PRIME Minister Boris Johnson is now in intensive care at St Thomas’ hospital, laid low by the coronovirus, perfectly reflecting the state of British capitalism which is in its greatest crisis ever – despite much intensive care!
Inevitably, a struggle for the leadership of the Tory Party and government is now under way, since the rapidly deepening crisis of world capitalism is intensifying and will not wait for Johnson’s fate to be decided.
The coronavirus pandemic is triggering a global slump bigger than the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data.
The Index found that manufacturing and services sectors in key geographical areas, including the UK, US and the eurozone, saw record falls in activity during March. The UK figure dropped from 53.0 in February to 36.0 in March.
Andrew Wishart, an economist at Capital Economics, said the PMIs were probably underestimating the scale of the economic fallout. ‘We are forecasting a 15% fall’ in economic output in the period from April to June, he said, ‘a larger fall in output than in the financial crisis or the Great Depression.’
Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the Italian and Spanish figures show the slump might worsen in April, when the level of infections is expected to peak in those countries. As for the UK figures, he said: ‘In one line: horrendous, and probably not reflecting the full devastation.’ The comparable figure for the US hit a new low of 40.9 in March, down from 49.6 in February.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: ‘The policy response to the economic damage from the virus has already been unprecedented, but the collapse in business expectations for the year ahead tells us that companies are expecting far worse to come. IHS Markit is now forecasting an around 5.5% contraction of US GDP in 2020.’
In this crisis situation British capitalism is heading for a national government to rescue capitalism by forcing the working class and the middle class into pauperisation. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described Johnson’s illness as ‘terribly sad news’. Starmer is awaiting the call for him and other Labourites to join a ‘save the nation’ national government. Indeed, his just-selected shadow cabinet is a preparation for such a call.
Starmer has appointed former Labour leader Ed Miliband to his new shadow cabinet as Business Secretary. Miliband lost a general election in 2010 after Gordon Brown rescued the banks in 2008 ushering in 12 years of austerity.
In Monday’s announcement, Starmer confirmed the rest of his frontbench, including Blair-era minister David Lammy as the new Shadow Justice Secretary, John Healey as Shadow Defence Secretary, and Jonathan Reynolds as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
Miliband, who served under Gordon Brown, wrote on Twitter that he was ‘looking forward to serving … alongside such a talented team.’ He said everyone must ‘focus on playing our part’ to tackle the coronavirus outbreak but added: ‘We cannot go back to business as usual after this crisis.’
Starmer has overseen a clear-out of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies while appointing Lord Falconer – another link to Labour’s Blair-Brown bankers’ governments – who becomes Shadow Attorney General.
Announcing the appointments, Starmer said he was ‘proud’ of his shadow cabinet adding: ‘This is a new team that will be relentlessly focused on acting in the national interest to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding Labour so that it can win the next election.’
This is nonsense. He is not waiting for five years and a general election. He is getting ready for a national government. Such a government will be deeply reactionary as it will be holding down the working class and the middle class as they come under the most savage attacks ever from the big bosses and bankers.
Workers must oppose the establishment of any national government and must fight within the trade unions to remove the TUC leaders who are 100% in favour of a a national government.
The only government that can save the UK from disaster is a workers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and bring in a planned socialist economy. Many workers in Europe, in France, Germany, Spain, Greece and Italy, and in the USA feel exactly the same way as the vast majority of UK workers.
Now is the time to build sections of the Fourth International worldwide to put an end to crisis-ridden capitalism by leading the world socialist revolution to its victory.