WORKERS' FIGHT editorial - 20th May 2020

THEY LIE ABOUT DEATHS, ABOUT PPE AND MASKS - AND NOW JOBS! ENOUGH!

ITV presenter Piers Morgan was right when he accused Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey of “lying through her teeth” this Tuesday. Earlier that morning, Coffey claimed on the BBC that the government had hit its daily target of 100,000 Covid tests on “a handful of days” over the previous week.

Except that according to its own figures, the government never managed to get anywhere near this 100,000 target during that week - let alone near the 250,000 daily tests that Boris Johnson promised on 25 March for... "very soon"!

But let's not forget. These lies go back a long way. Without going even further into the past, haven’t we just gone through 3 years of a crazy Brexit saga? Yes, during which were told packs of lies about how much better off we’d be if Britain sailed away from Europe. Lies which were only designed to cover up the political ambitions of Johnson's clique of hard-Brexiteers! And what did we get over those 3 years? More austerity, more casualisation and more poverty!

With the Covid-19 emergency, the lies may have changed, but not their purpose. Layer upon layer of them have been produced in order to explain away the government's criminal unpreparedness, the catastrophic state of the NHS and social care system, after a decade of Tory austerity and, above all, the resulting growing casualties.

FLATTENING THE TRUTH

Week after week, we have been presented with piles of figures by so-called "scientific experts", whose main function was only to give credit to more lies - while many frontline health and care workers were protesting without being heard. Following Johnson's example, one after the other, all his ministers endorsed these Covid-19 figures, which were so carefully massaged that it was impossible to make out what they really meant.

It took well over a month before the truth finally came out - that Britain had, by far, the worst death toll outside Trump's USA. By now, we know that while the official figure is 34,796 since mid-March, the real death toll is anywhere between this and 61,900, depending on how the statisticians count.

So, the lies have been exposed, but they haven't stopped. Not only does the government's macabre daily briefing with its fake death rates carry on, but this is supplemented by other fake counts.

With the lockdown, the focus of the emergency has increasingly shifted from healthcare to the economy. In addition to health and lives being put on the line, the jobs of millions are under threat.

And there again, it all started with a host of lies. Tens of billions of pounds were suddenly produced out of nowhere by a government which never had a spare penny for welfare or healthcare, under the pretext of bailing out all those suddenly deprived of any income by the lockdown. Except that this was another lie: those who really needed the money, ended up having to wait for 5 weeks for Universal Credit to kick in - assuming they were entitled to any benefit at all and assuming no mistakes were made, otherwise their only port of call was a food bank.

“FURLOUGHING” THE JOBS MASSACRE

Of course, there was Sunak's "furlough scheme", which is said to have kept 8 million workers afloat so far. But it was never designed to force their employers to keep them in their jobs. What we can see, now, is that this "job retention scheme" was just a "job cuts phasing in scheme".

So, despite the institutional massaging of unemployment figures it turns out that the number of jobless benefit claimants increased by 69% in April alone (by over 850,000), the largest increase registered in a single month in 50 years! Taking all hidden job cuts into account, it is estimated that the real increase in joblessness in April, was close to 150%, up to nearly 3 million.

But, of course, these figures are not made public. Nor is anything said about the number of furloughed jobs which have suddenly been cut: 12,000 at British Airways, 9,000 at Rolls Royce, 2,600 (out of 3,400 furloughed) at Ovo Energy, now Britain’s second biggest energy supplier. The list gets longer by the day. Meanwhile, the number of vacancies is going down the plug-hole and there is more and more talk about massive bailouts for the car and airline industries, which would secure shareholders' future earnings by facilitating massive restructuring - at the cost of massive job slashing!

Yes, lying has become a method of government these days - a way of deliberately misleading the working class, in an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes. Not just a method of government, in fact, but a way of covering up the criminal irresponsibility of this profit system and the chronic and drastic incompetence of its political personnel. This is why we cannot afford to allow this rotten system to carry on corrupting society. The working class can - and must - change it!

WORKERS' FIGHT brings together the members of the ICU (Internationalist Communist Union) who are active in Britain.

The Internationalist Communist Union is a current which bases itself on the heritage left by Marx and Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, through the ideas they fought for. We believe that the capitalist organisation of human society belongs to its past, not to its future. We believe that the capitalist society - which is based on private property, the market, competition and profit - will have to be replaced, on a worldwide scale, with a society based on the collective ownership of natural resources and means of production and on a democratically planned economy, capable of providing to each and everyone an equal access to all material and cultural resources and assets.

We base ourselves on the heritage of the 1917 Russian revolution, which we consider as the first and, so far, the only case of a revolution in which the proletariat took over state power for a significant length of time, in an attempt to implement a collectivist transformation of society, before being deprived of political power by the dictatorship of a usurping bureaucracy.

We consider that communist ideas must be reintroduced into the working class, which is the only force capable of turning these ideas into an instrument of social transformation.

This is why our activity in this country includes, in particular, the publication of fortnightly bulletins in large workplaces. In addition we produce a regular series of pamphlets - the Internationalist Communist Forum series - on a broad range of topics and a bimonthly journal, Class Struggle.

By following the link provided below, you will have access to an archive of our publications on the multilingual site of the ICU.