Warning to Rudd from British election

Britain went to the polls on the May 6 in the midst of economic turmoil across Europe that has reached its peak in the crisis in Greece.  Labour’s humiliation after 13 years in power should stand as a warning to Rudd—disappointment at their continuation of the Tory agenda of neo-liberalism and their taking the country into disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq led to the Conservatives taking the biggest vote.
Under New Labour inequality has increased—the product of continued privatisation, funding cuts to public services, and maintenance of undemocratic anti-union laws.
So hated were the policies of New Labour that the Tories should have won in a landslide.
Yet they failed to pick up the seats needed to claim a majority in the House of Commons, and have been forced to strike a deal with the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government.
This failure of the Tories to claim outright victory shows that whilst the people are angry with the Labour party, they have not forgotten the legacy of the Thatcher years. The Tories secured just 36 per cent of the vote.
One bright spot was the setback for the Nazi British National Party (BNP). They failed badly in the two areas where they thought they had a chance of a breakthrough. They failed in their quest to win their first House of Commons seat in Barking, where leader Nick Griffin’s vote fell, and also failed in their other target seat of Stoke. In Barking, where the BNP had hoped to take control of its first local council in Britain, the party lost all 12 of their council seats.
This was a result of a massive campaign by Unite Against Fascism and other anti-racist organisations. But the Nazis are far from finished, having taken over half a million votes across the country.
The central issue that dominated the election was the promises of savage cuts to government spending, to cut the deficit. The British government deficit, estimated to be 12 per cent of GDP this year, is the highest in the EU, higher even than Greece.
The government has built up a massive debt through pumping billions into the banking sector in an attempt to save it from the brink of collapse during the financial crisis. Despite this the banking industry has been resistant to any form of further regulation and banking executives have continued to rake in record pay.
Figures show that during the recession the wealthiest in society have actually seen their share of the wealth grow by 20 per cent.
The one issue that all three major parties could agree on is that the deficit must be reduced by massive cuts to public spending.
They all rushed to prostrate themselves to the financial markets, trying to outdo each other in how severe their cuts will be. They all want to transfer the cost of the economic crisis onto the working class.
Whoever takes power will try to push through cuts on the scale of Greece—whether to pensions, public sector workers’ pay or health and education funding.
The hope is that the British working class can learn to “speak Greek” and organise a popular revolt against the cuts that are on their way.
By Stephen Martin


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