No 1615 22nd August 2022
Tory ruling class paralysis in the face of raging inflation, disintegrating services and and growing proletarian unrest reflect an out-of-time bourgeois-capitalist system long ripe for overthrow. Much worse is to come as monopoly imperialism stampedes unstoppably towards catastrophic slump collapse. Reformist demands on the capitalist state (“left”, or Green) for nationalisations, “price freezes” or “a fair deal for workers” are are completely futile and head the workers away from the necessary revolutionary class-war fight to end capitalist chaos. Rolling defeats in Ukraine are welcome but they will not stop war. The US empire will need bigger warmongering diversions to distract from economic disaster and remain top-dog against its main imperialist rivals - just as Russia’s moves to defend the Donbass and stop NATO encirclement is used as a scapegoat now. Only proletarian class rule can solve the mounting disasters and build rational societies in harmony with human nature and the environment
No amount of Tory nastiness, whether it is led by Rishi Sunak’s polished spivvery or (more likely) Liz Truss’s cold, calculated vapidity, can rescue British capitalism from the devastating Slump crisis now breaking out in all directions.
The bourgeoisie’s paralysis and unfitness to rule is now clear to everyone as all services and infrastructures necessary for the maintenance of healthy and safe societies breakdown and hurtle towards total collapse, and huge surges of inflation are set to impoverish tens of millions of workers and petty-bourgeois.
Also becoming clear is that the root cause of this multifarious, unstoppable capitalist crisis is the out-of-time, parasitic ruling bourgeois class itself, now completely incompetent and useless and unable to assure an existence to “its” workers, on whose exploitation it depends for its own survival.
Their inability to guarantee to millions of workers that they will have the resources to feed and house themselves and their families over the coming winter months is providing invaluable revolutionary lessons to the working class.
Truss’s callous resistance to even the meagreest of “emergency handouts” to “struggling households” hammered by waves of inflation (with far worse to come) and nasty leaked comments about “idle workers” needing “more graft” reflect the fact that, far from “supporting workers in times of crisis”, the British capitalists’ aim to intensify the punishing exploitative conditions the working class already experience in their desperate competitive trade-war battle for survival against their imperialist rivals.
The essential condition for bourgeois-class rule is the ability to create, accumulate and invest capital derived from the exploitation of the surplus value created by the working class.
In capitalist societies, the working class exists to “feed the bourgeoisie”, as Marx and Engels put it in ‘the Communist Manifesto’ [see economics box].
However, once the capitalist crisis has pushed the mass of workers into desperate poverty and hunger and forced them to become dependent on bourgeois government support for their own existence, capitalism no longer functions effectively as an exploitative system, and has reached its historic endpoint.
The ruling class is driven by the logic of the monopoly capitalist “free market” system and its catastrophic crisis to push the working class down the levels of Third World slavery conditions to maintain its system of exploitation.
It is not in their interests to maintain workers’ cost of living and provide “a fair deal” as the class-collaborating right-wing TUC leaders grovellingly demand.
Instead, the total impoverishment of the working class and mass unemployment is needed to force workers to work for next to nothing in the most intolerable conditions possible, and this is where British society is heading (as is the rest of the capitalist world, if it is not there already).
The subsequent “softening” of Truss’s position on “handouts” following nervous ruling class pressure, alongside Boris Johnson’s admittance that an existing £37 billion cost of living package is insufficient, demonstrates the desperate bind the ruling class is in and its fear of the revolutionary consequences of the measures it knows it needs to take if it has any hope of surviving as a class.
Tellingly, not only has she not backed down on her slanderous “lazy British workers” comments, she has been boosted by the Dickensian-era throwback, rabid Brexiteer and close Johnson supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments on “poor productivity” being “the unfortunate reality of the British state”.
The Tories’ (and now Labour’s) adoption of Brexit after vicious splits (and given credence by most of the fake-”lefts” - both Trots and Stalinists) is a part of this.
Brexit is aimed at slowing British imperialism’s competitive decline against its rivals by tearing up all regulations, driving working conditions down, and forcing the British workers to take up the low-paid, long-hour, crappy jobs previously done by European migrants.
It is also a means of whipping up national chauvinism and racism as part of British imperialism’s intensifying trade war against the European imperialists, and as a scapegoating diversion against foreigners, disgracefully backed up by the chauvinist trade unions.
The railway workers' strike resistance to capitalist bosses’ diktat is excellent, and to be supported (as are the rest of the defensive, economic strikes breaking out across the country).
However, their RMT union played right into the ruling class’s chauvinist scapegoating hands when it highlighted in large red font in a June strike leaflet the fact that “80% of profits go to foreign companies!” (as if 100% of profits going to British capitalists would be progress!!) when what has to be put to the forefront of all propaganda aimed at workers is the need to take the whole wealth of the country out of private ruling-class hands in order to plan its use properly in the interests of all the people, and in harmony with the environment.
This means starting to talk about the revolution needed to bring this about.
Workers need to be warned that there is no alternative but socialist revolution to endless slump and total-war barbarism they are facing.
The Tories’ nervousness and vacillations over how to respond to the crisis, and the broader vicious splits that led up to Johnson’s humiliating forced resignation (now becoming increasingly bitter in the joke Tory leadership “election”) reflect ruling class paralysis in the face of the onrushing crisis and its inability to overcome it, and exposes the bourgeoisie’s fearfulness of an emerging revolutionary mood and hostility towards their class (mis)rule.
