Keir Starmer retreats from the Left

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Labour leader Keir Starmer in the recent local elections (Photo: flickr/Keir Starmer)

Labour leader Keir Starmer in the recent local elections (Photo: flickr/Keir Starmer)

Keir Starmer may have his eyes firmly fixed on election victory but behind him lie a trail of broken promises, crumbled pledges and hastily taken U-turns.

He clawed his way to the top of the Labour Party by vowing to enact a slew of measures around taxing the rich, nationalising public services and delivering justice for ordinary people.

Yet he has spent the last four years smashing through any initial attempts to challenge the Tories’ rotten rule.

Starmer has consistently broken with any notion of defending workers’ rights, action on climate catastrophe and abolishing the Tories’ cruel benefits system.

He has effectively taken a sledgehammer to the ten promises put forward in his 2020 election campaign, brought together under the slogan “another future is possible”.

Each broken promise isn’t a momentary lapse of judgement—it is a deliberate act to set his party out as one that will rule to protect corporate and imperialist interests.

For instance, in 2020, Starmer said he’d back a Green New Deal which would pour investment into environmental infrastructure and jobs.

Yet last year he told the fossil fuel industry it could continue to drill into the North Sea “for decades to come”.

Getting her excuses in early, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, claimed a Labour government couldn’t afford the Green New Deal now as the Tories have “crashed the economy”.

This backpedalling serves to reassure nervous banks and businesses that a Labour government is a safe pair of hands for capitalism.

And recently Starmer is ramping up the racist rhetoric about the importance of guarding British borders.

He promised to be more effective at deporting migrants than the Tories are.

One of Starmer’s six key pledges, released earlier this month, is a promise to launch a border security command to stop small boat crossings.

This vicious attack is about entering into the political theatre of anti‑migrant rhetoric.


Labour backs Israeli genocide

Keir Starmer’s support for Israeli genocide in Gaza is his greatest crime.

He infamously supported war crimes when he said “Israel does have that right” to cut off water and power to the people of Gaza.

In February, fearing a revolt by dozens of his own MPs, he pressured house of commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle to prevent a vote on an amendment calling for an unconditional ceasefire.

At every turn he has backed Israel and confined any criticism of Binyamin Netanyahu to the limits set by United States president Joe Biden.

When the pressure from below became too great, Starmer started speaking of a ceasefire. But it was always conditional on Hamas surrendering.

Starmer told a meeting last week that recognition of a Palestinian state could happen only as “part of a process” of peace talks involving Israel.

Labour’s shadow Middle East minister, Wayne David, expanded on Starmer’s remarks to explain that Israel would have a veto. A two-state solution would only ever come to “fruition in a way which is acceptable to the state of Israel. That is the way to bring about peace,” he said.

Backing for imperialism is central before the generals, spymasters and the ruling class will back a potential prime minister. Israel, which plays such an important role for the West in theMiddle East, is a central test.

Starmer, who leads the self-proclaimed “party of Nato”, has passed the challenge set by the imperialists.


Labour Party’s right has full control

One area of Starmer’s leadership where there hasn’t been backsliding is in ousting the Labour left. He has pursued the remnants of left activists and leadership around Jeremy Corbyn.

Starmer wasted no time in forcing the left into humiliated submission.

In October 2020, just six months into his leadership, Starmer suspended Corbyn as a Labour MP for saying that the scale of the antisemitism crisis within the party had been “dramatically overstated”. It was a hammer blow to the hundreds of thousands of new members that had joined the party during Corbyn’s premiership.

Starmer has utilised every arm of the party to turn it from left toward right.

For instance, the national executive council (NEC) voted in July 2021 to ban Labour members who had been part of a number of left wing groups.

And the NEC repeatedly pushed back on members who have come up against the pro-business, pro-war and anti‑worker rhetoric of Starmer’s Labour. Yet despite driving the party further to the right, Starmer is proud of the changes made under his leadership.

In February 2023 he crowed, “The Labour Party is unrecognisable from 2019, and it will never go back.

“If you don’t like the changes that we’ve made, I say, the door is open, and you can leave.”

Industrial round-up: Tractor strikers keep the hand-brake on

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Pickets at Basildon  tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Pickets at Basildon tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Around 500 workers at the British headquarters for the CNH Industrial tractor factory in Basildon, Essex, continue strikes over pay that began on 14 May.

