THE SCENE has been set for today’s budget by the crash of the stockmarkets on Monday March 9th when trillions of pounds were wiped off global stock markets in what is being called a ‘New Black Monday’.
More than £124 billion was wiped off the FTSE100, the biggest crash since 2008. Wall Street trading was temporarily suspended for the first time in 12 years touching off a worldwide crash that saw stocks crashing, losing over £1.5 trillion.
Jason Gammell at American investment bank Jefferies commented: ‘The Saudi decision to open the taps comes at the worst possible moment. The demand shock from Covid-19 has already plunged the crude market into massive over supply.’ He added: ‘Finding a floor in this unprecedented situation will be a challenge.’
Meanwhile, Italy has gone into complete lockdown over the coronavirus, with British Airways cancelling all flights to Italy, while France has declared ‘illegal’ all gatherings of over 1,000.
It is in this crisis situation that UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is delivering his budget. The Daily Telegraph has already told him what his choice should be in its Monday editorial headed: ‘Should we follow the Italian example?’
It answers its own question stating: ‘But the Economic Response is as critical as the medical. Unnecessarily harsh controls could prove more damaging than the disease. For instance, the Government has said that sick pay must be paid immediately, without stating yet how small businesses will manage the cashflow issues that will entail. The chancellor needs to spell that out on Wednesday.’
Paying sick pay could prove to be more damaging than the deaths of large numbers of pensioners and others who are stricken by the virus says the Telegraph!
Capitalism and its adherents are only interested in profits. In fact, the coronavirus has ushered in the greatest ever crisis of capitalism, threatening the lives and jobs of millions of workers.
Already thousands of UK steel workers, over 2,000 Flybe workers and a large number of motor car workers have lost their jobs.
In a recent letter from Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner to the Tory business secretary Alok Sharma, Turner wrote: ‘We are of the view that if the situation in China does not improve over the coming three to four weeks, UK automotive plants will be entering periods of short-time working and/or enforced production shutdown.’
This situation is now well on the way, and Sunak’s budget will not lift a finger to stop it since the Tory view expressed by the Telegraph is that this ‘could prove more damaging than the disease.’
The working class must take action to defend itself.
The trade unions must form Councils of Action in every town and city, uniting trade unions and the masses of workers, not only to stop closures and job losses but to reinstate and reopen closed hospitals and and vital NHS departments, including hundreds of A&Es.
One of the features of the crisis in Italy is that the health service has been cut to pieces by reactionary governments leaving the people at the mercy of the
In the UK the NHS has had the same treatment at the hands of capitalist governments. The NHS has lost over 400,000 beds and seen hospital closures and the closure of vital emergency departments on a massive sale. Councils of Action must make sure that these lost beds are restored.
Councils of Action must also organise the occupation of factories and plants that are threatened with closure and keep them open and running under workers’ control demanding that they be nationalised.
In fact, the working class must be prepared to bring down the Tories with a general strike and bring in a workers’ government to put an end to capitalism and bring in a socialist planned economy.
On March 17 the result of the Royal Mail strike ballot will be announced. There will be a vote for strike action and the issue will then be referred to the Law Courts that will no doubt decide that the strike is
This must be the signal for all trade unions to take a stand with the Royal Mail workers and launch a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism. This will show the way forward to the workers of the world.