Guest blog: TUC's Alan Manning says coalition needs to look beyond cuts
During the last recession, Mrs Thatcher had a saying known as TINA: "There is no alternative".
As a result of this 'philosophy', manufacturing industry in the North West was decimated, millions were made jobless and a whole generation were consigned to the scrapheap.
It looks as though history is now repeating itself.
The new Coalition government is repeating the Thatcherite mantra "There Is No Alternative" as it embarks on huge cuts in public services.
Observers will note that one half of the Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrats, fought the General Election supporting the TUC's belief that the recovery was too fragile to be jeapordised by immediate cuts in public services.
Their sudden u-turn once in Government, appears to have been ignored by much of the media, which has now become the uncritical conduit for the cuts agenda. Some in the media are even launching 'Dutch auctions' of public services, inviting readers and viewers to nominate which services they would cut.
Meanwhile the cheerleaders of cuts are never challenged. Nor are they held to account for the human cost of their cuts.
The truth is that cuts in public services are the worst way to plug the hole in the public finances. They have not worked in present-day Ireland, nor in 1990's Canada and, despite Mrs Thatcher's glib motto, did not work in 1980s Britain.
The Coalition's Cuts now look more like an ideologically-inspired political project to restructure The State, roll back support for the poor and vulnerable, and dismantle the public services of schools and hospitals and social care on which middle-income earners depend.
And the likely speed and severity of cuts will only spook the jittery markets and harm business confidence, with a double-dip recession looming.
But there is an alternative to TINA: ABE - A Better Economy.
Economic growth is the only sustainable way to reduce the deficit, with co-ordinated government action needed across both the EU and the G8.
And there are things that the Government can do directly - the Future Jobs Fund was set to create 6,000 new jobs for young people on Merseyside, but the Coalition seems to think it is more efficient to throw young people onto benefits instead.
To reduce the deficit, fair taxes must come before cuts. Higher tax for those who can most afford it - such as the bankers who caused this recession - is the better way. ÃÂ£25 billion is lost to the economy every year through tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and companies. Another ÃÂ£8 billion is used up in tax allowances and reliefs by the very well-off.
If tax collection offices were properly staffed it would bring an extra ÃÂ£20 billion a year (and boost employment here on Merseyside). The tiny Robin Hood tax on big financial transactions could raise billions. The oil and energy companies could pay for their excess profits. A High Pay Commission could examine the obscene salaries of top executives.
Overall, a better economy would reduce the inequalities which scar society.
Nor is there is any need to halve the deficit by 2014. Savage cuts only make matters worse, increase unemployment and reduce tax revenues.
TINA is no solution - that's why the TUC will continue to fight for ABE.
Alan Manning is regional secretary of the North West TUC.