The recent riots in Greece that greeted the news of an austerity package for that country could point the way to similar outcomes across the world.
The objection of the Greek people was that events over which they largely had little control, being conjured up by a combination of the financial, business and political stratas, were now resulting in hardship for the many. Cuts to jobs, pay and conditions were all to be born by ordinary people struggling to survive.
The scenario in Greece and other countries is not that different to what is faced in Britain. Here reckless behaviour by bankers has put the country into such debt that it is going to take decades to resolve. Strangely, the perpetrators of this injustice seem to have largely escaped too much public opprobrium due in part to the helpful smokescreen of MPs expenses which blew up at such a time as to distract public attention.
Meanwhile, the bankers have continued largely unaffected, drawing their bonuses, continuing live life in a bubble now largely subsidised by everyone else. The banks have also been helped out by the cutting of interest rates that has enabled them to restore their own balance sheets. So the cuts have been passed on in full to savers while only partially to borrowers. They have also shut up shop on credit for struggling businesses, thereby forcing many of them out of business.
The final act in this tragedy now seems set to take place with the arrival of a coalition government that can declare it is all worse than expected and impose swingeing cuts on public services. Education, health and transport infrastructure are all likely to suffer. There will be real dangers, especially for the most weak and vulnerable in our society.
One of the more irritating outcomes, following the general election has been the constant reference to the money markets and City of London as the arbiters of the countries future. Afterall was it not many of these same people who brought about the crisis in the first place? There are more than 6.5 million people in trade unions in this country, yet there views are rarely given air time. It is almost as if the mood music is being created for the formation of a national government of neo-liberals.
It is time that the unions and other civil society organisations were brought into the debate over the future of the economy in Britain. It is beginning to seem as though the country has become the preserve of some sort of financial dictatorship. Simple justice demands that those who helped create this crisis should be made to pay more fully for the consequences.
Beyond the immediate demands, there must be a whole restructuring of the British economy. There needs to be a move away from dependence on the financial sector. This should include major investment in green technology, which can lead to the resurrection of the manufacturing sector. It is ludicrous at the moment that much of this technology being used in Britain has to be imported from abroad. There also needs to be a move toward a more carbon neutral way of life. A greater emphasis needs to be made on producing from the land.
There is a real danger that instead of using this crisis as an opportunity to chart an environmentally sustainable way forward that the old argument about not being able to afford green development will be deployed. The world has changed the argument of economic growth regardless of environmental consequences no longer stands. The worry is that this penny has not dropped with many politicians who think only in short term time spans. Again the trade unions and civil society need to be heard in this debate. If once again the only voices heard are those of the money markets, this new environmentally sustainable way forward is unlikely to be chartered.Failure to make the voices of the many heard will result only in the present economic crisis being dumped on the most weak and vulnerable with the way forward being plotted regardless of the consequences to the planet and the common good of all.