Socialist Worker

Divisions at top should open door for struggle

Issue No. 2761

Matt Hancock earlier this year

Matt Hancock earlier this year (Pic: Number 10/Flickr )


Boris Johnson would like to take credit for Matt Hancock’s resignation as health secretary.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, he shamelessly tried to imply he had sacked Hancock after the former health secretary’s relationship with an aide was revealed.

In fact, Johnson tried almost immediately to declare the matter “closed” after the story broke.

It was only after questions about Gina Coladengelo’s appointments to positions in Hancock’s department wouldn’t go away that he resigned.

Now some pundits say that Johnson is trying to wrestle back control of the story from his own former aide—now enemy—Dominic Cummings. The whole thing is a scandal manufactured by Cummings, exposing his old boss’s dirty secrets.

But what the infighting really reveals is how no one at the top is in control of anything.

Faced with a pandemic that demands a break from all the normal functions of capitalist society—the Tories are in disarray.

The chaos is made worse by the bosses demanding functions resume as soon as possible.

Mixed 

They’ve never had a clue how to manage these two completely opposing demands. Now, as they fling dirt at each other, they’re revealing the corrupt ways they’ve always run society.

The Labour Party should be able to make hay from this. Instead the Tories looked likely to win a seat in a by-election that Labour should never have been able to lose. Labour also has no clue how to respond to the crisis.

What it’s come up with is a refusal to challenge Johnson, mixed with right wing politics dressed up in the language of community, family and national values. It’s a failure.

Beneath all this is a discontent felt throughout society, rooted in decades of attacks on ordinary people’s jobs and living standards.

It means that in places where people once voted strongly for Labour, some now abandon it.

The tens of thousands of people who marched against lockdown restrictions s another expression of this. The march brought together a mixture of pent-up frustrations at those at the top but pointed it in dangerous directions.

The organised left—which still too often sees politics through the prism of the Labour Party—has not grown out of the crisis at the top.

And union leaders are more focussed on defending their influence in Labour than in organising struggle,

There have been explosions of struggle—most obviously Black Lives Matter and Kill the Bill, as well as large marches for Trans rights, or action on climate change.

But a sufficiently large organisation to draw these struggles together is missing.

Building one means breaking from a focus on the Labour Party and building a mass movement of resistance instead.


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