A new US president: with Johnson in his lap?

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11 November 2020

Trump may still dispute the result of the US election from behind his golf clubs, but Biden is by now recognised by almost everyone as having won. In cities around the US, be it Washington DC, Detroit, Atlanta or Minneapolis, crowds partied in the streets, celebrating Trump’s defeat.

    And of course, it's a relief not to have to hear Trump’s poisonous, racist, pseudo-macho nonsense, even if he’s still obsessively tweeting! Significantly, his favourite Fox News stopped its constant broadcast from the White House. Despite Trump’s boast that he got 71.9m votes - 8m more than in 2016 - just like last time, he lost the popular vote! And his Democrat rival Joe Biden got even more votes - 76.9m. As they say, what goes around, comes around: Trump only won last time thanks to the undemocratic "electoral college". This time that same system worked against him.

    However, the dire problems which confront the working class and poor in the USA today are not going to disappear with the advent of Biden. Covid is spreading faster than ever before. It has already killed nearly 250,000 - half of the total number killed in WW2 over 5 years, in less than 1 year. The deep economic crisis goes on and Trump's armed to-the-teeth far-right supporters, in or out of the police force are still there and a constant threat, in fact a lethal one, especially to the black working class. Above all, the pro-business, anti-working class policies of government will continue. That is the capitalist system for you, whether in the US or Britain. And in the US, it’s Wall Street which wins the election, whether the candidate is red or blue.

    Over here, Boris Johnson was delighted to be among the first to get a call from President-elect Biden. But will this change anything to his policies?

    The media already latched onto Biden's "Irishness" and how he said that he hopes the Northern Irish Peace Agreement will be "respected" in the current negotiations with the EU. This was an open caution to Johnson over his Internal Market Bill, which certainly could jeopardise this Agreement, if there is "No-Deal". And who knows, maybe Biden also linked his chastisement to the future necessary trade deal, post-Brexit, with the US...

    So it is possible or even very likely that Johnson, for the sake of the Anglo American "special relationship", will make use of this opportunity to compromise. And that he’ll finally see fit to agree a deal with the EU and to withdraw his Internal Market Bill. This would allow him to use Biden, and the need for a good trade deal with the US, as his “understandable” excuse. And of course Johnson will try to sell this, Trump-like, to his public as the "best of all possible worlds". But all it will be is a confirmation that the British political establishment is back to being Washington's obedient poodle - or more aptly, its Chihuahua.

50,000 dead: because profits come before lives

It’s good news that there might be a vaccine available soon which works against Covid-19. This is exactly what’s needed to save lives. Because the bad news is that the official British death toll from Covid-19 has now passed the 50,000 mark - and that the rate of death is not falling as fast as it should, under lockdown measures.

    No wonder. The government’s current restrictions are as half-hearted as ever. As many point out, what’s the point of staying home if kids are going to school? Construction, manufacturing, transport - all carry on, keeping the virus circulating, for the sake of “business and the economy”. Shops will reopen just in time, on 2 December, to allow the Xmas rush to take place, along with another rush of viral infections. Yet even so, Tory MPs are openly rebelling against lockdowns. That’s the level of ignorance and cynicism amongst this “cream” of the political crop!

    So let us hope the hype is not overstating the case of this Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is still not fully evaluated and will not be ready for roll out, even with “emergency use authorisation” for at least another month.

    In the meantime it’s already done its bit for the capitalists: on Monday, Pfizer shares soared 15% and BioNTech’s skyrocketed by 26.5%!

    Johnson, delighted to be able to draw attention away from his too late and too little 2nd lock-down, announced that 40m doses are already bought and what's more, 300m doses of a mix of all the other vaccine candidates are also on order... And that Britain is ahead in the queue for more! Yes, jumping in front of the poor countries who don’t even have ventilators or basic medicines for their Covid patients!

    Well, we can only hope that the inevitable third wave can be curtailed by vaccination - as long as Johnson and his ministers don’t find a way to cock this up, as they have cocked up everything else.