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Editorial: Truss's departure resolves nothing – build the resistance

LIZ TRUSS’S resignation is a humiliation for the Conservative Party — but it resolves nothing.

The Conservatives are still in power and plan to hang on without going to the country in a general election.

On the very eve of Truss’s resignation the government was pushing new attacks on the working class — and these plans too may remain in place unless irresistible pressure is put on MPs now to back down.

RMT leader Mick Lynch presciently told a postal workers’ strike rally this morning that we were living through “the last days of a regime,” and the sheer extremism of the latest assault on strike rights carries the whiff of desperation.

But he was right too to refer to the attacks on protest rights by the Boris Johnson government before the current Conservative meltdown.

The attacks on democratic rights have come thick and fast since the 2019 election. The spycops Act, the policing Act, the national security Bill.

The relentless scandals of “partygate” mounted but did not interrupt the legislation. The shift from Boris Johnson to Truss only intensified it. 

There is no reason to suppose MPs vying to replace Truss will row back on the anti-strike laws. If there is one unifying factor left in the bitterly divided Conservative Party, it is ferocious hostility to organised labour.

So we must raise hell. The minimum service requirement as pitched by the Department for Transport is a draconian, dystopian scandal.

Workers who have voted to withdraw their labour would be ordered back into work — “conscripted” as Lynch aptly says — in numbers chosen by their bosses.

Ensuring they obey would be a responsibility of their unions, which would be subject to unlimited fines if they didn’t ensure the strike-breaking of their own strikes.

And any worker who declined the summons to forced labour would lose all protection against unfair dismissal. They could be sacked at will.

A terrifying attack on our rights and freedoms? Yes. An unpredictable aberration doomed to failure? No. 

Reversing the anti-democratic offensive means recognising that it is both logical and general. It is entirely consistent with the direction of British state policy.

A succession of political earthquakes over the past decade have shown the ruling class that the consent of the ruled can no longer be relied on. 

The shocks of Brexit and the near-election of a socialist and anti-imperialist to Downing Street in 2017 are now followed by the widest and most popular wave of strikes in decades, which is in some ways even more threatening. 

Workers walking out and losing pay to demand a better deal are doing something more difficult and more courageous than placing a cross in a box on election day. They are not seeking change through routine participation in the political system but standing up against their bosses directly.

Shoring up the profits of the few amid a worsening economic and social crisis requires the suppression of effective trade unionism. That task is one the Conservatives are committed to. 

Yet Labour under Sir Keir Starmer, despite promises to repeal both the latest and the 2016 anti-union laws, is not supporting the strikes and nothing he said in his address to the TUC today committed it to inflation-proofing wages or a wider restoration of democratic rights — unsurprising as on other key issues, such as the persecution of Julian Assange, Starmer is complicit in the authoritarian drive.

We need the widest possible resistance to the British state’s war on democracy and the power of organised labour. 

That means spreading and sustaining industrial action until victory. It means building a wave of public protest over the cost-of-living crisis, organised around specific demands that politicians can be measured against. 

It means turfing out the Tories — but cannot mean reconciliation with a Labour leadership that is also part of a ruling-class fightback against us.

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