Prices apocalyptic? So let’s create armageddon for the bosses! & Northern Ireland: politicians on strike!

 Prices apocalyptic? So let’s create armageddon for the bosses!

The cost of living crisis is in the news every single day! And as everyone says, the government’s measures amount to less than nothing. There are reports of families without enough to eat; 2.5m using food banks. Yet there is no plan even to restore the £20/w which was cut from Universal Credit.

     Instead, what does Johnson announce? That 91,000 civil servants’ jobs will be cut, to “save” on their pay - a total of £3.5bn, for tax cuts in the future, “to ease the cost of living crisis”!! By giving a cost of living crisis to 91,000 unemployed ex-civil servants? You could not make this up!

     In fact his cock-eyed idea is that the civil service will then return to the much trimmer state it was in, in 2016... before Brexit. Brexit, however, wasn’t mentioned in the PM’s announcement: it’s a sensitive subject right now! But later someone did say “oh, all those people employed to do the extra work around Brexit aren’t needed anymore...”

    Really? As far as the rest of us knew, Brexit (and Covid) created a huge amount of extra work, but permanently, for customs and excise, the Home Office, agriculture, social care, the NHS, etc., etc... So if these cuts are made, it would be a case of Johnson shooting himself in the other foot (the one not already shot with the Brexit bullet)! And where will he shoot next? Yes, all of this is insane.

    As for the working class cost of living, now we hear out of the mouth of the Bank of England governor, that food prices are “apocalyptic”! But he says there’s nothing to be done, since it’s due to the war in Ukraine.

    Well there is plenty to be done! First of all, price rises don’t come out of the blue. Somebody actually decides them. So prices can be fixed. But the other way to tackle rising living costs is - obviously - to increase wages! And by a lot more than inflation. Because first of all, the measures of inflation are underestimates and second of all, one needs a cushion for the future.

    RPI inflation for March was already 9%. And the bosses’ preferred measure, CPI inflation, was 6.2% - rising to 10% by October, they say. Which means RPI will be 12-13% by then! Yet wage rises (when workers actually got them) have been around 4-5%. No wonder families cannot feed themselves.

    So, the fight for a level of pay that doesn’t only allow the working class to survive, but allows it to thrive, has to be on all of our agendas. And since the union leaderships are too narrow-minded to organise the kind of generalised fight which is needed - involving our whole class together - this will be the task of the fighters themselves!

 Northern Ireland: politicians on strike! Who will “surrender” first?

The 25 newly-elected 25 Democratic Unionist Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs) are on strike! Although, unlike workers who strike, they still get paid...

     These MLAs are refusing to take their seats in the Assembly. They say the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed by Johnson “to get Brexit done”, damages NI businesses and threatens the union with Britain because it creates a border in the Irish sea. Actually, all it creates are custom checks. Which certainly are an additional burden, but one due to Brexit, which they voted for. Ever since Brexit was implemented 2 years ago, they’ve demanded to have it scrapped. Or, maybe, this time, just changed?

    The DUP strike by the 25 has laid off the whole Assembly of 90 MLAs. This is thanks to that flawed 1998 Belfast Peace Agreement which legitimised NI’s sectarian divide by making power-sharing between the “communities” (i.e., nationalist and unionist politicians), mandatory. It specifies that the first minister and deputy minister must come from opposing sides of this divide. If one or other refuses, there can be no executive and no executive means no Assembly.

    So why now? It cannot be coincidence that the DUP refuses to fulfil its obligations to the Assembly after losing the 5 May election. For the first time since 2003, it got fewer seats than Sinn Fein. Indeed, this bigoted and reactionary party which stands for British Union forever and no surrender to the Irish (and is against women’s rights, gay rights, etc.), is now obliged to play second fiddle to the former “enemy”. What is more, the smaller vote for the DUP also exposes declining support for its backward ideas.

    In other words, there’s a lot more at stake for them because of changing demography and culture. And if today they create mayhem due to the Protocol, what they’re really defending is their threatened status and privilege. Johnson and Truss, who rush to support their demand, claiming to redress the imbalance created by the Protocol and the threat to the Peace Agreement, take sides with these bigots, showing their own bigotry. But they know full well that they will have to negotiate a solution with the EU. The ”unilateral action” threatened by Truss on Tuesday (by proposing a new law), is probably calculated to be the least that the DUP will accept, in order to call off their boycott..