On the 20th of October the ‘ConDem’ government as it has come too referred as will announce its spending review. In Orwellian fashion this spending review will only review how to spend much less across the entire public sector. In reality this will equate to huge job losses, particularly in Wales where a third of the workforce is in the public sector, along with the jobs cuts will come the inevitable slashing of public service provisions, including provisions in the education system.
In light of this there has been resistance emerging from trade unions, student groups and community campaigners alike. Already several joint initiatives have been announced. The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU) (the trade union for lecturers and other academic staff) have announced a joint campaign called ‘Fund of Future’ and have planned a joint demonstration for November the 20th against cuts in university funding.
There have also been moves for a national demonstration against all cut backs. The National Shop Stewards Network organised a demonstration of over a thousand people outside the Trades Union Council (TUC) Conference to put pressure on the TUC to call a national demonstration against cuts. Such a demonstration organised by the TUC which has over 6 million members in Britain could be a huge rallying cry for a campaign to defeat the cuts!
On a more local level in the last week a meeting organised by Cardiff Trade Union Council agreed to set up a campaign against all cut backs. The meeting was well attended by members of a variety of public sector trade unions as well as those working in the private sector. Of note to us as students is that in attendance at this meeting there were staff and students present from both the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff University. At the meeting the need to unite campaigns together soA all the variety of campaigns against these cutbacks was stressed heavily. A sentiment I completely agree with, if we let ourselves get divided into saving our own services and our own jobs then we will all loose out in the end. This was something that Cardiff Council attempted to do a few years ago, when they attempted to divide individual campaigns against school closures. This was done in an attempt to get some campaigners to support the closure programme but campaign solely for their school to remain open. This would have led to smaller sectional and therefore weaker campaigns.
It is therefore important that we as students wishing to defend education cuts should support any campaigns in the area against public sector cuts. There is a demonstration on the 23rd of October in Pontypridd against public sector cuts organised by the Wales TUC. All students at the University should attend that demonstration and campaign alongside public sector workers, but we should also appeal for those on that demonstration to come along with us to the demonstration in London against cuts in University funding.
We have been constantly told there is no alternative to the cuts by the government and the media, and the old saying that “If a lie is told long and loud enough then it will become the truth” is very appropriate in this situation as there is no basis for this assertion whatsoever. The only reason that we have a deficit is because all the money was given to the banks, yet the banks are still able to make millions in profits and still give out millions in bonuses to the top city bankers. So why not demand that the bankers pay for the crisis instead, why not demand that the government nationalises the banks and put the profits into the education system and other public services.
Even if we accept this debt from the bankers it is not true that we need to cut public sector spending at this rate, in fact we do not need to cut spending at all. After World War 2 when the British government was racked by debts much bigger in fact than the current debt crisis it was still possible to invest heavily in public services including the introduction of the NHS as well investment in many other public services, which led to a period of economic boom. Contrast that to the response of governments after the Wall Street crash which was to drastically reduce public spending which led to the great depression, showing that making public sector cuts on this scale can only make things worse!