In the run-up to Johnson’s confidence vote, opinion polls reported that 60% of the population thought he should resign. After all, he’s a proven liar, caused Brexit havoc in Northern Ireland and he broke his own Covid laws (and that’s just for starters). Apparently the last straw for some Tory MPs was him being booed by spectators at the Jubilee thanksgiving service... Even the royalists don’t like him!
But in this “mother of all democracies”, for now, the public don’t and won’t get a say. “The People” only have the privilege of voting every 5 years on who should mis-govern them. And since this government is only halfway through its term of office, it’s Johnson’s own Tory MPs who decide. So 211 voted to say he should stay, against 148 who said he should go.
Humpty dumpty didn’t fall - not yet
But 148 MPs equals 41% without confidence in Johnson. And this is, according to Johnson’s Tory opponents, more than expected. In fact they say it means that the civil war in the party is back on. Only this time it’s not Brexiteers versus Remainers, but Anti-Johnsonites against Pro-Johnsonites. Or maybe, and more likely, Tory MPs in unsafe seats against Tory MPs in safe seats...
Yes, because, on 23 June, the party is due to lose another 2 parliamentary seats in by-elections: one in Wakefield to Labour - and another in Tiverton and Honiton to the Lib Dems. If an election was held tomorrow, apparently, the party would hold onto only 3 of the 88 seats it won from Labour or where it holds a slim majority.
The general opinion among Tories was (we are told!), that there was no other suitable candidate - with enough “charisma”(!) to replace Johnson as leader. So, glowing with his dubious victory, Johnson wasted no time in telling some choice lies. He explained that the confidence vote was “convincing and decisive” and that now he could get on with the things which are important. After all, thanks to him, the economy is “robust”; and unemployment is the lowest in 50 years!
In fact the latest (March) Office for National Statistics figures show that the economy – measured by Gross Domestic Product - shrank by 0.1% in March 2022, after no growth in February 2022 and that this was “revised down from 0.1% growth”! But that doesn’t prevent Johnson from claiming that the “UK economy” is growing, and what’s more, faster than any other country in the world!
As for unemployment, it is true that this is low. And indeed, chiefly thanks to Brexit, because it’s created such an acute labour shortage! Hence the the utter chaos at airports last weekend! But anyway, the official definition of “employment” already stretches the bounds of credulity.
The ONS defines anyone who is aged 16, or over, who has completed at least one hour of work in the reference week, as “employed”. In other words “officially employed” doesn’t mean being in a proper job, let alone one which pays a living wage - the case for fewer and fewer workers. And “Brexit Opportunities” Minister Rees-Mogg intends to do something about this “low unemployment” sharpish! He’s intending to sack 91,000 civil servants, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, plans to do his bit, by cutting railway and Tube jobs (and stealing workers’ pensions)...!
The urgent fight that is needed
In any case, it is just these problems - earning decent pay, keeping permanent jobs and retiring on adequate pensions, which workers are now having to wage a real fight over, once more. Tube workers, railway workers and now postal workers, are starting the ball rolling - some already taking action and others preparing to ballot for strike.
However this is not going to be enough. It is a long time since any significant industrial action has taken place, let alone since workers won a real victory against the bosses and their government.
For years now, the union leaderships have been avoiding confrontations, avoiding action, and using even overwhelming votes for industrial action as a mere bargaining chip, or calling sectional one-day stoppages, rather than opting for actual all-out strikes across all sections.
The only conclusion one can draw is that they are afraid that workers will actually feel their own collective strength and launch real struggles which they will be unable to control. They fear that this might cause the bosses no longer to see the point of “negotiating” with them.
But a big working class push across all sections and beyond the control of the union leaders, is exactly what will be needed, if workers are to turn the tide against the capitalists’ latest attacks, aided and abetted by the “loyal” government.
What is more, it is the only way to defend our class interests, regardless of who or what is in power at Westminster.