Economic crisis and the British Left


This video from England says about itself:

Banking Crisis Demonstration in the City of London

Demonstration from the Bank of England, late afternoon on “Black Friday”, 10th October, 2008… on the day that a further 8.8% was wiped off FTSE 100 shares, in the City of London.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The left’s opportunity

(Friday 10 October 2008)

ONLY veteran readers of this paper will be able to recall more favourable conditions for challenging the fundamentals of capitalism than the opportunity presenting itself to the left today.

At no time since the 1930s has the phrase “capitalist crisis” featured so prominently in public discussion and in the mass media.

Despite all the efforts to blame a handful of “rogue” bankers and speculators, low-waged mortgage holders in the United States and now – heaven help them – the people of Iceland, most workers know where the blame really lies.

The whole ruling political and business establishment is responsible for this financial and economic crisis.

The politicians and the City slickers conspired to hold down wages, benefits and pensions, forcing people into debt in a desperate effort to maintain or improve their living standards.

At the same time, the big corporate directors and shareholders went on a profits spree, driving up prices and scooping lavish proceeds in the form of salaries, fees, bonuses, share options and personal pension pots.

To help the rich still further, successive Labour governments cut the taxes on big business profits and refused to increase the higher rate of taxation.

Instead, more than £200 billion in public spending has been financed through the private finance initiative, leaving this generation and the next of ordinary taxpayers to repay four or five times that sum to the government’s business “partners.”

Now, as the fictitious capital generated by financial wheeling and dealing turns to dust, more than £500 billion of public money is made available to prop up the whole rotten system.

This, remember, from a government which, less than two years ago, refused to find just £1 billion to fund the total deficit of NHS hospital trusts.

We had NHS staff redundancies, ward closures, mothballed equipment and cancelled operations instead.

With the IMF predicting that the British economy will slip into deeper recession than almost every other, capitalism’s crisis cries out for a powerful, united response from the left.

We cannot expect the millionaire mass media to help socialists, whether inside or outside the Labour Party, by publicising that response, although the Morning Star can be relied upon to do so.

This makes left unity and coherence around a left-wing programme all the more essential.

But it also requires the different sections of the left to put old enmities aside and keep their tactical and strategic differences in proportion.

Most socialists and communists agree that we need campaigning and legislation to bring the banks, energy utilities and railways into full public ownership.

They know that we need higher rates of taxation, perhaps including a wealth tax, on the super-rich and that windfall profits, whether in the oil industry or the supermarkets, should be subject to windfall taxes.

They understand that price controls should be imposed on essential services and that the working class and progressive movements must lead mass united battles for higher pay, benefits and pensions.

Differences on electoral strategy, let alone about how we go from capitalist crisis to socialist revolution, cannot be allowed to prevent unity in action where and when it counts and that is here and now.

Tony Benn on the economic crisis: here. Benn interview on Afghanistan and NHS: here.

2 thoughts on “Economic crisis and the British Left

  1. Instead, more than £200 billion in public spending has been financed through the private finance initiative, leaving this generation and the next of ordinary taxpayers to repay four or five times that sum to the government’s business “partners.”

    Like

  2. Pingback: British poor get poorer, Mandelson gets richer | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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