TORY ministers are in a state of despair over the complete inability of the Johnson government to come up with any measures to ‘help’ the millions of people in the UK facing raging inflation and a cost of living crisis that is plunging them into extreme poverty, leading to fears of a massive eruption of anger threatening the Tory government.
One cabinet source told the Guardian newspaper that there is a ‘rift’ between Prime Minister Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and that the pair are locked in a ‘mano-a-mano’ (hand-to-hand combat) stand-off over introducing a windfall tax on energy companies.
The issue of a windfall tax has taken hold and is splitting the Tory Party apart, with the right-wing vehemently opposed to even a one-off tax on the rich while Sunak has apparently been won over to the idea, despite the fact that it is the policy of the Labour Party leadership.
The reason it has become so attractive to both Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer is the hope that a windfall tax on the massive profits being made by the energy companies would provide a diversion from the growing demand for these giant companies to be nationalised.
It was adopted by Starmer after last year’s Labour conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of nationalising energy companies – in defiance of Starmer who immediately declared he would ignore the vote.
The Labour Party is calling for a one-off levy applied only to North Sea oil and gas producers, which would raise at best £2 billion.
This is a drop in the ocean for the oil and gas companies which have more than doubled their profits as a result of the increased price of energy driven by the sanctions imposed on Russia.
Higher gas prices have driven up the cost of electricity, and the government itself estimates that electricity producers have made over £10 billion in excess profits as a result.
Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Chevron have between them reported £22 billion in profits during the first three months of this year alone.
These companies are making super-profits and handing out billions to their shareholders, while millions of working class families in the UK are being thrown into fuel poverty.
On a global scale, a report by the charity Shelter yesterday revealed that the wealth of food and energy billionaires had shot up by $453 billion in the past two years due to the soaring price of energy and food commodities, now accelerated by the imperialist onslaught on Russia.
In the face of this reality, the whole idea that a one-off windfall tax to raise £2 billion is not just inadequate but an obscene joke. Even if it did find its way to those on benefits – extremely unlikely as it would undoubtedly disappear into the coffers of the Treasury never to be seen again – it would come nowhere near the £5 billion Sunak ‘saved’ by cutting £20 a week off Universal Credit last year.
Yesterday Ofgem, the energy regulator, told MPs that the energy price cap will surge to £2,888 in October up from the current level of £1,971.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley acknowledged how ‘distressing’ this massive hike will be for households already suffering fuel poverty.
The working class won’t just be distressed at being forced to live in ever-growing poverty – where they can’t afford the cost of food or the cost of even cooking vegetables – but will be driven to action against a capitalist system that offers them nothing but hunger and poverty.
Workers will never accept seeing their children go hungry and cold while the capitalist class make billions out of this crisis and their sufferings.
With the Tory government weak and tearing itself apart while the Labour Party offers nothing but a windfall tax to try and hold back the anger of workers, the time is ripe for the trade unions to take action by calling a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government.
A workers’ government will not just tax the capitalists but expropriate them by nationalising the basic industries and the banks under the management of the working class in a socialist planned economy.