Windrush Scandal:Protest! Parliament Square, April 2018 Windrush Scandal:Protest! Parliament Square, April 2018. Source: im Aindow - Counterfire

The fight back against government attacks has to be based on organised working class resistance argues Counterfire

The Tories are plumbing new depths. Warnings are being made about the collapse of social care and a new, deeper winter crisis in the NHS, the housing situation is going from bad to worse, and the cost-of-living crisis is out of control.

All this at a time when companies are posting record profits. British Gas’s profits rose to £969m after price-cap rises allowed it to make more money from household bills. This is ten times more than last year. Scottish Power’s profits from households alone soared to over £500 million as they used supply disruption as cover for ramping up prices.

This kind of ‘price gouging’ isn’t limited to the energy sector. Even the Financial Times has had to admit that a large part of the price increases across the board have been caused by ‘corporate greedflation’. As they say: ‘Even with supply chain bottlenecks, strains on global shipping and disruptions in the supply of energy and commodities, corporate profits have surged.’

But Sunak is silent on the serious problems all this is causing for working people up and down the country. In a shameless attempt to divert anger, he focuses instead on the ‘problem’ caused by refugees on ‘small boats’, rounds on LGBTQ people, attacks various green policies including approving of 100 new North Sea oil and gas licences when the climate crisis is causing chaos for millions of people around the world.

Rather than attacking the Tories for backing this disgusting corporate robbery and scapegoating the vulnerable, Starmer’s Labour is retreating on every front. He has promised to accept Tory spending limits and refused to scrap the Tories’ two-child benefit limit which affects people from the poorest families and from ethnic minorities. He has criticised junior doctors for taking strike action and rolled back on commitments to invest in green energy.

The idea that what working people want is a pro-business Labour Party committed to continuing Tory austerity is wildly out of touch. It’s a mistake even in purely electoral terms.

Polls show people want a massive increase in spending on the NHS, money ploughed into services, and an end to spiralling inequality.

Over the last year, hundreds of thousands of workers have taken strike action in transport and logistics, the health service, the civil service, education and other services in the biggest strike wave since the 1980s. The action has rattled the bosses and the government, in some cases forcing the Tories to improve offers.

With inflation still high, these struggles are likely to continue, and the main task of the left must be to continue to provide solidarity with all those taking action. We need to build the widest possible solidarity with the junior doctors, with strikers at Amazon, St Mungo’s and the ongoing fight on the railways and universities over pay.

We should also be clear that we could win more if we were bolder and more united in our action. The two days of co-ordinated strikes earlier in the year on 1 February and 15 March raised the possibility of uniting the strikes into a combined force that could have inflicted a real blow against the government. Unfortunately, this potential wasn’t followed up, allowing the government to sell poor settlements to different groups of workers one by one.

Union leaders in the post office and the health service in particular ended up recommending dreadful deals. Even the improved pay offer for teachers is way below the rate of inflation.

Anger at the shocking way workers are being treated means that there will almost certainly be more fights to come. To make sure workers are not sold short in the future, it is important that rank-and-file activists from across the unions start organising together. We need to step up the level of inter-union solidarity and coordination and find ways to raise strike funds to enable workers to strike longer and harder.

That is why the Rank and File Combine set up at the London conference on 10 June is so important and why all rank-and-file initiatives should be welcomed.

At the same time, we need to develop a class-based, political response to the Tories’ attacks. We must resist attempts by the Tories to whip up racism against refugees. Racism divides and weakens us. It is obvious that there has to be concerted action against climate change. It is important too to oppose their constant drive to war. The Western powers have turned the war in Ukraine into a proxy war against Russia, and they hope to use it to create patriotism and give them cover to ramp up arms spending. It is working-class people that suffer most in all wars and the whole movement should be calling for an end to the slaughter.

The huge profits being posted by the corporations show that the problems we face can be dealt with. Wealth exists in society for everyone to live happy and fulfilled lives. As scientists keep saying, the climate crisis can be averted. What is needed is a fight for a society that puts the interests and welfare of working people before the privilege and profits of the few. This means maintaining and bolstering our organisations with the same kind of commitment the bosses show towards their interests.

We don’t need Bezos and his ilk, but they need us. Let’s turn the tables to start reshaping the world as it should be.

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