ON MONDAY night, prime minister Boris Johnson decreed that England’s third national lockdown would legally come into force on Tuesday night with parliament called upon to retrospectively vote its approval of these new laws the following day.
The fact that Johnson carried these laws out by decree without recourse to any parliamentary vote raises the question of what other ‘national emergencies’ will be dealt with in this dictatorial fashion by the Tories?
After all, it was not impossible for Johnson to recall parliament on Tuesday to debate and pass this legislation and implement it immediately that night. Instead he chose to deliberately by-pass parliament, using it as a mere rubber stamp.
The Tories are moving towards an entirely new form of rule whereby laws are decreed by the prime minister and imposed without any recourse to Parliament. This becomes a dangerous precedent when the laws being imposed by diktat are aimed not at fighting the coronavirus but war on the working class.
There is no question that a war to impose the crisis of a bankrupt capitalist system onto the backs of workers will not be postponed for much longer.
Already the new £4.6bn business support package from Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak has been dismissed by the bosses as just a ‘sticking plaster’ that will do nothing to stop mass unemployment, as businesses and corporations crash under the impact of the economic crisis.
Kate Nicholls, of UK Hospitality, said: ‘This will be a sticking plaster for many businesses. The key difference between the first lockdown and now is that the last time companies were going into it from a cash-rich position but this time around the tank is empty.’
These companies are existing entirely on debt and handouts from the government that have reached the end of the road and Sunak’s budget, due on March 3, will be the date when the Tories carry out their long-term plan to make the working class pay.
Sunak has made it clear that ‘sustainable’ public finances means slashing public spending, imposing wage cuts and letting the crisis rip through the economy. Driving the working class into the gutter of mass unemployment and poverty is the only option for capitalism.
So far it has been kept going entirely through debt, with the Bank of England printing trillions of worthless paper money to buy up government debt.
According to City economists, the Bank is already buying up £4.4 billion of UK debt a week due to the last £150 billion ‘stimulus’ programme and the latest round will push this even higher.
This financing of state debt by simply printing money cannot continue indefinitely. It leads inevitably to hyper-inflation where the currency becomes worthless overnight – exactly what happened in Germany in the 1920s. The ruling class knows this and it knows imposing savage austerity on workers will not be achieved peacefully.
This impending war between the classes is what lies behind Johnson’s dismissal of the fig-leaf of parliamentary democracy this week, with ‘Labour leader’ Starmer acting as his doormat.
New laws to outlaw trade unions from taking any actions against wage cutting and unemployment will simply be announced on television with no opposition allowed – not that the right wing of the Labour Party has any intention of doing anything to oppose rescuing capitalism at the expense of workers.
While this week saw the emergence of a new form of rule by the Tories it also saw the strength of the working class dramatically demonstrated.
Johnson was adamant that schools would remain open – it was the strength of the teaching unions instructing their members not to reopen schools that forced Johnson to change his policy overnight in a humiliating climb-down.
This demonstrated conclusively that when a firm leadership is given the organised working class is more powerful than any government or any ruling class.
The immediate issue is now to expel all those union leaders who refuse to lead any fight and to build a new revolutionary leadership in the trade unions that is prepared to go all the way in organising the massive power of the working class in a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government and a socialist planned economy.