“Can the real representatives of British capitalism please stand up?”
This is what the bosses must be thinking to themselves – or saying openly in their boardrooms – these days, as the traditional representatives of big business tear themselves to pieces.
First up are the scuffles breaking out amongst the capitalists themselves.
Until recently, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) was the official lobbying body for UK businesses; a bosses’ union, in effect. But the organisation is currently caught in a tailspin, following revelations of a toxic culture at the group, with accusations of widespread bullying, misogyny, and sexual abuse.
As a result, with the bosses keen for someone to fight their corner, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have stepped in, announcing the formation of a new alternative to the troubled CBI as the voice of British businesses.
Prominent companies – such as NatWest and John Lewis – have been abandoning the CBI in droves in recent weeks. Others, such as BP and Heathrow, have already signed up to the BCC’s nascent business council.
Some bosses are happy to see the creation of a new lobby group to act in their interests. Others, however, are worried about the potential rivalry.
With the UK economy in a dire state, and workers increasingly flexing their muscles, the capitalists understand the need for class unity – unity of their class against an emboldened working class. Instead, they are at sixes and sevens.
The sparring between the CBI and the BCC is made all the worse by the internecine warfare rumbling on inside the Tory Party.
In this midst of this chaos, who will speak up for the poor, lowly capitalists?! Who will think of the bosses?!
As Leon Trotsky once remarked, in the past, in the time of Empire, the representatives of British capitalism planned in terms of centuries and continents.
Now, however, having lost her colonies and industries, Britain is governed by a clique of degenerates and lunatics who cannot see further than their next parliamentary promotion.
People thought (or hoped) that Westminster had reached a new low with the reckless antics of Boris ‘partygate’ Johnson. But then Liz Truss came along, leaving 10 Downing Street before she had even had time to unpack, having successfully tanked the economy within weeks of taking charge.
Rishi Sunak, by contrast, was supposed to be a ‘safe pair of hands’. And for a while, things seemed to be on the up for the City of London’s poster boy, with the Prime Minister gloating – amongst other things – about the “unbelievably special” deal that he had struck for the people of Northern Ireland with his Windsor Framework.
And who knows what vile creatures will be summoned forth next by the rabid Tory ranks?
Step forward ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer, the establishment’s knight in shining armour, who has pledged his loyalty to King, Country, and Capitalism.
British bosses need not fear, for Labour’s leader – courageous slayer of lefty dragons – is here. And with claims that he will be ‘Blair on steroids’, ‘more conservative than the Conservatives’, it is clear that, in Starmer, big business has a reliable champion.
With his promises of ‘fiscal responsibility’ (read: austerity), ‘law and order’ (bolstering the scandal-ridden police), and ‘migration controls’ (maintaining the hostile environment), Starmer has signalled his intentions: to outflank the Tories on the right; side with the bosses over workers; and implement the policies that the ruling class demands.
The trade union leaders should place no hopes in a Starmer government reversing the fortunes of the working class. Instead, they should mobilise workers and youth to fight for the overthrow of this whole rotten system.
A sense of malaise stalks society.
“Broken”; a “mess”; “expensive”; “struggling”; in “crisis”: these were just some of the words that featured prominently in a recent moodboard created by the organisation More in Common, based on a survey of UK voters conducted for the The New Britain Project think-tank.
Other popular choices included “depressing”, “disaster”, “shambles”, “corrupt”, “bad”, and “shit”.
Of those polled, meanwhile, 58% said that “nothing works anymore”. This figure jumps to 76% in so-called ‘Red Wall’ areas. Nationally, the same proportion believe that life is getting worse. Just 30% are optimistic about the future. And only 14% have any trust in MPs to make things better.
On the other hand, other recent polls of young people have found that 29% – almost one third – of 18-to-34 year-olds in the UK believe that “communism is the ideal economic system”.
And as Britain’s strike wave over the last year demonstrates, more and more workers are drawing the conclusion that there is no alternative but to stand up and fight.
The mood of anger and despair amongst ordinary people; the radicalisation of the youth; the splits at the top: these are all symptoms of the deepening crisis of capitalism; a harbinger of the revolutionary period that is opening up, in Britain and internationally.
With its traditional spokespeople and mouthpieces in turmoil, the capitalist class is crying out for a tribune. But the working class, too, lacks the leadership it needs – and deserves.
This highlights the task facing us: to build the forces of Marxism, and forge the revolutionary leadership that is so urgently required.