Far from being a ‘programme for working people’, the Tory Queen’s Speech proposals represent an all-round attack on working class living standards and democratic rights.
New shackles on our biggest voluntary organisations, the trades unions, will confirm Britain’s anti-labour laws as the most repressive in Europe. Extra powers for the intelligence services are unnecessary and the record of undercover agents spying on, infiltrating and disrupting political, trade union and environmental movements suggests that new powers to combat terrorism will sooner or later be turned against lawful domestic dissent.
The renewed drive against state schools in favour of subsidised ‘free schools’ and academies will further undermine comprehensive education and its supervision by democratically elected local authorities.
The theft of Housing Association properties will see them end up like so many ex-council houses in the hands of private landlords and speculators, while millions of people on low pay or no pay continue to seek a home to live in.
The intensified offensive against welfare benefits will plunge many more children, families and the unemployed into dire poverty. Proposals to freeze reactionary taxes – those not based on people’s income, wealth and ability to pay – such as VAT, are intended to squeeze the welfare state and public sector still further, hitting working people and their families hardest.
The contrast between more spending cuts to social programmes and massive new spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons will breathe fresh life into the slogan ‘Welfare Not Warfare’. Britain’s security is best protected by maintaining conventional defence and promoting social justice at home and abroad, not promoting US, NATO and EU expansion while adding to the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.
While Communists have long supported the devolution of powers and resources to Scotland, Wales and local communities, the Tory proposals contain traps. Without an increase in progressive taxation and measures to redistribute wealth from the rich and big business to all the nations and regions of Britain, greater fiscal autonomy for Scotland, Wales and council mayors in England will amount to little more than a devolution of responsibility for imposing austerity budgets.
Raising the slogan ‘English votes for English laws’ will not resolve the national question in the interests of people across Britain, when what is needed is a fully federal Britain, with powerful regional assemblies in England where popular demand exists.
The Communist Party also supports the right of the people of Britain to decide whether they wish to remain in the European Union and continue to be subject to its anti-democratic, anti-working class treaties, laws, policies and institutions.
However, we regard this latest referendum pledge from the party which denied us a vote on the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty as a sham. For all its posturing, the Cameron government favours continued British membership of the pro-big business, pro-austerity, pro-privatisation EU, in keeping with the interests of the Tories’ chief paymasters in the City of London.
The ‘negotiations’ with the EU will be a charade, used by the Tories to promote their right-wing agenda attacking migrant workers and employment rights while protecting City corruption from even the mildest EU regulation. Cameron will pretend he has won ‘substantial’ concessions from a reluctant EU, the EU will agree, and most of the Tories will then join most of big business, the LibDems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru in a campaign against popular sovereignty and for continuing EU rule.
The Communist Party will campaign alongside our left and progressive allies for a popular vote against EU membership in any such referendum.
Britain’s Communists urge all Labour and progressive MPs to oppose this Queen’s Speech, confident that its anti-working class, anti-people and anti-peace content will help ensure giant demonstrations against austerity in London and Glasgow on June 20.
This government can and must be brought down by popular mobilisation and resistance!
Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party and a contributor to 21centurymanifesto