The only means they have left to stay in charge is the fascist suppression of all left opposition, as shown in Sunak’s proposal to extend the thought-control Prevent programme’s already deliberately vague catch-all definition of an abstract “extremism” to those who “vilify the United Kingdom”, who public sector workers will be obliged by law to report to the authorities.
Sunak and Truss’s cruel pledges to implement and extend Preti Patel’s Nazi policy of transporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda and callous indifference towards the warnings of Foreign Office officials that the thuggish stooge Kagame regime is founded on arbitrary detention, torture and killings also steps up the fascist scapegoating atmosphere.
As does the Tories’ plans to place further curbs on already highly restrictive anti-trade union laws to make strikes virtually illegal as a part of the ruling class’s civil-war preparations for the coming outbreaks of proletarian unrest that are bound to erupt as the crisis deepens.
The same goes for Truss’s pledge outlaw “unfair protest” made in front of a braying crowd of Tory reactionaries:
Climate activists disrupted Liz Truss’s appearance at the latest Conservative leadership hustings to highlight what they claimed was her failure to tackle the global heating crisis.
During Truss’s opening remarks at the Winter Garden theatre in Eastbourne, several activists from the youth group Green New Deal Rising stood to heckle Truss about the government’s record and her policies.
Fatima Ibrahim could be heard shouting “Liz Truss, you should be ashamed of yourself”. Another activist then stood while Fatima was being removed from the event, saying Truss had “no credible plan to tackle the biggest energy crisis … what you’ve announced will not help people with energy bills of over £3,000 per year”. Three more activists were also seen protesting, and later in the event another protester was escorted out after interrupting proceedings.
Truss broke off from her speech to promise an immediate crackdown on militant protesters if she becomes prime minister. The audience, made up mostly of Conservative members and supporters, booed the activists and shouted “out, out, out” as they were led away.
Truss initially paused her speech. She then said: “I would legislate immediately to make sure that we are standing up to militant trade unions, who stop ordinary commuters getting into work. And I would legislate to protect our essential services. And will make sure that militant activists such as Extinction Rebellion are not able to disrupt ordinary people who work hard, do the right thing and go into work.”
Truss added: “I will never ever, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unfair protests.”
These environmentalist hecklers correctly link the “global heating crisis” to the rapid and so far uncontrollable hikes in inflation the ruling class have been unable to solve.
However, their mistake is to focus on preventing man-made climate change and a reformist “new deal” as the way out of environmental and economic chaos.
Green “solutions” to the devastating consequences of climate change, such as this summer’s droughts, are worse than useless because not only do they fail to put the need to end the capitalist system at the heart of their analysis and thereby offer no route out, they reinforce the petty-bourgeois illusion that capitalism can be reformed and made “fairer”.
Environmental degradation, resource depletion, deforestation and species extinction are symptoms of capitalism’s “over-production” crisis which had been developing for decades before it first burst out into the open in the 2008 Great Crash when the capitalist system was just hours away from complete economic and societal collapse; and has since been headed off temporarily through the printing of money (quantitative easing) at criminally insane levels.
This rapid expansion of the money supply to unfathomable levels created the current surges in inflation now erupting across the planet and threatening economic catastrophe on the working class and petty bourgeoisie on a scale that surpasses even the Great Depression of the 1930s, and compelled the monopoly corporations to override all environmental protection regulations through bribery, political chicanery and violence in pursuit of diminishing profitable returns.
Take Germany as an example. The right-wing Greens have transformed themselves into NATO’s biggest warmongering cheerleaders for the deliberately provoked anti-Russian war in Ukraine, and are now backing the recommissioning of mothballed coal-powered plants as “a necessary evil” to reduce Germany’s reliance on Russian gas despite it being a considerable setback in their reformist efforts to fight climate change by reducing Germany’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Or look at Brazil, where murderous invasions of Indigenous people’s Amazonian lands have been encouraged by Jair Bolsonaro’s defence of illegal mining in their territories and the dismantling of Lula-era reformist environmental protections aimed at preventing illegal logging; and his more recent push for Nazi white-supremacist legislation on behalf of the multinationals to force the tribal peoples to open their reservations up to commercial mining, oil and gas exploitation and the building of hydro-electric dams.
Long-term, sustainable solutions are only possible once the anarchic profit-driven monopoly-imperialist system has been replaced in the coming revolution by rational socialist societies of planned extraction, production and distribution, but this is a million miles away from the minds of the anti-communist Greens:
A drought has officially been declared across vast swathes of England. Rivers and reservoirs are evaporating in front of our eyes. Water may soon be rationed and crop irrigation restricted. Drought, and the extreme heat that exacerbates it, isn’t some occasional freak occurrence that can be brushed off as “super scorchio” fun once or twice a year. It’s a consequence of years of inaction on the climate emergency. This is producing a perfect storm of energy insecurity, food supply chaos and extreme weather that is wreaking havoc on society.
Getting a firm grip on this crisis requires both immediate and long-term solutions. Our lame duck government is offering neither. It’s clear that the privatisation experiment for water companies has failed. They’re fit for profit, not for purpose. The head of Thames Water – the company responsible for the supply fiasco at Northend in Oxfordshire – is set to receive a £3.1m “golden hello” for signing on as CEO. English water firms across the board have handed over £72bn to shareholders in dividends.
Ed Vaizey claimed on Good Morning Britain this week that “you get better run companies in the private sector”. Are these the same companies that dithered over hosepipe bans for fear of annoying customers, further intensifying our drought crisis? Companies that failed to meet their own targets on fixing leaks and faulty mains pipes? Companies whose incessant dumping of raw sewage has blighted our waterways?
