Something that my friend Joel posted this morning on the Ramsey Campbell messageboard as part of a discussion. It's something that deserves being very widely read, before it's too late.
Let's put a few current facts together and see what they suggest in combination.
1. The Government has announced that a million public sector jobs are to be axed.
2. The Government has also announced that a high proportion of people on disability benefit will be reclassified as unemployed, quite regardless of their chances of finding work.
3. Now the Government has announced that people who have been unemployed for a long time will be... not trained, not helped to find work, not given even temporary jobs, but rather forced to do unpaid work that corresponds to the most basic of public sector manual jobs.
4. The DSS estimates the annual cost of benefit fraud to be £1.1 billion. The Inland Revenue estimates the annual cost of tax evasion to be £40 billion.
5. The Government is cutting back staffing levels heavily in the DSS and the Inland Revenue, showing that neither helping people find work nor catching tax evaders is a priority. Catching benefit fraudsters is, however, such a priority that David Cameron has announced that private sector bounty hunters will be hired to track them down.
6. The Chief Executive of the Tory-controlled Birmingham City Council has notified 26,000 employees that they may or may not be made redundant – but their current contracts are null and void, and they will not even be considered for re-engagement unless they sign new contracts that radically diminish their terms and conditions – effectively casualising the Council workforce.
7. Kenneth Clarke, current Justice Secretary and onetime Home Secretary, famously commented that a very high level of unemployment was "a price worth paying" to break the trade unions.
What these facts show in combination is a minority Conservative Government, propped up by LibDem quislings, trying to do as much damage to our public services, the people who provide them and the people who receive them as possible. This is open war on the rights and living standards of the non-rich. It will greatly increase the crime rate, the suicide rate and the mortality rate among the non-rich. It will create a gangster economy of vicious profiteering, with every area of the public sector – most especially healthcare – being carved up into franchises.
The Government has said that the NHS budget is "ring-fenced". However, it will have to be spread much thinner to cover the community healthcare being cut out of the social services budget. Over the next few years there will be a wholesale shift from the NHS budget being used mostly to train and pay NHS staff to the same budget being used mostly to pay private sector health providers... who, as New Labour's Independent Sector Treatment Programme proved, are a lot more expensive than their NHS counterparts. They are also a lot less accountable, because they refuse to disclose their clinical and financial performance data on the grounds that it is "commercially sensitive".
The question is not when the ConDem Government will stop destroying everything that is decent about our society. The question is whether anyone will stop them. It has to happen soon. By the time of the next general election, the damage done to our social fabric and to millions of lives will be irreversible.
This is war.