by Ken Ferguson
· Stay at home, work from home, go to work or lose your jobs and eat out on us on the way, oh no get out of the pub, don’t visit your kids or granny.
I don’t know about you but my head is spinning and it is unsurprising that the Dunkirk spirit unity of March is now beset by division, confusion and growing disbelief.
Incidents such as now infamous Margaret Ferrier train journey act as a solvent dissolving the desperately needed social unity to contain the virus.
However when the story is written in years to come it will not be the actions of the hapless Ferrier that will command attention but the consensus shattering “SpecSavers” jaunt of Boris puppet master Dominic Cummings endorsed and defended by the Tory leadership.
In many ways this arrogant action not only shattered the Covid unity it also revealed the truth behind the carefully crafted jolly bumbling Boris front for a right wing politics which is miles away from its claimed concerns for the downtrodden.
In the now locked down former “Red Wall” North of England, those on minimum wages now face, if lucky, a government payment of two-thirds of this already pitifully inadequate pay while tens of thousand face the tender mercy Universal Credit, parented by hard-right Tory Iain Duncan Smith.
Tory crocodile tears
And here is spelt out the reality at the heart of the current crisis and the entirely fake posing of a choice between saving lives or saving the economy. This was given full exposure by Charles Walker MP and Knight Commander of the British Empire who airily opined that the government “cannot abolish death.”
Former PR man Walker is typical of a growing lobby pressurising Johnson to put profit before people and increasingly at odds with the anti-virus strategy. However, despite tears from a pack of Tory crocodiles about the impact on the low paid, their concerns are with their business backers and profiteers.
As we approach the end of the furlough scheme in a fortnight, that light at the end of the tunnel looks increasingly certain to be an oncoming train of sackings, hardship and uncertainty. In contrast to much hot air about re-training—infamously illustrated by the advert showing a ballet dancer ‘Fatima’ about to be redeployed in cyber security—working class communities have heard it all before as skilled workers were sacked and forced into low paid precarious work which demoralised both them and their communities.
However, as we have argued there is another way open to working class people facing the brunt of the Covid generated assaults on health and living standards as has been shown by the campaign to reinstate Richie Venton and defend IKEA workers.
With its multi-pronged approach including in both Holyrood and Westminster, protests at stores and an ever growing group of support across the UK and beyond the Reinstate Richie Venton Campaign has spotlighted an outline of how workers can fight back.
This was most clearly illustrated by the recent online rally which combined leading trade union figures, rank and file militants and Richie himself with a fighting spirit which urgently needs to be taken up much more widely in unions and working class communities.
While initially the focus of such action is likely, rightly to be defensive and centred on pay, healthy and safety and job security as we have set out in previous Voice editions a mobilised movement needs to go well beyond that to build a coalition for change.
One example is the demand for a National Care Service in the wake of the trail of death a deficiency in the existing patchwork provision by the Covid crisis and horrifying millions.
Such an NHS style service, free at the point of need and paid for by general taxation is now a vital demand to recognise the needs and rights of those who need care after a life time of work and taxpaying.
However as Boris says he is on the case, Labour endorses a vague proposal and the SNP as usual sets up a task force voters would be well advised to remembers that “all that glitters isn’t gold” and take a hard look at their offers.
For a new, different normal
And of course in the midst of what looks like a second phase of Covid we must not lose sight of the growing demand, raised by many, for a new normal after Covid is contained by science and hopefully an effective vaccine.
The Voice has and continues to argue not for a new normal but different normal.
At the heart of this is the central need to de-throne the power of the profiteers and rebuild our society on the needs of people and planet through a socialist green recovery plan founded on public ownership of our key resources.
Such a approach which combines the interest of working people for stable skilled work, modern rented eco homes, high quality transport and reinvigorated communities can provide the basis for a mass movement which tackles the climate crisis in the interests of both people and planet.