UK Budget 2021 – relief for business; suffering for the poor
The vaccination programme in Britain continues to go well (especially when compared to the experience across the Channel in the European Union – but, then, what can you expect from ‘Johnnie Foreigner’), infections are falling as are deaths. Capitalism in Britain breathes a sigh of relief – as does their present puppet – the Buffoon.
It seems like they have got away with it.
Totally unprepared at the beginning, lacking any semblance of a strategy – even a year after the pandemic hit the sceptred isle – ‘science’ has pulled them out of the mire by being able to produce a vaccine that seems to work. (Let’s not talk about how much the British government, i.e., the British people, paid for that vaccine programme. Pumping gold into peoples’ arms would probably have been cheaper.)
Despite the ineptitude, the incompetence, the lies, the corruption, the arrogance of the rich and powerful, the U-turns, the confusion and fear levels going through the roof the Buffoon is coming out Okish, if not smelling of roses.
Even after showing their contempt for the ‘heroes’ of the National Health Service with the derisory pay increase (not forgetting that all the ‘heroes’ in the other public services will get nothing at all) there doesn’t seem to have been any great condemnation of the present government.
And even if people had gone to the streets – the only real way to show anger in any society – then that would have been turned against the demonstrators as they would be ‘putting other people’s lives in danger and would be undermining all the sacrifices of the past year’. You have to admire them – they place the blame for the crisis on the victim and shrug off any responsibility.
So it’s back to business as usual with the Budget of 3rd March 2021.
Money continues to be given to businesses that probably won’t exist by the end of the year – and shouldn’t all these entrepreneurs and petty minded petite-bourgeoisie refuse such state support as it goes against the grain of neo-liberalism?
Money gets thrown at first time house buyers – trapping them in the iron grip of debt – but offering no relief to those who have no other option than to rent. Companies will have to pay increased corporation tax (but not until 2023 – and perhaps not even then if the memory of the British population in the past is anything to go by) yet at the end of summer this year the poorest in society will be faced with a huge financial break with the withdrawal of the extra £20 per week that has been paid (temporarily) to raise the level of Universal Credit – an already totally inadequate system whose flaws still exist even if not now being highlighted.
And after almost a year where there seemed to be no limit to the amount of money that was available to pull capitalism out of the crisis it itself had created the tap is to be turned off and there will be more ‘belt tightening’ and a virtual return to austerity.
As with the financial crash of 2008 – yet another capitalism created crisis due to greed and arrogance – the cost of the pandemic will again fall upon those who were completely innocent and of its causes.
Perhaps not completely innocent. The crime of omission in allowing the capitalist system to continually play fast and loose with the lives of billions of people is just as pernicious as the crime of commission of the perpetrators.
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Privatisation of the pandemic
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The ever changing virus
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Recognition of the ‘heroes’
One of the problems of many workers in the British National Health Service (NHS) – especially the medical staff, the nurses and the junior doctors – is that it has taken them the best part of 75 years to recognise they are actually ‘workers’.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, even though the NHS was under almost constant attack by various British governments, the idea that such medical workers would go on strike was received with shock and horror. This was to defend their own pay and conditions let alone to support those other workers who were facing the destruction of their jobs as successive governments presided over the the de-industrialisation of the United Kingdom.
At that time there was even a television soap opera called ‘Angels’ (which ran from 1975 to 1983) which perpetuated this myth that workers who took care of others were not the same as those who worked in any other industry. Too many heath workers took in that propaganda and their conditions and workload got worse each year as a result.
With the arrival of the covid pandemic at the beginning of 2020 the NHS was found to be in a sorry state – desperately short of staff, underfunded and led by managers whose main concern was the balance sheet rather than the best care of those in the time of their greatest health need.
No surprise there. Whatever social welfare function the NHS had at the end of the 1940s had been stripped away and was being converted into a money machine for private companies and investors. What capitalism does to every endeavour. No profit = no use.
To make up for the unpreparedness of the government of the Buffoon for the pandemic, the shortage of vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as an adequate provision of the equipment necessary (in the early days when the virus was still not fully understood) the Thursday ‘Clap for the NHS’ was turned into a nationwide ritual.
Instead of being considered as skilled workers medical staff were being applauded for being ‘heroes’. But that cost nothing. Neither for the government or the population of Britain. This activity ceased by the end of May 2020 as a growing number of NHS workers started (belatedly) to realise that this was just an empty gesture that took the pressure off the government – and in effect, put all the pressure on those working in the NHS (and other so called ‘essential industries’).
And following the Budget of March 2021 those same workers that were so lauded for their ‘sacrifice and dedication’ only a few short months ago have learnt what their true value is to this government of over-privileged public schoolboys and girls.
The reaction, so far, from the health workers has been one of anger. But what will come of that? Will they act as workers, organise and take action to force the government to act? Will workers in other industries support them (difficult as that is after years of attacks and the weakening of Trade Unions)? Time will tell.
However, workers in Britain should be careful. Already, in their ‘justification’ for awarding health workers a measly handful of crumbs, the Buffoon is seeking to divide the working class by stating that other public service workers won’t even get that. Unless the action is taken in a unified manner, across the whole country and all industries, this struggle will end up being splintered and divided – the only winners being the capitalist system.
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Managing the pandemic in hospital
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Susceptibility to infection
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Who profits from a pandemic?
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The return to ‘normality?
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Austerity will remain after the pandemic
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Poverty in Britain
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But it’s not (unsurprisingly) just a problem in Britain
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The problems for private renters
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What comes after the pandemic?
More of the same if we listen to some so-called scientific ‘experts’. It might have been a positive development that scientists have become the new ‘rock stars’ over the course of the last year but that new found fame (and fortune) should be taken in context. One of the reasons that ‘experts’ started to be distrusted was the way in which they were used in a number of high profile criminal cases where the decision of the jury depended upon who was the most convincing ‘expert’ – and the prosecution could always afford the most high profile and therefore, most ‘credible’.
Now they have the limelight some are trying to keep themselves there for as long as possible. As the UK appears to be coming out of the present lock down there is optimism that ‘normality’ will return in the not too distant future. However, those ‘experts’ who are risk averse are already raising the spectre of a return of non-covid respiratory diseases this coming winter – and in the process attempting to maintain the idea of control over the population. This control will be in the areas such as the (unproven) wearing of face coverings/masks. (It’s perhaps pertinent here to mention that this has become one of the growing cottage industries in recent months and small companies are now dependent on this fad staying around for some time.)
The manner in which many governments throughout the world, and especially in Britain, have managed the pandemic in the last year or so has been totally inadequate for a so-called modern society in the 21st century. To ‘institutionalise’ a minor tactic which doesn’t address the main issues surrounding the incompetence and corruption that has dominated the last 12 months will just be another way the thieves and incompetents get off the hook.
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Personal data in private hands
Yet another dodgy contract given under the excuse of dealing with the pandemic – but which will have consequences far beyond the period the virus is dominating British life. NHS faces lawsuit over data deal with “spy-tech” firm Palantir.
Leadership in the pandemic
We get the leadership we deserve.