Cuts & austerity

1 December 2022Feature

The £55bn ‘fiscal black hole’ is not a real thing

Joan Robinson, the great economist, once wrote: ‘The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.’

British politics in recent months has all been about ‘the fiscal hole’, said to be a gigantic £55bn gap in the government’s finances. Journalists and politicians talk about it as though it is a real thing.

It is not.

The ‘fiscal hole’ sounds like it’s a £55bn gap…

1 December 2019Review

Pluto, 2017; 256pp; £16.99

The term ‘austerity’ reminds me of comedian Stewart Lee’s quip that: ‘if political correctness has achieved anything, it’s forced the Conservatives to cloak their inherent racism in more creative language’.

This collection of essays brilliantly and engagingly covers everything from food and fuel poverty to welfare reforms and environmental degradation, reminding us that all spheres of life are affected by austerity measures.

Infant mortality rates have risen for the last four…

1 October 2016Review

Pluto Press, 2016; 224pp; £12.99  

Using interviews, articles, personal stories and political commentary, Jeremy Seabrook’s latest book paints a bleak account of the current government’s ‘demolition’ of the UK welfare state.

Situated in and around Wolverhampton, local people, differing widely in their cultural backgrounds, tell their stories and the reasons that have led them to rely on benefits. Many of the interviewees are in low-paid insecure employment, or else are full-time carers and mothers.

The stories…

1 October 2015Review

New Internationalist, 2015; 192pp; £9.99

Every now and then, Peace News sends me a book which I absolutely love from start to finish. Despite the clunky title, this is one of those books. It’s a terrific read that tells you everything you need to know about why austerity is prevalent, what it does and some pointers on how to resist it.

The book is in two parts: the first, ‘Demolition’, deals with the causes of austerity and its impact on all areas of society. The second, ‘Austerity and Democracy’, charts its…

1 August 2015News

Welsh campaigners open cultural front

Campaign Choirs stall at the street choirs festival PHOTO: Kelvin Mason

Austerity, exploitation and inequality go hand in hand and there is a rising anti-austerity movement throughout Wales, with numerous grassroots groups springing up across the country.

On 20 June, as more than 250,000 people protested in London, hundreds marched in Aberystwyth, led by the inimitable, battle-scarred red dragon Y Ddraig Goch of Faslane fame. Marching to singing and drumming, marchers demanded…

1 August 2015News

250,000 march in London as meals on wheels slashed by 81%

Demonstrators navigate a rising tide of anger against cuts in Whitehall, London, 20 June. Photo: PN

In the first four years of the coalition government, there was a 16 percent cut in real terms in children’s services in Britain (in terms of spending per child), as local government spending has been squeezed by national government.

Over 150,000 older people have lost access to care at home since 2010 because of government ‘austerity’ measures, amounting to a 28 percent cut.…

9 June 2014Review

Pluto, 2014; 197pp; £12.99

Richard Seymour, founder of the popular Lenin’s Tomb blog and regular contributor to the Guardian, is one of the smartest, sharpest Leftist intellectuals working in the UK today. After writing books critiquing liberal imperialism, David Cameron and Christopher Hitchens, he has now turned his attention to the 2008 financial crisis and the British government’s austerity agenda.

Seymour’s central concern is that the Left has ‘nothing to show’ for itself after four years of a…

1 September 2013News in Brief

On 5 November, there will be a national wave of direct action against government cuts, called for by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

In its June declaration, the People’s Assembly called for local assemblies to be set up all over the country, and said: ‘We will concentrate on action not words…. We support every and all effective forms of action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.’

More info: 020 8525 6988; 07746 330 422;…

11 May 2013Feature

Disabled people tell Atos Stories

Ian Dury, writer of the song ‘Spasticus Autisticus’, playing in
Hamburg. Photo: MALTE CC-BY-3.0 VIA Wikicommons

Our day-long protest on 9 April ended with us tweeting the story of Karen Sherlock. Karen was a disability rights campaigner who, despite suffering from a multitude of health conditions, was assessed by private company Atos Healthcare as potentially capable of working, and she was put in the ‘work-related activity group’ (WRAG). Thanks to rules put in place with the…

1 December 2012News

Côr Gobaith feel the solidarity at national TUC demo

It’s 5am. In Parc y Llyn, post-apocalyptic ghost-town of Aberystwyth’s questionable retail expectations, a coach-load of demonstrators clutches banners and sandwich boxes. A motley crew of students and trade unionists right enough, but united in our determination to speak back to an unfeeling government.

It’s 20 October, and we’re heading for ‘A future that works’, the TUC March in London. It’s a 12-hour round-trip but we have to express our feelings of frustration in the face of the…

17 October 2012Feature

Cameron commits £2bn to drones while chopping disability benefits

The Conservative-led government is committing billions to military spending while forcing through massive cuts in jobs and services, and reducing support for badly-needed green technologies.

The government has already spent £2bn on developing and deploying pilotless drone aircraft over the past five years, using some of them to kill an unknown number of Afghan civilians…

17 October 2012Comment

There are converging agendas for different movements - anti-cuts, climate, disarmament, labour movement...

It is not enough for the anti-cuts movement to be a defensive, responsive movement. It is not enough to point out the flaws in the arguments for austerity (as the False Economy website does so brilliantly).
If we are going to have a world worth living in, we are going to have to merge together the agendas of the anti-cuts movement, the green movement, the labour movement and the peace movement.

We are already arguing for…

17 October 2012Feature

Eye witness: holding Neptuno Square for hours despite a police riot 


Since 15 May 2011, Spain has witnessed the emergence of a massive protest movement demanding a democratic revolution. 

Organised through the internet and through social media, a series of protests has taken place occupying the main squares of every major city in Spain as well as those of many small towns, demanding a radical change in the Spanish political system. 

Between six-and-a-half and eight million Spaniards have taken part in what has been called 'the 15M…

2 July 2012News in Brief

Economic justice group UK Uncut has just released a 24-minute documentary on its successful struggle to take the tax authorities to court over their ‘sweetheart deal’ with Goldman Sachs — which let global banking giant off £20m in tax:

2 July 2012News in Brief

In June, more than 4,000 British military personnel received redundancy notices (of which about a third are compulsory) in the largest single reduction in the last 20 years. In 2010, cuts were announced of 5,000 jobs each in the navy and air force, 7,000 in the army, and about 25,000 civilian jobs in the MoD.

A further reduction of 12,000 army personnel was then announced, which will cut army numbers to 82,000 by 2015.

The slimmed down force will have a much heavier emphasis on…