In Sutton Coldfield, Andrew Mitchell MP – who was embroiled in scandal earlier this year after allegedly calling police officers “plebs” – found his constituency offices occupied by activists angry about the cuts, austerity, university tuition fees, education and economic policies of this government, and wanting to draw attention to the out of touch classism of this government of Eton, Oxbridge millionaires who haven’t a clue what it’s like to live on an average wage, let alone minimum wage or benefits.
Roz Burgin, a student who was amongst the occupiers, said
We want to draw attention to how much our city is hurting and we are calling on everyone to fight back. These cuts are being marketed to us as necessary concessions that must be made for the good of the country. We are told they are part of an inexorable scheme to cut the nation’s deficit. It is fair to say we do not all agree, and we will use this day to get our voices heard above the narrow-minded, short-sighted announcement of our Chancellor, and to challenge this country’s dedication to harsh, dangerous austerity measures.
Then in the evening, around 100 people gathered in freezing temperatures in Birmingham City Centre to demonstrate, drawing particular attention to how cuts are going to affect Birmingham with half of the council’s budget expected to be gone by 2017. Much was made of the wide variety of failing government policy, from the work programme that reduces someones chances of finding work, to the scandal of the ATOS disability assessment tests that get 20% of decisions wrong leading to deaths like that of the Birmingham dad who died of his heart condition just 3 weeks after being told he was fit for work.
The central theme of speeches though was the failure of the government’s economic policies which far from dealing with the deficit are actually causing it to rise. Osborne has tried to hide the increased borrowing so far this year by including £3.5bn from the sale of 4G mobile phone licences (a sale that hasn’t even happened yet) and a one off payment of £11.5bn from Quantitative Easing. Like the £28bn one off assett transfer from Royal Mail pension fund, Osborne takes these one off payments and uses them to hide that his policies are failing. But even he cannot hide it entirely, and from today’s autumn statement we know that the UK will have the highest deficit in the western world by 2015.
The budget itself attacks the poorest the heaviest, with the bottom 30% of earners losing out heavily. It is those in work who will be the most effected, standing to lose thousands of pounds each year as tax credit cuts take effect.
The restriction of an automatic economic stabiliser like benefits is foolishness in the extreme – but it fits in with the tory ideology that we are all in it for ourselves. The attack on our social security continues with dire personal and economic consequences for everyone.
Tom from Birmingham Against the Cuts said
How much longer will the people of this country put up with the madness that is austerity? If we want to deal with the deficit we need alternative policies to create jobs and build towards a sustainable future.
It is strange that at a point in time where what the economy needs, where what the deficit needs, is investment, when the government is borrowing at 0.5% and when we need to be building new zero-energy, zero carbon housing and renewable energy production, that the obvious answer to our problems is not being pursued.
Either austerity is not about dealing with the deficit or the politicians in all main parties are so out of touch with reality, so caught up in the ideology of neo-liberalism and monetarist economics that they refuse to see the evidence that their policies are failing.
More demonstrations against this government, against austerity and neo-liberalism are happening on Saturday – 12:30pm UK Uncut take action against Starbucks who choose not to pay the tax they should in the UK. Then after this finishes from 2pm Boycott Workfare demonstrate against the failing work programme and workfare.
Photos from the evening demonstration: