Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are busy trying to climb the Downing Street greasy pole. And their desperate battle to become the next prime minister will mean ordinary people pay the price.
They are both preparing to launch a brutal class offensive within days of taking the top job. They’re now in the crucial phase of campaigning, as this week ballots have begun landing on the doorsteps of Conservative Party members. Both are promising tax cuts as key parts of their campaign.
They’re feverishly offering more cash to the rich, without being drawn into much detail about how the poor will foot the bill. Sunak said he wants to slash taxes by 20 percent by the end of the decade. He is promising to cut income tax to 16p, which would put some £6 billion less into the public purse.
It’s a move targeted at buttering up the rich. But it will come as little comfort as the cost of living crisis continues to bite and a cold winter looms over millions of people. Households are expecting to pay £3,850 in energy bills by January 2023—more than three times what they were paying at the start of 2022.
But neither candidate has an answer to rising poverty—they are simply doubling down on their tax-slashing promises. Not to be outdone by Sunak, hard-line right winger Truss has vowed to “start cutting taxes from day one”.
Part of these tax cuts would be an immediate “spending review”—Tory code for cuts to public services. She wants to hand money to the bosses by reversing a planned rise in corporation tax, and “look at” inheritance tax—slashing it for wealthy families.
Not limited to economic matters, Sunak also blasted equality legislation as “woke nonsense” and came out against trans rights by saying “sex means biological sex”. The ex-chancellor wants patients to be charged £10 for each NHS appointment they miss. And he said he’ll do “whatever it takes” to implement government policy to deport migrants to Rwanda. The leadership contest has seen the nasty party get even nastier.
Sunak called voting for Truss “an act of self-sabotage that condemns our party to defeat at the next general election.” The result of the Tory leadership contest matters. But what matters more is what workers and the labour movement are doing in response.
Whoever wins, they are committed to austerity, racism and accelerating climate chaos. Both want to undermine workers’ rights and make it harder to protest. That’s why it’s particularly important that this month campaigners are organising protests outside Tory party hustings in ten towns and cities.
They include Cardiff and Eastbourne this week and then Perth on 16 August, Manchester on 19 August and Birmingham on 23 August. Protests, and strikes, such as by telecoms and rail workers, show how best to fight back. Workers’ organisation represents a serious challenge to the Tory government, and whoever happens to be sitting in Number 10 when the result comes in September.
There's a big list of Scottish strikes
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