UNISON will up its fight for to keep public services public – publicly owned, democratically accountable and delivered by the public sector, busting the austerity myth and continuing to challenge outsourcing and privatisation.
Jane Carolan, NEC, explained that UNISON had put forward a vision of public services in its manifesto, asking politicians of all parties to support the policies. “The outcome of that election could not be any worse for the services that we serve. The Tories won!”
Jane said that to really put these ideas in the spotlight, there needed to be a public confrontation about the great Tory lie that the main problem with the UK economy is the deficit.
“Osborne’s only economic policy is that government debt damages economic growth. He probably believes that the clangers live on the moon, and it is made of green cheese. He certainly doesn’t believe in evidence based policy.”
“The only economists supporting that claim were exposed as selective and had mistaken use of data and statistics. For example, in the EU, policies that deficits should not exceed 3% of GDP nor debt 60% of GDP are not economic laws but deliberated political decisions.”
She highlighted, “Increases to government debt and deficits are normal political responses to events like the current economic recession. In reality the current recession was in no way cause by public spending.
“Current debt is the result of the recession itself with the loss of tax revenue, and, very importantly of government action to counter the recession – fiscal stimulus and of course support for the banking sector.”
Jane reminded that a complete meltdown of the financial system was averted as governments intervened. “Mobilising their resources and bailing out the financial sector. A clearer case for the value of public spending could not be made.
“How this argument came to be turned on its head so that public spending was not part of the solution but part of the problem constitutes the great lie. A lie that needs not just be exposed but confronted for the myth that it is. Unfortunately no party at the election was willing to do that.”
“Public services should be a source of pride for this country, as they are for this union. So whilst it was acceptable that government money was used to bail out the banks, public money isn’t available for public spending.”
Emphasising that the need to change the current mindset on the austerity agenda depends on political activity, Jane warned that the reality of the new Tory Government would be worse than our worse fears.
Slamming the new borrowing rules, “Let’s be really clear about what the Tories are up to. No borrowing means no money for new investment, no money for infrastructure projects, no money for public services. That means that the Tories, say no to a society that heals, educates, protests and supports its people. This was never about economics. It was always about politics and about the sort of society we want to live in.
Jane committed the union to take the offensive against the barbarians who run this government, but warned “We must be mindful of three things. We cannot do it alone. At every level we must build coalitions, in every neighbourhood, every city and at national level.
“We are all service users. We need to take them on at their own game. As they continue to sell the family silver at knock down prices, we need to point out who suffers. Forget the Tax Dodgers Alliance. We are the tax payers. PAYE means something to us. So we need a PAYE alliance to question those deals that continually sell us short.”