Opinion Former Article

BFAWU: Osborne's economic recovery was never intended to benefit ordinary people

Government claims economic miracle

Well apparently, we can all breathe a sigh of relief; the longest and deepest recession in recent history is over! The Condems have finally achieved to get growth back to near 2010 levels. At least that’s what they’re telling us. It’s what the Daily Express is telling us as well, so it must be true.

I’d rather deal with facts. Before the Coalition came to power, the UK economy was starting to grow again. Once David Cameron became Prime Minister by default in 2010, his government strangled the life out of that growth by increasing VAT and national insurance, which in effect sent countless numbers of working people spiralling into debt. Wages have been cut and jobs axed to such a degree, that many have had to borrow in order to survive. In many cases, this has meant turning to predatory Payday Loan companies like venture capitalist and major Conservative Party donor, Adrian Beecroft’s Wonga. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report recently commented that after decades of steadily reducing poverty, the tide has turned against low income families. So much for Cameron's claim that we are all sharing in the recovery! I think he must be referring to his inner circle of multi-millionaires and spivs.

Despite the wealth of damning information that’s readily available, politicians and certain sections of the media would now have you believe that we’re living in some sort of Utopian Shangri-La. They’ve clearly not spoken to BFAWU members employed at Hovis, Warburtons, Rathbones, Tangerine Foods, Bright Blue Foods, Maple Leaf, 2 Sisters and Greggs to name but a few, who have been thrown on the dole and/or replaced by agency workers on zero hours contracts. Instead of crowing about a drop in unemployment brought about through benefit sanctions, workfare and the aforementioned zero hour contracts, he should be hanging his head in shame for creating a massive pool of frightened and vulnerable workers, there to be exploited by ruthless and unscrupulous employers.

Politicians have failed the British people; they have failed to address inequality, failed to address the gulf in wages and living standards between those at the bottom and those at the top and failed to encourage the creation of genuine and sustainable jobs. They have systematically, deliberately and ideologically starved ordinary people of the opportunity to improve their lives. At a recent Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron was faced with the issue of his policies having put a further 5 million workers on the breadline. He saw that as fair, as there had to be suffering in order to turn the get the economy moving again.

Of course, the ‘difficult decisions’ and austerity measures laid down by his government don’t apply to those who actually created the financial mess. The people ultimately saddled with the responsibility of paying the price for the follies of the financial sector are those who belong to the non-Tory donating sections of society, in other words; those who do not have the wealth or resources to resist any governmental attack. They’ve even managed to deflect the blame onto unemployed people receiving £71 a week, under 25s receiving £56 a week, immigrants, the elderly and the disabled. They have used a combination of the tried and tested divide and rule and “look over there” politics, setting employed against unemployed, public sector against private sector, able-bodied against disabled, indigenous against immigrant and young against old. The sad part is that many of these groups have fallen for the spin and engaged with the politics of hate and division while the usual suspects have scarpered with the loot and booty.

Perhaps we expect too much from our political classes. After all, when you consider that they claim expenses from the taxpayer to not only heat their first and second homes along with their stables, but also claim for travel, food, groceries and shopping, they surely can’t be expected to understand the plight of others whose lives are hell on wheels as a result of their policies.

Let's look at how this recovery is working out. George Osborne has shifted a number of the further cuts that he intends to make until after the 2015 general election. If, as the government is telling us, we have just achieved an economic revival, why do we still need these cuts? The reality of this ‘recovery’ is that it amounts to the perpetuation of myths and figures plucked out of the air in order to create a ‘feel good factor’ leading up to 2015 that they hope will ensure their re-election. Our downgraded Chancellor thinks that by 2015, we will have forgotten his statement that he should be judged on keeping Britain's ‘Triple A’ status. This is the status which was stripped from him last year.

Osborne also believes that he can get away with achieving a huge increase in the national debt by having borrowed more in three years than Labour did in thirteen. To put it into even more context, public debt was £85 million after the financial crash. Having bailed out speculators and bankers and protected the incomes of the wealthy, it now stands at a staggering £1.3 trillion. All this being the case, the government aren’t prepared to let the facts get in the way of ideology. Blaming the financial crisis on the last Labour government for the last four years has enabled the Coalition to savage employment rights, erode health and safety and even introduce charges for those who wish to take their employers to a tribunal. Despite all of this, David Cameron's buddy, Rupert Murdoch is using his trashy newspapers and other media to tell us that we’ve all seen a real increase in pay and that we’re all much better off. I suppose that having convinced his readers that the financial crisis was caused by everyone other than greedy bankers, he feels he can convince them of just about anything.

Let’s now move onto the idea that “we’re all in this together” and the real beneficiaries of the ‘recovery’. I often make comment on the fact that highly paid bosses never shy away from rewarding themselves. Like the government, they’re very good at privatising profit and socialising debt. While ordinary workers will have seen a loss of £6600 in their income since 2010 (a drop in real pay by around 9%), the high flyers, Tory backers, tax dodgers and the corporate executive class have seen their income skyrocket by an astounding 152%. If this wasn’t outrageous enough, in 2013 this Tory-led government gave millionaires an extra £100,000 tax break. To add insult to injury, many of these people belong to companies who have used government loopholes to avoid paying tax to the tune of £25 billion on average each year. Surely it’s not unreasonable to ask whose recovery this actually is? The reality of this recovery is that those with the most have only had to burden themselves with guilty concern at worst, whilst those with the least have had to pay the greater price by losing their jobs, their income and then be subjected to abuse and humiliation as they are scapegoated as ‘scroungers’.

The news that everything is now rosy in Cameron and Clegg's Downing Street garden will not be met with rejoicing from those whose only current target in life is to survive, particularly the homeless and those living in poverty. Potentially, they face the reality of homes and shelters being shut due to funding cuts and having their sleeping bags taken away from them if they’re forced to sleep rough. Either that, or face arrest if they sleep on someone else’s property.

Then there’s the disabled; thrown out of work as a result of the government closing Remploy factories or being declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS and forced to stack shelves for their benefits. How about those targeted by the absurd bedroom tax? If this wasn’t degrading enough, many have felt compelled to take their own lives as a result of falling into arrears that they cannot possibly pay back. I’m willing to bet that these groups won’t exactly be getting the bunting out as a result of this illusory economic ‘revival’.

And lest we forget; what of the NHS? Starved of funds, cancer patients denied treatment due to age, drops in hygiene standards and the endless demoralisation of nurses and doctors who save lives on a regular basis and are threatened with pay cuts whilst politicians award themselves a whopping 11% increase. I don’t think they will be experiencing the ‘recovery’ in their homes as rents and food/fuel bills continue to rise unabated.

All this in David Cameron’s ‘big society’, economic revival Britain.

Let's be absolutely clear; this recovery isn't for us and it was never intended to benefit ordinary people. The objective is to promote insecurity, ultimately leading to total compliance through fear.

We won’t feel the effects of any recovery, unless we make a stand a demand our share.

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