All that profit, yet investment in our waterways is falling woefully short. Not a single new reservoir has been built in the past three decades, and our Victorian water pipes are being replaced at a rate 10 times slower than our European neighbours. So we need immediate action. The Green party is calling for an urgent enforcement order on water firms, a cut to bosses’ obscene executive pay, an end to dividends to shareholders and for the water supply to be brought back into public ownership as soon as is practicably possible.
Public ownership works, and is popular. Publicly owned Scottish Water is the most trusted public utility in the UK, while not-for-profit Welsh Water has helped 60,000 low-income customers to pay their bills. They invest more, too. Scottish Water has invested nearly 35% more per household in infrastructure since 2002 than privatised firms in England; it charges 14% less in water bills; and it doesn’t pay out costly dividends to shareholders.
Making ourselves more resilient to droughts in the future requires long-term solutions that tackle the climate emergency at its source. Yet just when we need real climate leadership to address this urgent crisis, our government has gone awol. During last month’s heatwave, Boris Johnson ducked out of chairing several Cobra meetings, and has barely been seen in public since. Prospective leader Rishi Sunak thinks letting his daughters do the recycling will help us get to net zero. This is hardly the muscular and resolute decision-making we need to tackle the climate emergency.
Meanwhile, Liz Truss is on a bizarre crusade complaining about solar panels in fields, when solar is the cheapest form of energy and covers just 0.06% of UK land, far less than the amount of land used by airports. To top it all off, Truss has also refused to increase the windfall tax on energy companies, and has pledged to lift the ban on climate-wrecking fracking.
The solutions to this crisis are clear. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground and deliver a clean, green and affordable energy system. We need publicly owned utilities to do what they say on the tin, rather than simply siphon off obscene profits to shareholders. The climate emergency affects us all – and we can all be part of the solution.
Caroline Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
Like their German counterparts, the British Greens lined themselves up behind Western imperialism’s war against Russia in February when they called for the immediate application of “the strongest of sanctions” against Russia once Putin was provoked into taking defensive actions to protect the beleaguered breakaway anti-fascist working-class resistance in the Donbass region from an impending military onslaught by the Kiev Nazis, and to prevent a further tightening of NATO’s terrifyingly threatening nuclear-armed encirclement of Russia.
Given that one consequence of imposing sanctions on Russia is a return to coal production in Germany, Caroline Lucas’s demand that “fossil fuels must be kept in the ground” is shown to be hollow posturing.
Lucas is correct enough, as far as she goes, in exposing the water companies’ gross profiteering, negligence and under-investment in the waterways since they were privatised by Margaret Thatcher in 1989, and a former senior civil servant provides further useful exposures of Thatcher’s “free enterprise” privatisation racket:
So how did we get it so wrong? I mean me, not you. I was a very junior Treasury official working on the water privatisation project, responsible for securing value for money for taxpayers and water consumers. In retrospect, we utterly failed on both counts: the shares were sold well below their value so taxpayers lost out, and consumers have paid through the nose ever since. But this is not just hindsight. We knew what was going on, because water privatisation was never really about efficiency. In the short term, the overriding political priority was a “successful” sale – one where demand for shares was high – and where those who applied and who had, from previous privatisations, already come to expect a large premium, were not disappointed.
That meant that the Treasury’s position, when arguing for a higher share price or for tighter regulation to restrain bills in the future, was exceptionally weak. The National Audit Office report on the sale details how the forecast proceeds fell by more than a third over just three months, costing taxpayers £6bn or so in today’s money, as the Treasury was steamrollered by the combined forces of the water companies’ management, the Department of the Environment, No 10 and a huge army of investment bankers, accountants and PR consultants.
Given such damning exposures from a Treasury insider, its astonishing that Truss and Sunak still feel there is milage in trying to out-Thatcher each other!
But their “Thatcherism” has little to do with their fantasy dispute over tax cuts (now or delayed) as a solution to the crisis which everyone knows are a joke.
It is all about competing over who will be “tougher” and more ruthless as the Tory ruling class prepares, behind the scenes, for a return to the civil-war conditions Thatcher unleashed on the heroic striking miners in 1984/85 to combat coming explosive proletarian unrest and hold onto power as a class.
The Greens’ calls for the capitalist state to step in and take direct control of the water supplies and (in later statements) permanently take over the main energy supply companies are a reformist deception that merely serves to rescue capitalist industry.
If the water sector is taken into “public ownership” whilst capitalist market values and dictates continue to dominate, there will be no guarantee that funding will rise in any meaningful way, that investments will be made of any real significance or impact, or that the inefficiencies that have exacerbated this summer’s drought crisis will not continue.
At certain points in the crisis, nationalisation of certain monopoly-capitalist interests may start to appear advantageous to the ruling class - where direct private ownership is unable to turn a profit (as has already been the case in sections of the rail industry) - and may even become inevitable as the crisis pushes corporations to bankruptcy, but only in the interest of protecting the capitalist system as a whole.
Right-wing imperialist Clement Atlee’s post-1945 nationalisations were presented as “just as good as communism” to a near-revolutionary working class looking to the Soviet Union’s collectively planned workers’ state as an example, but they were really about revitalising British industries destroyed during WW2 until they could be put back into the capitalist market on a profitable basis (when it could be safely done so once the back of the trade union movement was broken, as was by 1985 with the defeat of the NUM’s reformist “Plan for Coal”).
