THE Tories this week pushed through parliament their plans for ‘English votes for English laws’ under which only English MPs would have the right to vote on laws which the Speaker of the House of Commons determines to affect only England.
At a stroke, the Tories have torn up the centuries of Parliamentary procedure and, in the words of Labour shadow leader of the House Chris Bryant, introduced a ‘charter for the end of the union’. Another Labour MP, Kevin Brennan, demanded that in future the Speaker issue MPs with different coloured passes to make clear who would be banned from voting, while the SNP claimed that the Tories had turned them into ‘second class’ MPs and had ‘ended the union’.
This assessment does not begin to describe the crisis that is ripping British capitalism apart. Smashed up by the world economic crisis of capitalism, the British ruling class are incapable today of holding the United Kingdom together and the Tory plans are a political reflection of this crisis. The historic implications of this cannot be underestimated.
The modern capitalist state developed out of the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707. The centralisation of the United Kingdom was a tremendous historical step forward for capitalism and was essential to the development of Great Britain into the most powerful capitalist nation in the world.
While other European countries remained split up into warring principalities and tiny kingdoms, the United Kingdom had achieved the political structures necessary for the dynamic growth of capitalism. Britain, on this political basis, became the most advanced and powerful capitalist nation in the world while its potential rivals wallowed in medieval disunity.
It became the workshop of the world and in its imperial heyday during the 19th century dominated the known world. Now things have been transformed into their opposite. From its position of imperialist domination, British capitalism has sunk into economic senility.
From being the workshop of the world, it can no longer sustain any manufacturing industry – the closure of the steel industry this week represented the end of all large-scale manufacturing in the country. So bankrupt is British capitalism today that it cannot finance any industry and instead is wholly reliant on begging the Chinese government to put money into such things as building nuclear plants in the country.
This speaks volumes for the superiority of the nationalised economy of China established by the Chinese revolution and which retains its strength despite the Stalinist leadership. Faced with the collapse of British capitalism, the ruling class are forced to break with the old forms of rule and break up the very union that laid the foundation for capitalist development.
Instead of a United Kingdom, the ruling class have calculated that England, which they reckon controls 80% of the wealth of the country in the form of the banking and financial sector centred in London, will have to ‘go it alone’, while Scotland, Wales and the rest can sink. The Tory plan is to build an exclusively English parliament on the basis that England has all the money and that only in an English parliament can the Tories hope to maintain a majority, so hated are they in the rest of the country. From this base they intend to wage war on the whole working class.
The weakness and bankruptcy of British capitalism expressed in this drive to smash up all that was once progressive in a desperate attempt to survive proves concretely that capitalism has no future, especially as far as the working class is concerned. Capitalism has reached the end of the road economically and politically and its only future as far as the ruling class is concerned is to turn the clock back hundreds of years, overthrow parliamentary democracy and retreat to its ‘stronghold’ in the City of London. However, there is no hiding place for this bankrupt ruling class!
The future rests with the working class. Forward with the British socialist revolution! Forward to the UK workers republic!