ANYONE naive enough to believe for one second the promise made by the new Tory leader that dumping former chancellor George Osborne and replacing him with Philip Hammond would usher in a ‘relaxation’ of austerity got a rude awakening this week when it was made clear that there will be no let up in cuts especially in the NHS.
The very fact that May left the hated Jeremy Hunt as health secretary, a man who has a long record of demanding the privatisation of the NHS, is clear evidence that the war he started against the medical profession – with the imposition of wage cutting contracts on, first, the junior doctors, before proceeding to every other NHS employee – is going to be seen through to the finish.
This was underlined this week by the head of NHS Improvement, Jim Mackey in an interview with the Health Service Journal (HSJ), where he made it clear that, for the Tories, improvement equals cuts to staffing and funding.
Mackey promised that nurses would be sacked in order to cut the wages bill, and meet the new financial targets due to be laid out shortly, in a ‘NHS financial reset’ announcement. Mackey described current levels of medical staffing required to run a health service that meets the needs of patients, as merely ‘aspirational’.
Staffing levels are already cut to the bone, with A&E departments collapsing under the weight of shortages, and the massive increase in workloads caused by the closure of departments in other hospitals. The further sackings and cuts, outlined by Mackey, will open the door wide for Hunt and the Tories to declare that the NHS has failed, and privatisation is the only remedy.
While Mackey was quite open about these intentions, Theresa May was forced to be more circumspect. With the working class delivering an almighty blow to the ruling class by voting to leave the EU and rising up against austerity, she has been forced to don the mantle of ‘one nation Conservatism’, while at the same time assembling a cabinet that precariously balances between Brexiteers and Remainers.
This Tory government, with its tiny majority, is an uneasy alliance between warring factions of the ruling class. The political crisis of the ruling class today is that its unstable, split and divided Tory government is going to have to lead the war against the working class, a war in which the NHS is the most prominent battleground.
Looming over and driving this political crisis is the rapidly developing financial crisis that is threatening the entire capitalist system. The major European banks are on the verge of collapse with the giant German Deutsche Bank effectively bankrupt, with record losses of 6.8 billion euros in 2015, leading to the IMF saying last week, that the interlinking of Deutsche Bank with the world’s biggest lenders makes it ‘the most important net contributor to systemic risks’ for the entire financial system.
With all the other major banks like City Bank, RBS, Lloyds and Barclays being forced to admit to similar debts in the form of ‘bad loans’, a catastrophic banking crash that will dwarf that of 2008 is on the way. May’s unstable regime is facing the job of dumping this crash onto the backs of the working and middle classes through even greater austerity cuts, despite everything that they are saying now!
The only thing she and the ruling class can rely upon is the willing complicity of the right-wing of the Labour Party to keep them in power. These Blairites are determined to split the Labour Party at a time when the Tories are weakest and when they should be demanding a general election to kick them out, they are planning forming a national government. This situation demands that the trades unions act decisively.
They must declare their 100% support for Corbyn, make sure that he wins the leadership election, and begin campaigning right now for an Autumn general election. This is the way forward towards the aim of a workers government and socialism!