In case you were wondering why 250,000 (500,000 may be over stating it in some of the papers today) marched in protest at government cuts on Saturday – and not as Libyan TV stated against our military intervention in their country – in London below is a letter that was sent by Tony Benn and others last year. It sets out the left’s response to the coalition government’s fiscal policies.
If you wondered why Fortnum and Masons was occupied by protestors yesterday, it was because “proper tea is theft”.
The time to organise resistance is now.
We reject these cuts as simply malicious ideological vandalism, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. Join us in the fight.
Tony Benn and 73 others
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 August 2010 15.32 BST
It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government’s budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.
The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers’ profligacy.
The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners.
Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.
We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.
This government of millionaires says “we’re all in it together” and “there is no alternative”. But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.
An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear “deterrent” by cancelling the Trident replacement.
An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.
We commit ourselves to:
• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.
• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.
• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.
• Oppose all proposals to “solve” the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.
• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.
• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.
• Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.
We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS
Bob Crow, general secretary RMT
Jeremy Dear, general secretary NUJ
Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, NUJ
Frank Cooper, president of the National Pensioners Convention
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention
John Hendy QC
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary NUT
Cllr Salma Yaqoob
Lee Jasper, joint co-ordinator of Black Activists Rise Against Cuts (Barac)
Zita Holbourne, joint co-ordinator of Barac campaign and PCS national executive
Ashok Kumar, VP education and welfare, LSE student union
Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper
Francis Beckett, author
David Weaver, chair, 1990 Trust
Viv Ahmun, director Equanomics UK
Paul Mackney, former general secretary NATFHE/UCU
Clare Solomon, president ULU student union
Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition (personal capacity)
Andrew Burgin, archivist
John Rees, Counterfire
Romayne Phoenix, Green party
Joseph Healy, secretary Green Left
Fred Leplat, Islington Unison
Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian
Alf Filer, Socialist Resistance
James Meadway, economist
Cherry Sewell, UCU
Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance
Peter Hallward, professor of modern European philosophy
Matteo Mandarini, Historical Materialism editorial board
John Nicholson, secretary Convention of the Left
Michael Chessum, UCL union education and campaigns officer
Mark Curtis, writer
Sean Rillo Raczka, chair, Birkbeck College student union, and mature students’ representative, NUS national executive
Robyn Minogue, UoArts NUS officer
Prince Johnson, NUS president Institute of Education
Roy Bailey, Fuse Records
Gary Herman (CPBF national council member, in personal capacity)
Louis Hartnoll, president UoArts student union
Sarah Ruiz, former Respect councillor and community activist in Newham
Mary Pearson, National Union of Teachers, vice president Birmingham Trades Union Council
Joe Glenholmes, Unison, life member Birmingham Trades Union Council
Baljeet Ghale, NUT past president
Jane Holgate, chair of Hackney Unite and secretary of Hackney TUC
Marshajane Thompson, Labour Representation Committee NC
Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary
Trevor Phillips, campaigner
Stathis Kouvelakis, UCU, King’s College London
Hugh Kerr, former MEP
Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy Roehampton University
Norman Jemmison, NATFHE past president, NPC
Kitty Fitzgerald, poet and novelist
Iain Banks, author
Arthur Smith, comedian
Anne Orwin, actor