Never mind the ongoing horrific carnage in Gaza where, at the time of writing, the death toll has risen to 10,328 and people are still being buried alive under the rubble of buildings shattered by Israeli shells.
Never mind either, the ongoing catastrophe in Ukraine, where at least 100,000 are already dead on each side, thanks to this US/Nato proxy war.
And never mind that the worst cost-of-living crisis since WW2 is causing over 1.5 million people, even in rich Britain, to resort to food banks.
No, nothing must disturb the “normal” rituals of Westminster! So Sunak, who is directly implicated in all 3 of these human crises, thought nothing of thrusting the spectacle of a witless king and queen in ermine and gold, into the population’s face this Tuesday.
Yes, this year’s opening of Parliament took place “as usual” - with every bit of the royal pomp, ritual, and lavish circumstance on display. Given the context, this was in even worse taste than usual. And of course, the rest of us are meant to foot the bill for this meaningless pantomime.
At least the anti-monarchy protesters with placards reading “not my king”, were not arrested this time. But that cannot be taken for granted into the future. Because while commentators criticised the Speech for containing “no meat”, among its 21 “new” pieces of legislation, there was a bill giving the cops even more powers. They will now be able to test people for drugs on arrest, enter premises without a warrant (on the pretext of “seizing stolen goods”), and access the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database to identify “criminals” (didn’t they do that already?)...
At least the “leak” that Suella Braverman was going to confiscate tents from the homeless and ban their use (she said that staying in one on the pavement was a “lifestyle choice”) was not mentioned in this speech. But of course that doesn’t mean she might not enact it anyway.
Their “bills” are all unaffordable
In fact many of the bills which were listed are old promises. For instance, the Renters’ Reform Bill - at present still stuck in the House of Commons and awaiting its second reading was re-announced. This was meant to outlaw “no-fault evictions”, and protect tenants from being arbitrarily thrown out of their homes. But it is still indefinitely delayed, with the excuse that the “court system” needs changing first, whatever than means!
The pundits all point to the fact that this King’s Speech was the last throw of the dice for the Tory government before an election which is very likely to relegate it to the back benches. Labour is leading in the polls by 12-15 points. But journalists also remind everyone that the “Conservatives are the natural party of government”. Which is why the Labour Party insists on selling itself as another, even more conservative, version.
That said however, whatever Sunak does or doesn’t deliver over the next year - whether as a result of Tuesday’s list of Bills or the Autumn 2023 Budget Statement, it’s his stance over the bombing of Gaza which should terminally condemn him and his government. And condemn Labour too.
Sunak and Starmer have proudly stood (and still stand) full square behind Biden and the most far-right Israeli government ever, in favour of the bombing without ceasing of Gaza’s civilians (a “humanitarian” pause they say, could be considered, but not before Israel’s army has done its worst).
How to make them stand still
How will any of this stop? Certainly not through the UN which has already passed 5 useless resolutions calling for an Israeli cease-fire and had 6 Security Council meetings over it.
The US envoy Anthony Blinken claims he has already asked Netanyahu for a “humanitarian pause” but that he doesn’t listen. But of course the US has all the means needed to enforce its will on its Israeli surrogate - if it wanted to.
So what is to be done? There was a movie called “the Day the Earth Stood Still” made in 1951, after the carnage of WW2, in which “good” aliens visit the people of Earth and tell them that they must live peacefully together, or be destroyed, since they pose a danger to beings on other planets. The aliens stop everything moving at 12 noon to prove their ability to intervene.
Today the imperialist politicians are proving what a danger they are the people of this planet, let alone any others. But we don’t need aliens to intervene to stop them. The working classes on this earth have the power to do it. It’s a question of starting to organise ourselves - collectively, and regardless of all the divisions imposed in our ranks. This was the missing ingredient in the strikes last year. It’s high time to begin.