The workers also walked out on 15 and 16 May, Tuesday to Thursday last week and were set to strike on Tuesday to Thursday this week.

The factory makes New Holland farming equipment. Pay talks for 2024 began last October.

Management offered a 4 percent rise based on the CPI inflation rate in January 2024, rather than as an average for the whole previous year.

Bosses want the 2025 pay rise to be based just on December 2024.

Management and the workforce’s union, Unite, agreed in 2022 to increase pay calculated by the average rate of inflation over the year.

The workers estimate that they make 73 tractors a day—which can cost, on average, between £100,000 and £200,000 each.

That means the company could lose up to £10 million a day when workers strike. On some strike days all the strikers walk out together.

But for most dates the union calls out only a few departments at a time as production is still shut down and the bosses “lay-off” the other workers.

Unite should call more strike dates to extend the battle beyond this week and ramp up the pressure on the multi-billion pound company.


Better deal in Liverpool

Strikers in the National Museums Liverpool (NML) dispute are voting on an improved offer.

The PCS union has suspended action from Tuesday this week until Sunday—half-term week.

The offer is a one-off payment of £1,200, plus two additional days annual leave permanently and a 35 percent discount in the museum cafes and shops.

The branch is recommending a Yes vote. More strikes are planned if the deal is rejected.

“Our members at NML have taken more than 60 days of action in protest over the employer withholding a costof- living payment,” PCS said.

The Museum of Liverpool, the World Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum, as well as the Walker Gallery, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery have been hit by the strikes.

The £1,500 payment was part of the government’s pay offer for 2022-23. Strikes from last Saturday to Monday this week went ahead.


Hackney teachers set to walk out over workloads

Around 20 education workers at St Dominic’s primary school in Hackney, east London, are set to strike over workload.

The NEU education union has so far negotiated successfully to remove the plan for teaching assistants to become midday meal supervisors—removing them from classrooms for almost six hours a week.

But governors are refusing to negotiate on workload, currently claiming workers don’t have enough evidence to support our claims.

The governors have so far refused to share any details on the future of the school.

And so workers are set to strike, with the current dates confirmed for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.


More action in Birmingham

Workers at another 35 schools in the GMB union are planning to ballot for strikes in Birmingham.

Around 1,500 teaching assistants, catering staff and other workers struck earlier in May to demand equal pay.

The mostly female workforce is angry that it is paid less than men who work for the council in similar roles like refuse collecting.

Workers are also furious because the Birmingham council continues to delay talks with the GMB.

If workers vote to strike, staff at 70 schools could strike together.


Repair wage cuts at Greenwich council

Some 150 workers at Greenwich council in south London were set to strike on Tuesday this week over plans that could see them lose a third of their wages.

The Unite union members carry out repair services.

The council has done a pay benchmarking exercise enacted over four years that could see workers lose nearly £17,000.


Driving off low pay in Manchester

Over 60 bus drivers in Greater Manchester who transport elderly and disabled people have voted to strike over low pay given to them by bosses at Greater Manchester Accessible Transport.

The Unite union members are paid just above minimum wage at £11.50 an hour. Some 7,000 people depend on the service.

The current rate of pay for bus drivers is £16 an hour. Unite will announce strike dates later in the summer.


Welsh ceramic workers in pay fight

Workers at Ceramtec UK in Ruabon in north Wales were set to strike for four days from Tuesday of this week.

The 150 Unite union members rejected a 79 pence an hour increase in pay.

They want an offer to match the National Living Wage that has increased by £1.02 an hour.

Ceramtec produces ceramics for healthcare and the automotive industry. Some workers are paid just £11.44 an hour.


Northern station staff jump barrier

Contracted out ticket barrier workers at Northern, the train operating company, struck last Friday and are set to walk out again on Saturday of next week.

RMT union members employed by Carlisle Support Services work at Northern Rail ticket barriers and are paid less than directly employed staff.

They cannot enter the company pension scheme or receive sick pay from their employer.

The contractor also does not recognise the RMT for collective bargaining.


Ballot on the Clyde after deal rejected

Workers at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde are voting on strikes.

The 600 members of the Unite union employed by Babcock Marine (Clyde) Ltd work on Britain’s nuclear submarines.

