THE CRISIS restrictions on Greater Manchester by the Tories reveal that the collapse of British capitalism has reached such a point that the unity of the UK union itself is now under question.
On Tuesday, Tory PM Boris Johnson announced that the government was walking away from the negotiations with local leaders and MPs in Greater Manchester over the amount of money government was willing to pay the area for accepting the strictest measures of lockdown.
Local politicians, led by the Labour mayor Andy Burnham and backed by the areas Tory MPs (including Graham Brady, Chair of the influential Tory 1922 committee), were holding out for £65 million in funding for accepting the lockdown, while Burnham had not made clear whether he was ready to carry out the government’s instructions on the issue.
The Tories walked away after their offer of £60 million was turned down by Burnham. This has left many people stunned that a paltry £5 million was the issue. After all this is small change to a Tory government that regularly hands out billions to private companies for test and trace systems that don’t work.
But it was never about £5 million, but about Johnson insisting that Greater Manchester should not get more than its close neighbour Liverpool City Region, which gets £51 million after being forced into Tier 3 lockdown measures.
In other words, the Tory policy of splitting the country into regions and cities has effectively pitched communities against one another in competition for government funding. It has also led to groups around Burnham, with the support of Tory MPs, coming close to challenging the right of the government to rule over Manchester.
Burnham of course stepped back from this brink, but the incident has opened up the question of what would have happened if he had refused, and what will happen as the economic crisis worsens and millions of workers and millions of the middle class find themselves without jobs or their small businesses.
As it was, Johnson would have had to send police and troops into Manchester to enforce the government’s will – that is the only option if Burnham had maintained his resistance!
The policy of the Tory government of going through the motions of fighting the massive surge in coronavirus has been to split up the regions of the UK, imposing lockdown in ‘hot-spots’ while desperately avoiding total closure of the economy to try to keep capitalism alive.
It represents the strategy of the ruling class to impose herd immunity on both the working and middle class – let the weak die of Covid-19 and the petty bourgeois shopkeepers and bar owners go under, while only the biggest capitalists survive.
Burnham, with his ‘special pleading’ for Manchester, has turned his back on the struggle to unify the entire working class against this Tory government and instead has promoted the breakup of the UK into warring regions and cities fighting for crumbs from the Tories’ table.
That table is breaking under the weight of massive debt, with the Tories forced to borrow £208.5 billion in just six months – £50 billion more than the Labour government had to borrow in the entire worst year of the banking crash in 2008.
All this debt, along with the trillions of worthless paper money printed to keep the banks from collapse, will have to be repaid and the capitalist class is determined that it will be paid for by millions of workers and the middle class.
The great achievement of the English Revolution of the 1640s was the smashing of the old feudal order and the creation of a united England which allowed for the massive development of capitalism.
Today in its death agony, much accelerated by coronavirus, British capitalism is torn apart politically and economically – reduced to warring regions and would-be city states fighting for their survival. Workers will reject all attempts by Burnham and the Labour leadership, aided by Tory MPs, to split the working class.
The only way forward today is for the entire working class to unite with the middle class to carry out a socialist revolution to kick out this Tory government and go forward to a workers government. This will expropriate the major industries and corporations along with the banks and bring in a planned socialist economy that will see the satisfaction of the health requirements of the working people as its number one duty and then go forward to a communist society whose motto will be from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
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