TORY CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak did the rounds of press interviews yesterday preparing the way for today’s reopening of non-essential shops and businesses and he made it crystal clear that health and safety came a very distant second to the absolute imperative of driving workers back to work and shoppers back to the high street.
Sunak’s answer to the crisis crushing British capitalism was for the country ‘to reawaken our lion spirit’.
Sunak dropped all pretence that the Johnson government is guided by science when he said that a decision on whether to scrap the two-metre social distance rule in England will be solely for Tory ministers to decide and not the government’s scientific advisers. He replaced scientific advice with the exhortation for workers to ‘get out there, get shopping’ to save capitalism.
Both the leading government scientific advisers Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance are known to oppose cutting the safe distance from two to one metre.
Their advice is being junked by the Tories with the boss’s organisation, the CBI, warning that the two-metre rule ‘will push businesses over a cliff’ while Tory MP Steve Baker, a Treasury select committee member, said: ‘If two metres isn’t relaxed to one-metre, it’s hard to see how our economy recovers.’
What a massive confession of the decay and weakness of British capitalism that its very existence depends on one metre!
This headlong rush to force a return to work follows the release last week of figures showing that the UK economy has suffered its biggest collapse in its history.
GDP collapsed by a quarter in just two months with service industry shrinking by 20%, construction by 40% and what is left of British manufacturing slumping by 25%.
Car manufacturing crashed by nine tenths of previous production levels. Unemployment has shot up by one million and this is on top of the 8.9 million workers currently furloughed under the government scheme that is due to end in October.
Boris Johnson attempted to brush aside the stark reality that the UK economy has plunged over the cliff already and stands no chance of recovery when he predicted a ‘bounce back’ once the shops and businesses reopened.
Johnson deliberately ignores the fact that for millions of workers there will be no jobs to return to as industry and business close down for good after furlough ends.
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the UK economy will suffer a more devastating economic collapse than any other leading nation – a fact it attributes to the almost total reliance on the service sector and financial industry for 80% of the UK wealth.
With British capitalism facing annihilation, Johnson is banking on forcing a return to work under conditions where a second wave of coronavirus is almost guaranteed.
In the US, where Trump has been demanding an end to even restricted lockdowns, there have been over 2 million reported cases. The US has recorded the highest death rate of any country and this rate is increasing daily.
In Europe, both Spain and Italy, after partial lifting of lockdown, have in the past week experienced an increase in coronavirus infections.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) the likelihood of a second wave of coronavirus infection across Europe is no longer a ‘distant theory’ but a very real prospect with the only question being ‘when and how big’.
Johnson and Sunak have now dropped the charade of listening to any scientific advice; they are guided only by the necessity to get the profits back in the pockets of the bosses and bankers, with the working class paying for this with their lives if necessary.
The time has come for the working class to settle accounts with capitalism by demanding that the trade unions organise the great mass of workers and young people in a political general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government that will expropriate the capitalist class and build a planned socialist economy.
Only under socialism can the full resources of society be mobilised to provide for the safety and health of every worker.
Now is the time for workers to join the WRP and the Young Socialists to actively organise the British working class to carry out its socialist revolution to get rid of bankrupted British capitalism and replace it with a socialist, nationalised and planned economy.