Gordon Brown’s temporary nationalisation proposal is explicitly put forward to rescue the capitalist energy industry but it will also do nothing to stop monopoly capitalism’s inevitable and relentless drive towards total catastrophic slump collapse and inter-imperialist world war.
The Tartan Tory SNP have also opportunistically jumped on the nationalisation waggon.
Taken abstractly, nationalising failing water or energy companies could possibly revive the sectors if it was possible to reallocate the resources they need to prosper through taxation from other industrial sectors, but this would assume that the rest of the national economy was thriving and could absorb the costs; however, the real world economy is in the midst of the greatest economic and warmongering disaster in history with entire national economies facing total collapse already (see Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Haiti, Sierre Leone, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, etc. - and soon to come in the West).
Assuming the water companies and energy sector are nationalised, what then for the railways, or the car industry, or oil production, the pharmaceuticals, steel, coal, the airlines and aerospace industry, food production, telecommunications, construction, buses, banks, etc., etc., etc.??? - all of which face potential collapse in the coming economic storm, and all necessary for human society to function to varying degrees (though distorted by anarchic capitalist relations).
And then there are the schools, colleges, hospitals, care homes, counselling services, adoption and fostering services, asylum and immigration support services, dentists, housing, opticians, physiotherapists, food banks, etc., etc; and the prospect of needing to keep millions fed and housed with an estimated 18 million families projected to become trapped in fuel poverty by January according to a University of York study.
And not to forget all the local infrastructures councils are required to maintain and update, such as roads and parks; and the demands to support struggling small businesses.
How is a decrepit, out-of-time, out-competed, failing British capitalist economy, whose government debt levels are already at the highest point in history and rising rapidly as inflation soars and pushes up interest payment costs, supposed to take all this on??!!!
Tax the rich???? You’re joking, aren’t you?
It would far easier, quicker and make more sense for the working class to take power into their own hands in a class-war socialist revolution than wait around in sufferance for another century or more for the class-collaborating Labour/TUC/ fake-”left” / Green mountebanks’ pipe-dream reforms to work (no matter how “revolutionary” they are presented).
The threat of revolution may panic the bourgeoisie into giving up some of their wealth to make some reforms temporarily to head off the revolutionary mood if it is no longer possible to divert the working class into reformist “left pressure” campaigning as the fake-”lefts” have spent the last 170 years doing.
History has also shown the in times of existential slump-crisis bourgeois governments will be prepared to take over large sections of capitalist industries, but only to divert them towards war production (see the “arms race” run ups to the last two world wars).
The ruling class needs war against its imperialist rivals to destroy all the “surplus” capital and people clogging up the capitalist system in the hope of restoring the rate of profit, and this is the only direction it can go now, unless or until it is overthrown by proletarian revolution.
The current class-collaborating reformist demands for nationalisations, whether piece-meal or wholesale, are cowardly attempts to hide the true revolutionary nature of the crisis developments the proletariat at home and internationally are now being confronted with.
They become even more deceitful when they are dressed up as “socialism”, or “steps towards a socialist transition” that is somehow able to side-step the necessity of talking about revolution and the establishment of the sort of party-led proletarian dictatorships that can and will take control of all industries from the capitalist bosses for ever and place them under the direct control of the working class.
Of much greater interest and potential significance is the “Don’t Pay UK” civil disobedience movement that already has over 100,000 people signed up to refuse to pay their energy bills on mass when the price cap is hiked in October.
These numbers are likely to grow rapidly as the bills become unaffordable for tens of millions of workers who are already struggling as a consequence of past price hikes and general inflationary pressures.
Such a movement could become a source of solidarity and support for workers threatened by ruthless energy-sector debt collectors, as the semi-revolutionary anti-Poll Tax “Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay” movement that brought Thatcher down in 1990 was.
Initiatives like this could potentially develop into a centrist movement in which arguments for a revolutionary perspective can be made, fought for and won, as could a TU strike movement, breakaway Labour splits, local community or people’s assemblies, or some other movement that may emerge as workers begin to fight back in a class-war struggle against the bourgeoisie and its crisis.
This energy bill boycott campaign, combined with a growing strike wave, has already got the ruling class worried, and has pushed Labour to suddenly pop up with a lame £30 billion “plan” to tackle the rising energy costs after months of silence, and start raising the idea of a Starmer-led government as a serious prospect for the first time.
The Labourites don’t want power because whatever residual illusions there may still be left in the working class in their reformism (if any) will be shattered once they are in power and having to manage capitalism through the crisis.
The Tories are now totally bankrupt, as the vacuous joke leadership “election” shows, and the ruling class may be have to bring in its Labour B team to do its dirty work (or cobble together with them some form of “national emergency government” dictatorship).
Or they may just decide to dismantle their “freedom” and “democracy” pretences altogether and launch an outright coup - they are getting that desperate.
Signs of capitalist society collapse and decay are everywhere from increases in shop-lifting, county-line drug trafficking and knife crime to rising drug-related deaths and suicide rates.
The petty-bourgeois traders are also being hammered - increasingly indebted as their “independent” boutiques, coffee shops, farm shops, bars, restaurants and salons face the prospect of going bust in the winter months as energy prices skyrocket and custom dries up; and those that do manage to survive face seeing their inflation-linked business rates soar next spring (so much for the Thatcherite lie that “small businesses are at the heart of the economy”!).
