cuts in public sector jobs which will throw 600,000 local and central government workers and 700,000 private sector workers straight on to the dole. No wonder the Tories are also determined to restrict access to benefits.

Building work at 715 schools and on 1,300 playgrounds has been stopped. Higher education funding will be cut by 35 per cent.

An historic attack

This is just a taste of what's to come. Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review will mark out where the axe will fall in £82 billion of cuts over the next four years. The programme will shrink most government departments by around 30 per cent.

This is historic. Since 1950 there have only been two periods when spending was cut for two successive years – the Con-Dems want to cut it for six years in a row. The young, the sick and the elderly will foot the bulk of another £4 billion of benefit cuts, to add to the £11 billion slashed in June.

All the more reason why the labour and trade union movement needs to respond with an historic wave of strikes, occupations and marches to stop these cuts and make it impossible for this government to go ahead. We need to start with a one-day general strike like in France and Spain.


But the leader of the TUC, Brendan Barber has even ruled out a march until the spring! And Derek Simpson, outgoing leader of Unite, our biggest union, has even insulted the fighting tradition of the British working class, from the miners' strike to the poll tax, by claiming that we are not capable of rebellion “like the French or the Greeks”.

And Labour's new leader Ed Miliband may have beaten his brother with the votes of ordinary trade unionists but he lost no time in denouncing strikes as “irresponsible”.

Anti-cuts committees

Fortunately there is an alternative to this counsel of despair. We can take advantage of the TUC congress decision to coordinate action and, without waiting for Brendan Barber's say-so, set up anti-cuts committees all across Britain.

We should build these committees, drawing in delegates from every workplace and union, opening them up to the whole of the working class: youth and elderly, unemployed and working, black and white. As well as delivering solidarity to striking workers and organising protests, the committees can help workers overcome “moderate” union leaders when they drag their feet or sell us out.

Coordinate resistance

Backed by Tony Benn, and several militant union leaders, the Coalition of Resistance has called a conference on 27 November. It could be a great opportunity to unite on a national level. But it must be a working conference, where decisions for action are taken and a leadership elected to carry them out. While local and sectional disputes can defeat individual cuts, the government that is driving them forward can only be defeated nationally.

And that is our aim. This government has no mandate whatsoever for this onslaught. Neither Tories nor Lib-Dems told the voters of their cuts. We have every right to bring them down.