YESTERDAY Tory prime minister Theresa May announced a new era of state intervention to ‘save’ British capitalism.
According to this strategy, selected sectors will be considered for receiving special government support. There was no mention of the heavy industries like steel that have been systematically wiped out since the 1980s in favour of an economy based almost entirely on the finance sector.
Instead May has made it clear that the only industries she is considering giving any form of state aid to are cars and aerospace along with the nuclear industry and the big pharmaceutical companies. According to her: ‘The modern industrial strategy . . . will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.’
In fact the paltry sums of money, paltry in terms of the massive national debt of over £1.6 trillion run up bailing out the banks, May is talking about will go straight in the pockets of companies like Nissan.
Instead of using the vast profits made by these companies to invest they will get a hand out from the government, paid for out of taxes, to help boost profits even further. This is what lies at the heart of all these proposals for state support for British industry, nothing more than state support for its profit margins.
Cynically the Tory ‘strategy’ also claims to focus on the educational needs of school leavers who don’t go to university with a vague promise that the government might consider maintenance loans for those attending technical colleges.
This drew a sharp response from the University College Union (UCU) which dismissed it as ‘another set of gimmicks’. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, pointed out that the money on offer was a ‘drop in the ocean’ that would do nothing to solve the funding crisis in further education where one million adult places have been lost since 2010 and which has seen massive staff losses due to cuts in funding.
The sheer scale in the crisis of education was highlighted yesterday by research carried out by the National Association of Head Teachers which revealed that school budgets throughout England are close to breaking point with 18% actually in deficit and the rest only able to balance the books by making cuts.
While May is pledging a miniscule amount to further education, the entire state education system is collapsing. The facts about the collapse of British industry speak for themselves. At the start of the 1980s manufacturing industry produced nearly 30% of the national income employing over seven million workers.
By 2016 this had been slashed to just 10% of the British income and the workforce reduced to just over two million. Along with the deliberate smashing of British capitalism’s manufacturing base by Thatcher in the 1980s, as a central part of her war against the organised working class, has been the massive growth of the banking and financial sector along with service industries.
The banks and financiers account for well over 80% of the country’s GDP. Today, as the banking crisis that first burst into the open in 2008 is set to explode once again on an even bigger scale, it is clear that May’s new industrial strategy is just hot air. It does nothing for the millions of workers who have seen well paid, secure jobs destroyed, forcing them into unemployment or low paid, zero hours contract work.
It offers nothing to the millions of families forced to live off the charity of food banks or to youth whose education is being destroyed through cuts. All it offers is a bit more money to car giants and big pharmaceutical companies. The only strategy of the ruling class to save British capitalism is to try and force even bigger cuts and austerity on the working class.
For workers the burning issue is to put an end to bankrupt British capitalism once and for all through a general strike to kick out the Tories and advance to a workers government and a socialist planned economy.