Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1100/31312

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2020

Editorial of the Socialist issue 1100

U-turn Tories' splits are growing

Boris Johnson, photo Chatham House/CC, photo Chatham House/CC

Boris Johnson, photo Chatham House/CC   (Click to enlarge)

This government is "the blind leading the blind". It has to stop making "stuff up now on the hoof". It cannot continue to say "one thing on Monday, changing its mind on Tuesday, something different presented on Wednesday. It's just not acceptable." These were not the comments of the Labour front bench, but of leading Tory MPs.

They reflect the growing frustration at the government's woeful handling of the pandemic, and their fears that the resulting mass discontent could be transformed into mass action, particularly in response to a new Covid peak.

Nine months ago Johnson walked into Downing Street triumphant, having won the biggest Tory majority since 1987. In our post-election special, printed the morning after Johnson's victory, the Socialist was a lone voice when we pointed out that "the seeming strength of Johnson's government will be shattered by coming events", and that the Tory Party "is bitterly divided, and Johnson has only been able to win by distancing himself from his own party, using populist rhetoric to falsely claim he is standing up for 'the people'."

From fissures to chasms

Today the fissures have reopened between different wings of the Tory Party and could quickly become chasms. Johnson's premiership, and even the Tory government, could be under threat in short order.

For the millions of people facing job losses, eviction, and cuts in pay and conditions there is an important conclusion to draw from the growing splits in the ruling party. As the A-level students have shown, this government is weak and can be defeated.

If the leaders of the trade union movement were to take clear action - starting with mass protests against the ending of the furlough demanding work or full pay - they could land a decisive blow against this government for the rich.

Johnson's government, like all its Tory predecessors, is a viciously anti-working class, pro-capitalist administration. That does not mean, however, that Johnson and his inner circle act in the interests of the majority of the capitalist class, still less fully under its control.

The cull of senior civil servants, including permanent secretaries that have been dismissed or pushed out this year, is one indication that Johnson does not accept the normal checks and balances which act to constrain governments within a framework in the interests of British capitalism. On the contrary, he is a 'Poundland Trump' relying on populist posturing on a right-wing nationalist basis.

Johnson's approach is being writ large in his Brexit negotiation tactics. No Tory-negotiated Brexit would defend the interests of the working class.

However, by declaring that a trade deal must be agreed by 15 October, while simultaneously threatening to rip up parts of the withdrawal agreement dealing with Northern Ireland, Johnson is signalling that his government is willing to walk away without agreeing any deal with the EU.

For the EU, the room to make concessions to Johnson is more limited than ever. The world economic crisis has massively ramped up the pressures on the bosses' club, threatening to fracture it altogether, and making it very dangerous to bend too far to the demands of the only country to have already left.

While it is possible that Johnson intends to retreat from his hardline posturing - hoping in vain that it would be unnoticed under cover of his chest beating - the stance he is taking is therefore alarming for British capitalism.

The overwhelming majority of Britain's capitalists would have preferred to remain in the EU. The - at root - mass expression of working-class anger that led to the defeat of remain in the referendum made that impossible. They have therefore been manoeuvring for the closest possible alignment as the best means of defending their profits.

In any circumstances, significant economic and political disruption would result from Johnson taking Britain out of the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, with the resulting introduction of hard borders and new tariffs, and the consequences for Ireland in particular.

Against the background of multiple problems - the likely new Covid surge, the deepest economic contraction since at least the 1930s, the rise in support for Scottish independence, and the highest-ever non-wartime state debt - Johnson's approach is highly reckless for British capitalism. The slump in sterling that has taken place over recent days could be dwarfed in the event of a WTO-terms Brexit.

If Johnson maintains his current stance, the more traditional wing of the Tory Party, including ex-prime minister Theresa May and others, could act to try and remove him, backed by wide sections of the capitalist class. Despite the change in the character of the parliamentary Tory Party, there are still more than 130 MPs who voted remain in the referendum.

On the other side, of course, if Johnson retreats from his current hardline posturing, he will be accused of betrayal by the most pro-Brexit Tory MPs and a large swathe of the Tory members. In either scenario, a schism in the Tory Party so deep that it can no longer govern as a majority government is possible.

