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Breadline Britain needs alternatives to austerity

laaa-tall-smallOctober is traditionally the time of year we collect for harvest festivals. Now the message going out from many churches and community groups is to collect for local food banks. It is indeed a sign of the times.

The boom in food banks has been well documented by many writers in Tribune and other publications. Yet most people must still have been shocked by the announcement last week that now the Red Cross has now launched a food aid campaign for Britain. This is the first time the Red Cross has felt the call to feed hungry Britons since the Second World War.

As the official Opposition, our role in the Labour Party must be to oppose the Tory-led coalition’s cuts agenda which has led to this. Austerity has caused huge damage to the economy, slowing growth, increasing unemployment and reducing living standards of the majority of people. Young people are leaving schools, colleges and universities and seeing doors of opportunities they were promised close in their faces.

The Tories’ ruthless attack on public services has also undermined the very fabric of our society, and increased poverty and inequality. As food and fuel prices rise, and with two and a half million people out of work and many more underemployed, more and more people are reliant on food banks.

The Government’s austerity programme has even failed in its stated aim of lowering the national debt, which has increased as the economy has stagnated. As a result, a number of proponents of austerity, including the International Monetary Fund, have urged a slow down or a rethink of Tory policy. However, despite the manifest failure of its policies, the coalition is even proposing that austerity be deepened and extended into the next parliament.

We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for more than 50 years.

Labour should reject austerity as a solution to the economic crisis. Instead of cuts, we should support a plan for public investment and jobs that can get the economy growing.

Only a Labour government can deliver this. By offering a progressive economic alternative to austerity, Labour can best reach out to a broad coalition of voters whose living standards have declined under the coalition. In contrast, sticking to the Tory spending limits in the next parliament would be a disaster for Labour.

Next month, I will be supporting and speaking at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity conference that will reject cuts, look at the alternatives to austerity that Labour should advance in our next manifesto with the aim stimulating growth, jobs and better living standards, and that will discuss how Labour Party members can be part of the broad-based People’s Assembly Against Austerity movement encompassing all opposed to austerity.

There is a wide range of speakers including Ken Livingstone, journalist Owen Jones, Ann Pettifor from Prime: Policy Research in Economics, Labour MPs, parliamentary candidates, trade unionists and Labour Party activists discussing a range of topics: opposing austerity, defending public services and the welfare state, and finding an anti-austerity platform for Labour to win on in 2015. You can find more on the website and buy tickets for the conference on Saturday November 9 in London.

2 Comments

  1. ShirleyKnott says:

    In London again. It’s become a black hole sucking the life out of the rest of England, and that’s part of the problem. It’s a state within a state. The fact that so very many of these events are London centred excludes the rest of the country.
    So start with a *big* imagining – AT least two regional English assemblies, with significant powers, in the North and the South. (Forget the feeble thing Blair offered the north – it was worthless!) “Capitalize” at least two other of the country’s cities. A spot of genuine devolution would be regenerating and revitalising in and of itself – IF the ‘DE’ part truly meant removing from the ‘centre’ (ie London), and consequent shrinkage of Parliament (power and people).
    Properly address tax evasion & avoidance, take back HMRC from its corporate capture and grow it once loopholes are firmly closed and locked, the key thrown away! Monies raised to reverse cuts, or replace old legislation with improved.
    Skills shortages – encourage and incentivise (by writing off their loans, cancelling their tuition fees) kids coming thru schools now to go into areas where these are: if necessary, encourage and incentivise for the teaching of missing skills (ie, if we don’t have the teachers, we may need to poach from abroad!).
    Remember, it’s better to be *for* the alternatives than merely *against* austerity!

  2. Robert says:

    London world cut bin the London Olympic games, it is London my MP lives in London permanently while I live in Wales.

    It’s not surprising and why would Labour not like Austerity Darling stated he would cut and cut harder then the Tories, Reeves has stat3ed she would hammer down on welfare and the unemployed.

    Labour would hold some of the poorest paid the public sector to a 1% pay rise.

    Election is coming so the bull shit is spreading.

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