U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said he will fight the “vested interests” of trade unions and other lobby groups after protests in London and other British cities against his austerity program.
“The only vested interest that my Treasury defends is the taxpayer,” Osborne said in a speech hosted by the speaker of the House of Commons in London today, according to extracts released by his office. “Sound public finances are the bedrock of stability on which our country is built and what government spends has to be paid for.”
Labor unions marched through London, Glasgow and Belfast on Oct. 20 to protest Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron’s economic policies. The demonstrations, titled “A Future That Works” and organized by the 6.2 million-member Trades Union Congress, labor’s umbrella body, sought to highlight “the vicious circle of decline” of spending cuts and negative growth, the TUC said in a statement.
Cameron’s coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is carrying out the biggest budget reductions since World War II to narrow the fiscal deficit, forecast to reach 5.8 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year that runs through March from 11.1 percent in 2010. The economy is on course to shrink this year in the first double-dip recession since the 1970s and the opposition Labour Party says cuts are adding to the problem.
Osborne, who will present updated fiscal plans to parliament on Dec. 5, insists his austerity program is insulating Britain from the euro-area debt crisis and holding down borrowing costs.