Socialist Worker

Tories’ fears should encourage us to fight

Issue No. 2531

Theresa May

Theresa May (Pic: ukhomeoffice/WikiCommons)

In turbulent times, all the Tories are sure of is that they will keep attacking us.

Addressing the bosses’ CBI on Monday, Theresa May refused to give a detailed Brexit plan.

She spoke in front of a logo for Deloitte, the firm Downing Street criticised for saying Brexit was “beyond the capacity and capability” of the government.

“When I am able to be clear about Brexit I will be clear,” she said. “I can be clear that I will not be marching the country off the side of a cliff.”

May did clarify that when she’d previously said workers must be represented on companies’ boards she hadn’t really meant it.

She promised to put “Britain at the cutting edge of science and tech” by being less behind on research funding. And she boasted of “the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20”—even though US president-elect Donald Trump already plans an even bigger tax giveaway to the bosses.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond was yet to make his Autumn Statement as Socialist Worker went to press. He was expected to change the rules committing the government to made up deficit targets.

And no wonder—his tenure so far has been spent showering the bosses with cash.

Mumbling about infrastructure won’t help the people May calls Jams—“Just About Managing”—an insulting buzzword for those pushed to the edge by continuing austerity.

Cuts to services, benefits, jobs and pay keep rolling through.

But the government is far from unbeatable. It abandoned its mandatory “pay to stay” tax on council tenants this week.

David Cameron’s Housing and Planning Act committed councils to charge high rents to anyone earning more than the very poorest. This will now be left at councils’ discretion.

This partial victory reflects widespread anger at the Act. It also reflects a fear at the top—even among some Tory council bosses—of causing chaos if they make a wrong move.

NHS chiefs are similarly fearful of botching the health cuts.

Split by the shape of Brexit, and fearful of unpopularity, the Tories are uncertain about the right moves to make.

More than eight years after the financial crash, there is no sign of sustained economic recovery. Each new shock caused by the resulting political instability sets off fears of a new crisis.

What’s missing is real resistance from our side.

Whether on immigration or spending, Labour can’t seem to decide when to oppose the government and when to go halfway towards it.

Unions aren’t mobilising workers with strikes—or even mass marches. If anyone is going to go over the cliff, we must raise our game to make sure it’s May and the bosses.

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