Socialist Worker

Benefit slasher Duncan Smith resigns. Time to fight as Tories fall apart

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2495

Protests have defied the Tories every step of the way

Protests have defied the Tories (Pic: Socialist Wroker)


THE TORIES are in tatters. Tonight, Friday, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith resigned from the cabinet.

Let’s first of all rejoice. The man who has fronted the Tories' bitter war on benefits, who has hounded and harassed disabled people now has found himself saying, ““I have for some time and rather reluctantly come to believe that the latest changes to benefits to the disabled, and the context in which they have been made are, a compromise too far.

“While they are defensible in narrow terms, given the continuing deficit, they are not defensible in the way they were placed within a budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers.”

It’s hypocritical, it’s empty, but it’s a mortal blow to George Osborne’s budget.

Also tonight the Tories retreated on the attack on disabled people. One Treasury source said, “This is going to be kicked into the long grass. We need to take time and get reforms right, and that will mean looking again at these proposals. We are not wedded to specific sums. It’s not an integral part of the budget.”

After the Tories’ ”omnishambles” budget of 2012, they resolved never to do the same again. They have now done even worse. Less than a year after their election "triumph" they are tearing themselves apart.

It is a tribute to all those who have campaigned against Duncan Smith and this government, often in what seemed hopeless circumstances, that the Tories are now falling out so spectacularly.

This is also further evidence that the Tories’ divisions over Europe (Duncan Smith is for leaving the European Union) are seeping into every aspect of policy.

The point now is to drive the stake into the Tories’ hearts.

Tomorrow we will take to the streets against the Tories’ racism and to say refugees are welcome here. That is more important than ever.

But we also need to find the focuses for action that can sink this government.  Their weakness is our opportunity.

Tasks

Here are three immediate tasks.

On 6 April the junior doctors will begin a 48-hour strike. They are also considering further escalation. Every union and every campaign must be on the picket lines with them. If the junior doctors win it will be a spur to further struggle and to defend the NHS.

And this Easter the NUT teachers’ union meets at its conference. The attack on disabled people was one appalling element of the budget. The war on state education and the forced transfer to academies was another.

The NUT must set out a programme of protests, meetings, and strikes to annihilate this aspect of the budget statement too.

And on 16 April we all need to join the People’s Assembly demonstration.

We need escalation of the struggle everywhere, against cuts, against scapegoating, racism and Islamophobia, against attacks on wages and conditions and public services.

This should be Jeremy Corbyn’s moment. He must call on the Tories to go, and back resistance that can mobilise everyone who hates this government. We can't go on with, for example, a Labour Party that shies away from supporting the junior doctors' strikes.

But the crucial task is to organise real, practical resistance in the here and now.

This should be the union leaders' moment. But we cannot wait while they decide. We can stop the cuts and the Tories.

This is not business as usual, it is not politics as usual. We must pressure the union leaders to seize the time and strain every nerve to build resistance ourselves.

 


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