Workers rejected a two-year deal for a seven and three percent pay rise by 99 percent.

They want a pay rise in line with RPI inflation last year, which was 9.1 percent. The ballot runs for two weeks until 11 June.

Tommy Robinson must be stopped

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Stand Up To Racism counter-protests Tommy Robinson

Stand Up To Racism counter-protests Tommy Robinson

Fascist Tommy Robinson is coming to London this Saturday. The English Defence League (EDL) founder plans to assemble his troops at Victoria station then march to Parliament Square.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has called a counter-demonstration. Anti-fascists have to be ready to greet Robinson to ensure he leaves with his tail between his legs.

Robinson says he’s calling the demonstration because, “There’s a clear two tier policing and justice system in the UK, with independent voices quashed.”

But the real two tier policing is a racist police force. Robinson says he wants to “expose the British totalitarian state” and accuses the media and cops of curtailing his freedoms—to be racist and hateful.

This march is just an excuse for Robinson to spew his vile racism out on the streets. His Twitter is full of anti-Muslim and antitrans propaganda.

Islamophobe Robinson calls for “foreigners out”, uses racist fear-mongering and scapegoating and dubs Palestine protesters “terrorist scum”.

SUTR says Robinson wants “to pursue the agenda he has for years—spreading racism, Islamophobia and division”.

Robinson has been banned from London for six months since his arrest at a march against antisemitism called by Zionists. Organisers asked Robinson to not come to the November demonstration to avoid giving their pro-Israel protest a bad name.

Police arrested him outside the Royal Courts of Justice and he denied the charge of failing to comply with a dispersal order. But a judge threw his case out last month because the dispersal order signed by a Met cop had the wrong date on it.

Robinson tweeted after that he’d be suing the Met. SUTR says, “Robinson is a fascist who has a history of involvement with fascist and far right organisations.”

The likes of disgraced ex-Tory MP Andrew Bridgen who described Covid vaccinations as the “biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust” are supporting Robinson.

SUTR adds that Robinson’s re-emergence comes prior to “a general election where the government’s key priority is to demonise migrants”.

“And internationally the far right is set to make big gains in the European elections, and there is a very real prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House in November,” it said.

  • Unite against Tommy Robinson—fascists not welcome in London demonstration. Saturday 1 June, assemble 11am outside Downing Street to march on Parliament Square

Continue fight against racism after Rwanda flights delay

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Protesters march on the UN Anti-racist day (Photo: Guy Smallman)

Protesters march on the UN Anti-racist day in March (Photo: Guy Smallman)

The Tories are using racism in a desperate effort to shore up votes. Rishi Sunak is saying vote Conservative to start deportation flights to Rwanda.

He announced last week that no Rwanda flights would take off before the 4 July election. But, he said, “We’ve started detaining people. The flights are booked for July, airfields on standby, the escorts are ready, and if I’m re-elected as your prime minister, those flights will go to Rwanda.”

Refugees have been subjected to fear, round-ups and misery—but they have also protested against their removal. Despite the announcement of no flights before 4 July, anti-racists shouldn’t rest easy. Sunak may still look to send a Rwanda flight off a few days before the election as a final vile gimmick.

Sunak on his first day of campaigning said the Rwanda policy is “central” to the election. Both the main parties will be competing about how many refugees they can keep out and deport.

The Labour Party has already said it would scrap the plan but only because it’s too expensive and doesn’t deport enough people. Labour’s new election leaflet says that Labour’s “workable” plan is to mobilise its new border police forces.

It also wants to “set up a new returns and enforcement unit to remove people”.

“Plus it will “clear the backlog and end asylum hotels”. Keir Starmer wants to stop the boats and make life as cruel for refugees as it is under the Tories.

He opposes “safe passage” for people fleeing war and poverty. The pause on Rwanda flights means there is an even stronger case to free immediately all those rounded up and locked up in recent raids.

And opposition to the round-ups and hostile environment should continue. The Home Office wants to create an environment of fear for those in the asylum system—and all round-ups of refugees are part of that.

Meanwhile, racism is ramping up. Far right figure Nigel Farage—the Reform UK president—said last

Sunday that Sunak had allowed “more people into the country who are going to fight British values” than any leader before him.

And he added there was a growing proportion of people in Britain who “loathe much of what we stand for”.

