Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance is a group of ordinary people from the far west of Cornwall that campaigns against the cuts, privatisation and job losses we face both from the government and Cornwall Council. We are non-party political but have members from various parties and none. We have workers, trade unionists, unemployed people and retired people within our group. We come from a variety of walks of life.
The government says we must pay off the debt, that has resulted from giving £1.4 trillion pounds of our money to the banks, in five years but our national debt was greater in proportion to our gross national product in 1948 when the National Health Service was created and now it is being used as an excuse to destroy that same health service. Comparisons to credit card debt are meaningless.
Even if we do agree that we need to pay off the deficit, £120 billion in tax is either evaded (fraud), avoided (loopholes) or not collected (the last government sacked workers in HMRC, the government department that is reponsible for collecting taxes) each year according to an independent report comissioned by the PCS civil servants union. This equates to three-quarters of the deficit. If Corporation Tax (on businesses) was returned to the level it was at in the 1980s (when Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister!) that would cover the rest of it. There would be no need to make one single cut. We could also stop invading other people’s countries and not replace Trident, our redundant, outdated nuclear weapons system (which will cost around £20 billion).
Instead we are seeing our health system privatised and starved of funds (£20 billion ‘efficiency savings’ or cuts), comprehensive education broken up and privatised (academies) and thousands of people losing their jobs, suffering a pay freeze, having their pensions raided or being moved onto lower benefits or off benefits altogether.
Locally, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust is having to find savings of around £20 million. They are cutting 400 posts at the Treliske Hospital in Truro including ‘frontline’ clinical staff such as nurses. Already nurses that have left are not being replaced. This means already overworked nurses are having to work even harder. Some nurses are working 12.5 hour shifts with just one 15 minute break. In Penzance, the West Cornwall Hospital has lost half of its medical beds, supposedly for six months, but many are sceptical if they will ever return. Close to half of all schools in Cornwall have also applied for academy status calling into question the viability of the local education authority. And Cornwall Council have cut 40% of the ‘Supporting People’ budget which exists to help the elderly and the homeless, despite government assurances that it should not be cut (through clever accounting).
In short, the government wants ordinary people to pay for an economic crisis created by the bankers, multinational companies and politicians.
This is a nasty vicious government and they need to be stopped. They are also a weak government and they can be stopped.
The biggest trade union organised demonstration in British history (between 500,000 and 750,000 people) and the fantastic strikes on 30 June and 30 November when 750,000 and 2.5 million public sector workers respectively walked out and 100,000 took part in rallies is a great start. Now we need to go further and stop the government in its tracks and maybe bring them down.
Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance (http://cornwallanticutsalliance.wordpress.com) has taken up the challenge across Cornwall and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance is active in the Penwith area around Penzance, St. Ives and Hayle in the far west of Cornwall. We have organised a protest and petition hand-in to local MP Andrew George over the health and social care bill, taken people to the march organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance to the strike rallies on 30 June and 30 November, organised a protest and birthday celebration at West Cornwall Hospital on the occasion of the 63rd birthday of the NHS and initiated the ‘Hands Off Our Hospital’ campaign that saw several thousand march to West Cornwall in December 2011.
We meet every other Monday at 7pm in the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance. For more info, or to join us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave us a message on our facebook group page or a comment on this site.