Working conditions have become increasingly intolerable as entire public and private sectors fall apart, as demonstrated by the ongoing or planned local or national strike actions by railway workers, postal workers, bus workers, Felixstowe port workers and Liverpool dockers, Amazon workers, Grangemouth oil workers, bin workers, funeral care staff, legal advisers, barristers (!!), school examiners and more, with planned ballots in other sectors, including nurses, doctors (!!), teachers and lecturers.
While workers’ demands are for the moment economic and defensive, a further intensification of such crisis conditions as those described in the following bourgeois press reports will at some point soon push more political demands to the surface:
Armed police are being sent to save the lives of people in cardiac arrest because ambulances “can’t cope” with demand, The Independent can reveal.
Officers are spending up to a third of their time on non-policing matters, a watchdog has warned, including responding to mental health crises and transporting patients to A&E as ambulance services face a “chronic crisis situation”.
Andy Cooke, HM chief inspector of constabulary, said that firearms officers have been responding to pleas from struggling NHS colleagues to respond to cardiac arrests.
He told The Independent that police are becoming the “first, last and only resort” as NHS services buckle under strain, taking them away from tackling crime at a time when recorded offences are at a record high in England and Wales.
Mr Cooke, the former chief constable of Merseyside Police, added: “Recently, officers in armed response vehicles (ARVs) were being sent to reports of people who were having cardiac arrests because the ambulance service couldn’t cope with the demand, because they’re trained in first aid and to use defibrillators.
“The ambulance service contacted the police to say ‘we’ve got this heart patient and we haven’t got anyone to send’.
“Being first, last and only resort, the police will go. It’s right that they did go but that hides the problems we’ve got in the rest of the system.”
One officer who spoke to The Independent anonymously said armed police were regularly being sent to ambulance calls in his force area.
“I see logs every day saying ‘cardiac arrest – can you send an ARV?’” he added. “One even involved a terminally ill patient and I wonder about ringing for an ambulance and police with guns turn up.”
NHS leaders have warned that ambulance services are facing a “chronic crisis situation” as response times worsen and 999 calls hit record highs.
All 10 of the country’s ambulance services were on “black alert”, the highest level possible, last month, with patients needing urgent responses for conditions such as a suspected stroke left waiting for up to two hours.
A parliamentary report warned last week the NHS and the social care sector were facing the “greatest workforce crisis” in their history and said “persistent understaffing” was putting patients’ lives at risk. Long waits for ambulances and A&E services have been exacerbated by record absences fuelled by Covid.
There have been major declines in ambulance response times in recent years and growing numbers of reports of patients left for many hours in pain and distress.
All 10 ambulance services went on their highest form of alert last month amid a heatwave and Covid-related staff absences. One NHS boss told the Health Service Journal then that the situation was “dire for staff and patients” while another said that delays in crews handing over patients to A&E staff were “possibly the worst ever and it’s only July”.
In April Deborah Lee, the chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS trust, tweeted how, after suffering a suspected stroke at home, her husband had driven her to hospital after hearing her “lamenting ambulance delays. What if my husband hadn’t been there and my daughter had called for an ambulance and I’d been put in the Cat 2 ‘stack’?”, she said.
Thursday’s latest NHS monthly performance statistics contained more grim findings.
The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high of 6.7 million. More than 350,000 patients have been waiting more than a year to be seen – one in 20 patients.
A total of 520,000 patients (519,917) – another record – waited more than four hours in England’s major A&E departments last month, with just 57% of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour target, which states that 95% of attendees should be dealt with within that time.
“We are seeing the sharp demise of the health service and we are seeing little to no political will to act on or acknowledge the crisis – neither of the [Conservative] leadership candidates seem to recognise the scale of the crisis at hand,” said Dr Adrian Boyle, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors.
The health service also missed all eight of its main cancer targets last month. More than 5,700 patients – a record 40% of the total – waited more than two months for treatment after an urgent referral by a GP. The target is for 85% of patients to be seen within two months.
NHS England highlighted the service’s progress in reducing the number of people on the waiting list for hospital care who had been waiting for at least 18 months. They fell from 75,992 in January to 53,911 in June. Earlier this week it claimed to have virtually eradicated two-year waits for care by the deadline of the end of July.
“Today’s figures show the immense pressure our emergency services are under with more of the most serious ambulance callouts than the NHS has ever seen before, at levels more than a third higher than pre-pandemic,” said Prof Sir Stephen Powis, the organisation’s national medical director.
Councils across England have written to the health secretary, Steve Barclay, to warn that social care reforms could push some local authorities “over the financial edge” and force others to cutback on “vital council services.”
In a letter seen by ITV News, the Local Government Association (LGA) calls for key reforms - such as an £86,000 cap on the costs of care and a new means tested system - to be delayed by six months to urgently ease pressure on councils.
But government sources told ITV News that while they wanted to work constructively with the sector, they did not accept any need to lengthen the timetable - potentially placing ministers on a collision course with councils - including those run by their own party.
It comes alongside a warning that this winter could be the most challenging for social care in recent times, and new data revealing that the numbers waiting for services has surged to over half a million.
“The serious and precarious nature of our existing adult social care system, and the very real consequences of current pressures on people who draw on care and support, is unquestionable,” the letter says.
It adds that much of the immediate challenge “can be traced back to historic under-funding, which continues to this day on a significant level.”
The letter has been written on behalf of the LGA by David Fothergill, leader of the Conservative group on Somerset Council and chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing group.
It has the backing of many other Conservative council leaders, as well as from all other political parties.
They say the “existing instability” of the adult social care system is “plain to see” with only a small minority of directors of social care services confident they have the resources to deliver their existing statutory duties.