Nor are the Brexit negotiations the only issue which could fuel warfare in the Tory Party in the coming weeks. The Covid crisis has already battered Johnson's authority in the parliamentary Tory Party. A new peak, and a few more U-turns, could destroy it altogether.

At the same time, divisions are already developing on what to do about the state debt. In the short term, British capitalism may, like other major economies, be able to live with large public debts.

However, against the background of a Brexit crisis, this is not guaranteed. Hence Chancellor Sunak pleading with the new intake from the last general election, the so-called 'red wall' Tory MPs, that if the Tories abandoned their "position as the party of sound finance...what is the difference between us and Labour?"

Tax rises

In response, they are reported to have made clear their opposition to any tax rises which affect 'working families'. This does not reflect any genuine sympathy with their constituents, but a visceral fear that they could lose their seats.

At bottom, the multiple developing splits in the Tory Party - once the most successful capitalist party on the planet - reflect the crisis of British capitalism, which offers no way forward for working-class people, whether in or out of the EU.

As the 2019 parliamentary crisis resurges, there is one comfort for the capitalist class - they have succeeded in removing Jeremy Corbyn and replacing him with a Labour leader who they consider reliable.

There is nothing they can do, however, about the underlying causes of Corbyn's rise including the deeply felt anger of the majority at the consequences of a decade of Tory capitalist austerity. This has been enormously fuelled, first by the Covid crisis, and now by the deepening economic disaster facing millions.

In the coming period, struggles to defend jobs and living conditions can finish off this Tory government. They can also create possibilities for building a mass party that fights for the socialist transformation of society in Britain, and also on a European and international basis.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 9 September 2020:


Coronavirus news

Fight the schools Covid crisis

Safety overridden in drive to bolster the economy

Caerphilly lockdown puts profits before safety

Under the microscope


Campaigns and party news

Jobs, training, pay, we want a future!

Dover: Solidarity with refugees - applause and cheers for socialist ideas to unite working class

BLM: Socialist alternative to racist capitalism

Big push to hit finance target


News

15% now - unions must fight for NHS pay rise

Callous Tories threaten not to uprate the minimum wage

XR blockade: Don't let the Tories criminalise protest

Grenfell fire inquiry stops victims attending

Video game developer attacks Black Lives Matter


What we think

U-turn Tories' splits are growing


Workplace news

Fight Amazon's anti-union spies

NSSN rally: Workers must not pay the price of Covid

Nottingham City Council: The (mis)adventures of Robin Hood Energy

Covid-19 pandemic increases financial pressures on Welsh local government

Ireland: Debenham's workers occupy stores

Hull: Defend Tony Smith!

Reinstate Richie Venton


Unison

A critical election for Unison general secretary


TUSC

Back at work! TUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians


International news

Belarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

Strike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 September 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Tories:

triangleHealth before profit - Work or full pay

triangleFight for jobs and homes for all - defend the right to asylum

triangleTories put profit first: Gambling with our jobs and lives

triangleTrade unions must fight to put their stamp on events

triangleTory Covid chaos

Tory:

triangleNottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

triangleUnder the microscope

triangleCovid restrictions expose Tory splits

triangleTory scheme won't halt mass unemployment: mobilise the unions!

Government:

triangleNigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit

triangleTransport for London funding crunch

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Tory party:

triangleCapitalism and corruption go hand in hand

triangleTories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time

Brexit:

triangleNon-fiction: Left Out - the inside story of Labour under Corbyn

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

14/10/20

Capitalist

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

14/10/20

Schools

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

14/10/20

Coronavirus

Locked down, hard up - Fight back!

14/10/20

Labour

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour

14/10/20

Higher Education

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

14/10/20

Nottingham

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

14/10/20

Schools

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

14/10/20

Coronavirus

Under the microscope

14/10/20

National Education Union

National Education Union must launch action now

14/10/20

Students

Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

7/10/20

Socialism

Worldwide capitalist crisis deepens

7/10/20

Coronavirus

Massive testing 'glitch' caused by privatised fragmentation

7/10/20

Asylum

Fight for jobs and homes for all - defend the right to asylum

7/10/20

Tories

Tories put profit first: Gambling with our jobs and lives

7/10/20

Covid

Under the microscope

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999