More than 100 schools have been forced to close buildings made with dodgy concrete, just days before the start of the new term. This is an absolute crisis for the thousands of students, staff, and parents affected, as well as for the Tories.
The alarm was raised after the recent collapse at a school of a reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) beam, which had shown no prior sign of stress.
Thousands more schools and public buildings may be forced to close over the coming months, with the government admitting that it doesn’t know the full extent of the crisis.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has come under particular fire for slashing school repair budgets during his previous job as chancellor. But whilst this is indeed a scandal, the dangers of RAAC have been known for decades.
Sunak is just one in a long line of ministers to have kicked this can down the road, in order to protect the profits of the super rich. Thousands of lives were – and still are – at risk. But this is of no concern to these ladies and gentlemen.
This scandal is just the latest symptom of a system that has reached its limits. The crisis in the NHS; the chaos on the railways; the sewage in the rivers: everything feels like it is falling apart. British capitalism is at breaking point.
The wealth clearly exists in society to fix Britain’s crumbling infrastructure. But it is concentrated in the hands of the bankers and bosses.
The working class and youth have been made to foot the bill for capitalism’s crisis, through years of attacks and austerity. Meanwhile, the billionaires have gotten richer and richer.
Now, all the chickens are coming home to roost for the ruling class.
On the brink
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has promised to “spend what it takes” to fix this emergency. Yet the reality is that schools are being left to pick up the tab for this crisis out of their existing budgets.
But as the recent teachers’ strikes have shown, schools are already on the brink. And thousands of children who suffered years of disruption throughout the pandemic are now facing even more misery.
The crisis in schools is not limited to just RAAC. School buildings are plagued with asbestos, dodgy wiring, faulty heating, and much more. Even the Department of Education estimates that 700,000 students are learning in schools that need major building or refurbishment.
No wonder the youth are turning towards communism!
Prepare for struggle
With funding diverted to fix this mess, and staff and students left high and dry, the conditions are being prepared for a fierce wave of struggle in the coming period.
The 104 schools recently ordered to close are just the tip of the iceberg. RAAC is thought to be present in thousands of buildings across Britain, including many hospitals. Indeed, seven NHS trusts are known to have buildings predominantly constructed from RAAC.
This crisis is having a profound impact on consciousness. Millions of people will be questioning whether they or their children are safe to step inside public buildings. And unless drastic action is urgently taken, it is only a matter of time before a disaster unfolds.
In these conditions, such an incident – particularly if lives are lost – could trigger an explosive mass movement of workers and youth. Such was the case with the deadly train crash in Greece earlier this year, which led to a general strike.
It is the task of communists everywhere to prepare for such events, and to build the necessary leadership to see these struggles through to victory.
Capitalism is crumbling. We need a revolution!