ON TUESDAY, Tory PM Boris Johnson narrowly avoided defeat on a motion to cut UK foreign aid after a rebellion by Tory MPs.
In the debate, Johnson insisted the cut was essential as chancellor Rishi Sunak has had to ‘find over £407 billion’ during the pandemic to prevent British capitalism from drowning in ‘its deepest recession in history’.
In fact the £4 billion the Tories intend saving is just 1% of the amount of money borrowed by the government last year.
Two former Tory leaders, John Major and Theresa May, joined the rebellion, with Major condemning the cut at the same time that the government was planning to spend over £200 million on buying a new ‘national yacht’.
May accused the Johnson government of ‘turning its back on some of the poorest in the world.’
The outrage expressed by these Tory MPs cannot disguise the fact that alongside these humanitarian appeals is the underlying fear of Britain losing its ‘seat at the top table’ of western capitalist countries and seeing a decline in any influence from ‘soft power’.
Soft power is the term for using aid to poorer nations to extend the influence of British interests in trade and national security.
The idea is that British aid programmes will help to reduce suffering, thereby reducing the grievances of the people that could harm the interests of British imperialism.
The brutal truth is that the wealthy capitalist states have long used foreign aid as a way of pursuing foreign policy objectives either through the ‘soft’ approach or through ‘hard power.’
Aid can be withdrawn to create economic hardship and destabilise an unfriendly country or, on the other hand, it can be provided to bolster and reward a compliant regime.
It is no accident that one of the biggest recipients of UK foreign aid has been the puppet regime in Afghanistan, in a vain attempt to prop it up following the invasion by US and British imperialism.
The real bloody hypocrisy of British capitalism is in the aid given to the people of Yemen who face what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and which will lose 60% of UK humanitarian aid.
In July last year, the Tories resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and authorised £1.4 billion of arms sales to the country, including £1.36 billion for missiles and bombs to be used to kill and maim hundreds of thousands of Yemeni men, women and children.
A spokesman for Oxfam said the decision to cut foreign aid was ‘a disaster for the world’s poorest people’ and accused Tory ministers of ‘undermining the UK’s credibility on the international stage’. In fact British capitalism has no credibility anywhere.
It is bankrupt and desperate to try and pay off the massive debts run up to bail-out industry and the banks, as Sunak admitted during Tuesday’s debate.
The £4 billion saved by the cut in foreign aid is just a drop in the ocean compared to the £407 billion the government was forced to borrow just last year.
Sunak is preparing to make the rest of the billions of pounds of savings needed to ‘balance the books’ by inflicting poverty and destitution on the working class at home.
Wage-cutting pay freezes, along with the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit (UC), are just the beginning.
Millions of workers and their families in the UK face starvation levels of wages and benefits as the Tories prepare to dump the full burden of saving a bankrupt capitalist system from collapse under the debt mountain and the biggest recession in 300 years.
The working class in Britain stand in the same trench as the workers and poor of the world and face a common enemy – a world capitalist system that is in its death throes.
The only way to abolish poverty and suffering at home and throughout the world is to put an end to capitalism through the victory of the world socialist revolution.
Its victory requires the building of the revolutionary leadership, sections of the Fourth International in every country. There is not a moment to lose!