Image credits: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
Since this summer, the crisis for the regime in Great Britain has accelerated. Following Boris Johnson’s resignation, Liz Truss made a whirlwind transition to 10 Downing Street and remained in power for 6 weeks. The mass strike movement for wages has continued to deepen since late spring, and anger is brewing over skyrocketing energy prices. It is in this context that Rishi Sunak, the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, takes office on Tuesday after an audience with King Charles. Since the resignation of Liz Truss, he was the main favorite for the post and the only one to finally reach the 100 favorable opinion mark from Conservative MPs. The ex-economy minister, who in leaving his post was not for nothing in Boris Johnson’s downfall (both were caught up in the Party Gate affair), has actually known no competition today. While he had to bow out to Truss on September 6, Penny Mordaunt and Johnson himself this time finally gave up the title run, who said he was considering a comeback.
While the population is suffering from an average of 10% inflation (when nominal wages have only increased by 7% in a year), the richest prime minister in the country’s history has just been appointed. His fortune is estimated at 730 million pounds sterling (approx. 860 million euros)! A jackpot achieved by financial speculation from this former Goldman Sachs and Theleme Partners pension fund and by his marriage to Akshata Murty, daughter of the fifth Indian fortune, Narayana Murthy. Rishi Sunak sets records: non-white prime minister to lead the UK, youngest prime minister and above all the richest! And it is this quality, as well as his background as a financier, that counts for British capitalists.
This skyrocketing fortune illustrates the disconnect between the British ruling class and the everyday lives of workers in the United Kingdom, who are facing a sharp decline in their living standards. The first scandals have already erupted on this topic, starting with the one surrounding the tax status of his wife “non-resident” in the United Kingdom, which allows the couple to save 20 million pounds in taxes, but also on issues such as the annual energy price of the personal swimming pool that Sunak has just built, equivalent to 6 times the average energy bill of a family!
While the Liz Truss ship sank on the economic program, Rishi Sunak is awaited at the turnaround of an extremely divided Conservative Party, which is in poor condition for the next general election. The ridiculous failure of Liz Truss, rejected by the financial markets she wanted to serve anyway, illustrated all the limits and illusions of a return to “Thatcherism”. The massive tax cut for the wealthy that she proposed with her Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, which would have cost the government between £100 and £200 billion, was torpedoed by the capitalists in the financial markets, exacerbating the collapse in the value of the British pound, and amplifies the anger expressed in the streets. So many reactions that hastened the withdrawal of the measure challenged the minister and the head of government even in his own party.
Sunak will have to follow a different path than that of the former prime minister. Highly critical since the start of Truss’s programme, which he described as ” fairy tale Sunak thus gained a certain credibility in the eyes of his supporters and stock market speculators. He backs this up by presenting himself as more orthodox and pragmatic about rising prices. Challenges in which both the elected members of the Conservative Party and the markets seem to give him more confidence, and Sunak’s past as a financier is for the latter a rather positive signal.
Faced with the difficulties of the Conservative Party, Labor is multiplying its appeals to the bourgeoisie to appear as the responsible alternative from an economic point of view. Its policy of extreme lukewarmness, not to say rejection, towards strikes goes in this direction.
Faced with the crisis, not only economic but also political, which is sweeping through the United Kingdom and putting the ruling class in great difficulty, the working class in the United Kingdom has a role to play. For the workers who have mobilized since this ” summer of discontent » with historic strikes, unprecedented for 40 years, mobilizing as many key sectors as railway workers, dock workers, oil workers, postal workers or health workers, the strike method must continue to evolve and organize, coordinate, undermine this new government. The movement that made Johnson tremble must give itself the means to attack the billionaires who control the entire economic and political life of the country. And for that, the time must be for the coordination and building of a real battle plan, which unites the different sectors in struggle, which goes beyond the union leaderships, which have so far worked to keep each sector isolated. To the successive transfers of power between politicians looking for any means to make the workers pay for the crisis, we must respond by stepping up the strike and in the streets.