Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials - 8 June 2021

8 June 2021

The hypocrisy of Johnson’s government knows no bounds. It openly boasts of getting one over on almost every other government in the world, having cornered the drastically short supply of vaccines for “Britain first”. Yet Johnson still has the nerve to tell his G7 fellows that “we must all” be generous and share our vaccines with the poor countries!

    As some will point out, in a poverty-stricken country like Nepal, where Britain recruits Gurkha soldiers for its army, fewer than 3% of its 30m population had been vaccinated by 3 June.

    In the light of an exponentially rising infection rate, the Nepalese prime minister had to issue a desperate plea for Britain’s help. And this is just one example of the Johnson government’s seemingly oblivious irresponsibility.

    There’s no doubt - of course - that Johnson uses his domestic “vaccine triumph”, to distract from his criminal mishandling of the pandemic over the past 18 months. The only thing he did get right was to save his political neck by gambling with public money on vaccines. Step in his “venture capitalist” heroine, Kate Bingham, with a blank cheque to beat off all competition. And now even Dominic Cummings’ horror-tale-telling seems to have been water off these ducks’ backs. So much so, that liar Johnson and liar Hancock are now taking to lecturing others on how to handle a pandemic!

Incentive for more tax loopholes

Of course, the government needed to look at least mildly competent given its hosting of the G7 Summit.

    So, as a prelude to the “big show” Sunak led a tax “coup” against the Big Tech giants. These serial tax evaders will be asked to pay (up to!) 20% tax on sales in countries where they have a market. How exactly this will be implemented and policed - and when (or even whether!) - is another question!

    This did not prevent some commentators from proclaiming this as the biggest achievement in the G7's lifetime! The Financial Times wrote that the deal would stop 4 decades of falling corporation tax rates:“reversing an international race to the bottom”!

    Ministers also committed to trying to implement a “global minimum tax rate” of 15%. This could be a much bigger problem, as it potentially threatens all tax havens. However, it still has to be put to the G20, after which allgovernments would have to agree. Yes, against the interests of their own capitalists - a contradiction in terms! But that does not prevent Sunak and his friends from trying to appear as champions of tax “fairness”!

    This is yet more hypocritical hot air. Especially so, when Rishi Sunak himself presides over one of the biggest tax havens of all, that is, the City of London. Not to mention the “Freeports” he is building - nothing but mini tax havens - in an effort to try to paper over Brexit’s economic cracks and attract back some of Little Britain’s lost foreign investment!

British soft power VS workers’ power

It is the big hoo-ha which Tory backbenchers, led by Andrew Mitchell, over Britain’s overseas aid budget which probably takes the hypocrisy biscuit.

    The government decided to cut this tiny 0.7% percentage of Gross National Income, which it provides for poor countries as aid and investment, to 0.5% last year. Mitchell claims that such a cut will lose Britain its “standing in the world” especially in the context of the G7. It will undermine Britain’s “soft power”. After all, as backbench Tories add, Britain gets back a lot more than it gives.

    Despite what ministers claim, this “temporary” cut had nothing to do with a shortage of government cash. Throughout the pandemic the Treasury has been printing money for all and sundry. They could not have done otherwise: Britain suffered one of the worst economic hits out of all the rich countries. And not just because of its catastrophic C-19 infection and death rate, but due to its long-declining decrepit capitalism. That said, it still has the world’s 6th largest economy, thanks precisely to said “City”!

    So yes, a cut of £4bn from the total aid budget is chickenfeed. But Johnson decided that on balance, it was worth making this petty cut for the “look”, in front of his xenophobic voters, rather than worry about his “look” in front of the G7.

    So now the literally sick, wounded and starving population of Yemen, devastated by Britain’s “hard power”, in the form of British-made Saudi bombs will get less than half the humanitarian aid (£87m instead of £196.6m) which Britain gave last year.

    It says it all that this insultingly small amount is nevertheless still fundamental to the bare survival of some of the poorest and most needy people on this earth. And that their fate remains in the hands of the richest countries with the most firepower.

    The British Empire may be long dead, but “international” imperialism lives on to oppress, exploit and kill the poor of this planet. This is why there has to be a class revolution to overthrow it - and why, ultimately, this revolution has to be international.