Behind Johnson's "War on Covid-19", the bosses' war against the working class

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18 March 2020

So, this government has finally acknowledged that there is a serious epidemic threat in Britain.  But it took a month of posturing, dithering and denial, for Johnson to reach this point.  And all along, he kept repeating that unlike China, South Korea, Italy and a few other EU countries, Britain was doing just great.  He claimed that Covid-19 was well under control and that the only thing we had to do was to "wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water", while singing "Happy Birthday"!
    But then the figures of infected cases and deaths in Britain started soaring.  This was why, last Monday, Johnson finally admitted what many scientists had been warning against, by announcing that we were at "war" with Covid-19 and that we were to consider ourselves lucky if the epidemic's final death count wasn't higher than 20,000!
    Even then, Johnson's emergency measures turned out to be advisory.  We were "advised" to avoid putting ourselves in a position where we might catch the virus - such as in crowded pubs, restaurants, concerts, sports events, etc.  But there was no attempt to stop businesses from making money out of exposing customers to the virus!  In fact Johnson even made a point of showing how apologetic he felt, in case people - but especially the owners of these businesses - felt that there was "something excessive about these measures"!
    Then everything changed again by Wednesday, after it was announced that the number of confirmed infected cases had increased by 30% and the number of deaths by 46% - OVERNIGHT!
    It was then - and only then - that Johnson finally announced the compulsory closure of nurseries, schools and colleges, to take effect within 48 hours.  Many school heads had already been demanding that this measure should be taken urgently.
    For obvious reasons:  large gatherings of youth in more or less crowded classes, are ideal for the virus to spread.  The youth themselves might not be very sick - although some might - but they were bound to bring the virus back to their families and neighbourhoods.  It is not for nothing that China and South Korea, Italy, France and Spain have already taken similar measures!
    Johnson and his heavy-weight medical team knew the dangers of their delaying tactics.  Whether or not they hoped that things would improve against all odds, the fact is that they consciously played with our lives.
    And why would they do that?  Why, if not to avoid exposing the dire state in which 10 years of cuts in the NHS and other budgets have left Britain's social infrastructure.  Almost right from the beginning it became obvious that there would be an acute shortage of beds, equipment, qualified staff - and even viral tests and protective gear - including for NHS staff themselves.  And in an epidemic, such shortages can only mean a sharp rise in deaths.
    So this is what these liars - Tory politicians, high-flying scientists, self-proclaimed experts of all kinds - have been trying to conceal from the eyes of the “ignorant workers” they think we are.
    In fact, everything in their pathetic "war" against Covid-19 displays the social contempt they and their  capitalist masters feel for the working class.
    For instance, it is no coincidence that Johnson did not include factory shop-floors in the list of places to avoid at all costs in an epidemic, when he gave his “advice” last Monday.  Aren't they just as much hotspots for infection as schools?  And shouldn't all non-essential factories be ordered to send their workers home on full pay until the danger has gone?
    But instead, this government is quite happy to allow companies to unnecessarily expose workers to the virus, without any kind of protection!
    Of course, now, a number of companies have decided to lay off their workers - but not out of concern for their health, of course!  For instance, most of the main car giants (Nissan, Toyota, BMW, PSA-Vauxhall, but not yet Ford or JLR, at the time of writing) are closing down their facilities, because some are short of parts, others are transitioning to electric vehicles, and all are worried about a likely collapse in orders.
    Besides, significantly, while the Bank of England has announced that big companies would benefit from fresh cash injections (as they did after 2008) and that they would enjoy increased R&D subsidies (a huge bounty for big manufacturers), neither Johnson nor City golden boy Rishi Sunak, have said a word about getting the bosses to pay all laid-off workers their full wages, or even to keep them in their jobs after the layoffs!  And what about the temps and other contractors?  They too, should get their full wages - for as long as it takes!
    Contrary to what Johnson keeps repeating, there is no such thing as "one nation at war against Covid-19".  Epidemic or not, our class interests remain just as opposed to those of the capitalist class as ever.  Fighting against Covid-19 also requires us to fight capitalist greed - as always!