THE row over the Tories so-called ‘pasty tax’ has become a dangerous diversion in the hands of the Labour leadership who are intent on portraying Cameron and Osborne as a pair of upper class twits.
This row, over VAT on hot pies and pasties, has degenerated into a farce with Labour MPs demanding to know whether Osborne has ever visited a Greggs shop or Cameron ever eaten a pasty.
However, at the same time that Labour MPs were waving pasties at the Tories, the Health and Social Care bill, which opens up the NHS to complete privatisation, was passed into law.
When the announcement was made in parliament that this bill had received the royal assent, it was greeted with shouts of ‘shame’ from Labour MPs – in fact, the shame is on the Labour and trade union leaders who preached throughout the 14 months the bill took to become law that opposition to it had to be confined to parliament and the House of Lords.
The working class was assured that the bill could be defeated by a combination of dissident Lib/Dem MPs and peers. This led to the ‘fight’ against it being restricted by the TUC to protest demonstrations designed merely to put ‘pressure’ on the Tories and embarrass the Liberals into some form of rebellion.
It was because of this refusal to fight that the ‘upper class twits’ won. The Bill is law and very soon we will be involved in a life and death fight to stop hospitals being closed and the NHS privatised.
This government is no joke; what Cameron and Osborne are seeking to do is to re-run the Tory onslaught against the working class along the lines of Thatcher’s war against the unions in the 1980s.
Like Thatcher, Cameron is going all out to provoke a confrontation with the unions. This has emerged clearly with the stoking up of the proposed oil tanker strike and the preparations to use the army as strike-breakers in the event of a stoppage.
With the government’s emergency Cobra committee meeting to draw up strike-breaking plans and the cabinet minister, Francis Maude, attempting to panic people by urging them to stockpile petrol in their garages, Cameron hopes to provoke a strike and inflict a huge defeat on Unite.
Such a defeat is absolutely required if they are to begin to drive through all the cuts that the banks and bankrupt British capitalism are demanding.
The huge problem for them is that this is not the 1980s.
Then, Thatcher had the advantage of being able to prepare for four years to take on the miners; British capitalism was not bankrupt and she was able to utilise the entire wealth generated by North Sea oil in her war against the working class.
Crucially, she had the prior agreement of the leadership of the trade unions that they would do everything possible to hold back their members from joining the miners and bringing down the government.
Even with all these advantages it was a close-run thing – Thatcher could not defeat the NUM in 1985 and it was only through the treachery of the TUC leaders who actively betrayed the miners’ strike that she survived.
Today, Cameron has none of these advantages – North Sea oil has gone and British capitalism is weak and bankrupt and, unlike Thatcher who could pick off one union at a time, the crisis means that Cameron is faced with taking on every section of the working class simultaneously.
This situation has led to factions of the ruling class getting the jitters, and openly doubting whether Cameron can do the job, and even wondering whether the Labour leaders should be involved in forming a national government, led by Cameron, Miliband and Clegg.
With the natural rulers wobbling, the ruling class has never been weaker – all they have in their favour is the continued treachery of the trade union leaders.
The urgent and immediate task facing the working class today is not to treat the Tories as a joke but to smash them through the organisation of a general strike and replace them with a workers’ government. This is the way forward.