Friday, 25 November 2016

Autumn statement proves the duplicity

Yesterday`s autumn statement by the chancellor will have disappointed even some of the Tory MPs, whose constituencies include thousands of the so-called "Jams" - the "just about managing". Similarly, more disappointment came with the prime minister May`s earlier so-called U-turn on co-determination, which suddenly became voluntary, rather than the promised "compulsory". Workers` representation on the boards of companies was one of the many promises she made, both in her Tory leadership campaign, and on the steps of Downing Street.
   What she promised at the Tory conference was "to publish plans to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well". 
And unbelievably, she added "Because we are the party of workers"!
 The point is, however, that May was never going to force businesses to adopt co-determination against their wishes, and certainly never going to enforce a version of the system which would actually make a difference. Presumably many Tory MPs object to co-determination on principle; workers should have no say in how their employers run their companies. If  workers on boards were to have any effect, for example, on the pay gap between average worker and CEO, the TUC reckons a third of companies` boards should be made up of workers` representatives. And that was never on the cards! Instead, businesses can choose to have workers` representatives on their boards if they so wish, as they have been able to for decades. But they don`t!
 A quick look at some of her other "promises" reveals that May is no less duplicitous than any of her predecessors. She, apparently, was going to be busy "fighting against burning injustice", but tell that to the members of the Orgreave and Justice Campaign! Sadly, this pledge was never going to include an inquiry into one of the most glaring examples of "burning injustice" in modern history, the treatment of the miners during the strike, and the politicisation of the police by Thatcher`s vile government.
 Then there was  May`s ideas on helping to improve education, because "If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university". Well she`s really going to improve their chances by sending most of them to secondary modern schools, whilst the majority of middle class pupils attend grammar schools! Social mobility, instead of being improved, will get worse.
The autumn statement banned letting fees, with Hammond claiming that this would help ease the housing problem, and thereby, make life easier for those "just managing". What he didn`t say was that just two months ago the housing minister, Gavin Barwell, claimed such a move was a bad idea, as landlords would pass the extra cost on to their tenants - in other words, it would cause rents to rise! Remember how May also said that "if you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home"? Until the greed of these modern-day Rachmans is curbed, rents will always remain too high to allow young people to save for a deposit on their own homes. What was needed was the ban on letting fees to be accompanied by a nationwide rent freeze.
 As for increasing social housing.......? Don`t even go there.
"The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few", she said, but when it was discovered hundreds of firms were not paying their workers the minimum wage, what did she do? Press charges against their CEOs for breaking the law? No chance. She adopted that well known policy of failure, naming and shaming. That works well, Theresa. Notice how Google and Amazon are paying billions in taxes these days!
Talking about taxes, what did May say about them? "When it comes to taxes, we’ll prioritise not the wealthy". Oh really? Well why didn`t the autumn statement increase income tax for the rich, or increase inheritance tax? The rise in the personal allowance has most effect in increasing the net income of those on the upper end of the income scale - not the low earners! So much for her helping the "just about managing"!
       The trouble is, this is just the start! May will continue to please the Mail and Telegraph readers with her "window dressing" reforms which, in reality, change nothing fundamentally. Labour MPs need to rally around Corbyn , and expose this duplicitous government for what it really is -  a government for big business and the rich, like all previous Tory administrations before it! Helping the poorest and the "just about managing" is a long way down its list of priorities, despite the rhetoric!

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