For the first time in many years, the voice of the working class is being heard. The strike movement, which started among RMT workers in the railways, looks as if it is going to spread to train drivers, postal workers, BT workers, airport workers and others.
And since the cost of living crisis is hitting the whole of the working class hard, there’s reason for every single worker, wherever they work, to join in.
What’s more, now is as good a time as any: the ruling class and its politicians have just decided that they’ve had enough of Boris Johnson. And the confusion this has caused in the ranks of the enemy’s politicians could provide the working class with an advantage, if it wants to take it.
Anyway, whether Johnson and his government stay or go, it’s always wise to seize the time, and what better time than right now?
Tory MPs and ministers are worriedly trying to save their careers and keep their seats. According to an Ipsos poll taken before Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned, support for Johnson had already fallen to an all-time low of 27% and for the Tory party to 32%. And Tory clone, the converted Brexiteer, Keir Starmer, was getting a rating of 38%, while the Labour Party was preferred by 44% of those polled.
Of course the answer for the working class cannot and will not come out of the House of Commons. It will take a militant (yes!) party built by and for workers and the poor, whose aim is to overturn the unequal, unjust, class-based society of privilege and undertake the social change we need. The “democracy” on offer in this system is a degenerate, cynical, farce.
Their integrity and ours
However, for now, the overtly anti-working class Tory ministers and MPs, who certainly live on a different planet from the rest of us, think it’s a good time to call out their former Bojo hero for his lack of “integrity”. When lack of integrity is a quality shared by all of them and indeed seems to have been a mandatory qualification for becoming a government minister!
One could even say that to be a politician - of whatever party - in a system based on injustice, inequality and exploitation of labour for profit, requires this, first and foremost.
So yes, the spectacle this week during Prime Minster’s Questions could well be described as the “sinking ship leaving the rat” - as Starmer happened to quip, even if he also qualifies for membership of the same species. He happily joins in the Tories’ defamation of his former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who, for all his weaknesses, certainly does not deserve it. But that is a measure of the “integrity” of Starmer.
It’s also worth mentioning the speed and alacrity with which Nadhim Zahawi took over as Chancellor and the embarrassing (for the Tories and him) interview he then gave to the media to justify it. He said he was convinced of the PM’s honour, and that the PM was going to “deliver, deliver, deliver” - 3 times over! However, when asked, he was not even sure he was going to lower taxes, even if that’s what Johnson had already promised, now that Sunak was out of his hair...
One can only wonder how Zahawi, who came to this country as a refugee from Iraq at age 11, can sit next to the Unpriti Patel (another loyalist relying on Johnson’s favours), who is the architect of a policy to send refugees on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
What’s more he repeated another lie - Johnson’s favourite of the moment - that the UK economy has the fastest (or second fastest) growth in the G7.
Last year, the UK economy grew “faster” than most others - at 7.5%, but that was only because it had slumped so much more than all the others in 2020. If one wanted a real idea of the economy’s health, one would have to look at pre-Covid rates, which show that it performed much worse than most of the G7. But never let the truth get in the way of a good lie. What was conspicuous was that the economically illiterate reporters didn’t even take Zahawi up on this...
Workers must find their own solution
This crisis in the Tory party and in Johnson’s government was always just a question of “when”. But by now, the working class should be clear that the Labour Party, which will ask for its votes in the next election, has nothing different to offer, whether under Starmer as leader, or anyone else.
However, it was Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary and currently the strikers’ spokesperson, who said that he wanted to see Starmer as the next prime minister. He argued that, after the “shower” currently in power, anything would be better.
The sad fact is, however, that the working class has been voting for the “lesser evil”, ever since the birth of the Labour Party in 1903. Since then, it’s had the chance to see Labour in power 6 times over. Remember, it was Blair and Brown who helped establish casualisation.
So yes, the strike movement now - which Starmer’s Labour opposes - is going to be the best and only lever against the de facto wage cuts and job cuts we face. But the working class also needs to prepare ASAP to build its own political party!