Today, the people of Birmingham and the Midlands have said no to austerity. You have told the Coalition Government to stop attacking the living standards of your family, and your community.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, tells us “that we’re all in this together”. He wants us to think that everyone is suffering from the austerity policies.
It’s true that the majority of people are suffering – the real value of wages has fallen by 7.6% in the last five years.
But that’s just for people like you. George Osborne and his rich friends aren’t losing a penny.
They don’t rely upon wages and benefits. They have property, bonds, shares and funds to keep them rich.
Austerity is just another word for taking from the workers and giving to the wealthy.
What this country needs is investment in our economy and public services. We want to see a recovery which creates jobs – a recovery which raises wages and benefits.
So far, the Coalition Government, has created a recovery which boost the profits, dividends, profits and bonuses for the City of London. There is no cost-of-living crisis in the Square Mile.
For you, the recovery means zero-hour contracts or fake self-employment. It means rising rents, or growing mortgage debts.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are alternatives to austerity – despite what the pundits say.
Of course, to get a different policy you have got to get a different government. The Coalition Government will die convinced that austerity is the right way.
I think we should get a Labour Government in May 2015, as the start of a better policy.
But we cannot accept that a Labour Government should continue with Coalition spending targets and policies. No, with a new government we want a different policy.
The Labour leadership has said that the Coalition’s economic policies are a failure and that they have created a cost-of-living crisis. I agree with that.
But, it’s not then credible to say that you are against a policy, yet you are going to be bound by that policy. That’s just a recipe for disappointment and despair.
We want a Labour Government that recognises that the unemployed need jobs – that the homeless need houses – and that the country needs a pay rise.
These can be achieved if the government:
* invests in building houses
* renews the transport infrastructure
* saves the NHS from privatisation
* revives our public services.
The CWU also has some demands for the industries we organise in. We want to see the Labour Government guarantee access to high speed broadband for all. And we want Royal Mail to be re-nationalised.
If the Labour Government invests in these policies – then the economy will grow, living standards will rise – and tax revenues will increase to government.
That means the public spending deficit disappears under the rising prosperity.
This is a better way to address the economic stagnation. By putting capital and people to work, a Labour Government can improve the lives of the vast majority of people in this country.
This is much better than worrying about what city bankers and investors think. Those people only think of themselves and their wealth. They are the privileged few. They must not be allowed to dictate government policy.
The best counter to the privileged few is the organisation of the many.
Today’s Festival is representative of the majority opinion of people in the Midlands and elsewhere.
Coming today is a good start. But if you want a better future, you have to keep fighting.
You must also join the TUC’s demonstration on October 18th. That day many thousands of people will be saying “Britain needs a pay rise”.
Whatever the government in power, you get a better deal if you, and your community, stand up for your rights and needs.
By your activity you can shape the future – not let others determine what’s to become of you.
So take things further. After today, if you are not in the union, join one. If you are in a union, stand for election and take responsibility.
What you do matters.
The rich and powerful want you to leave politics to the professional politicians. The rich and powerful want to convince you that nothing can be changed.
But the secret they know is that people like you are capable of turning the world upside down.
Austerity is not our fate. We can overturn it – if we push together in united activity. So keep fighting and organising. Together we will win.
Thanks for listening