Saturday, 6 March 2010

Make it Public: why should we pay for their crisis?

In the 18 months since Lehmann Brothers collapsed, I've often felt exasperated by the British Left's weaknesses in responding to what is a profound crisis of the system. There has been a crying need for broad-based campaigning on the basis of clear political demands that insist we don't pay for their crisis. This need is intensifying with the growing attacks on public services, which is becoming the foremost issue in domestic politics. What's required is a clear recognition that the money is available, but has been spent on bank bailouts and wars or is in the pockets (or offshore accounts) of a tiny privileged elite, together with concrete proposals for how wealth should be redistributed so it guarantees good public services, jobs and pensions.

Strike levels may remain stubbornly low, but there continues to be great potential for bringing people together politically. There's such disgust at the bankers and their bonuses, coupled with commitment to our collective need for proper funding of public services for all, that making these points can start to mobilise people in action. We should be drawing attention to the enormous waste of nuclear weapons, wars and occupations, thus connecting the dominant concerns in domestic politics with a disastrous foreign policy.

There are glimmers of hope that the left can co-ordinate a serious political response. One of them is is the excellent leaflet produced by the recent 'Make it Public' event from Convention of the Left, which took place in Manchester. The text was written by Andrew Fisher of the Left Economics Advisory Panel. I recommend reading it in full HERE. Under the heading 'Keeping It Public - Cuts? There Is An Alternative' it begins with the following:

'All three main political parties are telling us there have to be cuts in public services, but THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES!

We are in debt because the banking sector collapsed sparking a recession. Bailing out the banks cost billions, and the recession hit tax revenues and increased unemployment. Public Services did not cause this crisis and we should not have to pay for it.'

It then outlines strong demands for: getting tax payments from the wealthy, public ownership and eradicating the wasteful spending on Trident, ID cards and occupying Afghanistan.

One final thing: civil service workers in PCS are on strike on Monday and Tuesday - check out the full list of local marches and rallies.

Photo: electoral candidates for Green Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and Respect at Greater Manchester's recent 'Make it Public' event

1 comment:

  1. A well-written and well argued text. Slight problem with wording in that we know that previous public ownership did not see "all profits reinvested not given
    away on fat cat bonuses and dividends".

    There was a tendency for governments to use profits to cross-subsidise spending that would otherwise come from taxation, which is obviously a problem.

    Given that the most trusted financial institutions now are the mutual building societies, something should be made of this in terms of rhetoric.