After a month of market mayhem, the capitalist class has killed off Liz Truss’ reckless economic agenda and installed a new ‘responsible’ regime. But they and their system can only offer further attacks. We must fight for socialist revolution.
David Cameron: 6 years, 63 days. Theresa May: 3 years, 11 days. Boris Johnson: 3 years, 44 days. Liz Truss: 43 days, and counting… but how much longer?
As the crisis of British capitalism grows deeper, and the radioactive institutions of bourgeois democracy decay, the half-life of Tory leaders and prime ministers becomes ever-more apparent.
“Anything apparently solid quickly becomes air,” stated the BBC’s political editor, paraphrasing Marx’s words in the Communist Manifesto, and commenting on the stench emanating from Truss’ rotten government.
This intertwining economic and political instability is a reflection of a toxic system, which poisons anyone who attempts to protect it. And Kwasi Kwarteng, the recently-sacked chancellor, is the latest in a long line of casualties.
It is only a matter of time before his former boss – and nominal party leader – follows him out of Downing Street and onto the backbenches.
Following a disastrous first month in office, and a string of humiliating economic U-turns, some are predicting that Truss could be gone within a matter of weeks, or even days.
“Ms Truss entered Downing Street on September 6th,” noted liberal journal the Economist, in an article published on 11 October. “She blew up her own government with a package of unfunded tax cuts and energy-price guarantees on September 23rd. Take away the ten days of mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and she had seven days in control. That is roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce.”
Subsequently, irreverent tabloid the Daily Star has established a livestream for viewers to see in real-time which will decompose faster: this salad staple, or Truss’ premiership. The race is on.
Day one: Which wet lettuce will last longer? https://t.co/vReEEeL6jk— Daily Star (@dailystar) October 14, 2022
Regime of austerity
The Iceberg Lady’s days are clearly numbered. She has become a lame-duck leader; a prime minister in name only, who remains in place mainly due to the limited options when it comes to her replacement.
With both the UK economy and the Tory Party in meltdown, the ill-fated PM has been forced to retreat on her entire programme. Her long-standing ally has been jettisoned as chancellor; replaced by Jeremy Hunt, a man who backed her main rival – Rishi Sunak – in this summer’s Conservative leadership contest. Her Thatcherite vision lies in tatters.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Hunt informed audiences of the new economic regime.
Unfunded tax-cuts for the rich are out the window, as are vague assurances of cutting back the national debt through growth. In place of Trussonomics, with its reckless gambles and deluded fantasies, we now have ‘responsible’ management willing to take “decisions of eye-watering difficulty” in order to balance the books.
Those hoping for some sort of relief will be sorely disappointed. The reactionary measures announced in Kwarteng’s recent mini-Budget may be scrapped. But the latest medicine will be equally as bitter for workers and the poor to swallow.
The energy price freeze will now be scaled back, to be reviewed not in two years time, but in six months. And the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has identified a £70 billion hole in the government’s finances, around £30-40 billion of which will be filled through cuts to public spending and services.
In other words: it is the working class who will be expected to clean up the Tories’ mess. Austerity is here to stay. The bankers, bosses, and billionaires, meanwhile, are once again sitting comfortably, with markets calmed and investors reassured – for now.
After years of seeing the patients running the asylum, first under Boris Johnson, and now under Liz Truss, it is clear that the ruling class is moving to ‘take back control’. The kids and clowns have had their fun and games. But now it is time for the adults and serious people to take charge.
Truss and her predecessor reflected not the interests of big business, but the deranged desires of the rabid ranks of the Tory Party. Instead of listening out for the needs of British capitalism, more often than not, these degenerate, myopic, self-seeking leaders have been motivated only by the prospect of advancing their own political careers.
In the process, they have taken a wrecking ball to every pillar of the bourgeois establishment: from Whitehall, the courts, and the Bank of England in Britain; to the EU, the IMF, and the ‘special relationship’ internationally.
All the while, they have undermined the social base of the Conservative Party itself: most notably, alienating middle-class supporters by tanking the British economy and thus driving up borrowing costs for homeowners and small-business managers; but also destroying any support amongst working-class voters in ‘Red Wall’ areas, with multiple broken promises when it comes to ‘levelling up’.
“We’re giving people a load of tax cuts that they didn’t ask for, and having to do a load of unpopular things to pay for them,” laments one Tory minister, speaking to the Financial Times.
And to top it all off, jingoistic hopes of ‘Global Britain’ and ‘Britannia unchained’ have been dashed. Instead, we have a party of frothing Little Englanders presiding over a third-rate global power; a once-industrious empire now considered an embarrassment on the world stage.
