Following ten days of enforced national mourning at the Queen’s passing, the country has returned to ‘normality’. But despite all the pompous establishment rhetoric about ‘Great’ Britain, this ‘normality’ offers nothing to look forward to – neither for workers, nor for the Tories.
The coming weeks will bring pain to millions: not over the loss of dear Lizzy, but over the jump in energy costs on 1 October, as the cap on domestic bills rises to £2,500 per year – double the level of twelve months ago, even with government controls on prices.
With catastrophe looming, incoming prime minister Liz Truss was forced to announce this energy price freeze within days of obtaining the keys to Number 10. Even so, many vulnerable households will still be plunged into fuel poverty and bankruptcy, as inflation continues to climb.
Including support for businesses, the government’s energy package is estimated to cost around £150 billion over two years, funded through additional public borrowing. And the Tories have made it clear who is expected to foot the bill: not the profiteering monopolies, but the working class, through further austerity and cuts.
Details of this latest intervention – even greater than the COVID furlough scheme or the 2007-08 bank bailout – are set to be announced on Friday by Truss’ new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, as part of an emergency mini-Budget.
Kwarteng is also expected to use this latest Treasury statement to outline the government’s strategy to boost economic growth, with a target of achieving an annual 2.5% increase in output on average going forwards.
Truss and Kwarteng, both committed libertarian zealots, believe that such growth can be realised by slashing taxes (on the rich and corporations), cutting regulations (on big business and polluters), and taking on the unions (with further restrictions on the right to strike).
But even the strategists of capital have denounced such plans as delusional. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, for example, described this pair of poundshop Thatcher clones as “gamblers on a huge scale” when it comes to their ambitions for tax-cut, debt-driven economic growth.
Elsewhere, Truss’ talk of ‘unchaining Brittania’ and delivering a post-Brexit boost have already been dealt a blow, with President Joe Biden recently pouring cold water on the idea of any new US-UK trade deal.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor are certainly living in a dreamworld. But their deranged fantasies are only a reflection of the wider lunacy that has gripped the Tory Party, including the reactionary rabble that has put them in power.
The degeneracy of the Tories, in turn, mirrors the decay and decline of British capitalism, which has long since been able to provide progress – either in terms of economic productivity, or in terms of living standards for ordinary people.
Instead, British capitalism has been run into the ground by the short-sighted capitalists and their equally myopic political representatives, with investment in manufacturing and industry replaced by all manner of speculation and swindling in the City of London.
The “gamblers” now residing in Downing Street, in this respect, far from being a grotesque absurdity or abnormality, are perfectly fitting frontmen for the casino that is British capitalism.
The establishment spent the entire period of official grievance farcically attempting to spin a story of ‘national unity’. Meanwhile, a veritable fortune was lavished upon endless parades, pomp, and pageantry, all to maintain the shining splendour and irreproachable reputation of this family of royal parasites.
As the fumes of flag-waving wear off, the hard reality of life under capitalism will quickly come into view. Millions are set to spend this winter sitting in the cold. At the same time, the monarchy sits on millions.
Truss and her crony government are doing everything they can to expose this gaping class divide in British society – and to widen it further.
The Tories have announced, for example, that they will lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses, as part of a ‘Big Bang 2.0’ of financial deregulation aimed at ‘liberating’ the City.
This news will no doubt come as a huge relief to all the nurses, teachers, posties, cleaners, bus drivers, and bin workers who have been striking in recent months, struggling for a proper wage increase in the face of the deepening cost-of-living crisis. It is reassuring to know that someone out there is going to be getting a pay rise.
The ruling class thought that Boris Johnson and his reckless, self-interested antics would be the low point. Well, things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Energy costs are soaring. Prices are rising. And so are interest rates, with the Bank of England set to announce a 0.75 percentage point increase, which will likely push the UK economy into recession.
Indeed, the latest data suggests that the country is already in a recession, causing the pound to plummet on currency markets, with investors fearful of the scale and burden of government debt.
“Britannia is not ‘unchained’,” concludes Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. “It is instead sailing in perilous waters” – entering into a perfect storm of ‘stagflation’, strikes, and social explosions.
Such a tempest requires the ship to be “managed by sober and responsible people”, the FT columnist continues. Instead, however, the ruling class is lumbered with clowns and charlatans such as Truss and Kwarteng – the leadership they deserve.
“Can the new captain and first mate even see the rocks that lie ahead?” Wolf rhetorically asks, on behalf of the exasperated capitalist class.
After the quiet hiatus following the death of the Queen, the class struggle will resume its crescendo.
What is required, and what workers and youth deserve, is a Marxist leadership – armed with a clear perspective and a bold socialist programme – that can bring about a revolutionary finale.