Britain

COVID-19 is bringing economic and social dislocation with no parallel since the Second World War. It is a huge burden on working-class people, and a real concern for the strategists of capital.

An open split has emerged within the Tories, between those who are desperate for business to return to normal; and those who are terrified of the backlash if private wealth is put above public health. We must fight to put lives before profits. Originally published 7 April.

The media, bourgeois and reformist leaders have all been whipping up a “wartime” spirit of national unity against the threat of COVID-19. Recently elected leader of the British Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has even made overtures about joining a government of national unity with the Conservatives. But the coronavirus pandemic is exposing the class lines in society more than ever. National unity is a reactionary fiction. What is needed is workers’ unity in the face of this crisis, and against the rotten system responsible.

Keir Starmer has won the Labour leadership contest. His Blairite backers are already baying for blood, calling for the Corbyn movement to be purged from the party. The left must rally around socialist policies and prepare to fight back.

There has been a great deal of fanfare about the government’s pledges to protect workers and small businesses through this crisis. But, in reality, ordinary people have been left high-and-dry. We must make the bosses pay.

In an effort to save their system, the Tory government has pledged to throw hundreds of billions at the economy. But what they give with one hand today, they will attempt to take back through austerity tomorrow. We must make the bosses pay.

Following the government’s lockdown decree, all non-essential production is supposed to be stopped. But Tory ministers have been purposefully evasive and ambiguous about whether this applies to construction sites, which are a breeding ground for disease and contagion.

The Chancellor’s recent pledge for the state to cover workers’ wages shows the desperate situation facing the ruling class. The labour movement leaders must go further and demand nationalisation and democratic economic control.

Filling the vacuum created by the Tory government’s ineptitude, local community groups have sprung into life across Britain, providing essential support to the most vulnerable. These could become a powerful tool in the fight against austerity.

As of midnight 23 March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared a UK-wide lockdown. All non-essential businesses are being closed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. It is clear that this is too little too late from a big business government that places profits ahead of human lives.

Following Labour’s election defeat, a massive battle has opened up to determine the future direction of the party. With the right-wing seeking to regain control, all sorts of ideas are being put forward, sowing confusion on the left. So not to be left out, the so-called left journalist Paul Mason, already discredited amongst a wide layer of activists, offers his contribution in a 21-page pamphlet: “After Corbynism, Where next for Labour?” His answer, unsurprisingly, is a shift to the right!