The letter lists worries being raised about unpaid carers, providers closing down or handing back contracts, and reductions in quality and choice.
The problem of recruiting and retaining care workers is described as a “major issue,” as they call on the government to urgently review pay levels.
Mr Fothergill said: “Social care’s lack of capacity to deliver the care that people need has been evidenced time and time again and the government needs to step in.
“If it doesn’t, we can expect one of the most challenging winters in recent times, with knock-on effects that will continue to impact on people and their loved ones.”
It comes after a survey from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (ADASS), published this week, found that more than 540,000 people were waiting for assessments, care, Direct Payments, or adult social care reviews, by the end of April.
That represents an increase of 37% in just six months.
The NHS confederation said in a recent report that NHS leaders were “sounding the alarm” on social care and called for a “rescue package for the sector.”
Meanwhile the dire economic situation means inflation is piling pressure on low pay - as well as eating into the settlements that councils received in the last spending review.
As a result Mr Fothergill argues for delays to a major package of reforms for social care, which will see a new £86,000 cap on care costs brought in for individuals and a more generous means test for local authority financial support.
Mouth cancers could be going undiagnosed as a result of dentists refusing to offer consultations, medical leaders have warned.
Routine dental appointments always involve checks for signs of the disease, which include inflamed or white patches in the mouth, and small lumps or blisters. These examinations are vital, as the symptoms are often painless or not considered serious by patients.
If anything worrying is seen, a referral can be made to hospital specialists for a definitive diagnosis. Almost half of mouth cancers are first spotted in this way.
But last week a major survey showed that nine in ten NHS dental practices in England are not accepting new adult patients, and eight in ten won’t take on children.
As a result, cases of mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, will undoubtedly have been missed, says Dr Jane Wilcock, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners North-West faculty. ‘Patients often aren’t aware of a problem in the mouth until a dental hygienist or dentist notices something suspicious, such as a red or white patch inside the cheek or on the gums.
‘Not all will turn out to be cancer, but some will. The problem is, many people just can’t get to see an NHS dentist at the moment. With fewer examinations, inevitably cases of mouth cancer will go undiagnosed.’
Cancer expert Professor Patricia Price, chair of Radiotherapy UK and co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, says: ‘With oral cancer, speed of diagnosis and treatment is hugely important. If opportunities to catch it early are missed, more oral cancer patients will die needlessly.’
In January, the Government pledged an extra £50 million to fund 350,000 more dental appointments, yet the latest figures suggest this has had little effect.
The number of NHS dentists has fallen to its lowest in a decade to about 22,000, with nearly 1,000 quitting during the past year. A further 40 per cent are said to be looking to change career or seek early retirement this year.
Healthwatch UK spokesman Jacob Lant says calls to their helpline reveal a frustrating situation. ‘We’ve heard from patients who’ve been unable to get a dentist appointment for two years and then tried to make an appointment, only to find they’ve been deregistered because they’ve not attended in so long. They then can’t reregister, as practices aren’t taking on new patients.’
New cases of mouth cancer were already rising sharply before the pandemic. More than 8,722 people in the UK were diagnosed in 2019 – an increase of 97 per cent since 2000. Given that trend, and with no new data since 2019, the fear is that new cases will have gone undiagnosed.
School weeks could be cut to just three or four days to pay for teacher salary rises and soaring energy costs, according to the Telegraph.
The newspaper reports headteachers, governors and trustees are currently holding “crisis meetings” to work out how they can keep schools afloat. Marc Jordan, the chief executive of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust with 17 schools across the East and West Midlands and Norfolk, said he had heard discussions of a “three-day week” to save on costs.
Headmaster of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, Dr Robin Bevan, said: “If a four-day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered” by some schools.
Schools have struggled with financial pressures in recent years, with funding per pupil falling by nine per cent between 2010 and 2020.
The Government has plans to bring spending per pupil back to 2010 levels by committing an extra £7billion for school budgets in England by 2024.
But the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that in 2024, spending per pupil will remain three per cent below 2010 levels after factoring in a number of rise in costs - including teacher’s salaries.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We recognise that schools – much like the wider economy – are facing increased costs, including on energy and staff pay.”
“Our schools white paper set out our expectation that the school week should last a minimum of 32.5 hours – the current average – for all mainstream state-funded schools. Thousands of schools already deliver this length of week within existing budgets and we expect current funding plans to account for this.”
The ruling class has just about got away with blaming the crisis on Brexit or on an increase in demand for services following Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions for now, but this will wear thin as life becomes increasingly intolerable.
Despite exacerbating some of the symptoms of crisis Britain is experiencing now (travel chaos at airports and ferry ports, staff shortages, supply-chain difficulties, increased red-tape for importers and exporters, etc.), Brexit was always a symptom of British capitalism’s economic crisis, not its cause (as explained above).
The long-term decline of British imperialism’s global influence and reach since the days of Empire, and its weakness compared to its major imperialist rivals (Germany, France, US and Japan) resulted in decades-long vacillations and splits over whether to remain in and strengthen ties with the European Union imperialist trading block, and accept growing German imperialist dominance within it, or withdraw and throw in its lot behind US imperialism.
As a consequence of the international imperialist economic crisis, which intensified following 2008 Great Crash, the pro-US wing of the British ruling class won the day, backed up in terms of referendum votes by an alienated working class who were misled by most of the fake-”lefts” (SWP, CPGB-ML, CPB/Morning Star, SPEW, Scargill’s SLP, etc.), “left” poseurs like George Galloway and TUC chauvinism, into believing that there was some sort of progressive future in “national independence” or “taking back control of our sovereignty” - an impossibility in an integrated world imperialist system, and nothing to do with preparing the working class for socialist revolution.
