The UK’s economy is heading towards Greek-style ‘disaster’ if it continues to cut public spending, a political analyst says as the country experiences its biggest strike in a generation.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Chris Bambery, a political commentator from London to discuss the situation.
The two other guests on the show are author and lecturer Webster Griffin Tarpley, from Washington and London-based American broadcaster, Carol Gould.
What follows is a transcription of the interview.
Press TV: If you could tell us in terms of these pension cuts which is part of the larger austerity cuts, which is said would affect the poor the hardest and of course with the poor comes the social service aspect of them being the largest recipient of it, what are the dangers there especially in economically challenged neighborhoods?
Bambery: Well, we’ve already seen this summer the biggest social unrest that Britain has seen in over three decades and that’s before the cuts were really implemented.
In the sort of community where I live, you are seeing really a succession of blows. People are having to pay more for housing as a result in cuts in housing benefit which essentially helped the poorer people pay the rent. They are saying their pension is being eroded.
This government says that public sector workers should accept what’s happened to the private sector where really pensions are more or less demolished by employers.
The logic of it seems to me that if they introduce slavery in the private sector then the public sector should just accept that as well.
But we are seeing other attacks- where I am we are seeing the privatization of key services- health service which [British Prime Minister David] Cameron pledged to protect, in child care, we’re seeing the private school’s being set up.
There is a whole agenda here and it goes by the name that David Cameron gave it of the big society- big society small states.
And your last speaker was correct as the extension of that [British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher right privatization strategy of the 1980s which was a disaster for Britain- as anyone who has sampled British services, British transport knows that didn’t work.
But they want to continue down this road because their agenda is they want to make ordinary people pay- meddling people, working people, because Cameron and [British Chancellor] Osborne’s priority, believe it or not, seems to be the city of London.
They put more exertion into stopping the introductory Robin Hood tax or even at tax and gains from the European Union, which has been talked about, than they do in standing up for the poor people of this country.
And today’s demonstrations and strike- and these really were huge- for instance in Glasgow, in Scotland over 20,000 people on the streets of Glasgow.
Incidentally, I think, Scots will be considering voting for independence – referendum next year- as a way of escaping the austerity government, but yesterday availed a further many austerity budget, we are going to see more of these cause this crisis isn’t going away.
What the Chancellor had to admit there is going to be 6 more years of austerity, no sign of economic growth, further borrowing, which we have to pay for, a further 4 years of wage cuts for public sector workers, a reduction of what money is paid to working people, low wagers who have children, that’s going to be cut and a further increase in retirement in this country.
And I think why people are out on the streets today was at large part yesterday they thought another 6 years of this with no light at the end of the tunnel- where is this country going?
It’s heading exactly where Greece is and if this country can’t turn its economy around with austerity measures that’s the simple truth. The only thing that’s going to end austerity and this depression is economic growth.
By cut, cut, cutting you don’t get growth. You drag the economy down into the ground, that’s what happened in the 1930s, and that’s what’s happening in Greece and Portugal and other countries in Southern Europe just now.
Press TV: Chris Bambery, I’d like to ask you about the right for people to come out and protest, which has involved again arrests today. Tell us about that and the way the police has handled this protest- not only just this one, also the previous ones. Today’s protests have resulted in over 50 arrests at this point.
Bambery: The police handed everyone a leaflet and told everyone if they deviated from the route the police had set they will be arrested that is a restriction of people’s right to demonstrate and we are seeing this more and more.
And in particular the police were terrified about a linkup between trade unions, working people and anti-capitalist protesters and students because they understand that is a dynamic that has happened here because people are beginning to look for alternatives.
People are asking questions about the system and people might ask the question why in this same, in the day after another austerity budget, Britain shuts down the Iranian Embassy in London, because it seems to me that by digging up the threat of another war it diverts peoples’ attention.
Maybe Britain should be wondering why the Iranian economy is doing rather better than the British economy, because it deals with big countries like India, Brazil, Russia, China, where Britain is tied to the United States.
This is because there is a Neo-liberal religion in this country, which no one dares in the establishment to question and Neo-liberal does not mean liberal at home, in terms of protests and people’s rights.
We are seeing a cracking down as we’ve seen with the camps- now we are seeing attempts to evict the camp- “Occupy London” camp from outside St. Paul’s and from the building. They’ve occupied an empty building which has been empty for almost a decade in the city of London.
So there is an attack on the right to protest but it goes along with the austerity measures cause if you want to slash living standards then it has to accompany that.
We should remember, one of the speakers mentioned the 1930s in Germany, it was a forgotten government by a man called [Chancellor of the Weimar Republic Heinrich] Bruening who after he essentially scrapped a democratic government, implemented austerity measures, cut living standards in a way that actually prepared the ground for Hitler.
Also began to whip up nationalism. [German dictator Adolf] Hitler benefitted from austerity- we are going to see this happening in this country as well…
Press TV: Sorry to jump in, quickly if you can, we are running out of time- based on the strategy that you are laying out there somewhat is the government of the UK going to improve its economy based on some of the details you just provided us? Thirty seconds or less if you can.
Bambery: No its not. There is no sign of any economic improvement and George Osborne had to admit that his promise- they’d pay off the deposit inside the lifetime of this government before the next general election, he had to admit yesterday that is not going to happen.
Someone in the treasury said there is no sign of light at the end of the tunnel: Britain is heading down the same road as Greece if it continues on this cut, cut, cut, austerity budget.
And I think people understand that and that’s why they were out today protesting and striking and I think we are going to see more of that, because people understand that we are heading to the road of disaster in this country.