When asked if he was talking about Muslims, Farage responded,

“We are”. In the same interview, Farage said he still had “one more big card to play” and confirmed that he plans to stand as an MP at some point. Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan echoed his message saying some Muslims “want to challenge” fundamental British values.

Asked if she agreed with Farage, Trevelyan told LBC Radio there were some Muslims who matched that description. A recent poll revealed that 58 percent of Conservative Party members think Islam is a threat to the British way of life.

The family of a man who died abroad after being wrongly deported by the Home Office has blamed the department for causing delays that stopped him being reunited with his children.

Sudharsan Ithayachandran was deported to Sri Lanka in December 2019 after admitting to working at Tesco without official documents.

He left behind his wife and two children—all British citizens. He won an appeal at an immigration tribunal in November 2023.

The Home Office delayed a visa for him to return to Britain. On 19 May, Ithayachandran collapsed at his accommodation in Sri Lanka and died in hospital.

His family said he was in a deep depression due to his separation from his children and was not eating or looking after himself properly.

A.I. and a world with emotions eliminated

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Léa Seydoux and George MacKay star as Gabrielle and Louis

Léa Seydoux and George MacKay star as Gabrielle and Louis in The Beast

Bertrand Bonello’s latest film The Beast left me confused. It’s set in a future where emotions are considered detrimental to human progress.

It follows Gabrielle, played by Léa Seydoux, as she undergoes a technologically advanced procedure to eradicate her painful emotions.

This main narrative is entangled with her past lives and recurring encounters with her lover Louis, played by George MacKay.

There are several time jumps, going back and forth between the decades before the First World War in Paris, to a dystopian 2044 future world and to a 2014 Los Angeles which looks like a David Lynch film.

Bonello takes inspiration from The Beast in the Jungle a short 1903 novel by Henry James.

James’ book is based on the idea of a man petrified by fear of an undetermined and impending catastrophe.

The film translates this generalised sense of anxiety and paralysing dread and projects it onto a future dominated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The film’s scenes are frequently interrupted by video glitches and alternate outcomes.

This stylistic choice seems to suggest that it is all in Gabrielle’s mind during her purification rite.

There is really a missed opportunity for the film to delve deeper into what is genuinely scary —the real “beast” that is the alienation and commodification of modern life.

That is what sparks real fears for the human experience under capitalism.

The protagonists’ performance could have been a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of systemic oppression.

And it could have highlighted the importance of interpersonal relationships as a form of resistance against a dehumanising society.

The film could have been a critique about the notion that technological advance requires the sacrifice of human well-being.

And it could have challenged the audience to consider who benefits from technological breakthroughs in a system where profit comes first.

At the end, the film dodges a traditional credit roll with a QR code that viewers have to scan.

The irony is not lost on me—the only moment in which the film industry gives credit to the crew is replaced by an anonymous QR code.

The Beast is in cinemas now


Unmasking the horrors caused by corporate drug pushers

Dopesick, available now on BBC iPlayer, is a devastating exposure of how drug firms wreck lives for profit.

It charts how bosses of Purdue Pharma spread the use of the opioid Oxycontin, paying doctors to say it was safe.

They also bent the authorities to say it was non-addictive and corrupted politicians to stop investigations.

They ruthlessly sold more and more of it even as the bodies piled high from overdoses and the effects of addiction.

Well over a million people have died in the United States since 1999 from drug overdoses and over 70 percent of such deaths have involved an opioid.

Just when you think the firm can go no lower they carry out another breath-taking horror.

Faced with irrefutable evidence of addiction, they find a doctor who will say that the reason for the addiction is because people are still suffering pain.

They therefore need higher doses of the drug. Bosses recruit a pushy, money-obsessed salesforce and set them out to win over doctors with handouts and junkets.

The eight-part series never flags. It denounces the whole Big Pharma system.

And it has a strong sense of class, showing how the drug first broke through in areas where workers used painkillers to keep turning up for manual jobs even though they had suffered horrible injuries and recurrent disease.

The series, first made in 2021, is as relevant as ever. And although it shows people fighting for justice and making some gains, it doesn’t pretend that the villains have gone.

