Posts Tagged ‘austerity’

The Guardian view on women’s rights: do not take progress for granted | Editorial

Austerity, as the UN’s poverty expert noted, is especially harmful to women. The economic shock from Brexit is likely to widen the inequality gap

When Theresa May became prime minister and set out her vision, women were among the groups she promised to champion. She cited unequal pay on a list of “burning injustices” alongside race and class inequalities. This year companies with more than 250 employees were for the first time compelled to report on their gender pay gap. This can be calculated in different ways, but the Office for National Statistics has it at 17.9%, down 0.5% from last year. At this rate it will be decades before women and men are paid the same, but the data is moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, even such modest progress is the exception rather than the rule in 21st-century Britain. Unpalatable though it may be both to ministers and feminists, the evidence suggests that women’s advancement has stalled and is in danger of going backwards – if it is not doing so already. The government did not accept last year’s finding by the House of Commons Library that 86% of the burden of austerity since 2010 has fallen on women – £79bn, against £13bn for men – and refuses to conduct its own analysis. But work by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Women’s Budget Group and Runnymede Trust has shown that women, and particularly BAME women, are disproportionately affected by cuts to public services and other spending.

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EU support for austerity opens door to far right, Corbyn says

Failed neoliberal policies have caused hardship, Labour leader tells European socialists

Jeremy Corbyn has told an audience of European socialists that EU support for austerity has caused hardship for ordinary people, and that unless something changes there is a risk that “the fake populists of the far right will fill the vacuum”.

Speaking at the Congress of European Socialists in Lisbon, the Labour leader also said his party respected the result of the Brexit referendum and it was the duty of the left in the UK to “shape what comes next”.

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Jeremy Corbyn

What U.S. President Donald Trump is to right-wing nationalism, Jeremy Corbyn wants to be to international socialism. That may not be exactly how he or his closest advisers would put it. But it is what many of them think.

The British Labour Party leader wants to make socialism great again — for the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe — and he believes 2019 presents a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to win power and transform the country. “With the British government weak and unstable, Labour is ready for a general election whenever it may come,” he says, in an email interview with POLITICO. “We’ve set out a radical plan to rebuild Britain, and we are ready to implement it.”

Like Trump, Corbyn promises national renewal after what he says are years of national decline. Like Trump, he promises to shake up the establishment and restore power to ordinary citizens — “Draining the swamp,” in Trump’s language; overturning “a rigged system that benefits the few,” in Corbyn’s.

Another lesson from across the Atlantic is that it would be a mistake to rule out the Labour leader’s rise to power. Were the 69-year-old radical to do the once-unthinkable and ascend to his country’s highest office, he — like Trump — would provide a boost to fellow travelers across the world. “The election of a Labour government will, I hope, encourage and give greater confidence to progressive parties and movements in Europe and beyond,” says Corbyn.

The internationalist left must not “partner in austerity” or “present themselves as the human face of a self-interested establishment,” he says. “If they do they open the way for the far right to claim to speak for those who have been failed and neglected by a broken system.”

Jeremy Corbyn at the memorial wall at the base of the Grenfell Tower | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

The only way to “keep the migrant- and minority-baiters at bay,” he says, referring to the far right rising across Europe, is “standing up together for what we know to be right.”

“We know that to deliver real and lasting social change, we need to work with allies across the world to create a new global economic and environmental common sense,” he says. “The old economic consensus based on supposed free markets and privatization has failed and broken down. Labour, with a new sense of purpose and hundreds of thousands of new members, is ready to help lead that change.”

Corbyn’s inner circle believes a snap election could easily be imminent — if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to push a Brexit deal through parliament, or is brought down by her party after ramming through an unpopular one. Those close to May agree, worrying that unless the Tories deliver a clean Brexit, and offer real change afterward, the country’s voters will look for an alternative. “It’s 1945,” says one former May aide. “You can win the war, that’s fine. But voters don’t thank you for what you’ve done, they want you to answer the next question.”

“Every step of the way, we will seek to build support for the new, close relationship with the EU that most people in the U.K. want” — Jeremy Corbyn

A Corbyn government could easily be as disruptive as Trump’s. He has promised to raise taxes, nationalize utilities and the railways, rein in the financial industry, scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent, immediately recognize a Palestinian state and pull away from the “special relationship” between the U.K. and the United States.

And there’s every indication he plans to deliver (even if, like Trump, Corbyn’s advisers worry that their effort could be derailed by resistance from within the establishment). “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build an economy that puts the real wealth creators first — that’s all of us — not the financial gamblers, tax dodgers and mega corporations,” Corbyn says. “We are determined to seize it.”

On European affairs, the Labour leader takes a more measured stance. “We stand for a very different Britain after Brexit,” he says. “So every step of the way, we will seek to build support for the new, close relationship with the EU that most people in the U.K. want.” That, he says, means remaining in the EU customs union and retaining access to the single market. “We are leaving the EU but we will not turn away from our vital role in Europe’s future,” he adds.

Check out the full POLITICO 28 Class of 2019, and read the Letter from the Editors for an explanation of the thinking behind the ranking.

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