Jobs, wages, housing, NHS - their Brexit chaos shouldn't obscure the real issues!

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27 November 2018

Of course everyone has long been fed up with the Brexit saga.  And it's not anywhere near to being over.  May's divorce deal just marks the beginning of yet another prolonged period of horse-trading in which we, the working class majority, will once again, have no voice and no stake.
    But even getting to this new stage is no longer guaranteed.  Whether May's deal will be passed by the Commons on December 11th is anybody's guess.  Having finally managed to bring together some of the fractious ranks of her Tory opponents, May has lost the support of her unsavoury DUP partners.  And her attempt to sell her deal to the public with a speaking tour of Britain is hardly likely to change much.  Only the fear of a new general election might possibly rally the support she needs from within her own party.
    But whatever the result of the Commons' vote, there's only one thing we can be sure of: after two years of being driven by a flood of lies and red-herrings, the course of the Brexit saga will, once again, be decided by factors which have nothing to do with the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe, but everything to do with the ambitions of career-seeking Westminster politicians!

Back to the real world

However we have more serious things to do, than to watch what happens inside the Westminster bubble.
    With the Brexit saga pushing the exchange rate of the pound down, prices and bills keep going up - but not wages.  A serious catch-up is needed, now!  Meanwhile, more of us are at the receiving end of the bosses' attempts to protect their profits against the crisis.  Tens of thousands of us in car manufacturing and related industries are faced with plant closures, job cuts, lay-offs and extended shutdowns.  Hiding behind Brexit and the slump in car sales, the bosses are trying to restructure and downsize on our backs.
    And more of these dirty tricks can be expected across all industries, as productive investment, which was already at a record low, has been cut even further over the past months.
    Housing is another aggravating issue.  May dares to say that ending the freedom of movement will resolve all social problems.  But the claim that the housing crisis had anything to do with immigration has long been exposed as a lie.  This year, only around 6,400 social homes were built, down by 80% from a decade ago!  And while tens of thousands are sleeping rough and over a million households are stuck on housing waiting lists, this government carries on showering tens of billions in subsidies and tax breaks on property developers and rich households, thereby pushing housing prices up!
    Meanwhile, as winter arrives, the collapse of the NHS is accelerating.  May boasts of having a "plan" and billions at hand to mend the NHS, but over 100,000 vacancies remain unfilled - and the number can only increase as migrant workers are deterred from coming to work here by her very own "hostile environment"!

A leaf from the French workers' book?

There was, however, one good piece of news on the gloomy horizon of May's Britain:  on 23rd November, 900 workers staged an unofficial walkout at Vauxhall-Ellesmere Port, when the company announced another 241 job cuts in addition to the 650 cut since October last year.
    And yes, the Vauxhall workers were right to show their determination to resist job cuts.  This is the kind of response we need, in order to defend our interests against the bosses' greed and their politicians' chaos!
    Meanwhile, large protests were taking place in  France.  We all saw TV images of the so-called "gilets jaunes" (HV vests).  Hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets, distributing leaflets to inform drivers of their demands at the "filtering road blocks" and turning paid motorways into "freeways" by occupying the tollgates.  The spark that lit the fire was a raft of increases in fuel duties.  But the mobilisation attracted massive numbers of workers, pensioners, self-employed and youth.  And it has quickly turned into a protest against the entire spectrum of anti-working class measures taken by President Macron and against his hand-outs to big business and the wealthy.
    In France, the unions have been conspicuous by their absence in this movement, while their leaders were busy begging for "real negotiations" with the government.  Just as, here, Vauxhall workers had to take matters into their own hands, while Unite leaders went to beg Vauxhall’s owner, PSA, for “new investment”.
    As if any gains could ever be made by workers without them first building up a balance of forces on the ground, which gives the bosses and their politicians no alternative but to concede!  The Vauxhall workers and French "gilets jaunes" showed that workers on both sides of the Channel have a lot more in common than the politicians want us to think: the power of an international working class!