WHATEVER the outcome of yesterday’s by-election in Eastleigh, it spells disaster for the Tory-led coalition government.
Should the LibDems scrape a win over the Tories then it will be a crisis for the Cameron leadership.
Should the Tories not just lose but come third behind the right-wing UKIP then the knives will be out for Cameron, as the senior Tory (and Cameron’s opponent in the leadership contest) David Davis made clear in a speech on Wednesday.
Conversely, should the Tories defeat the LibDems then Nick Clegg will be packing his bags as leader.
Whatever the result, the coalition cannot escape the political crisis that is ripping it apart.
Even more fundamental to the various scandals that have engulfed the coalition is the impact that the world economic crisis of capitalism is having.
The stripping by Moody’s rating agency of Britain’s triple-A status was a massive blow to the government and in particular to the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, who had staked everything on keeping it.
Cameron stated in parliament on Wednesday that this would make the coalition go ‘further and faster’ in reducing the deficit.
The only way they can go further and faster is to cut even more from public expenditure, to completely destroy the Welfare State and the benefit system while cutting even more jobs and driving down wages even further.
At a time when the government is at its weakest, split, divided and absolutely hated, it is steaming ahead with policies that will pauperise millions of workers, destroy the NHS, close hospitals and other essential services like the Fire Brigade – all in the cause of keeping the banks from collapsing.
The news this week that the Royal Bank of Scotland, virtually 100% owned by the public after it had to be rescued from bankruptcy, has made a further loss this year of £5.2 billion (while still managing to pay out bonuses of £287 million to investment bankers) is just an indication of the scale of the cuts that Cameron and Osborne are preparing to make.
With the coalition at its weakest and ripe for bringing down, the only thing that is keeping it in power and in a position to make the cuts capitalism is demanding, is the absolute refusal of the Labour and trade union leadership to do anything but prop it up.
Rather than calling for the immediate resignation of the government and an end to the cuts, Miliband and Balls have restricted themselves to calling for slightly less cuts delivered at a slower pace.
A Labour Party leaflet issued at a lobby in London last Monday over cuts to public services merely complained that the cuts were ‘too far and too fast’, a clear reassurance to the bankers and speculators that they are a ‘safe pair of hands’ when it comes to implementing attacks on the working class.
This treacherous subservience to the requirements of the bankers and capitalism is complemented by the TUC leadership which is restricting itself to putting pressure on the government to go easy on the cuts while at the same time refusing to call any action in defence of jobs or services.
At a time when the government and the capitalist system it represents are both collapsing under the impact of the crisis, now is not the time for passive servility, now is the time for the working class to take action in defence of its rights.
Now is the time to demand that the trade unions forcibly stop all collaboration with the destruction of services through a campaign of occupations and industrial action.
Every worker should attend and support the conference called by the News Line and the NE London Council of Action (see add page 1) to organise a campaign to defend services with a general strike to bring down the coalition and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
Central to this conference will be the building of a new and revolutionary leadership for the masses of the working class and youth capable of turning the massive public resistance and hostility to the Tory cuts into a conscious and successful struggle for workers’ power and socialism.