Tory coronavirus inquiry is an attempt to put off reckoning with working class


ON WEDNESDAY, Tory prime minister Boris Johnson announced that there would be ‘a full and independent inquiry’ into the government handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

He informed MPs that the Tories are ‘fully committed to learning the lessons at every stage’ of the pandemic and that the inquiry would place ‘the state’s actions under the microscope’.

However, Johnson’s new-found enthusiasm for an independent public inquiry was accompanied by the decision that it will start next Spring.

Johnson’s argument for this delay was to say that any inquiry must not ‘inadvertently distract’ NHS workers and government advisors who were continuing to deal with the pandemic.

NHS workers will be outraged at this concern over them being distracted by an inquiry.

Johnson and the Tories were certainly not concerned when Covid-19 struck the UK last year NHS workers did not have any of the PPE (personal protective equipment) essential to keep them safe while dealing with thousands of infectious patients that swamped hospitals.

Thousands of health workers lost their lives for these failures.

By kicking a public inquiry as far down the road as possible, Johnson is desperately attempting to avoid any examination of cronyism and sleaze that were the hallmark of the Tory actions. In fact there is no need for a public inquiry.

Already it has been widely revealed how multi-million pound contracts for PPE including £1.5 billion was awarded to companies that were linked to Tory party members or financial donors to the party.

In February, the giant private outsourcing company Serco revealed that it had made a staggering £400 million from Covid contracts.

This includes the millions it was handed for running a Test and Trace system that was a complete and utter disaster.

The lives of workers, the elderly and the young were completely secondary to the profits of capitalists.

The need for Johnson and the Tories to keep as much of a lid on this as possible is behind the blatant attempt to put off an official inquiry in the hope that it will all be forgotten in three years’ time.

The working class will not forget how thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily by the actions of a Tory government whose only concern is the profit of the bosses.

In the words of Johnson, ‘greed is good’ for capitalism while nurses and NHS workers deserve only a derisory 1% pay increase and the rest of front-line public sector workers deserve nothing at all.

Nor will workers forget that the Tory government deliberately ignored and kept secret the Cygnus exercise carried out by NHS England in 2016 specifically to explore the impact of a pandemic on the UK.

This report found that the country was completely unprepared for such an eventuality and could not cope with a pandemic. This report was quashed by a Tory government intent on cutting funding and privatising the NHS, not spending money to prepare the health service for a pandemic.

It took a six-month legal campaign led by an NHS doctor before the Tories were forced to finally publish the Cygnus report last November. This demonstrates conclusively the Tory attitude to inquiries and reports.

The GMB union’s national secretary, Rehana Azam, however clearly was impressed by Johnson’s announcement, saying: ‘GMB cautiously welcomes the fact he has finally listened. But millions of workers were put in harm’s way and thousands died. We need answers and we need justice for all the families who lost loved ones.’

The only way millions of workers will get justice is by demanding that unions like the GMB stop congratulating the Tories for listening and instead force the TUC to take action by organising a general strike to bring them down and go forward to a workers’ government.

This will nationalise the banks and major industries under workers’ management as part of a planned socialist economy. Only by putting an end to this corrupt bankrupt capitalist system with a socialist revolution can justice be obtained for all workers.

Only the WRP is building the leadership required to lead this struggle to its victory – join today!