North: Money for Services, Not War

By Ciaran Crossey in Socialist Voice> Feb. 2003

GORDON BROWN tells us we have to be prudent. We can only afford to spend money on essential things. What he means is that we cannot pay for schools, we cannot pay for hospitals, we cannot pay for roads, we cannot pay for the firefighters, we cannot pay for water services, but.....

There's always a "but" with these people. You need money for old age pensioners, go away. You need money for a war, NO PROBLEM. You need money for the firefighters; an essential security for all houses, there's no money. You need to go to war, NO PROBLEM.

Let's take one or two examples. The firefighters' claim would give these workers a decent pay rise, after years of falling behind. The total pay claim would cost, according to the Financial Times, hardly the workers friend, 200m a year. In other words 1 in every 10,000 the government spends. The government's response - we can't afford it.

Along comes one man, he puts in a claim, it's a claim for a war. George Bush decides that he has to make war on Iraq, a country the Americans armed, whose security forces they trained, but that friendship is over now. Blair and Brown say no problem, we'll go to war, it'll cost money and blood, no problem.

None of the money will come out of Blair's pocket and all of his friends will avoid the war. After all, that's a great tradition among the rich and the wealthy, only the poor get sent to fight for the rich.

Northern Ireland needs roads, it needs hospitals, it needs a water supply. How much is needed? According to several estimates, 6,000 million over the next 20 years. The country can't afford that: that is the answer from New Labour. The working class will have to pay through extra rates, possible water charges of 250 per household a year, car park charges to visit hospitals, etc.

New Labour says that "we can't afford 6 billion over 20 years", it would be too big a drain on the nation's resources. On 8 February the Guardian newspaper published estimates that the war will cost Britain 3.2 billion over a couple of months. If they ever get involved with the rebuilding of Iraq after the war, they'll have to share in the 12-48 BILLION that this will cost each year for several years.

Mind you, if it turns out like Afghanistan, that money will be promised but not delivered. They will promise to clear the mines and depleted uranium, but then not bother. After all, once the oil fields are seized, sorry the country freed, who cares. Certainly not Blair and Brown. They care as much about the Iraqi people as they care about the firefighters, the old age pensioners, the hospital patients.

On the other hand, they will have an ongoing cost funding part of the ongoing military presence of around 75,000 troops who will stay in the country to prop up the pro Western dictatorship that they put in place of Saddam.

Some brief facts: A cruise missile costs $600,000. Hundreds will be fired in the first few days of war, destroying buildings, schools, roads, bridges. Yet Bush and Blair have no money to improve services or the infrastructure at home!

Meanwhile, at a cost of $2.2 billion each, the money it took to build just five Stealth bombers is more than the additional money the government says it needs to upgrade Northern Ireland's services over the next 20 years.

There's no government money for good causes, but always money for war. Let's force them to change priorities.

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