As the crisis of capitalism deepens, Boris Johnson’s government is being thrown from pillar to post, with inflation rising, endless scandals emerging, and a new wave of the pandemic looming. Only the struggle for socialism can offer a way forward.
A dangerous invasion from abroad has arrived on Britain’s shores in rising numbers, posing a threat to the country and our way of life.
We are, of course, talking about the emergence of the new ‘Omicron’ variant of coronavirus, which could see COVID-19 infections (and fatalities) increasing rapidly this winter.
Listening to the Tories and their media mouthpieces, however, you would think that the above description applies more aptly to refugees and asylum-seekers.
Instead of focussing on the very real menace of the pandemic, Tory ministers are tirelessly banging the drum about the manufactured migrant crisis – precisely in order to distract from their own crimes and corruption.
If it’s not leaving desperate men, women, and children to die in the stormy waters of the English Channel, then it’s implementing social murder by letting the virus rip. Whichever way you look at it, this government of crooks and charlatans has blood on its hands.
Government of crises
The arrival of Omicron in the UK comes on the back of a long chain of explosive events that have rocked the Tory government. These demonstrate that, despite its huge majority, this is a government of crises and splits.
First it was the fuel and gas crisis, with petrol pumps running dry and energy companies dropping like flies. Combined with a shortage of lorry drivers and other important workers, this soon spilt over into a scarcity of other basic necessities, resulting in empty supermarket shelves and surging inflation.
Next up was the sparring between the UK and Brussels over the Northern Ireland protocol, accompanied by a sideshow of sabre-rattling between Britain and France over fishing rights.
As the contradictions of Brexit come to the fore, and Boris Johnson whips up a mood of jingoism to appease the Tory ranks, these confrontations threaten to develop into a full-on trade war.
In this respect, the Tories have cynically taken advantage of the refugee crisis to score political points against French premiere Emmanuel Macron and the other European leaders – particularly in the wake of the tragic drowning of 27 migrants in the Channel.
But Boris’ bombastic rhetoric could blow up in his face and exacerbate tensions in the Tory Party, with Conservative backbenchers fuming that the government has failed to ‘take back control’ of Britain’s borders following the country’s departure from the EU.
Simultaneous to all of this has been the cascade of corruption emanating from Westminster, with a torrent of sleaze and scandals, all sparked by Boris’ blunder in response to the Patterson affair.
It is becoming increasingly clear to workers and youth that the entire system is rotten – and that this whole stinking cesspit needs to be thrown out.
Now, with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 quickly spreading across the world, the country faces the threat of another devastating wave of the pandemic.
At the time of writing, the science surrounding this latest mutation is still unclear. But early indications suggest that it is even more transmissible than the currently-dominant ‘Delta’ variant. Most concerningly, it could evade existing vaccines, leading to a rise in hospitalisations and deaths.
With the NHS already on the brink, this dangerous development could see Britain’s healthcare system being completely overwhelmed this winter, as hospital beds fill up and overworked, underpaid staff are stretched to their limits.
In such a situation, there would be a clear need for greater restrictions, up-to-and-including another lockdown. But this would no doubt be heavily resisted by the bosses and rabid Tory MPs, whose only concern – this Christmas and always – is keeping profits flowing.
Already, some minor restrictions (such as wearing facemasks on transport and in shops) have been reintroduced. But even these trivial measures have faced opposition from Conservative backbenchers.
Even if further restrictions are introduced, it is clear that this reckless, arrogant, incompetent Tory government cannot be trusted to fight the virus.
To effectively stop contagion, we need full furlough and sick pay to be offered to all affected workers; we need free accommodation for those required to quarantine; and we need all healthcare services – including test-and-trace facilities – to be brought under public ownership and workers’ control.
Instead, under this shambolic and criminal government, we see the opposite, with Tory ministers constantly dragging their feet when the situation calls out for decisive action; and instead using the coronavirus chaos as an opportunity to line the pockets of their cronies and chums.
Austerity isn’t over
The possible need for another lockdown or further restrictions is already causing splits in the Cabinet, with Rishi Sunak leading the opposition to any return of restrictions, backed by the reactionary rabble in the COVID Recovery Group, a faction of libertarian Tory MPs.
If more pandemic-related government spending is required, meanwhile, it is clear that the bill for this will be presented to the working class, the poor, and the most vulnerable.
Despite Boris and the Tories’ claims to the opposite, therefore, it is clear that austerity isn’t over. And the cuts will only worsen as the crisis of capitalism intensifies and deepens.
This, in turn, is already leading to heightened tensions within the Tory Party. Recently, for example, a large number of Tory MPs rebelled against new government plans regarding social care. And no doubt further fractures will emerge down the line, as reality dawns, and Boris Johnson is forced to break one promise after another.
But it’s not just outspoken Conservative backbenchers who are angry at the Prime Minister. Business leaders in the audience at the recent CBI conference were clearly not impressed by Boris’ recent speech, nor by the policies outlined within it. Even the Murdoch press ridiculed Johnson’s performance.
This reflects the growing disillusionment amongst the ruling class towards Boris Johnson and his unreliable, crisis-ridden, scandal-tarnished government.
The serious strategists of capital are growing increasingly exasperated by the maverick, untrustworthy Tory leader, who is clearly more worried about protecting his own interests than those of British capitalism.
The recklessness of Johnson’s Tory Party, meanwhile, stands in stark contrast to Keir Starmer’s own fawning speech to the CBI, with establishment mouthpieces praising the Labour leader for his grovelling assurances that the party is “back in business”.
Starmer has made huge efforts to cosy up to big business: wooing the bosses; reshuffling his shadow cabinet to shift it even further to the right; and continuing to expel prominent left-wing activists from the Labour Party, such as Pamela Fitzpatrick.
All of this is consciously designed by Starmer and the right wing to demonstrate to the ruling class that Labour’s ‘new management’ can be the safe pair of hands that they are looking for to guide British capitalism through the storms and stresses ahead.
Throw out this rotten system
Neither the Tories nor Starmer’s Labour, however, have any solutions to the present impasse. As capitalism descends ever-deeper into crisis, the only thing that establishment politicians can offer the working class is austerity, attacks, and counter-reforms.
Inflation, migration, and Omicron: these are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is to come. Titanic events impend. And these will shake the political landscape – and, in turn, the consciousness of workers and youth.
The missing ingredient is a bold, militant, revolutionary leadership that can offer a way forward, linking these struggles together into a determined fight against this degenerate government; against the bankrupt capitalist system; and for a clear socialist alternative.
This is the vital task in front of us: to build the forces of Marxism, in Britain and internationally. We invite all our readers to join us in this urgent endeavour.