Instead of addressing the cost-of-living crisis facing the working class, this year’s Queen’s Speech, outlining the government’s legislative agenda, was packed with red meat for Tory backbenchers. We must fight their culture war with class war.
Whilst the working class is being mercilessly ground down by the cost-of-living crisis, a bejewelled crown estimated to be worth between £3-5 billion was privately chauffeured to the Houses of Parliament for the Queen’s speech last week.
Sitting atop a chair plated with gold, Prince Charles stood in for the ailing Queen in delivering the head of state’s annual speech, written by the government to lay out their legislative agenda for the year ahead.
Peeling away the thick veneer of royal pomp and grandeur – and examining the actual content of the Tories’ reactionary proposals – we see a government rocked to the core by scandals: desperate to distract the public with a never-ending ‘culture war’, and to appease its own increasingly mutinous backbenchers with lashings of red meat.
Notably absent from this year’s speech were any concrete solutions to the cost-of-living catastrophe, other than a vague promise to “grow and strengthen the economy”.
Cutting through the bluff and bluster that is so characteristic of the current Prime Minister, the fact is that the UK economy is heading towards a deep crisis of stagflation, predicted to experience the slowest growth in the G7 over the next year.
The real character of the Tories’ programme is revealed in phrases such as “responsible approach to the public finances” and “reducing debt”: euphemisms for further austerity and attacks on the working class.
Whilst Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak look to present the working class with the bill for capitalism’s crises, the Tories’ billionaire backers continue to enjoy lucrative government contracts and windfall profits.
The energy monopolies, for example, are currently making record profits. Meanwhile, millions of working-class households are being plunged into fuel poverty.
All the while, hanging onto the coattails of US imperialism, Johnson’s government continues to shell out millions of pounds on sending arms to Ukraine – a desperate attempt to hide British imperialism’s status as a third-rate power, reflecting the decline and decay of British capitalism.
Having been thrown from pillar to post by a barrage of crises and scandals, the Tories are increasingly looking to whip up a culture war in order to divide and distract the working class from the establishment’s own crimes.
As David Canzini, a senior adviser to the PM, stated: “The [Tory] party needs to focus on wedge issues and hammer them.” And by “wedge issues”, he of course means cynical attempts to divert the public’s anger away from this utterly corrupt, rotten government.
That is why, instead of any measures aimed at tackling rising living costs, this year’s speech was packed with reactionary, racist policies: doubling down on Home Office repression against migrants; further strengthening police powers against protestors; and banning public bodies that campaign for boycotts, on the grounds that these “undermine community cohesion”.
Whilst the Tories attempt to divide the working class with ‘wedge issues’, however, the current inflation crisis is highlighting that the real divide in society is between the exploited and the exploiters; between the working class and capitalist class.
Instead of a culture war, therefore, we are seeing an increasingly bitter class war, with workers and youth mobilising and moving into united struggle against their common foe: the bosses and billionaires.
A key part of the speech was dedicated to laying out the Tory’s flagship policy of ‘levelling up’. But despite grandiose statements about developing infrastructure and housing across the country, ‘levelling up’ has thus far amounted to little but a cascade of broken promises. And the government’s latest wave of pledges is no different.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, for example, even contains a clause that allows the government’s targets to be ditched if they are proving difficult to achieve!
Also included in the Queen’s Speech were pledges to “modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers”. But these ring hollow considering the Tories have cut over £2bn from the rail industry in the past year alone, leading to the prospect of a nation rail strike in the months ahead.
Where a start has been made on infrastructure projects, as is the case with sections of HS2, these have been used as yet another means for the Tories to syphon off millions from the public purse, into the hands of their chums and cronies.
The only way to truly ‘level up’ is to take ownership and control of the economy out of the hands of parasitic profiteers, and to plan production along socialist lines, according to the democratically-decided needs of the working class.
Underlying this year’s speech was a sense of desperation. In spite of its 80 seat majority, this is a government of crisis, with Boris Johnson caught between the sharpening knives of his own backbenchers and the growing militancy of the working class.
The deepening crisis of capitalism is having a profound impact on the consciousness of workers and youth. An immense anger is accumulating in society. And despite the ruling class’ best efforts to divert this with a ‘war on woke’, this discontent and outrage is rightly being aimed instead at the Tory government and their billionaire backers.
What is needed is a Marxist leadership to help channel this explosive energy in a revolutionary direction – to overthrow this degenerate Tory government, and the bankrupt capitalist system that they represent.