The pro-EU fake-“lefts” (Workers Power, Left Unity, AWL, Socialist Resistance, etc) were equally deceptive in claiming that a “progressive Europe is possible” by staying in the EU and fighting to reform it (“in a revolutionary way”) - at the expense of the Third World who continue to suffer under EU imperialist super-exploitation.
Post-Brexit “Global Britain” has turned out to be an economic disaster - a result of the internal contradictions inherent within the capitalist system itself.
Even the bourgeois press are now warning that Britain is on the brink of “collapse” and “economic catastrophe” (as the EPSR alone has argued is where international capitalism’s decades-long pre-2008 inflationary boom will always end up, against fake-”left” ridicule of such “old-hat Marxism”).
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has also compounded the difficulties, but this is because the crisis-ridden anarchic profit-driven international capitalist system proved to be incapable of preventing the virus from running wild, killing millions around the world, and leaving millions more to suffer from debilitating long-Covid symptoms.
Had the planet taken the rational, collective response to the virus the Chinese workers’ state did from the start (once initial local bureaucratic difficulties were identified and addressed) it is likely that the virus would have been contained and potentially eliminated.
But this would only be possible with a disciplined population confident that the measures taken by its leadership to tackle the virus are for their benefit and that of their families and the wider community, and that their basic needs for food and shelter would still be met when lockdown measures and restrictions are required.
China’s collective, disciplined approach could only be taken as its society has a centrally-planned economic system that is able to absorb the financial consequences of temporarily restricting the flow of industry because it is not driven by profit; and has a proletarian dictatorship that is led by a communist party that has the confidence of the majority of its society because of the correctness of its policy (revisionist weaknesses notwithstanding) and was able to isolate any petty-bourgeois individualist tendencies present in the population.
The numbers of Covid-19 reported deaths in mainland China are miniscule in relative and absolute terms when compared to the number of deaths in Britain and other capitalist societies.
Whilst there may have been local cases of bureaucratic heavy-handedness or sluggishness in aspects of China’s response (they perhaps should have started mass vaccinations sooner), this would be nothing compared to Britain’s chaotic capitalist response where the virus was allowed to let rip before any restrictions were put in place resulting in the needless deaths of over 20,000 elderly people in care homes; grossly inadequate protection initially for hospital workers resulting in scores of tragic deaths; hospitals overwhelmed; low-paid workers forced by economic circumstances to continue working despite being infected; unsafe working environments generally for essential workers; no meaningful financial support for vulnerable or poor families during the lockdowns; exhausting stop-start lockdown restrictions; confusing and conflicting messages from government ministers and advisers; needless scaremongering; gross PPE and vaccination profiteering; and a significantly large section of the population deeply suspicious (rightly) of anything the capitalist leaders and the pharmaceutical multinationals say and as a result rejecting all restrictions and life-saving vaccinations.
China remains alert to any outbreaks of Covid-19 and will respond accordingly to ensure that the virus is contained and eliminated; the British ruling class acts as if it is all over (barring an autumn booster programme for the over-50s and vulnerable adults - for the benefit of the American “big pharma” companies who profit from them) despite the potential of further waves of the virus overwhelming hospitals this winter, and more dangerous variants emerging in the future.
Ukraine is another huge diversion from monopoly imperialism’s crisis.
Heart-wrenching stories of starving Ethiopians are lyingly used to pin the blame for the “cost of living” energy and food crises on Russia, when, in fact, the famine crisis in east Africa pre-dates the Ukraine war, and was caused by international capitalism’s economic crisis and monopoly imperialist warmongering compounding geographical-environmenal factors.
Four seasons of failed rains have led to one of the worst droughts in decades on the Horn of Africa and has put an estimated 20 million people on the brink of starvation.
On-going US-imperialist inspired conflicts in Somalia and Ethiopia have exacerbated the situation.
While Ethiopia’s anti-imperialist government led by the bourgeois-nationalist Abiy Ahmed has largely defeated and pushed back a US-backed Tigrayan fascist counter-revolutionary insurgency in the north of the country, it is still battling ongoing imperialist provocations, as well fighting to survive Western sanctions and a crippling debt crisis on top of the global inflationary surge.
The West’s pretences of sympathy and solidarity for the victims of famine are exposed by the simultaneous support they have given to their Egyptian stooges in their attempt to scupper Ethiopia’s attempts to resolve its recurring water supply crises and improve its supply of energy by building its “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” on the Nile River basin.
The fact that the reservoir has just had its third filling is a defeat for the Western imperialists (as was the routing of their Tigrayan thugs) who have been stirring up a war atmosphere by encouraging the Egyptians to enforce their British colonialist era “claim” on the whole of the Nile, including the part that starts in Ethiopia (Donald Trump, as president, even suggested that the Egyptians should bomb the dam).
Western imperialist warmongering is also directly responsible for the near famine conditions in Afghanistan.
The US were in charge of the country for 20 of the last 21 years, and on ending their brutal occupation in humiliating defeat by the Taliban a year ago, the American imperialists stole the Afghans’ central reserve assets, put severe sanctions in place and suspended most long-term developmental assistance, resulting in the collapse of the banking sector, soaring unemployment and a severe food crisis for over 90% of the population in a vindictive act of genocidal collective punishment.
