PM JOHNSON has put the blame for the coronavirus firmly on the people, when he warned on the TV that the NHS could be ‘overwhelmed’ if people do not act to slow the ‘accelerating’ spread of coronavirus, as he urged the UK not to visit mothers on Mother’s Day. The number of people who have died in the UK with coronavirus rose to 233 on Saturday, as cases topped 5,000.
In a message to the country on Saturday evening, Johnson said: ‘The numbers are very stark, and they are accelerating … The Italian death toll is already in the thousands and climbing. Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed.’
In fact, the Tories have butchered the NHS for the last 10 years, and NHS doctors say that they are currently being treated like cannon fodder, working without any protection! Johnson added the UK is only ‘two or three weeks behind Italy’ which has seen its death toll for the past month reach 4,825, the highest in the world.
The capitalist world is in fact agog at the virus that has shut down its world economy, bankrupting entire industries such as motor cars and air transport and threatening the rule of the capitalist class itself.
Today, Johnson’s Emergency Powers Bill is due to be nodded through the House of Commons with the support of the Labour Party. The powers enable the government to order the shut down of the UK’s ports and airports.
The government will have the power to restrict or ban any events or gatherings. The legislation states police and immigration officers will be given the power to detain a person and quarantine them if they are, or might be, infectious. Police, public health and immigration officers will be able to detain people suspected of having Covid-19 and exact £1,000 fines for refusing tests under emergency powers rolled out by the UK government.
Under the proposed legislation, people could be held by police on public health grounds, while immigration officials could place people in isolation. The powers will last for two years. Labour is to vote for these police state powers!
Meanwhile, the armed forces general staff has been instructed to prepare for action in mid-April and troops are being recalled from Iraq to provide for a 20,000-strong ‘Covid Support Force’. The mailed fist is to replace powers of persuasion.
The truth is that the ruling class has grasped that its very existence is at stake and that the working class knows that it has cut and slashed the NHS, and will make a revolution rather than put up with any attempt to bring back dozens more years of super-austerity. However, the ruling class has now thrown caution to the wind. In the 12 days since March 11th it has borrowed hundreds of billions to stay in power.
On March 11th the outgoing Bank of England Governor, Carney cut interest rates to 0.25% and handed quantitative easing of £300bn to the banks. On March 12th the FTSE 1000 index crashed by 10.9% and wiped £160bn off share prices, in response to this money printing.
Undeterred, on March 17th, Chancellor Sunak revealed his £330bn loan to support business as well as tax cuts and mortgage holidays. On March 19th the new Bank of England chairman Bailey cut interest rates to a record low of 0.1% and bought £200bn of bonds in a new Quantitative Easing splash.
On March 20th Chancellor Sunak announced, after all night discussions with the TUC, that the government will pay 80% of wages on up to £2,500 a month to protect workers, with no limit to the funding!
This was borrowing and spending that dwarfed any that Corbyn and McDonnell had been promising before the election. Close to a trillion pounds have been borrowed in days! It was sufficient to buy the support of the Labour Party and TUC leaders.
The Tories, meanwhile, said they were at war, and wartime spending and debt was needed to save capitalism! Once British capitalism was secured, then there could be austerity and massive debt repayment forced onto the working class. The likelihood is that Johnson may now opt to bring a Labourite or two into his government to constitute a government of national unity, through which to maintain British capitalism.
However, the NHS is on its knees, where it has been put by the Tories. Even health workers have not been tested for coronavirus and do not wear proper protective clothing. In fact 5,000 doctors have signed a letter to the PM saying that they are being treated like cannon fodder!
The truth is that to beat coronavirus and to secure jobs and wages for all, the Johnson government must be brought down and replaced by a workers’ government, that will expropriate the bosses and the bankers and bring in a socialist planned economy including a fully-equipped and fully-functioning National Health Service.
It is backward capitalism that is collapsing and it must be put an end to by the workers and the youth carrying out a socialist revolution. Only the Workers Revolutionary Party fights for this perspective and policy. Join it today.