New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


An easy target

BORIS JOHNSON was an easy target for Sir Keir Starmer this week. The Labour leader mocked him during Question Time when he said: “If the prime minister doesn’t understand the rules and his own council leaders are complaining about mixed messages, how does the prime minister expect the rest of the country to understand and follow the rules?”

Johnson’s answer that “Actually, I think that the people of this country do understand and overwhelmingly do follow the rules” may be true. The problem is knowing what these new rules actually mean.

This has been a week of mixed messages from the Johnson government, which has ordered more local lock-downs as the country staggers into a second wave of the coronavirus plague. Badly briefed Ministers stumble trying to explain the re-introduction of emergency measures to deal with the crisis that health experts predicted would inevitably come in the autumn, whilst Tory back-benchers grumble at “government by decree” and launch half-baked parliamentary revolts that fizzle out when Johnson waves his big stick.

But the speculation on how long Boris can last continues in the bourgeois media. Last month the rumour spread that Johnson was going to stand down early next year on “health grounds”. Now some of the media gurus are saying Johnson should go because he’s useless, regardless of his health.

A lot depends on the outcome of the US elections. Johnson has pinned his political future on a post-Brexit US trade deal that only Trump can deliver. We still have not been told the full terms of this ‘Treaty of Washington’ that Johnson hopes will replace the Treaty of Rome that Britain tore up when it left the European Union last year. The Remainers tell us that this ‘free trade’ agreement will open the door to chlorinated chicken and let big US pharma corporations plunder the NHS. It also seems that other clauses will prevent Britain from entering any free trade agreement with People’s China without US approval.

Some of the Tory Brexiteers are, of course, all for it. Even though China is the UK’s fifth largest trading partner, they are not interested in expanding the British share of the Chinese market. They talk about the “Anglosphere” – the old imperialist dream of wielding the ‘English-speaking people’ into a new economic and political bloc that would dominate the world.

The idea goes back to the early days of the 20th century when some members of the ruling class believed that they could curb German ambitions by wooing the Americans into their camp.

The ‘Anglosphere’ is, of course, a meaningless concept. It covers Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It excludes Ireland and South Africa but includes Israel. The leading Israeli daily Ha’aretz tells us that Benjamin Netanyahu “would like nothing better than to nestle under the wings of a grand Anglo-Saxon alliance. He and several of his close associates are not only English-speaking, they view themselves as co-champions of capitalism and laissez-faire economies”.

Needless to say, the idea was never taken seriously in the USA. Winston Churchill, whose mother was a daughter of a wealthy American businessman, did believe in some sort of ‘union’ with US imperialism. In the end, he had to settle for a “special relationship” within the NATO framework that included Franco-German imperialism.

Today Australia, Canada and New Zealand remain monarchies under the British Crown, but London is no longer the hub of an empire that spanned the globe and support for British institutions goes little beyond sentiment for the ‘mother country’ amongst the older population.

Tories who repeat this ‘Anglosphere’ nonsense are only doing it to justify the humiliating terms they will have to accept to get their trade deal with the Americans. They should wait for the outcome of the US elections. If Biden wins all bets are off.