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James Ivens

Roll up, roll up, and place your bets – at the great pandemic wheel of fortune! Red, you win the virus; black, you lose your job. Don’t fancy the odds? Too late! The government has made a wager on your behalf.

Or how about a hand of lockdown poker? Stop the spread or open the economy; packed queues at work or social isolation at home – it’s dealer’s choice! Unfortunately, only Tory ministers are permitted to deal. Sorry – house rules!

And here’s the secret: the house always wins. While workers risk whiplash following the back and forth on pandemic restrictions, it’s our livelihoods – and our lives – the bosses and their politicians are gambling with.

The world feels like it’s spiralling into chaos despite most of us doing our best to stop it. But while we suffer the risks and the restrictions, the dole queues and the disease, the capitalists are still cashing in.

Billionaires in the US sucked up another $845 billion of wealth during the pandemic’s first six months. Union buster Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, has moved to Monaco to dodge tax.

Winners and losers

If you feel like you play the game but never win, you’re right. If you feel like the restrictions and exemptions can be arbitrary and unfair, you’re right.

So the rules of the game need to change. Workers and our unions have the power to change them.

Instead of employment roulette, we demand work or full pay. Instead of coronavirus lottery, we fight for workers’ control of workplace safety. Instead of one rule for us and another for Dominic Cummings, we call for democratic oversight of lockdown measures by unions and communities.

The capitalist casino issued billions of free chips to big business when the bosses’ luck turned. We know the resources are there. We just need to build a movement to fight for them.

For public ownership and democratic planning, not capitalism’s Covid casino. Join the Socialists, and together we can beat the house.