Democrat January-February (Number 29)
Welfare state and NHS
Single Currency and Cuts
Euro-austerity, hypocrisy and crocodile teas are appearing as the hallmarks oof the new Labour Government.
It is ironic the symbol adopted by Prime Minister Blair for Britain's six month turn as president of the European Community is a collection of stars drawn by children. Amongst the decisions taken since the general election, are cuts in benefits to some of the poorest in Britain today - lone parents and their children - those least able to protect themselves!
U-turn on cuts
As we point out on page 12, Ms Harman has U-turned
from a position before the general election of opposing cuts to single
parent's benefits to one of putting cuts in place - after obtaining
There is now a threat to cut benefits for the disabled and for maternity benefits by use of the old means test dressed up as an `affluence test'. The initial reason given was that one unnamed pregnant millionaire received thousands of pounds a week. Apparently single parents and the disabled are not heeding the `work ethic' - prominent in austere Victorian times when there was no social protection and children worked down mines and in mills in a free unregulated market!
The excuse proffered for the U-turn on these aspects of the welfare state is that this was the policy of the last Government. Quite what the purpose of electing a new government comes to, if it cannot carry out promises made last May, raises inconvenient points and smells of hypocrisy.
The key policy which dominated the last government
and continued with vigour by new Labour, is membership of the single
currency and deepening European Union. Make no mistake, all government
economic policies become subject to membership of EMU and 21 unelected
bankers and Commission officials in the European Central Bank.
The convergence criteria to join the single currency have to be adhered to, consolidated and made permanent. The rules for EMU membership were agreed in the `stability pact' at Amsterdam last year. These rules include fines for member states who stray away from the strict criteria and cuts. Rules will also apply to member states outside EMU, like Britain.
Fit for EMU
Chancellor Gordon Brown has made clear Britain will
enter the single currency when it is economically fit to do so. To
be fit for EMU means Euro-austerity and the end of the welfare state
and NHS as we know them. Mr Brown and Mr Blair have expressed their
concern that one in three children are on the breadline and one in
five households have no breadwinner. Ms Harman has predicted we will
look back and be pleased about the effect of these cuts. The cuts
so far mean these concerns and predictions are little more than crocodile
If new Labour continues along the current course it will end up split and rejected like the previous government which imposed Euro-austerity. The wisest course to take is to stay out of EMU which is supported by the majority of the electorate.