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Fleecing the working class

Osborne is happy to preside over an economy which only benefits the few

GEORGE OSBORNE told voters yesterday that Britain faces a choice between squandering economic security or finishing the job, adding: "I say we stay the course. We stay on course to prosperity."

After four-and-a-half years of his stewardship of the economy, wages have been continuously adrift of prices and he wants to maintain this course.

The Chancellor is happy to preside over an economy where a stuttering recovery benefits only a tiny section of society.

The rich and powerful still thrive on their accumulated wealth, sky-high salaries, bonuses, share allocations and gold-lined pension pots while a million people in the world's sixth-biggest economy depend on foodbanks.

Osborne trots out the same old tired line that employment is the best way to escape hardship even though as many people from working families are in poverty as those in which no-one has a job.

This is because the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition has driven down the value of in-work benefits while the cost of rents, fares, food, clothing, holidays and recreation has risen steadily.

Millions of public-sector workers have seen the value of their pay decline by at least 10 per cent since the conservative coalition took office and carried through a conspiracy to impoverish the working class.

Freezing pay and benefits is not only cruel and unfair to families doing their best to survive.

It also undermines the Chancellor's supposed central task of balancing the books by the end of this Parliament.

He admitted yesterday that this year's deficit is expected to hit £91.3 billion rather than £86.6bn.

This is a direct result of coalition policies that force people to take low-paid, part-time, insecure jobs on which they pay no income tax and have to apply for in-work benefits.

No amount of gimmicks in which Osborne "unveils" spending commitments already announced, plays around with business rates and stamp duty on house sales or suggests legislation to lock an incoming government into a pledge to eradicate the deficit by 2018 can disguise the bankruptcy of his chancellorship.

Not that he is without friends. Director general John Cridland of the bosses' CBI sees the changes on stamp duty and business rates as "a shot in the arm for families and growing firms as they look towards 2015."

Stamp duty massaging has more to do with countering Labour's mansion tax, which, despite the high-profile whingeing of a cabal of overpaid entertainers, is popular with voters.

It's worth noting that while a mansion tax would hit all properties valued at over £2 million, the conservative coalition's rejigged stamp duty would affect only those up for sale and it would be paid by purchasers not by the current owners who pocket the cash.

Austerity is a codeword for "fleece the working class." It has nothing to do with economic prudence or responsibility.

There is no value in promising to tinker with the government's economic direction.

It has to be reversed through higher taxes on big business and the wealthy, transformation of the minimum wage into a living wage and substantially higher pensions and benefits.

The trend to privatisation, which has hit Royal Mail, the NHS, Forensic Science Services, Plasma Resources and state school playing fields, must also be halted.

Bringing back into public ownership our rail, gas, electricity and water services should be the initial step in taking control of the economy and making it operate in the interests of working people.


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