To watch Dopesick on BBC iPlayer go to tinyurl.com/Dopesick0524

Why a revolution has to be international

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Tahrir Square, Egypt occupation during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. (Picture: Gigi Ibrahim)

Tahrir Square, Egypt occupation during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. (Picture: Gigi Ibrahim)

In 1918, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, said, “It is the absolute truth that without a German revolution we are doomed.”

The Russian working class, led by the Bolsheviks, had conquered power a year earlier.

But all the leading figures in that revolution believed that only if the revolution spread could it possibly survive.

Russia had a low level of overall industrial development before the revolution.

And the First World War and the years of civil war against the new workers’ state destroyed much of what had existed.

By the end of the war in 1920, 14 foreign armies had invaded Russia to fight alongside the counter-revolutionary forces led by generals from the old regime.

The fighting destroyed factories and transport networks. It saw crops burned and stolen.

Five million people died— with many more perishing from hunger and disease. And the brutal wars crucially sapped the force that built the revolution.

The working class, small in 1917, was reduced to just 43 percent of its size before 1914.

Russia could not exist as an island of socialism in a sea of hostile capitalist states.

The heroism of the Bolsheviks, the rest of the working class and the poorer peasants could for a time hold back capitalist restoration.

But in the longer term the economic and military power of imperialism would squeeze the life from the revolution.

The hope was in revolutions elsewhere. If workers in Germany, for example, overthrew their rulers and seized control as the Russians had done then great new opportunities could have opened up.

Wider revolutions could have boosted the material wealth available to the Russians and acted as a bridge to further insurrections in other countries.

Eventually the basis would have been there for a world of cooperating workers’ states without capitalist competition and borders. Such a vision was not an idle dream.

German workers rose in revolution in 1919 and 1923. In Italy crucial sections of workers occupied their factories in 1919-20.

But in both these cases there was no revolutionary party like the Bolsheviks to group together and lead the most advanced sections of the working class and its allies.

Mutinied In Germany troops and sailors mutinied and workers set up workers’ councils to run society.

But they were outmanoeuvred and then destroyed by reformist forces.

In Italy in September 1920, when engineering bosses responded to a strike with a lockout, half a million workers took over the factories and declared workers’ control.

In the city of Turin the occupations took on elements of dual power, as working class democracy opposed that of the official government and armed workers defended the factories.

But, lacking revolutionary leadership to displace them, the trade union leaders maintained control. They ended the factory occupations and the land seizures by the peasants.

Capitalism, which had been teetering on the brink of extinction, hurled back the revolutionary wave.

Under capitalism the global nature of production sees the imperialist plunder of the resources of the Global South.

The system exploits and oppresses workers everywhere and bears down particularly harshly on those in poorer countries.

Its coercive power has to be overthrown by international revolution that unfolds on a national scale and then spreads.

Otherwise it will strangle any attempt to create a better form of society.

As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky said, “Socialist construction is conceivable only on the foundation of the class struggle, on a national and international scale.”

When the revolution did not spread, the Bolsheviks either had to hang on grimly and do their best to support workers’ revolts elsewhere.

Or they could launch the hyperexploitation of their own workers and peasants to compete against the West.

It was this second course that laid the basis for the rise of Stalinism.

This is the 14th part of a series that discuss What We Stand For, the Socialist Workers Party statement of principle. For the full series go to tinyurl.com/WWSF2024

New book is essential reading at Palestine encampments

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Sophie
socalist socialism Palestine

Issy, a socialist student, on the university bloc of a national demonstration for Palestine

This book  is a must-read for every new activist who knows that capitalism is at the heart of all the crises we face today. In a time where the Tories are getting worse and Labour isn’t much better, many are looking for an alternative to the capitalist system.

The job of this book— as well as a revolutionary party—is to argue and fight for a political alternative to the capitalist system.

This is why revolution is a central message of the book, as it argues for the necessity of a complete overhaul of capitalist society.

It details the history of the capitalist system and how the ruling class exploits the working classes and marginalises people for the sake of profit.

And the book explains the material basis of racism, sexism and transphobia and the necessity of these ideas for capitalism, as they are used to divide workers.

It argues that capitalism is a system that reinforces and takes advantage of the oppression. Oppression helps the bosses exploit workers.

The book argues that the importance of a revolutionary socialist party is to push the working class towards the most radical conclusion.