Dictatorship of capital
With the chaos reaching fever pitch, the establishment has firmly put its foot down. The madness of Brexit – including Boris’ antics in proroguing Parliament – was bad enough. But with the value of pound sterling and British bonds plummeting, and investors’ money on the line, more drastic action had to be taken to restore order.
“Liz Truss picked a fight with economic orthodoxy,” remarked one recently-departed senior Treasury official, “and the orthodoxy won.”
Replace the word ‘orthodoxy’ with ‘markets’, and this assertion hits the nail on the head.
Under capitalism, it is not governments that dictate to investors, but vice-versa. Even Tory administrations are not immune from the ruthless laws and logic of the market. It is the capitalist class, not politicians, who call the shots.
We do not live in a democracy, but under a dictatorship of capital.
And what is true for Truss’ libertarian leadership is doubly-so for those of a more social-democratic persuasion – as former Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald experienced in 1931, or as Alexis Tsipras and Syriza supporters in Greece discovered more recently. Left reformists take note.
Liz Truss may still reside in Number 10. But it is clear that Jeremy Hunt and his new economic advisory council are the ones really in charge.
Even these ladies and gentlemen are mere ciphers, however: a medium through which the markets express their will; marionettes for the bosses and bankers.
British capitalism is by no means out of the woods yet. The pound and pension funds have been propped up by Hunt’s promises. But his programme of austerity will only accelerate the UK economy’s slide into recession – exchanging higher inflation and interest rates for unemployment and attacks on wages.
For the working class, the result will be the same. It is a choice of death by slow hanging, or death by a thousand cuts.
And whilst Britain has suffered from a “moron premium” in terms of the market mayhem caused by Truss’ unhinged proposals, the truth is that the UK is only the weakest link in the chain of capitalism.
Warning signs are flashing across the global economy – heralding the imminent arrival of a new world slump. The current turbulence in Britain, in turn, is a harbinger of what can be expected in all countries in the coming period, as capitalism stumbles from one crisis to the next.
Wither the Tories?
“Truss’ economic project is dead,” the Financial Times declared in a recent editorial. “Now that her policy platform has been extinguished, it is a matter of time before she too goes.”
Or as one former cabinet minister more eloquently put it: “She has fucked the party, fucked the country, and fucked our prospects at the next general election.”
The problem the ruling class has is: how to get rid of Truss? And who to replace her with?
“The only thing keeping her there is we can’t work out what to do,” stated one Tory MP, speaking to FT journalists.
The establishment would prefer to have a reliable captain at the helm – someone like Jeremy Hunt or Rishi Sunak. This has fuelled rumours of a possible Conservative ‘coronation’: selecting a new Tory leader behind closed doors, and foisting the anointed candidate upon the membership.
Such a move would likely provoke an almighty backlash from Tory members and MPs alike, however, sharpening the splits and divisions within the party.
Offering the rank and file – “a load of loons in Maidenhead”, as one senior Conservative described them – a say in this succession process, meanwhile, could lead to even more disastrous results.
Having already chosen Johnson over Hunt in 2019, and then Truss over Sunak more recently, who knows what kind of creature the Tory membership might go for next, if given the chance.
The fact that maniacal figures like home secretary Suella Braverman – or even a rehabilitated Boris – have been mooted as possible contenders is enough to send shivers down the spines of the ruling class. Yet the decision may not be theirs to make.
This only goes to show how far the serious wing of the capitalist class has lost control of the Tories: once the most stable bourgeois party on the planet; the envy of the ruling classes across the world – but now a veritable laughing stock that is seemingly beyond repair.
Fight for socialism
With the Tory Party considered damaged goods, the establishment is increasingly looking towards the idea of a general election and a Starmer Labour government. And no doubt this knight of the realm would be more than happy to be their champion.
Tellingly, the right-wing Labour leaders have not criticised a single dot or comma of Hunt’s economic programme. And why would they? After all, the new chancellor’s message of ‘sound money’ completely chimes with their main motifs at the recent Labour Party conference.
With the Tories tanking in the polls, and Liz Truss currently as unpopular as Prince Andrew and Putin, Labour could win by a landslide if an election were held tomorrow. Yet there is little real enthusiasm amongst workers and youth for a Starmer government, which – just like Truss’ – would be a government of crisis from day one.
At the same time, a rising tide of industrial militancy is breathing confidence into the trade union movement. Coordinated action between various disputes and struggles is already being organised, and more is on the way this winter.
Now is the time to mobilise a mass campaign of rolling strikes and protests to kick out not just Truss, but all the Tories.
The markets have had their say, and put their people in the driving seat. But their system – capitalism – is running out of road, heading towards an abyss.
Only the socialist transformation of society – nationalising the big banks and major monopolies, and planning the economy according to needs, not profits – can offer a way forward. It is time to fight and put the working class, not the billionaires and their representatives, in control.