THE working class is rising up to defend the Welfare State. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of workers and members of the public took to the streets in towns and cities all over Britain after NHS Together was at last forced to call a day of action.
Last week in London, pensioners stormed Lambeth Town Hall and protesters in Camden forced their way into the council chamber after being told they couldn’t present their objections to £23 million cuts in vital local services.
The local newspaper ‘Camden New Journal’ reported: ‘The refusal to let them watch the unfolding debate led to unbridled fury.’ The Mayor’s ceremonial mace was apparently tossed to the floor.
The anger in Camden and Lambeth is the tip of a very big iceberg. Everywhere, workers are saying enough is enough, that something has to be done before the Welfare State is liquidated.
The content of this struggle is the world capitalist crisis and its impact on Britain, which is rapidly sharpening the class struggle, producing revolution.
The British ruling class and its right-wing Labour agents are ruthlessly pursuing an agenda of destroying all the gains of the working class since the Second World War and wiping out basic democratic rights, in order to dramatically push up the rate of exploitation, to try and rescue British capitalism from the abyss it is falling into.
Last week there was a dramatic collapse of share prices in the City of London and across the world. The spectre of the 1929 Wall Street crash is raising its head once again.
As far as the ruling class is concerned, the working class must be driven back. They want workers to accept paying for health care and education, the return of ruthless private landlords and charity for the unemployed, elderly and poor.
The NHS is one of the main barriers that stand in the way of this counter-revolutionary drive. The NHS is supported by the working class and the masses of middle-class people, who are also being pauperised by the capitalist crisis.
The ruling class is determined to do away with the NHS to help pay the costs for the murderous war for oil in Iraq and the cost of maintaining Britain in nuclear arms and aircraft carriers, to remain the junior partner of American imperialism.
As the working class moves into action to defend the NHS and all these services, it is confronted by both the Labour government and right-wing trade union leaders who are slaves to capitalism.
Then there are the liberals leading some of the NHS protests who are now promoting the Tories, getting Tory MPs and councillors to speak at rallies, and generally implying that Thatcher’s party will save the NHS.
In this situation of a collapsing Blair government and a rising working class, the question of working-class leadership, prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defeat Blair and keep the Tories out, is the question of the hour.
What is needed is decisive leadership and decisive action.
The first requires the rapid building up of the WRP.
The second requires the immediate formation of Councils of Action in every area – bringing together communities and trade unions and all those in the fight – to organise occupations of closure-threatened hospitals and other local services.
The interpenetration of a rapid growth of the WRP and the formation of Councils of Action to organise occupations will drive forward the campaign for national strike action to bring down the Blair-Brown government and replace it with a workers’ government that will defend and develop the NHS and the Welfare State.
Councils of Action will form the basis of a workers’ government that will safeguard the Welfare State and drive out all the privateers brought into the NHS by Blair, by nationalising the drug companies and banks and carrying out socialist measures. This is the way forward.