With increased borrowing, exports falling and the British economy in
recession, the Tory-led Coalition is heading for a major showdown with
the working class.
The Tories have already launched their attack on “lazy British workers”,
who need to be taught a hard lesson in hard work. They have branded
British workers “the worse idlers” in the world and said that we should
emulate the work ethic of Asia. In other words, we need to stop shirking
and work harder and longer for less pay and pensions. However, for us
to “compete” with Asia – on the same pay and conditions – means a race
to the bottom.
With increased borrowing, exports falling and the British economy in recession, the Tory-led Coalition is heading for a major showdown with the working class.
The Tories have already launched their attack on “lazy British workers”, who need to be taught a hard lesson in hard work. They have branded British workers “the worse idlers” in the world and said that we should emulate the work ethic of Asia. In other words, we need to stop shirking and work harder and longer for less pay and pensions. However, for us to “compete” with Asia – on the same pay and conditions – means a race to the bottom.
“Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world,” say the Tory MPs. “We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor.” According to them, the country is being dragged down by a “bloated public sector”, “years of excessive spending” and “increasingly large public sector pensions”.
This advice is especially galling coming from people who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives. Their upper class backgrounds and life-styles are a million light-years away from those of working people.
Of course, this talk of “lazy workers” is in any case all lies. In reality, workers in Britain work the longest hours, have the shortest holidays, retire later and have the worse pensions in Europe.
This bosses’ strategy has emerged from the new breed of Tory “class warriors”, fresh into parliament, who have laid out their vision in a new book entitled ‘Britannia Unchained’.
The authors include Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elisabeth Truss, privileged brats and upstarts who come from the New Tory Right. They demand new “reforms”, which is the new terminology for “counter-reforms” in the workplace. The “pussyfooting” Cameron has not gone far enough! To start with, welfare benefits for the needy must be slashed to force people into minimum-wage jobs. In this way, the fortunes of Britain will apparently revive! What nonsense!
They are fans of Boris Johnson, the new Tory rival to the “soft” David Cameron. “Boris, when he talks about infrastructure projects, deregulation and cutting taxes, is absolutely on the money”, says Tory MP Kwarteng, a particularly apt choice of words. For them, it is money that makes their world go around, at the expense of everyone else.
Clearly, these privileged creatures want to destroy the welfare state, drive more people into poverty, cut public sector pensions and force workers to work longer and harder. They also want tax cuts for the rich, so the gulf between rich and poor can be even greater! This is their new vision for Britain.
We are to be driven back to Victorian times or even earlier! “We make a nation of helots”, wrote Adam Ferguson in his description of England in 1765. This is the Tories’ “back to the future” vision.
They have an absolute contempt for working people, who are wrongly blamed for the ills of Britain. In fact, it has been the failure of short-sighted British capitalists, who failed to invest and modernize industry, that has reduced Britain to a third rate power.
Today, British capitalism, under the stewardship of big business, can no longer afford the reforms of the past. All those basic things that went towards a semblance of a civilized society are to be done away with. That is the meaning of capitalist crisis.
These threats from this quarter, nevertheless, are a serious warning to working people. The rich and privileged have thrown down the gauntlet. The Labour movement must not turn a blind eye to this, but must lead the fight against the Tories and their Coalition. We should prepare for a “hot autumn” of demonstrations and strikes.
This rich man’s coalition, which is determined to make the workers pay for the crisis of their system, must be got rid of.
The national demonstration called by the TUC for 20 October must be a rallying point for the whole Labour movement. Such a monster demonstration would signal defiance to the government and its austerity programme.
However, this demonstration must not be a one-off event, but must be used as a springboard for a mass campaign to force a general election and get rid of this hated coalition. Such a campaign must be linked to a one-day general strike.
But we must also fight for a real alternative to capitalist austerity. On the basis of the market economy, there are only cuts, unemployment and falling living standards. We can see this in the crisis unfolding in Europe.
Already, UNITE, the biggest trade union in Britain, has come out in favour of the nationalisation of the banks. The UCU union has also voted for this policy. But we must not stop there.
Nationalisation of the banks alone will not solve our problems. In the context of capitalism, where the drive for profit rules, even such banks would only end up doing the bidding of the private sector. In theory, the Royal Bank of Scotland is owned by the government, but it acts no differently and has sacked its workers. Again, the experience of past nationalised industries, which were used to provide cheap fuel and transport for the rest of the capitalist economy, is not the kind of nationalisation we want.
We need to take over the commanding heights of the economy, the big industries and major monopolies that dominate our lives. These should be placed under democratic workers’ control and management. Only then can we plan the economy in the interests of the majority. Only then can we end unemployment, cut working hours, and create the wealth needed to increase our living standards.
In 1970, Jack Jones, the head of the Transport union, explained that by utilising the full capacity of the economy, the working week could be reduced to 20 hours. This would guarantee full employment.
Today, more than 40 years later, with nearly three million unemployed and millions forced to take part-time and “self-employed” work as there are no full-time jobs available, such a measure is now long over-due.
There is only one conclusion: The fight to replace this Tory Coalition must go hand in hand with the fight for socialist policies