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From: The Socialist issue 695, 23 November 2011: Fight till we win!

Search site for keywords: Tories - Labour - Worcester - Northern Rock

Tories and Labour fail to give 'Any Answers'

Peter Scott, Worcester Socialist Party

I went to a recent recording of BBC Radio 4's programme Any Questions in Worcester.

There were questions on Northern Rock's sale to Virgin, youth unemployment and the lost generation, scrapping the rise in fuel duty and paying for it with a lower rise in benefits and should Cameron try to regain powers from the EU.

Labour MP Diane Abbott urged that Northern Rock should be run on a "different model" and said "not to keep it state run" but to be the old mutual-style building society. Later she said: "Nobody is saying there shouldn't be cuts."

Owen Patterson, Tory minister and MP for Shropshire North, supported Iain Duncan Smith for Tory leader and was parliamentary private secretary to Ann Widdecombe.

He said several times that the UK is borrowing 232,000 a minute. The audience seemed to think he should answer the questions, but he thought we should realise that he knew what was best for us. One person asked what planet he lived on.

He said "everyone is better off because of our austerity programme". He said there were 90,000 vacancies in retail and 44,000 in hospitality. It seemed a mystery to him why people were not taking these low-paid, insecure, probably part-time jobs with no career prospects.

Telegraph journalist Ian Martin, even more right-wing, made a point of saying how difficult things were. He put on a sad face, particularly when saying that the UK's state sector was bigger than that in the USSR and that 'obstacles' to creating jobs - such as the minimum wage - had to be done away with.

An audience member pointed out that times did not appear to be too hard for Mr Martin.

Patterson told us we could not dump our debt on the next generation, that we had all "been on a cruise, first-class" but now the bill had to be paid. Shouts of "when did the cruise start?" came from the hall.

The Tories plan to reduce working class people's living standards and will do so unless a determined opposition is mounted.

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Article dated 23 November 2011

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo Dave Murray

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