Britain: tensions rise in the Tory Party as second wave looms

The Tory government is lurching from one disaster to another. The rate of infections is rising. And as the economy reopens and students return to school, a second wave is all but certain. We need a militant opposition to this government of chaos.

It’s been a scorching summer and a damp, miserable start to the autumn. But spare a thought for Boris Johnson. The weather is undoubtedly the least of Boris’ concerns as he faces the dreaded return of parliament. In Boris’ (prolonged) summer absence, his government has suffered a litany of disasters.

Chaos and crisis

Care homes Image Socialist AppealDuring the first wave, the government avoided the collapse of the NHS by offloading sick, elderly COVID-19 patients to care homes, where the virus spread like wildfire / Image: Socialist Appeal

The government has been forced into one U-turn after another: first over school meals; then over the A-Level results; and more recently on evictions. And it is increasingly wrapping itself in knots over local lockdowns.

The Tories’ latest move is to begin easing the lockdown in the North West and elsewhere, just as new COVID-19 cases have begun to soar. Their big fear is that empty city centres will mean empty coffers for their wealthy friends.

But, on the other side, there are grave concerns about the infection rate rising rapidly in the coming weeks, as the economy opens up further, and young people return to schools and universities. Already, question marks have been raised about the reopening of schools, without proper measures in place.

After their catastrophic handling of the first wave of the virus, the Tory government is now, by its policies, preparing a second wave. According to the government’s own advisory committee, SAGE, a second wave in the winter could kill as many as 85,000 people across the UK.

During the first wave, the government avoided the collapse of the NHS by offloading sick, elderly COVID-19 patients to care homes, where the virus spread like wildfire. In other words, they massacred tens of thousands of Britain’s elderly for political gain.

If there is a second wave this winter – notwithstanding a similar diabolical trick – the NHS may well collapse under the stress of a decade of austerity, seasonal flu, and COVID-19.

Picking up the tab

Boris Sunak Tories out Image Socialist AppealThe contradictions in the Tory Party are coming back to the fore under the pressure of this crisis / Image: Socialist Appeal

Economically the forecast is also grim. Rishi Sunak, the Tory golden boy, has lost his shine. The Chancellor was previously hailed as a hero for staving off a complete economic meltdown by writing cheques left, right and centre for big business.

But now the furlough scheme is drawing to an end, mass unemployment looms, and the question is posed: who will pick up the tab?

The new cohort of Tory MPs from the so-called Red Wall were elected on the basis of ‘the end of austerity’. A new wave of cuts will ensure the government loses these newly acquired seats when the next election comes along.

Backbenchers in the traditional Tory shires, meanwhile, are up in arms at the prospect of higher taxes and attacks on pensions to plug the gap. As for the party’s big business backers – they are in no mood to discuss a corporation tax hike.

In short, the contradictions in the Tory Party are coming back to the fore.

Fighting leadership

As anger begins to bubble in society, support for the government has slumped.

Boris had a brief bump of support in March. Naturally, the public rallied around the sitting government at a time of acute crisis. Now things are starting to slip, with the Labour Party polling higher than the Tories for the first time since 2019.

This owes little to the so-called ‘opposition’ of Keir Starmer. Labour are currently climbing by default.

As anger against the Tories turns to rage and the polls slump, the knives are being sharpened for Boris. Back-stabbing and intrigue are intensifying inside the Tory Party.

With splits emerging at the top, it’s not enough to wait until Boris’ government expires. Starmer’s Tory-lite approach offers no alternative to the hell capitalism has created for us.

We need to struggle for a fighting leadership in the trade unions and the labour movement, committed to the overthrow of this murderous economic system.

Originally published 7 Sept at |