Let the working class show this government and its capitalist friends their contempt!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
15 June 2022

The day chosen by Johnson to send asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda, also marked a double anniversary.  On 14 June, it was exactly 5 years since fire ripped through the Grenfell Tower-block, killing 72 of its residents.  And it was also 40 years since the end of the Falklands War, when 907 soldiers and sailors lost their lives.

    These very different events may not seem to have anything in common.  However, each in its own way, illustrates politicians’ contempt for the lives of ordinary people.  And how, for the sake of politics, that is, gaining and/or retaining votes, the Johnsons, Mays and Thatchers (but also the Camerons, Blairs and Browns) consider human lives to be completely dispensable.

Their morals and ours

After being ruled out of order, indeed, being ruled “inhumane” by the UN refugee agency and the European Court of Human Rights, and thus scuppered in their deportation plans, Johnson and Patel were even prepared to send an empty plane to Kigali, just for the sake of the “principle”.

    And what principle was that?  They call it “saving refugees” who, they say, are the victims of people smugglers...  You’d think that the obvious way to stop people smugglers would be to provide alternative transport for refugees.  But forget logic when it comes to these vote-angling politicians.

    Having lost his face over Partygate lies, among other whoppers, Humpty Dumpty Johnson is now getting tough on non-white refugees - who are the real victims, not of people smugglers, but of his own and his predecessors’ policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc...  But he believes that “the public” supports Patel’s deportations and that sending devastated Afghans to Kigali will win him votes!

    It’s worth mentioning a few facts about this “safe haven” that the unpriti Patel vouches for.  This, from the UN refugee agency: “UNHCR has concerns that asylum-seekers relocated from the UK...  may not be treated in accordance with accepted international standards.  For example, in the context of protests by refugees in Rwanda against food ration cuts in 2018, 12 individuals were killed, 66 were arrested and some remain detained”.

    It’s not just that.  Rwanda’s President Kagame has had former officers of his Patriotic Front and senior civil servants assassinated, just because they were building political opposition parties against him.  This is well-known.  It says it all about Johnson’s government that not only are they subcontracting their responsibility towards refugees to one of the poorest and most densely-populated countries in Africa - a de facto military dictatorship disguised as a democracy - but they are having the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting there on 20-25 June!  When Prince Charles said he thought Patel’s deportation policy was “appalling” perhaps he was trying to rule himself out of attending...

A war fought for her political ego

And what about the Falklands war?  This “great victory” which Thatcher crowed over, was the bloody result of a totally gratuitous war - a common-sense arrangement could have been made with Argentina - indeed such a deal was proposed, which would have been quite satisfactory to the 1,847 Falkland islanders.  But in 1982, Thatcher saw an election defeat staring her in the face, and decided to launch this “patriotic” war in the name of “saving” the islanders, the flag and her job.  Weigh up the 907 dead and the many more disabled and disfigured against a pile of votes cast for one public sector-slashing Prime Minister: an “appalling” outcome, to borrow from the prince.

    So then we must come finally, to the Grenfell fire.  Of course the politicians did not light the fire.  Its direct cause was a faulty fridge.  But they definitely were responsible for the 72 deaths.  They never gave a damn about the working class residents of this council building.  They ignored their repeated requests for proper fire alarms, fire doors and sprinkler systems.  Central and local government officials knew very well about the danger of inflammable cladding.

    But after the fire, the bereaved, homeless and deeply-shocked survivors were left to fend entirely for themselves.  The local council simply ignored them!  Worse than this, 5 years on, multiple tower blocks still have this same dangerous cladding on them.  So the one thing the survivors pledged in the name of their dead loved ones, to make sure this never happened to anyone else...  remains undone.

    So yes, Grenfell was a catalogue of contempt for the people, by the politicians in power.  In fact, deadly contempt and heartless inhumanity.

    Today we see this contempt again, albeit in a different guise and with a different objective.  Johnson, Shapps & Co lie about railway union “barons” holding the public to ransom and they lie about workers’ wages, which among RMT members (better-paid drivers are in ASLEF) can be as low as £19,000pa.

    Indeed it is they who hold the working class to ransom.  They froze wages and intend to cut safety-critical track and signals jobs.  So, while workers can’t get rid of them by flying them somewhere else on a one-way ticket, they can strike against them and the contemptible system they protect - and they must!