George ‘Captain of the Titanic’ Osborne and his Tory-LibDem crew of millionaires refuse to change course. They are steering Britain towards the iceberg, while promising more gambling chips and champagne for the passengers in luxury class (the ones with the lifeboats). 

As economic growth flounders around zero, they plan to give more public money to the bankers and cut the top rate of income tax.
The banks have already received £200 billion in ‘quantitative easing’ from the Bank of England, as part of the £1,350 billion bail-out package of share purchases, loans and guarantees.
(‘Quantitative easing’ is the term given to Bank of England operations to buy bonds – mostly government Treasury stock – held mainly by the banks and other financial institutions, usually funded from reserves or by printing money).
Now the bankers are demanding another £50 billion and Osborne and the ship’s purser, Bank of England governor Mervyn King, want to give it to them.
The theory is that the banks use this money both to rebuild their capital reserves and extend loans to housebuyers and businesses, thereby stimulating the economy.
In reality, much of the original £200 billion was used to speculate on the stock exchange and in the currency, commodity and financial markets. This helped push up world commodity prices and fuelled the market frenzy of recent weeks.
And the Chancellor intends to give the gamblers – sorry, ‘investors’ – more to gamble with!
At the same time, he wants to abolish the 50 per cent top rate of income tax on earnings above £150,00 a year. This would cost the Treasury almost £3 billion a year in lost revenue.
His junior crew members, the LibDems, need a fig leaf should this go ahead and so are arguing for a ‘mansion tax’.
But the policies that set Britain on course for the icebergs remain unchanged.
In particular, public spending cuts of £21 billion this year and an extra £40 billion next will destroy jobs, services and purchasing power in the economy.
The private sector boom that is supposed to replace this lost public sector demand is not materialising. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which brings together the world’s developed capitalist countries, warns of another recession ahead – especially in Britain.
Yet OECD chiefs also peddle the line that austerity and privatisation measures should continue, alongside more quantitative easing. It’s as though the whole Admiralty is lost at sea in a fog of dogma.
That is why this year’s TUC conference must help set clear bearings for the labour movement.
The composite motion on an alternative economic strategy puts forward a left-wing programme of policies. It is important that these should include the direction of capital and public ownership of the energy, public transport and financial sectors.
Without such policies, it will be impossible to build a modern, productive and sustainable economy in Britain. However, it must also be recognised that the EU Commission and Court of Justice, and the European Central Bank, would seek to block them using the fundamental treaties of the European Union.
A Wealth Tax would be the most effective way of reducing the enormous inequality in our society. For example, a modest 2 per cent tax on the richest 10 per cent of the population would yield £79 billion in a single year.
Instead of being slashed, public spending could be hugely increased to provide more jobs, better services, higher pensions and benefits and a million affordable new homes.
But first we need to defend the public sector from this illegitimate coalition government. Nobody voted for it – least of all the six million LibDem voters who fell for Nick Clegg’s line that his sorry band of stowaways represented the real alternative to the Tories.
This means that last year’s TUC resolution for coordinated action against the cuts has to be turned into generalised strike action, defending jobs and services as well as pensions.
Unions, trades councils, pensioners, students and local community organisations must be brought together in solidarity.
The TUC should take the lead in projecting the People’s Charter for Change, which was adopted at the 2009 conference and already contains many of the policies being supported by unions this year.
The new edition of the Communist Party’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, proposes an alternative economic and political strategy to:
* Defend jobs, public services and living standards through mass action.
* Project a Left Wing Programme of policies in the interests of the working class and the people generally.
* Build a popular, democratic, anti-monopoly alliance led by the labour movement.
* Elect a left government backed by the mass movement to implement the LWP and open the path to socialist revolution.
The order to turn the tiller ‘hard a-starboard’ – to turn the ship left – came too late to save the RMS Titanic.
We need to turn left in Britain before enormous damage is done to the economy, our local communities and millions of lives.