Johnson's booster isn't doing it for him & Preparing a fightback over pay for 2022

 Johnson's booster isn't doing it for him

What a "safe" rebellion by those 99 Tory MPs! The unpopular new rule which imposes the government's Plan B Covid pass, which they opposed, still got through. It was certain it would. Well in advance, Labour's great patriot, “Sir” Keir Starmer, said he'd support the government "in the national interest"...

    In other words there was no real risk to the government, nor to Johnson himself. Even if his popularity is at an all-time low, with his MPs trying to outdo him in their populism, he is not about to be ousted.

    Of course, the new Covid rules are full of contradictions. But Tory "resistors" in parliament hardly mentioned these. They went on ad nauseam about "individual freedom", "liberty" and the right to go where they please; "rights" which these hypocrites are not prepared to extend to those beneath them in the "lower" classes - and, by the way, certainly not to the refugees who risk death because they are denied them.

    Johnson, looking more dishevelled than usual, said on Sunday that a "tidal wave" of accelerating infection justified redeploying NHS staff to boost his booster campaign - it was "the only way out"... But the NHS is on its knees already, with a drastic (Brexit-related!) staff shortage. 

    So is that Johnson's real reason to be prioritising his boosters? Not to prevent the already overwhelmed NHS from being even more overwhelmed tomorrow, but to provide a justification for the cancelling of surgery and cancer consultations today - treatments which might have been impossible to carry out anyway?

    Besides allowing Johnson to claim to be the fastest jabber in the West, his boosters, along with the pass, are meant to allow the government to say that it's "OK" to keep businesses and hospitality open and workers at work, keeping the flow of profits coming in. And where business might lose out due to new rules (but Javid wasted no time in lifting the Red travel list), Sunak will easily justify relaunching targeted subsidies for the bosses.

    Whether Omicron is as dangerous as Delta, Beta, or Alpha, is still a question mark. We are told that currently, 8 MPs and 42 Premier league footballers may have it... At the time of writing 78,610 daily new cases - more than ever before - have been identified.

    So yes, maybe this time Johnson is not peaking too soon, nor peaking too late, with his latest Covid policy. But the social damage after his "let it rip" approach prior to the two lethal waves in 2020, has already been done and cannot be undone. Which is why it is a shame to see his popularity dealt a blow, not because he is a danger to society, but because he might have known something about last year’s Downing street Christmas party.

 Preparing a fightback over pay for 2022

It was announced on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 5.1% in the 12 months to November 2021, up from 4.2% in October - something which forecasters had said was only meant to happen next spring.

    We are told that high transport costs were the biggest contributor to this: petrol prices rose by 7.2p a litre between October and November. This was the biggest monthly increase since 1990, when the ONS first started keeping records! Not that workers did not already know it: they are paying over £10-20 more per tank depending on the size of vehicle they drive...

    But this also means that the Retail Prices Index, or RPI, which is closer to the real price rises that workers experience is already over 6%. And that wage rises, even of 5% (given by Ford Britain, for instance) still don't provide a pay rise in “real” terms.

    All of this means that the working class is confronting the biggest increase in the cost of living in a decade!

    And matters are only likely to be made a lot worse by the economic effects of Omicron. Not only because of more lay-offs, or working from home, (not an option for key workers), but because for many on casual contracts, when they get sick there is either no sick pay at all, or SSP at just £96.35/week. The government has flatly refused to raise sick pay to the level of a living wage nor ensure that every single worker who has to self-isolate can easily obtain even the current pittance, without having to jump through impossible bureaucratic hoops!

    So there is no time to waste: the working class must get ready to organise a strong collective fight back on pay, including sick pay, come the New Year. And this cannot be left to union leaders who have yes, been organising the "odd" strike, but never in a way which unites all our forces for maximum impact. Because maximum impact is what is needed.