Austerity cuts

The Tories' war on us all

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Siobhan Brown looks at the likely impact of the Tories' welfare reforms.

The introduction of the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill in July marked the ongoing viciousness of the Conservative government intent on destroying the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.

Touted by the Tories as making it “pay more to be in work than out of it”, they are now trying to pose themselves as the real party of working people.

The failure of the Labour Party to mount any serious challenge to the bill shows its continuing inability, in its current incarnation, to provide any opposition to austerity.

Water meters tap into Irish workers' anger

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The autumn of 2014 saw a massive revolt by the Irish working class against the attempt by the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition to impose swingeing water charges. The charges were the latest in innumerable austerity measures imposed at the behest of the Troika — the EU, IMF and European Central Bank — as part of the immense bail-out of the Irish banks.

Revolt in Bosnia

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Twenty years ago Bosnia was at the bloody heart of the Yugoslav civil wars. The war ended when the country was divided along "ethnic" lines by the Dayton Accord, leaving two eparate entities and one mixed "district".

Bosnia has since become a plaything of the West, with the US and the EU acting with the IMF and World Bank to impose austerity in return for increased and unsustainable levels of debt repayments.

Labour's surrender to austerity

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In June Ed Miliband and Ed Balls signalled that a future Labour government will accept the framework of the Tories' austerity plans and put a cap on welfare spending. Iain Ferguson looks at Labour's shift to the right and challenges the myths about the welfare state used to justify this turn.

"Even in these hard times, is it too much to expect an opposition to oppose now and again?" (Sunday Herald, 16 June).

For historians of the British Labour Party, June 2013 is likely to be remembered as a key milestone in Party's political and ideological evolution.

Can we beat the bedroom tax?

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In 1990 when Thatcher brought in the "Community Charge" we were told it was only "fair" that the "duke and his gardener pay the same". The Community Charge was a flat rate council tax imposed on every individual in Britain, regardless of income.

We called it the "poll tax". Millions did not pay. Local anti poll tax groups were organised everywhere, forming the national anti Poll Tax Federation, and after two years of struggle, with organised mass non-payment, protests outside the courts, and a demonstration that led to rioting in central London, the poll tax was beaten.

When will Labour councillors fight the cuts?

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Over the next few weeks councils across the country will meet to vote on budgets that, if passed, will instigate the most savage cuts to services in living memory.

Budgets will be cut by an average of four percent (not the 1.7 percent that Eric Pickles, the Tory minister in charge of councils, suggested when he announced this year's local government budget in the minutes before his office closed down for Christmas on 21 December).

The announced settlement will also mean vicious cuts in 2014-15. An additional average cut of nine percent will kick in for the financial year 2014-15.

Crisis and resistance in Portugal

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Mark Bergfeld recently attended the congress of the Left Bloc in Portugal and witnessed the general strike there a few days later. Here, he argues that Portugal is currently experiencing its biggest social and political upheaval since the 1974-5 Revolution

A day before the right wing coalition government in Portugal was to vote through its 2013 budget, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble met his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar and proclaimed, "Portugal is on the right path and is, for all of us in the eurozone, a brilliant example that the approach we have been following to stabilise the euro is correct." Schäuble went on to praise the "exceptional job" being performed by the Portuguese government.

Can we break the coalition?

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Less than halfway through it's projected 5 year term of office, the Tory and Lib Dem coalition is on the rocks. Charlie Kimber argues that it's important to understand the weakness of our opponents - but what kind of action would it take to drive this government out?

We need to understand the weakness of our opponents to grasp the potential for successful resistance. It's the backdrop to building huge demonstrations in London and Glasgow on 20 October and then resistance afterwards. We are all painfully aware of the weaknesses in our own camp. But we can often forget the deep and structural problems of our rulers.

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition is less than half way through its projected term of office. But it is in deep trouble. It's not just the ups and downs and temporary unpopularity that affect many governments.

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