Chancellor Rishi Sunak, standing at the podium of the Tories' virtual conference, again boasted about the long list of special measures he has implemented over the past months to "protect" workers and businesses - and “all delivered by a Conservative government". In fact, he sounded as if he himself was surprised. He even referred to Tory values as enabling the “gentlest kindness”, claiming that the Conservative party is now fully "aligned with the British people"...
Of course, his measures are certainly “well-aligned”... but exclusively with the interests of business, i.e., capitalists, big and small! By subsidising the bosses’ wage bills yet again through his latest Job Support Scheme, he has incentivised the sacking of workers: yes, it’s definitely a “protective” helping hand, but for the rate of profit!
Apparently Sunak and the Prime Minister, who insists on presenting himself as the voice of common sense, (no matter how blustering and nonsensical) have designated themselves as “soft cops” in the governmental farce. As if anyone is fooled.
Of course, the Tories haven't undergone a miraculous transformation just because of the Covid pandemic. Even if Johnson blazed the disease-trail on which Trump now finds himself and, as he angrily proclaims, doesn’t have any “long Covid” after-effects...! And even if he decided to about-face from a lethal "herd immunity" course of Covid policy to one which, with “world-beating” ineptitude, was meant to “contain” it.
Johnson’s latest “stitch in time to save nine”, aimed at averting a 2nd wave, has turned into a “glitch” in time. Yes, when almost 16,000 positive cases went unreported due to a problem with Excel software, leaving contacts untraced and “unsaved”.
In fact Johnson’s and Sunak’s insistence on portraying themselves as affectionate carers, "putting their arms around" everyone, would be a joke if we were not facing the worst public health and economic crisis in 100 years.
Criminals and hard cops
The truth of the matter is that these politicians have de facto been killing with all their alleged “kindness”. Their policies, like the too-late lockdown in March, have been nothing short of criminal. As Amnesty International has just reported, over 28,186 elderly were left to die in care homes (between March and June alone!), and now history is already repeating itself, as old people are again being discharged from hospitals into care homes without having had Covid tests!
And while Johnson and Sunak play soft cop, Johnson's side-kick from the Home Office, “hard cop” Piri Patel, has been ensuring that true-blue conservatism - or, more accurately, the backward, reactionary racism which chimes with the Tory gallery’s far-right views - is alive and kicking
She says she is going to overhaul the “broken” asylum system. Those seeking asylum will find British borders “firmly and fairly” closed to them. And if they dare to risk their lives by crossing the Channel in a small boat, they and the “despicable” people-smugglers who put them there, will be hunted down and met with the “full force of the National Crime Agency”! And woe betide any lefty lawyer or “do-gooder” who tries to intervene in order to help them find peace and asylum in the 6th wealthiest country in the world, which has more than enough space to spare!
Defending the indefensible
Yes, Patel has called out“do-gooders”for “defending the indefensible”, saying “I would never do it”. So what does sending refugees to camps on isolated islands, 4,000 miles away, hunting them down, etc., constitute?
Indeed, she seriously considered placing asylum-seekers in holding pens on Ascension Island, in Moldova or Papua New Guinea, no matter how bonkers this may be. And discussed building walls in the sea and using wave machines to propel small boats back to France!
It’s ironic that she boasts of the Tories’ “proud record” in providing safe havens for those fleeing persecution, when just 2 examples sprung to her mind: Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin’s regime in 1972 (her own family included), and the recent offer of (temporary!) residence to anti-Chinese campaigners from Hong Kong...
When of course, what stands out in the Tory record is the cruel and ongoing Windrush scandal and the hostile environment for migrants.
The working class has a special interest in the fate of refugees and immigrant workers. Their new blood, their youth and their courage are urgently needed here. Yes, to revitalise and strengthen our fighting ranks in the struggle against this rotten, criminal, capitalist system - in order to build a new society and this time, one with a viable future.