The Failure of Starmer & Streeting to Give Any Support to the Nurses Proves the Irrelevance of the Labour Party – We Need a New Working Class Socialist Party

NHS Strike Picket Today at Brighton’s Sussex County Hospital

As you can see from the video the NHS strikers have overwhelming public support.  But public support doesn’t translate into victory against a government which is committed to transferring wealth from the poor to the rich.

We have had neo-liberal governments for the past 40 years and in that time the rich have grown richer. Since 2020 the richest 1% have, according to a new Oxfam report, grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth worth $42 trillion created since 2020, almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 percent of the world’s population. During the past decade, the richest 1% have captured around half of all new wealth. 

The table below shows how, beginning with Ronald Reagan in the United States, wealth flowed from the poor to the rich. In 1967 the richest 20% had 43.6% of wealth. By 2014 this had increased to 51.2%, whereas the share of the poorest 20% declined from 4% to 3.1%. This continued under the Democrats and under Trump, with his tax cuts for the rich and Biden, the trend has continued.

According to Statista and the Sunday Times Rich List the UK’s top 10 richest people are wealthier than ever. The cumulative wealth of the top 10 billionaires in the UK has grown from £47.77 billion in 2009 to £182 billion in 2022 – an increase of 281%.

Following the 2008 crash, UK’s billionaires have seen a steady and steep incline in their wealth. The upward trend continued despite the pandemic, which saw the UK’s economy shrink by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020. 30.5m people in Europe were pushed into poverty. By way of contrast the UK’s 250 ultra wealthy saw their collective wealth surge to a record high of £653 billion in 2022.

George Dibbs, the head of the Center for Economic Justice at the Institute for Public Policy Research, explained how we are seeing a widening wealth gap

As we enter a once-in-a-generation cost of living crisis, the Sunday Times rich list shows us again that vast wealth often begets more wealth. That has proved particularly true during the pandemic, when the wealthiest accumulated more wealth than poorer people, who saved nothing.

As most people faced a cost of living crisis Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty joined the UK rich list with a combined £730m fortune. Dominic Raab, now Deputy Prime Minister, said it was “fantastic” news that Sunak had joined the rich list.

“He’s a fantastic example of someone who’s been successful in business, who’s coming to make a big impact in public service. I think we want more of those people. I think it’s fantastic that you’ve got someone of British-Indian origin, showing all people in our country that you can get to the top of politics.

The UK now has a record 177 billionaires, up six on 2021. Their combined wealth is up 9.4% to a record £653bn.

Nurses Picket Outside Brighton’s Sussex County Hospital

This is the background to the current strike wave. It also explains the new anti-strike laws and the further attack on public protests with the new Public Order Bill. These bills have nothing to do with preventing ‘disruption’ to the public despite government’s lies. They have everything to do with defending the right of the rich to get richer.

The refusal of Starmer and Streeting, both of whom support further privatisation of the NHS, is contemptible. If they had a shred of honesty they would change the name of the Labour Party to ‘The New Tory Party’ but Honesty and Starmer is an oxymoron.

At the same time we have seen massive corruption arising from giving COVID contracts to friends and cronies of the Tories. Just 10 Conservative MPs and peers referred companies to a “VIP lane” that won £1.6bn of PPE contracts. The “VIP lane” was recently declared unlawful by the High Court but no one has been prosecuted by the Police because their sole focus is on benefit claimants. Government corruption is not their concern.

One Fifth of Covid contracts ‘raised red flags for possible corruption’. We have a corrupt government and a corrupt capitalist system where wealth flows upwards, away from workers to the parasites who preside over this system.

When Sunak and Starmer tell workers that we ‘cannot afford’ 19% pay increases for nurses we should bear in mind that the average pay packet of Chief Executives in the FTSE 100 companies jumped by 39% to £3.4 million. The average UK CEO now collects 109 times that paid to the average British worker, up from 79 times in 2020.

About this Starmer, Reeves and the rest of the traitorous Labour MPs have nothing to say. After all Labour is now ‘business friendly’.

What we need to create is a genuine working class socialist party that defends the poor against the spivs, speculators and parasites who have plundered the economy whilst telling us that we ‘cannot afford’ to pay decent wages and benefits. Neo-liberal capitalism means privatising the public sector and allowing the capitalist pigs to hide their ill gotten gains in tax havens whilst avoiding paying taxes.

Corbyn still does not understand that the ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations were designed to remove him and nothing more

People should sign up to the Socialist Labour Network’s appeal for a new mass working class party. The time is for socialists to get together and organise after the debacle of Corbyn who has proven that he couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag with his appalling interview with Liz Kendall when, despite everything, he still accepted that there was a genuine ‘anti-Semitism’ crisis in the Labour Party.

Nurses Picket Outside Brighton’s Sussex County Hospital

It is time for the trade unions to fight back. Individual strikes are not enough. Only a general strike that challenges the privileges of the idle rich and their supporters in parliament will challenge the Tories. It is clear that although welcome, the current strike wave, uncoordinated as it is, is not enough.

Nurses Picket Outside Brighton’s Sussex County Hospital

Meanwhile everyone who can should join the strike picket lines and reject the divide and rule tactics of the ruling class. The trade union bureaucrats want a quiet life and would prefer to accept minimal concessions rather than lead a fight back. They need to have their feet held to the fire. We need a strategy of outright defiance of the trade union laws. Anti-strike laws are a negation of the most basic principles of a democratic society. It was Hitler who outlawed strikes and unions on May 2 1933. The anti-strike laws are nothing but a continuation of Hitlerism by other means.

Tony Greenstein