It argues that to do so revolutionaries need to be at the heart of social movements and at the centre of anti-fascist groups. Fighting on every issue means a revolutionary party can relate to the working class in all the struggles they face.

And the book analyses the 1917 Russian Revolution, with a critique of Stalin’s counter-revolution opening up an awareness of why socialism from below is necessary.

Today, we are seeing more and more the imperialist interests of the ruling class play out in terrible ways. 

For instance, Western imperialist nations ignored Israel’s genocide and oppression of Palestinians in favour of profit and power.

But the people rising up against the capitalist system that allows these horrors shows the revolutionary potential of the working class.

The radicalism that the Palestine movement has created must be sustained—and political education mustn’t be neglected. This book puts into context how capitalism creates the conditions for genocide—giving both an explanation and a path for resistance.

If we are able to imbed the revolutionary politics that this book details into the Palestine movement, we have a chance to bring about change for the Palestinians and make a dent in Western imperialism.

Union Jack waving is all the Tories have left

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Sophie
Tories nationalism

Rishi Sunak hosting the Farm to Fork Summit at 10 Downing Street (Picture: Number 10)

Ever since national service was abolished in the early 1960s, it’s been the definition of the pub bore to call for its return, usually to put some backbone into the young.

Now it’s the official policy of the Tory party as it struggles for survival under the hapless leadership of Rishi Sunak. Both Britain and the United States abolished conscription because they judged it was more efficient and cheaper to invest in highly-trained professional soldiers and sailors.

They deemed employing these soldiers would be preferable to training, paying, housing and disciplining large numbers of disgruntled teenagers.

Hence, there were quick denunciations of Sunak’s proposal as “electoral opportunism” by assorted ex-chiefs of staff. There is presumably a crude electoral calculation involved.

Polling suggests that only 10 percent of 18-to-24 year olds back year-long compulsory military service, but 46 percent of those over 65 do. The latter is an important part of the Tories’ base so Sunak’s proposal can be seen as an attempt to prevent them from haemorrhaging in larger numbers to Reform UK.

But I think there’s also something broader involved. Nick Robinson asked Sunak on last Thursday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme if, in effect, he was going to run a dirty campaign.

Sunak didn’t give a straight answer, instead stressing the importance of “security”. The Tories have been presenting themselves for months as defending Britain in what they call a “pre-war situation” — in other words, in imminent danger of a Russian attack.

We know now that Sunak decided some time ago to call a snap election in July. So the fact that he made a speech a couple of weeks ago devoted to “security” is significant.

He said then that “the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet the most transformational our country has ever known. The dangers that threaten our country are real.

They are increasing in number. “An axis of authoritarian states like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China is working together to undermine us and our values,” he went on.

Absurdly Sunak added pro-Palestine campaigners and “gender activists” to the list of threats. Enemies So here we have the Tories portraying themselves as defending Britain against enemies without and within.

It was almost exactly 40 years ago that Margaret Thatcher denounced “the enemy within”, targeting striking miners. But she combined a very traditional conservative and racist nationalism with optimism about how neoliberal economic policies could transform Britain for the better.

Thatcherism was summed up by the formula “free economy plus strong state”. As Janan Ganesh, the clever but annoying Tory columnist at the Financial Times, pointed out last week, Sunak “is the most thoroughgoing capitalist to have held the office of UK prime minister.

“At the same time, he is enough of a stickler for tradition and nationhood to have supported Brexit before Boris Johnson did.” But, like Thatcher herself, he’s failed to see that capitalist anarchy undermines traditional institutions and beliefs.

It’s true that in his security speech Sunak tried to paint a glowing picture of a future, innovative, free-enterprise Britain. But in reality, Toryism in power has increasingly used the state to prop up an increasingly shaky capitalism.

When announcing the election in that rain-drenched Downing Street address, Sunak started with the furlough scheme, which was financed by massive government borrowing.

Johnson won the last election promising to get Brexit done and to level up the parts of Britain that had suffered deindustrialisation.

The failure of these policies is summed up by Michael Gove’s announcement that he is retiring from politics in his mid-50s. He is another architect of Brexit and Sunak’s levelling up secretary.

Sunak represents the dregs of Thatcherism. Wrapping himself in the Union Jack is all he has left. He and his government deserve to be swept away. It’s just a pity that his likely successor is equally fond of flag-waving.