Socialist Worker

Stage is set for mutinous citizens

Issue No. 2322

Every attempt at covering up the class spite at the heart of the government fails. For a public school educated Tory whip even an armed copper is simply a “fucking pleb” to be pushed aside as an irritant.

There has been fake outrage from the serial liars at the Metropolitan Police and their frequent paymasters at the Sun newspaper. But that shouldn’t divert us from the reason Andrew Mitchell’s outburst caught a mood.

They talk about cutting the deficit. In reality the patricians of the Tory Party are carrying out a class war in the interests of the entire establishment. They are part of a band of warring brothers who disagree only on the best method of making the poor pay.

Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus is about the prejudices and corruption of power. In it spin doctors repeatedly tell the title character that to control the people he must hide his lust for power.

But his contempt for those he wishes to rule is so overbearing he can’t disguise his hatred. There, as here, the thing the wealthy elite fear the most is the many-headed multitude.

When the mob appears they complain that the rulers, “Suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor.”


Ministers try to spin the class war against us today. But as the cuts hit home, they can’t hide it. That’s why Mitchell’s mask slipped. It’s why Lib Dem banker Vince Cable’s claim to be a pleb is hollow and desperate.

Bizarrely sections of the Labour Party leadership see sucking up to the Lib Dems as the best response. Rather than encourage resistance to smash the coalition they hope to court the Lib Dems. That means coming up with policies the Lib Dems like—which means moving to the right rather than the left.

This offers little prospect of building support for Labour or helping defeat the government. But it does mean supporting cuts against ordinary people and thinking the market is the solution to every problem.

In stark contrast we need the maximum resistance to the government and all its austerity measures. That means making the TUC demonstrations on 20 October as large and militant as possible.

Then we must build on those protests to turn the anger that the Tories are fuelling into strikes that can bring them down. The opening stage direction in Coriolanus is “enter a company of mutinous citizens”. It’s time to get on the stage.

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What We Think
Tue 25 Sep 2012, 18:30 BST
Issue No. 2322
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