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Marching is not enough – general election now

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity's march is applying much-needed pressure to bring this rotten government to the ballot box, says STEVE TURNER

BRITAIN is broken and the party that broke it is consumed solely with its own Brexit divisions, while its brutal neoliberal austerity continues apace.

Privatisation has hollowed out our public services. Insecure work, depressed wages and spiralling housing costs have ripped future dreams and security out of people’s hands.

Every day brings a new story that shines a spotlight on not just the failure but the cruelty of the Conservatives. Whether it is the nearly 600 homeless people who died on our streets and the four million adults using foodbanks last year to the trauma and stress playing out in homes across the country as families sink further into debt as they try and make ends meet.

The TUC calculates average unsecured debt at a staggering £15,400 per household; one in 10 workers are in insecure work and average wages have never recovered their pre-2008 levels.

This government has been condemned by the UN for the misery inflicted on citizens through austerity and universal credit. To suggest that “austerity is over” is to invite ridicule.

Our manufacturing base has been allowed to shrink and is being offered no assurances for its future in the face of this government’s disastrous handling of Brexit and its uncertainty.

In my union, Unite, we are regularly firefighting job loss threats and announcements.

But of course we know that while this is the situation for the many, there are the few who are doing well.

Repeatedly granted tax cuts under the Conservatives the very wealthiest continue to thrive — just three working days into 2019 the FTSE 100 CEOs had already earned more than the average full-time worker.

Presumably it took mere hours to overtake the growing numbers on minimum wage, zero- and short-hours contracts.

That remains the main divide in this country and is why the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is marching through London, calling for a general election to end this damaging fiasco we currently have as a government.

It will take a lot more than one demonstration to get a general election. We need to keep making our voices heard, not just today but in the days and weeks ahead.

It seems certain that Theresa May will lose yet another vote in the Commons on Tuesday.

This is a government that can no longer govern and can offer no way forward. It offers only further damage to our communities, threatening jobs and livelihoods.

As Jeremy Corbyn said in Wakefield, a general election is the only practical and democratic way out of this mess. Millions of people urgently need the long overdue transformation of this country; the investment to create decent secure jobs, stronger trade union rights and quality public services.

That requires more than a change of Conservative leader, it needs a general election and for us to win a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Steve Turner is Unite assistant general secretary and the chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

 

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