From housing policy to Brexit, they’re waging war against the working class

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7 March 2018

Far from offering any way out of the on-going Brexit chaos, May's Mansion House speech last Friday, was primarily a peace-keeping operation aimed at restoring unity in the Tories' warring ranks - not that it is likely to last, though!
    This time, however, May finally admitted the obvious - that whichever form it takes, Brexit will come at a cost for the working class.  Which was no doubt why she felt it necessary to pledge (once again) to "make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us."  Never mind that things have been going from bad to worse for the unprivileged majority, ever since she made this pledge for the first time, when entering Downing Street!

Not for everyone - only for big business!

Fast forward 3 days.  On Monday, May spelt out what she exactly meant by "a country that works... for everyone", in a speech which, this time, was supposed to "tackle" the housing crisis.
    Of course, at a time when property developers sit on enough land to build 420,000 homes, she could hardly do less than to read them the riot act - rhetorically, that is!  But this wasn't the real point of her speech.  Her target was the "inflexibility" of a planning system which is supposed to be the main obstacle to house-building these days.
    May didn't elaborate.  But her housing secretary, Sajid Javid, did.  One of his star proposals is to legislate to allow Network Rail and TfL to sell "air rights" to developers so that they can build homes over open-air railway lines!  Whatever next?
    Back in 2016, May had promised 300,000 new builds a year, in order to ease the housing crisis.  But where are they?  Last year, just over half this number was built.  And out of the total, 3% were social homes, while 13% were rented at an unaffordable 80% of market rates!  Meanwhile, May awarded another £10bn to big developers (on top of Cameron's previous £40bn handouts) to build expensive unaffordable homes for sale, as part of the Tories' "Help to Buy" programme!
    No wonder the housing crisis has been getting worse over the past months, while rough sleeping has become increasingly widespread.  And never mind that dozens of homeless people have been dying in the streets of Theresa May’s "country that works... for every one", this winter!
    Yet 110,000 homes have been lying empty for over a decade in Britain.  Requisitioning just half of them would have been more than enough to give a roof to all the homeless this winter!  But no!  This government has not even delivered on its promise to allow councils to double the council tax rates on houses which have been left empty for years!
    So no wonder either, that in response to May's speech on housing last Monday, the share prices of the construction giants went up: the City’s speculators know that big business has nothing to fear from May's empty threats and everything to gain from her deregulation of planning!

The class war is on

What is true for housing, is just as true for Brexit, of course.  For May, it is not intended to "work... for every one", but to work for big business only.
    Not that there can be another kind of Brexit anyway.  A Brexit "for the many and not for the few", is just a figment of Corbyn's rhetoric - at least as long as he insists that Labour's policies must be "good for British business".
    Brexit was always conceived by its Tory right-wing promoters as a weapon in the class war.  Their plan was always - and still is - to put this weapon in the hands of their capitalist masters to allow them to screw workers' conditions and living standards - in order to make British industry and finance even more competitive in its trade war against its foreign rivals.
    Indeed, all this Brexit chaos is nothing but another episode in the trade war between rival capitalist classes, which are fighting to secure for themselves a larger share of the limited amount of profits that the world crisis of their system still allows them to make.
    Today, we hear about the punitive tariffs that Trump wants to slap on Chinese steel.  Yesterday, it was on the business aircraft produced by the Bombardier factory, in Belfast.  And tomorrow, what other imported products will the US - or any other country, for that matter - decide to tax, in order to boost the profits of its own companies?
    This is what the present crisis of the capitalists' insane profit system is about: a trade war, in which they intend to use the working classes of every country as cannon fodder, squeezing wages and conditions in the name of competitiveness.  And this is precisely what Brexit is also about.
    Do we want to be used as cannon fodder by British capital in its war for profits?  It is up to us to choose.  But if we do not want to play along with their mad logic, it is also up to us to prepare ourselves to fight a class war against them!