Monday, 25 August 2014

The stark divide created by austerity and neoliberalism

Earlier today, the recently-appointed Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls, resigned along with the entire cabinet of the French government amid the serious damage austerity is doing to France. Just before this, France's (soon to be ex-) Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg correctly blamed Angela Merkel for spreading it across the Eurozone (most of the European Union these days), especially to Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain where austerity measures are hurting the people the most for a recession they never caused. With this incident and so many others in the past two years, I sometimes wonder if French President Francois Hollande will end his term prematurely, given how ineffectual and disappointing he has been overall in France.

Monsieur Montebourg has correctly pointed out that these budget cuts to meet Eurozone deficits, far from reducing deficits, actually prolong the recession in European countries and do not achieve anything-proving once again that 'austerity' is a scam designed by the wealthy socio-economic elite everywhere so that they can avoid the consequences of their own failures and the failed free-market system by forcibly passing them onto the rest of us.

All of this is creating a starker and starker divide-and nowhere is this more pronounced in Europe than the United Kingdom, which did not fare as badly as several other nations in the years immediately following the start of the Great Recession of 2008.

Out of the 10 poorest regions in Northern Europe, nine (West Wales, Cornwall, Durham and Teeside, Lincolnshire, Humberside, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Shropshire/Staffordshire and Northern Ireland) are in the United Kingdom. The only one of the 10 outside Britain, Hainaut (once an important industrial area of Belgium) only ranks ninth on the list, also. By contrast, the UK contains the wealthiest area in Northern Europe-Inner London (especially the City of London itself). The other nine wealthiest areas there are more evenly distributed-three are in Germany, and Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria have one of the 10 richest regions apiece.

Another example is how badly each council area in the UK is being affected by Eric Pickles' cuts-a report in The Mirror highlighted that Labour dominated areas such as Newham, Liverpool, Knowsley, Blackpool, and Hull are facing the worst cuts per household in the nation (as much as £700-£800 per household when these areas were pretty poor before the recession), whilst a few Conservative councils (Woking, Waverley, Elmbridge, and Surrey Heath, all of which are in Surrey) have actually been given increased annual budgets this year! This is tantamount to money laundering (or some type of theft anyway), in my opinion, given that the four Surrey councils in question already cover some of the most affluent areas in the country-and because Britain is the most unequal country in the EU, Western Europe as a whole. 

Thankfully, however, we are fighting back the tide of austerity hard not only in Britain but also in Europe-especially as TTIP looms ever closer. 38 degrees members within the UK will be staging anti-TTIP leafleting and canvassing events across the country-just go to 38 Degrees' website to find your nearest event, so that, for the sake of democracy, protection, and the future of the human race itself, we can all collectively defeat what is essentially the most dangerous and widespread corporate power grab ever conceived. 




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