Press TV has conducted an interview with Lee Jasper, with the Black Activists Rising Against Cuts from London to shed more light on the topic of the program.
‘UK govt. on mission to afflict poverty’
An analyst tells Press TV that the Tory-led government of the United Kingdom is on an ideological mission to restructure the country into a “low-wage poverty economy” to guarantee the interest of the rich castes of the society.
A coalition of leading churches has accused the British government of pursuing a program of “unjust” cuts in welfare payments targeting the most vulnerable in the society. The "bedroom tax," which is due to be introduced in April, refers to a cut in housing benefit for claimants whose home has a spare room. On Sunday, thousands of people took to the streets across more than 50 towns and cities in Britain to call on the Tory-led government to axe cuts in housing benefit for those with spare bedrooms.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Lee Jasper, with the Black Activists Rising Against Cuts from London to shed more light on the topic of the program. He is joined by Gabriel Talmain, professor at the Glasgow University from Glasgow. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Jasper the UK’s austerity program initiated, we know, in 2012 and a lot of people are saying that it has had few tangible results and it has, rather, led to more debt and mounting public complaints.
So why are we seeing this policy adopted again even to a more strengthened level and extreme level, is that going to help tackle the debt?
Jasper: Well, the deficit and the debt have been used as a flag of convenience and the reality is that the Tories are seeking to use it as an excuse to make also sort of an ideological attacks on the very poorest in our community.
And so we are seeing the bedroom tax which is essentially an attempt to reconfigure the inner cities where there is huge Muslim, where there are huge black and minority communities that resolutely refuse to vote for Tory.
They are seeking to socially reengineer those areas; releasing housing to more wealthy individuals in order to gerrymander the general election and to improve their chances of securing electoral success but all throughout the country we are seeing expenditure on ... nuclear submarines, we are financing wars with our army in places where we have no business like Iraq and Afghanistan; we are looking at corporate tax evaders who are getting away with paying less tax proportionately than some of our poorest people in work.
This government is on an ideological mission to restructure Britain into a low wage poverty economy that ensures that the rich remain rich and the poor are driven further down into poverty.
Press TV: Mr. Jasper, would you agree with what Mr. Gabriel Talmain said?
Jasper: No I just think that is Neoliberal tripe. At the end of the day the reality is that the government is making political decisions where it chooses to raise the money to reduce the deficit.
The fact is if we brought our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, if we canceled nuclear submarine...., I mean the guest said raising taxes from the rich is pie in the sky; well it cannot be morally justified that Starbucks and Amazon pay zero tax on multibillion Pound profits just because a clever legal arrangement we [have] managed to procure through high expensive lawyers allows them to escape their duties in this country.
The whole argument about any government would have to do this, is absolute nonsense.
Just up to the war, we had a higher percentage of debt in terms of ratio to GDP than we have ever had; far in excess of what we have now and when we dragged ourselves out of that Postwar depression, we did it by building schools, hospitals, building roads, infrastructure, the NHS, the education system and social housing.
So to suggest that the fourth richest economy in the world cannot simply restructure itself in order to have a more equitable tax system that can cut the deficit is in itself a lie of monumental proportions and there is a bear scrutiny when you compare it to the facts.
Press TV: Mr. Jasper what do you say to these kinds of comments? To those who are saying that there are unnecessary expenses here and that it’s the time for people to sacrifice at these difficult conditions?
Jasper: The reality is that today the Tory government has given 13,000 millionaires, a 40,000 Pound tax cut; that is an additional 40,000 Pound to people who are millionaires in this country, who do not need the money.
So far from getting more money from the rich, this government is giving money to the rich.
And let us deal with the issue of the bedroom tax. The bedroom tax is paid to..., the majority of that money, is paid to working people; people already in work, who are getting assistance from the government to pay for rents in cities like London and elsewhere where the rents are absolutely stratospheric. No reasonable person can afford anything more than a doghouse in a capital like London; such is the level of rent.
So this notion that these are lazy people is completely fallacious. They are working people to the factor of 85 percent of those bedroom tax are for working people and the notion that the rich cannot pay any more, is fundamentally undermined by the reality that this government is giving tax cuts to the very rich rather than seeking to use that money to offset some of these drastic cuts that we are seeing.
And in relation to the army, this notion that this little country that is now on the down slope of the empire building project of the last 80, 90 years that has been forced to confront its minor relative scale; should have an army the size that we have, is ludicrous.
We should be a small player in a world which is now dominated by other powers and we should reconcile ourselves to that and cut the budget accordingly. Bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghnistan and we save billions of Pounds each year.
Press TV: Mr. Jasper if you could quickly tell us why do you think that it is realistic to get money out of the rich? Our guest there was saying that it is, actually, not possible.
Jasper: We are the fourth richest nation in the world. There is plenty pf money amongst the rich and the wealthy and the corporate multinational companies to be able to balance the books and have a more equitable and just society. This is the Tory Poll Tax, it is the equivalent of Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax .
Your commentator was absolutely right, it is fundamentally unjust and so what if the rich have to leave? We would rather be a poorer country with more equitable justice rather than be a richer country where inequality and [in]justice reign.
Let us live with less and have more equality rather than have more money and greater levels of inequality. That is a fundamental question confronting the Western economies ... as they are on the downside of a global economy where power is shifting to the East, increasingly they will have to get used to.