The French have a famous saying for it: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more it changes, the more it stays the same.
Boris Johnson’s staggered resignation as Prime Minister will not change the thrust of any Conservative government’s policies.
The crumbs thrown to millions of people facing the severe cost-of-surviving crisis will continue, although they may increase a little in size.
Far more will continue to be done to protect the monopoly profits of the oil, gas, electricity, retail and finance corporations.
It will be rampant profiteering as usual when it comes to household energy, petrol and public transport bills.
‘Levelling up’ will be confined to some eye-catching regeneration and transport schemes, the most expensive of which will benefit towns, cities and constituencies in Tory hands.
There will be no moves towards federalism – the only basis on which we can maintain labour movement unity against the British ruling class and redistribute wealth to the working class across England, Scotland and Wales
New powers vested in the police and intelligence services to restrict protest and break the law in pursuit of so-called ‘subversives’ will not be repealed.
The huge increase in military spending – an extra £55bn or so by 2030 – will proceed, in addition to the billions already handed to the Ukrainian government.
There will be little or no extra investment in affordable public sector housing or in green technology that could cut global warming and create a million new jobs.
The British government will try to despatch yet more unfortunate refugees to Rwanda.
Most Conservative MPs have been prepared to go along with all of this.
So why are they making Johnson walk the plank now? Because his cavalier recklessness and dishonesty have become an electoral liability.
Of course, they knew about his deep character flaws, as did many party members when they elected him Tory leader in 2019.
But they thought he would resolve the political and constitutional crisis caused by the three-year campaign to sabotage Britain’s democratic decision to leave the EU.
He duly led the Tories to victory in the December 2019 General Election, taking 52 Leave-voting seats from Labour with the promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’.
Powerful forces in Britain’s political, media and business circles have never forgiven him and his supporters for fulfilling this pledge.
These same forces now see fresh possibilities for reversing Brexit step by step, by stealth if possible, beginning with moves to deepen and enlarge the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Far better to use post-Brexit freedoms to slash or abolish VAT, direct private capital investment and change public procurement rules.
In the meantime, an interim Conservative government may rearrange the window dressing, but it will mostly be a case of ‘big business as usual’.
Many Tory MPs will not want a General Election this year, especially those facing a strong LibDem challenge in southern England or a strong Labour challenge in the midlands and the north.
It is not impossible that – with billionaire backing in the media and business – a Tory face-lift could win the next election when it comes.
Because Labour is utterly failing to inspire the millions of people who abandoned the party and Keir Starmer’s ‘second EU referendum’ policy last time around.
Millions also swallowed the smears and distortions aimed at ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn by the media, abetted by many pro-EU, pro-NATO and anti-socialist Labour MPs.
Starmer has blatantly broken his pledges to build on the progressive policies in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto and to unite the party.
He rejects the demand for the return of energy, transport and the Royal Mail from the profiteers to public ownership.
His low-level war against the Labour left continues unabated across the party, causing more than 150,000 members to resign in despair.
Does this make the situation hopeless? No, far from it.
The upsurge in industrial action shows that many workers are prepared to defend jobs, pay, conditions and services to the public.
Their trade unions should consider drawing up a programme of action, generalising the fightback and coordinating it centrally and locally.
The People’s Assembly backed nationally by unions and campaigning bodies, is gearing up for a new surge of mass activity.
The renewed drive to militarism and war has reinvigorated the peace movement headed by Stop the War and CND.
The eastwards expansion of NATO and the EU has finally provoked a brutal military response from Russia. For the unelected right-wing politicians who head NATO (secretary-general Stoltenberg) and the EU (‘president’ von der Leyen), this is a wet dream come true.
Swedish neutrality has finally been snuffed out as the coffers of the corrupt arms corporations are filled with yet more public money.
Having hobbled the UN and the Organisation for Peace and Security in Europe in the search for a ceasefire and a permanent settlement, the leading NATO powers prefer to prolong the Ukraine War.
Even so, NATO hawks are already looking towards the next war – against China, over Taiwan which is as much Chinese as the Isle of Wight is English.
Are there no limits to this new Cold War madness?
US fleets patrol the world’s oceans including the South China Sea, US bases pepper the globe, the US and Britain bomb and invade countries from Serbia to Afghanistan and back across the Middle East to Libya – and the West has the barefaced cheek to accuse China of aggression and expanionism!
Moreover, criticising NATO now appears to be an expellable offence in Starmer’s Labour Party.
What is clear is the need for all those forces who want to see not only an end to Tory rule, but also a fundamental change of domestic and foreign policy, to come together. We need unity in action to:
- Fight for a New Deal for Workers.
- Extend solidarity with strikes, supporting picket lines and raising funds when requested.
- Build the unions, trades councils and campaigning bodies for pay, pensions, the NHS and peace, against cuts and privatisation.
- Secure investment in public services, housing, manufacturing, technology and renewable energy – financed in part from a Wealth Tax on the super-rich and a windfall tax on monopoly profits.
- Demand the return of the rails, mail and energy from the private monopolies to public ownership.
- Oppose Britain’s racist immigration, asylum and nationality laws.
- Demand the repeal of anti-democratic laws, for a Trade Union Freedom Bill.
- Win wider support for federalism and devolution across England, Scotland and Wales.
- Stop the new Cold War against China.
On the basis of such campaigning, we can – as before – turn the whole labour movement to the left. This is the precondition for electing a government that will enact policies for the millions and not the millionaires.
Together with its allies, the Communist Party is in the thick of many of these battles, proposing ways forward for discussion and action.
Imagine how stronger the mass movement would be if just one person in every hundred who have left the Labour Party decided to join the Communists in the party for working class and people’s power … and for socialist revolution.