Year 2000 No. 52, March 21, 2000

Today’s Budget:

Where Are Resources to Come From?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Today’s Budget:
Where Are Resources to Come From?

Opposition Growing in Birmingham against Rover Sell Off
Schoolchildren Oppose Sell Off of Rover

BMW News In Brief:
Speculation that BMW Will Be Takeover Target
Byers Denies He Will Resign
Hoon Says BMW Lied

News In Brief
Two Million People Sign Post Office Petition

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Today’s Budget:

Where Are Resources to Come From?

Voices have been preparing the ground for the budget from both trade union leaders and business leaders warning the Chancellor of the dangers in "overheating" the economy if 1p is taken off the standard rate of income tax. At the same time, the media has been floating the story of a rift between Gordon Brown and the Prime Minister on this question. Tony Blair is said to be against such a cut in income tax until further resources have been poured in to health and education. Propaganda has been done that public opinion is in favour of even raising income tax if more funding is provided for the NHS.

Thus lines have been drawn to the effect that the Chancellor would like to cut tax in his budget, but will take heed of what all sides of public opinion are saying. At the same time, if he does cut the basic rate of income tax, it will be presented as a welcome surprise for the people, or from other sections of the bourgeoisie that Gordon Brown is indulging in a give-away Budget in preparation for the next General Election.

In fact, drawing up the argument in this way diverts attention from the well-documented fact that the people are paying more to the state treasury in a combination of direct and indirect taxes than when Labour came to power. The focus is made on taxation, both of individuals and of corporations, as the source of the revenue for social programmes.

Whatever the Chancellor does as a ploy in lowering, not lowering or raising the level of tax for individuals and companies, the government is handing over money to the rich directly on a continuous basis. It is the rich who are always given the prior claim on the state’s resources, and certainly will have a prior claim on Gordon Brown’s "war chest". With the development of public-private partnership and PFI, increasingly also the "funding" of social programmes is directly of benefit to the monopolies, and while the government is giving the impression that it is so concerned about where the resources for health, education and other social programmes is to be found, the situation becomes increasingly strained for all these social programmes.

Other voices from, for example, the Conservative Party have been heard saying that "new sources of funding must be found", without specifying what these could be.

Indeed, resources can and should be found for investments in social programmes. First and foremost, if the government were to stop their programme of paying the rich in every conceivable way, declared a moratorium on paying interest on government debt and of repayment of the debt, then resources for investments in social programmes could be found. If the government were to ensure that more is put into the economy through such social programmes and measures taken against taking money out of the economy through the parasitism of finance capital and through maximum capitalist profit finding its way into the pockets of the rich, then it could make a change in the direction of the economy and begin to ensure its health.

The Budget is taking place while there is much anger and uncertainty about the future of the car industry in Britain and at the same time increasing concern about the cut-backs in health, education, housing and other social programmes. The Budget will show that the government has no concern about this direction of the economy, and that it is intensifying the anti-social offensive, and that, while the economy will be said to be in good shape, that the government is doing the best that it can about the threats to livelihoods and people’s well-being, but ultimately such things are out of its hands.

The working class and people must demand that their claims on society be met. There every reason why the rich should be denied their prior claim. In this way, resources for social programmes can be found. This will make a stand against the prevailing view that the people are a drain on society’s resources rather than its greatest resource.

Article Index


Opposition Growing in Birmingham against Rover Sell Off

A number of actions have taken place at Longbridge against the massive cutback at the plant. Union leaders met yesterday at the old Standard-Triumph Social Club. Tony Woodley said that there were calls for industrial action but his perspective was different, he said that it was decided instead to have a "Public Campaign" to keep Rover as a company.

Doctor Karl Chinn, Birmingham historian and radio personality has called for a public demonstration where he would like a quarter of a million people to take part. He said today that we must "show our feelings" and force our opinion as Birmingham people. Doctor Chinn said, "I want to be able to look my children in the face and say we fought for the future of Birmingham."

Schoolchildren Oppose Sell Off of Rover

At Baverstock school yesterday, children were asked their opinion of Rover. Baverstock has 1,400 pupils and two thirds have connections with Rover, including teachers and other school support staff and dinner ladies. One child said that his father was "shocked" after working thirteen years at the factory. Another pupil said that his family felt betrayed by BMW. They were given no warning and people have mortgages and families to support."

The headteacher said, "Our kids have been sold down the river." The school has been encouraging its pupils to go into engineering, and he also asked the question, "What message does this give to young children?"

Article Index


BMW NEWS IN BRIEF

Speculation that BMW Will Be Takeover Target

After BMW’s announced sell-off of Rover to venture capital group Alchemy Partners, there is speculation that BMW itself could become a takeover target.

German sources have said that Ford Motor Co, already a player in the Rover saga, was a possible buyer of BMW, although talks had not taken place at management board level. The sources said that discussions through third parties had taken place over the past three months. The sources also said that General Motors and Volkswagen had also showed renewed interest in BMW because of the Rover sell-off.

The Quandt family, which controls BMW, have denied all such speculation.

Byers Denies He Will Resign

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers told a Sunday newspaper: "If I had been responsible for the £1.4 billion losses incurred by BMW, I may have considered resigning, but I wasn’t." The newspaper had said that Byers had heard rumours of the deal hammered out between BMW and Alchemy six months ago, but that BMW had denied the rumours.

Hoon Says BMW Lied

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said that BMW lied to Stephen Byers. "If they had given a bit more notice instead of telling lies to Stephen Byers then maybe we would have been in a better position to have some alternatives in place now," he told the Breakfast with Frost programme. There was no immediate comment available from BMW.

Article Index


News In Brief

Two Million People Sign Post Office Petition

More than two million people have signed a petition calling for the preservation of sub-post offices. The petition was organised by the National Federation of Subpostmasters, and highlights the threat to offices form plans to pay pensions and benefits through bank accounts. The petition will be displayed in most of the country’s 19,000 sub post offices until April 12, when it will be presented to the Prime Minister.

Colin Baker, the general secretary of the Federation, said, "The public is telling the government they want the right to choose and their choice is the local post office for their pensions and benefits."

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