Fight for a socialist alternative


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When is action inaction? When the Tories do a massive U-turn on lockdown and extending the furlough, but are too split and rotten to make it effective in protecting our health and livelihoods.

Make no bones about it, this was a huge climbdown and will have further widened the massive chasms within the Tory party. Just look at them squabbling over when the lockdown will end. In truth, just like Brexit, they have no roadmap. The main reason behind their ineptitude is that their system, capitalism, is in deep, deep crisis with no clear way out.

Yet they cling on. A child could tell you that prioritising profit in health has bad outcomes – apart from for the profiteers. Serco has swallowed £12 billion, and we still have no functioning test-and-trace system. Stressed-out, worn-out NHS workers fighting for a 15% pay rise could probably think of a much better use for that money. Left to the Tories, the health service is in danger of being clapped out.

And it is laughable – or cryable – to hear Tory MPs say that it’s concern for the poorest kids that has motivated them to keep the schools open. The vote against extending free school meals sort of gave that away. This is about keeping parents at work to keep the profits flowing for big business.

It is also obvious that you can’t ask people to self-isolate if that means their children will go hungry. So the next U-turn we need is for work or 100% pay, including a massive programme of socially useful job creation to staunch the youth joblessness threat. Work could also be shared out – with no loss of pay.

Such a programme, including democratic working-class and trade union oversight of all measures taken under the pandemic, is essential, and must be organised and fought for, including with strike action where necessary.

It’s argued that you can’t prioritise health and jobs at the same time – but you can. What you can’t do is prioritise the health and living standards of the majority while also, as the Tories do, defending the obscene profits of the mega-rich. Let’s remember, while we experienced a decade of austerity, pay-outs to the shareholders of the 100 biggest companies doubled to £110 billion a year!

At the end of July, Britain’s billionaires’ combined fortune was £156.6 billion, up 34.7% on last year! A one-off 50% wealth tax would raise billions. But nationalisation – under democratic working-class control and management – of the top 125 companies and banks that dominate the economy would really provide the basis to begin planning production, and using resources to prioritise health and living standards.