The student protests hit the headlines before Christmas with the media focusing on the ‘violence’ and the ‘terrible shock’ given to members of the Royal family. Attention was taken away from the real issues that face both students and the rest of us. The facts are being hidden behind a smokescreen of lies. It is important to see the difference between what the government and media would like us to believe and what the facts are.
Lies : Causes
- too much spent over the years on public services
- wasteful bureaucracy
- large public sector pensions
- welfare scroungers
- The main drain on resources is not public services but the fact that:
- the government bailed out the banks with billions of pounds of public money
- the government has been waging costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for decades
- There is a large bureaucracy, largely made up of supporters of various political parties, who have managed to get ‘jobs for the boys and girls’ in various quangos at both national and local government level, but this is not going to be the main targets of the cuts.
- A few of the top civil servants may get large pensions but most public sector workers do not. The pension they do get is some compensation for the generally low wages that public sector workers earn.
- The Daily Mail devotes a lot of energy to ferreting out the odd example of someone managing to get huge amount of benefits which they in no way deserve. The point is that the vast majority of people on benefits are desperately in need. In terms of ‘scroungers’, the Royal Family costs the taxpayer much more than people on benefits, not to mention all the corporations who don’t pay the taxes that they are supposed to.
Lies: The Solutions
The solutions are presented as the only way.
- Cut public services, in particular education
- Cut jobs in both local and national government
- Reduce pension benefits and make people pay more for their pension
- Drastically reduce welfare benefits
- Raise taxes on people’s spending
- Massively increase the amount students pay for university and reduce benefits for 16-19 year olds
- The cuts will cause big reductions in people’s income; they will spend less and make an economic recovery even more difficult.
- By cutting back on education, and youth services in general at a local level, the government is in the process of creating a massive problem for the future. After decades of telling young people from working class backgrounds how important education is, they are now giving the message that it is only for those who can afford it. Universities are preserving their research status at the expense of students and their education. The top universities will still get the students because they tend to take students who can afford to pay, but other universities will be in crisis. How many young people will flood on to the job market at 16 rather than going on to do A levels and then to university?
- The amount of savings to be made are very small compared to savings that could be made by stopping the war.
- Those who were the cause of the crisis in the first place, and who can most afford to pay, are being let off the hook. Banks are now making huge profits again and their directors as well as other company directors continue to award themselves large pay increases and pensions and make sure their companies avoid paying taxes.
The Way Forward
The main message given out by local councils and employers is that there is nothing that can be done. It is a bitter medicine that has to be swallowed in order to get Britain through the crisis.
As shown above, this is complete rubbish and this is the message that the students have brought to our attention. They are not about to ‘bite the bullet’, but are fighting back. We know perfectly well that there are other alternatives- there is plenty of money around- just not in our hands. And the government is making sure that soon we will have even less. So whether it is in your community or at work, no matter what the political party in charge, the message has to be NO! We won’t pay for your crisis!
Anarchist Federation (London) London@afed.org.uk BM Anarfed, London, WC1N 3XX