The Yemenis are also facing a catastrophic hunger crisis as a direct result of imperialist warmongering with the West backing, arming and directing its murderous semi-feudal Saudi stooges to suppress the Houthi “Arab Spring” rebellion.
The Saudis began blockading import-dependent Yemen’s ports in 2015 preventing much needed food, water and medical supplies from getting into the country, which, alongside the general war disruption and destruction of infrastructure and displacement of millions of people, has led directly to the severe food crisis the Yemenis are now experiencing.
The growth in global food inflation pre-dates the start of the Ukraine war anyway, with strong price rises from mid-2020 alongside increasing freight and fertilizer costs.
Ukraine’s annual wheat harvest is just 3% of the world’s total, and Russia’s is at 11% - this is no where near enough to trigger a raging global food crisis if it is disrupted.
China, India, the US, Canada, France and Pakistan all produce more wheat than Ukraine, so there are alternative supplies; and Russia is able to continue trading with the Third World, who have so far resisted the West’s inflationary sanctions demands.
NATO deliberately provoked the war in Ukraine as a diversion to head attention away from the the global economic crisis that had already begun to break out, and to find a convenient scapegoating target to blame for the crisis.
Where already intensifying inflationary pressures have been impacted by the Ukraine war is in the energy sector (with knock on effects on the already rising prices of food), but this is a direct consequence of the West’s sanctions against Russian oil, not by any unwillingness to trade on Russia’s part.
Western imperialism is being slowly defeated in Ukraine as the Russian-backed Donbass resistance regains more of its territory each day that the war continues, and Ukraine’s military capability is destroyed by Russia.
Trade-war/shooting-war splits between and within the imperialist powers are forced to the surface by defeat.
Ukraine’s war, “conveniently” located in Germany’s “backyard” to suck in Europe’s resources with little impact on the US imperialists’ national economy, is causing huge divisions within the German ruling class as Gerhard Schröder has his post-retirement privileges as a former chancellor to hold an office with staff taken away from him outrageously for maintaining ties Putin and calling for a negotiated settlement.
Further defeats and setbacks for imperialism as global capitalism hurtles towards catastrophic slump will increase the pressures for even greater warmongering diversions, and intensify the inter-imperialist splits all the way to the world war the ruling class wants and needs as a desperate last-bid attempt to end the crisis in their interests.
Imperialist defeat, ruling class splits and slump catastrophe will also create openings for the necessary great polemical battle for correct revolutionary perspectives to break out amongst the working class.
Leninist parties of revolutionary theory are needed urgently to guide these battles and give leadership to the proletariat in its life-or-death class-war struggle for emancipation from capitalist oppression.
Build Leninism now.
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US imperialism could not care less about “women’s rights” in Afghanistan (or anywhere else). It created the conditions for feudal backwardness and religious medievalism in the first place when it organised, financed and armed the brutal Mujahadeen counter-revolution against the 1978 Saur Revolution, which had abolished the bride price, raised the age of marriage, and established a decree aimed at ensuring the equal rights of women. Women were not only employed in schools and universities, the health sector as doctors and nurses, airlines and private corporations, they also fought to defend their revolutionary socialist gains in armed militias. The CIA sponsored the Mujahideen to destroy all such socialist advances and prevent them from becoming an inspiration for communist revolution throughout the region.
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Marxist-Leninist science on the bourgeoisie’s inability to rule in the old way, the proletariat’s inability to live in the old way, and the need for correct theory and revolutionary-party building
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern labourer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society. [Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1847]
To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.
Without these objective changes, which are independent of the will, not only of individual groups and parties but even of individual classes, a revolution, as a general rule, is impossible. The totality of all these objective changes is called a revolutionary situation. Such a situation existed in 1905 in Russia, and in all revolutionary periods in the West; it also existed in Germany in the sixties of the last century, and in Russia in 1859-61 and 1879-80, although no revolution occurred in these instances. Why was that? It was because it is not every revolutionary situation that gives rise to a revolution; revolution arises only out of a situation in which the above-mentioned objective changes are accompanied by a subjective change, namely, the ability of the revolutionary class to take revolutionary mass action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government, which never, not even in a period of crisis, “falls”, if it is not toppled over.
...Will this situation last long; how much more acute will it become? Will it lead to revolution? This is something we do not know, and nobody can know. The answer can be provided only by the experience gained during the development of revolutionary sentiment and the transition to revolutionary action by the advanced class, the proletariat. There can be no talk in this connection about “illusions” or their repudiation, since no socialist has ever guaranteed that this war (and not the next one), that today’s revolutionary situation (and not tomorrow’s) will produce a revolution. What we are discussing is the indisputable and fundamental duty of all socialists—that of revealing to the masses the existence of a revolutionary situation, explaining its scope and depth, arousing the proletariat’s revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary determination, helping it to go over to revolutionary action, and forming, for that purpose, organisations suited to the revolutionary situation.
No influential or responsible socialist has ever dared to feel doubt that this is the duty of the socialist parties. Without spreading or harbouring the least “illusions”, the Basle Manifesto spoke specifically of this duty of the socialists—to rouse and to stir up the people (and not to lull them with chauvinism, as Plekhanov, Axelrod and Kautsky have done), to take advantage of the crisis so as to hasten the downfall of capitalism, and to be guided by the examples of the Commune and of October-December 1905. The present parties’ failure to perform that duty meant their treachery, political death, renunciation of their own role and desertion to the side of the bourgeoisie. [VI Lenin, the Collapse of the Second International, Collected Works, June 1915]
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