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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

Editorial of the Socialist issue 1163

Tories on the ropes

Build a workers' alternative

PM Johnson under pressure to resign Photo: Kuhlmann MSC/CC

PM Johnson under pressure to resign Photo: Kuhlmann MSC/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The future of Boris Johnson's prime ministership appears to be hanging by a thinner and thinner thread. The revelations of Downing Street parties in 2020 as millions suffered during the pandemic - against a backdrop of increased suffering ahead, not least from the cost of living crisis - mean his polling is in free fall.

The inquiry into Downing Street parties under lockdown, led by senior civil servant Sue Gray, is expected to report soon. The Financial Times says that "time is up". Significant further heat has now been added with the claim from Johnson's sacked former aide Dominic Cummings that Johnson in fact knew what he "implicitly thought" was a 'work event' was a party - and therefore that he lied to parliament.

Tory MPs are under pressure from Tory members and voters - some MPs report receiving nearly 1,000 emails from angry voters over the weekend 15-16 January. Others report not looking at any emails or social media!

The talk of votes of no confidence and leadership challenges on one side, and Operation Save Big Dog, which largely comprises rushing out policy offers predicted to appeal to the Tory base on the other, are an expression of the deep divisions within the Tory party.

Traditionally the main party of capitalism, in the era of deep capitalist crisis the Tories cannot offer a clear way forward and so remain deeply split, with attempts to shore up their ever narrower bases of support their only option.

A senior government source told the Guardian that "multiple groups were angry with Johnson: lockdown sceptics, disgruntled ex-ministers and MPs from former Labour red wall seats who judged him to be failing to deliver on the levelling-up agenda."

Who and when?

Questions facing the Tory party include who will replace Johnson - with a contest set to expose and exacerbate splits and, will he go before the May elections or after? This question is particularly pressing for those local Conservative Associations who are preparing to field candidates on 5 May when over 6,000 seats are up for election.

They are faced with confronting voters angry at Johnson and his 'one rule for us and another for those at the top' - and livid about falling living conditions. Figures show that price rises wiped out wage rises completely in November - a real-terms pay cut.

Only now has Keir Starmer's Labour been able to pull ahead in the polls, a reflection of his failure to offer any alternative in the last two years. His priority has been proving to the capitalist class that his New Labour is once again a reliable second eleven for them - ready to form a pro-capitalist government.

In local government, the unwillingness of right-wing Labour to use its powers in the interests of the working class is clearer than clear! From the get-go of the Con-Dem government in 2010, right-wing Labour councillors have passed on every cut the Tories demanded. They have offered no protection - despite the enormous powers and resources local government holds - to fight the driving down of working-class living standards austerity has meant.

Strike wave

But workers have had enough. A winter strike wave is taking place, as the industrial reports in the Socialist every week make clear: bin workers, transport workers, teachers, health workers, scaffolders, delivery workers, and more.

Long, determined, and bitterly fought disputes are bringing workers into action to defend their pay and conditions against bosses seeking to add to the £250 billion annual transfer from the working class to the bosses since 1980 - through pay cuts, job cuts, speed-ups, privatisation, etc. This fightback needs to be coordinated by the trade union leaders.

But, never mind what befuddled and angry Tory activists do on 5 May - what do these workers do? Trade unionists should discuss standing as no-cuts candidates. They're fighting for workers in the workplace and are best placed to do so in the council chamber: to bring services back in-house, for wage rises that keep up with inflation, for council homes and rent control, and all the things we need so the working class doesn't end up losing out from the political and economic crisis of the bosses' capitalist system.

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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 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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 19 January 2022:


What we think

Tories on the ropes


News

Want to fight austerity?

No trust in Tories to keep us safe

Tories hand cash to private health profiteers

Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis

Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay

News in brief


International news

Murder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

Northern Ireland: Workers fight threatened closure of women's hostel

US: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

Eyewitness account of workers' uprising in Almaty, Kazakhstan


Public services

Mutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party


Marxist classics

Why are things the way they are?


Rob Windsor

Rob Windsor - remembering a tireless fighter for socialism


Theatre

Theatre: Yes Yes UCS


Workplace news

Sheffield Just Eat couriers speak about strike

S Yorks Stagecoach strike results in "huge pay win"

Scunthorpe scaffs resume indefinite strike action

Coventry bin strike continues

Bus driver Tracey Scholes reinstated at Go North West

Royal Mail: Unofficial walkouts precede bigger battle to come on pay and workload

Newham college strike solid against bully privatisers

Somers Forge workers continue pay strike

Workplace news in brief


Campaigns

NUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

Demonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill

Waltham Forest: Campaign unites families facing eviction

Newham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

Birmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

Southampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

Oliver Campbell - 31 years fighting for justice

Bournemouth - angry people not represented by capitalist parties

Pauline Wall memorial meeting


 

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