Social care, the NHS: their only plan is to make workers pay! & The politicians’ crocodile tears over women's rights

 Social care, the NHS: their only plan is to make workers pay! We cannot and will not!

So this government intends that workers will now pay directly for the cost of the pandemic, through an increase in National Insurance Contributions? By now, whether this is a “broken promise” or not is irrelevant. Even Tory voters expect nothing but lies from Johnson.

    But outrageously, deciding on this 1.25% levy means penalising low-paid social care and NHS workers themselves! As if they’ve not already paid many times over - some, with their lives! Not to mention that the Universal Credit uplift of £20/w is also being cut, further depriving the very poorest, in or out of work! 

    And not only that: Johnson and Sunak want the working class to fund their pathetic excuse for a “social care plan”, which is no “plan” at all - and is not even due for implementation until after April 2022. Never mind that the social care crisis is happening now!

    Obviously, increasing NICs imposes a de facto wage cut on every worker earning more than £9,500 a year. This, when NHS workers have been “offered” a below-inflation pay rise. And when the majority of social care workers survive on a pittance: the £8.91/hr which this government so cynically calls the “national living wage”!

    And as if we were all born yesterday, the government dares to argue that the NIC rise is “equally shared” between employer and employed. Everybody knows that the bosses will take this money back out of workers’ pay packets, refuse wage rises, cut jobs, etc., on top of all the other cuts they are already making under the pretext of the “end of furlough”.

    The triple lock on pensions (which would have meant a welcome 8% rise in the already too-low state pension), is suspended for one year... And it’s worth noting a point reported as a “grisly” statistic by the Guardian - that “£1.5bn will be recouped in state pensions from the thousands of Covid dead”. 

    Oh and then there’s the tax on dividends and extension of NICs to over 66 year-olds still in work, to appear more “fair”. But just think, on earnings over £50,268, you only pay 2% in NICs! Those who argue that the rich pay less and the poor pay more are dead right: and it’s the rich who are the real beneficiaries of the £86,000 cap on care costs - which doesn’t even include residential accommodation! Yet what did we hear new Health Minister Javid say on Wednesday? That this a “very progressive way of raising money”! Either Javid’s understanding is regressive, like this tax, or he stupidly imagines he can con the rest of us.

    Of course, if you are one of the rich, making super-big and untaxed “capital gains” out of a recent PPE contract, or Covid testing, courtesy of the Test and Trace bonanza, well yes, it’s definitely a good idea to fund the government deficit this way. Forget about the record stock exchange earnings over the past 18 months, the vast profits of pharma companies out of vaccines, or the stashes of unpaid tax from the likes of Amazon, DHL, etc..!

    Yes, even under this rotten capitalist system and even in the context of an ongoing pandemic, the £400bn the government talks about, could easily have been paid out of the pockets of the capitalist class. That ministers won’t take what’s needed from those who have it (btw, Labour in government didn’t either), only means that the working class is going to have to fight against being ripped off like this. And just as importantly, it will have to fight for the real living wages and permanent jobs which it needs, into the future.

 From Afghanistan to Texas - The politicians’ crocodile tears over women's rights

It’s said that one can judge how “civilised” a society is by how it treats women. So how should we rate the politicians of the rich imperialist countries who today point their fingers at the Taliban regime in Afghanistan over their denial of women’s rights? For instance those who preside over a system in the wonderful “land of the free and the brave”, which allows Texan politicians to declare abortions after 6 weeks illegal? Indeed, a system which means that in the whole of the US, only 5 states out of 50 still recognise the full legal right to abortion, as upheld against challenge in the famous “Roe vs Wade” ruling in 1973. Today this already-eroded “right” is threatened with total extinction in the US.

    Of course, the backward nature of the Taliban regime is undeniable. But what about the backward nature of the Texan regime and beyond it, the“we will hunt you down”mentality of US politicians like Biden or Johnson?

    Their system maintains the rich capitalist class in power: those who make weapons and drones which kill many more civilians than military “targets”. Through the deprivation they impose on their own populations they nurture the growth of fundamentalist and conspiratorial backwardness - often armed to the teeth, just like the religious Taliban - invoking their own “God’s” blessings.

    Let’s remember that the backwardness of the Taliban or Northern Alliance fighters didn’t stop Western imperialists from helping them to power, finally ending the relative equality of women which the former Soviet-backed regime, had promoted. “Winning” the Cold War was the imperialists’ priority - even if it was a phoney war, aimed at preventing the working class from finding its own political feet. At the time, it was a case of “screw women’s rights”.

    So today, as Afghan women in the streets of Kabul risk their lives to demand their rights, the very least we can do over here, men and women workers together, is to defend our own.