The first act of new British Prime Minister Liz Truss on entering Downing Street was to call US President Joe Biden and reaffirm Britain’s backing of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine against Russia.
Biden tweeted in response, “I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our countries and working in close cooperation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.”
A Downing Street press release stated that Truss and Biden were committed to escalating aggression against Russia and China, citing “furthering our deep defence alliance through NATO and [anti-Chinese military alliance] AUKUS. The leaders reinforced their commitment to strengthening global liberty, tackling the risks posed by autocracies and ensuring Putin fails in Ukraine.”
This is what Truss’s pledge to hand an additional £157 billion to the Ministry of Defence in coming months and years is for.
Trust spent the rest of Tuesday assembling a cabinet, which involved the removal of anyone associated with her challenger for the Tory leadership, Rishi Sunak. She did so despite concerns within the party that the former chancellor and billionaire has substantial backing within the parliamentary party, with Truss only defeating him by 57 percent to 43 percent in the ballot of the party’s membership.
Despite such reservations, however, the Tory-backing media were generally supporting of Truss’s move, with the Times declaring, “Given the challenges she faces and riskiness of her programme, it is perhaps understandable that she has chosen to surround herself in cabinet with those who backed her agenda during the campaign and can be relied upon to defend it in the future.”
Those who backed Truss consist of most rabid elements within a rabidly right-wing party.
The only continuation in personnel from Boris Johnson’s cabinet were Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Armed Forced Minister James Heappey. Both have been instrumental in prosecuting war against Russia. Wallace, a former captain of the Scots Guards regiment, was initially viewed as the contender to replace Johnson, but did not stand having likely been told by Washington that leadership stability was essential for carrying through NATO’s war against Russia and military provocations against China. Wallace instead declared his backing for Truss.
Another prominent warmonger, Tom Tugenhadt, a lieutenant Colonel who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and previously the chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, was made Minister of State for Security.
Truss’s closest ally, Thérèse Coffey, was promoted from Department of Work and Pensions minister to deputy prime minister and health and social care secretary. On Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013, Coffey tweeted, “RIP Margaret Thatcher. You transformed our country for the better, putting Great back in Great Britain, & helped open the Iron Curtain.” Next to Coffey’s name on her Twitter profile is the hashtag #PutinMustFail.
Former Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was promoted to chancellor of the exchequer. After attending Eton, Harvard and graduating from Cambridge, he wrote for the Daily Telegraph and worked as a financial analyst at several banks including JP Morgan. Becoming an MP in 2010, in the aftermath of the global financial crash and with austerity destroying the lives of millions, he declared, “that wealth creation is the most important element in getting us out of this recession.”
James Cleverly, who only entered parliament in 2015, is handed the post of foreign secretary. He is an anti-China hawk, who insists that “we do need to look at China’s influence, not just on the world stage but here in the UK”.
Perhaps the clearest indication of the character of Truss’s government is the appointment of Suella Braverman as home secretary from her previous position as attorney general. Braverman is routinely described as being further to the right than Priti Patel who she replaces. The Guardian reported the assessment of a Braverman “ally” who said, “She will be Priti on steroids. Watch this space”.
Braverman is charged with extricating Britain from the European Convention on Human Right (ECHR), after lawyers for asylum seekers used it to halt a deportation flight to Rwanda sanctioned under Patel’s Nationality and Borders Act. She wrote in Parliament’s House magazine in July, “Leaving the ECHR is the only solution which solves the problem” and would be “entirely consistent with international law.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg was named Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. A multi-millionaire hedge funder, he envisages an entirely deregulated economy ripe for plundering.
Faced with this gathering of political criminals, the media is making a ludicrous attempt to lend a progressive coloration to Truss’s leadership teamhailed the “most diverse Cabinet ever.”
Most obsessively focused is the nominally liberal Guardian. The newspaper declared under the heading “Diversity”: “It’s official: the UK’s four most important offices of state do not feature a white man for the first time in history.”
Truss’s “cabinet excels” it gushed in its “representation of ethnic minorities: close to a quarter of the 30 positions announced tonight are BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic], compared with a national estimate of 13.7%.”
To which millions of workers will reply, “So what”?
The working class doesn’t give a damn about the sex or ethnicity of any representative of the Tory party, already on its third female prime minister, who are readying a savage deepening of a 12-year onslaught against workers’ living standards. Nor, for that matter, does the Tory party when it comes to assembling the most ruthless defenders of the class interests of the bourgeoisie.
This left the Socialist Workers Party attempting a back-handed defence of identity politics under the heading, “A diverse cabinet of reaction.” The Socialist Worker claimed that “Truss will purposefully manoeuvre women and black people into her cabinet to stave off criticism of Tory bigotry,” as if the party has ever indicated such a sensitivity to such accusations.
It went so far as to claim that “Cabinet hopefuls such as Kwasi Kwarteng and Suella Braverman will have faced oppression during their lives and careers—it seeps into every crack of society.”
The Wall Street Journal, from the standpoint of a concerned US ruling elite, pointed to the febrile situation in the UK, with class and social tensions reaching explosive dimensions, that dictates the anti-working class political agenda of Truss, Kwarteng, Braverman and company.
It warned, “Britain’s slowing economy is poised to enter recession, inflation is at its highest rate in decades and households are facing crippling energy bills from the war in Ukraine…”
In addition, “The country is on track to record the lowest economic growth and the highest inflation in the Group of Seven rich countries next year, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development… Without major government intervention, the combination of higher energy prices and weak wages will translate to a fall of roughly £3,000, or about $3,500, a year in average disposable income for U.K. households by 2024—the biggest single decline in living standards in a century, according to the Resolution Foundation, a British think tank.”
Truss must therefore take on and defeat mounting working class opposition: “She will face the continuation of what has been a long, hot summer of discontent”, with “numerous strikes,” having already broken out, “including the biggest rail walkout since 1989.”
The working class can only defeat this assault by opposing all efforts by the Labour Party and trade union bureaucracy to curtail the class struggle in face of a joint government big business offensive led from Downing Street.
The soporific role of the trade unions was epitomised by Mick Lynch of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union charged with leading one of the most important strikes in Britain. Having earlier said he would call for a general strike if Truss—pledged to bring in a raft of anti-strike legislation within 30 days—was elected, Lynch instead urged, “Liz Truss should act in the national interest and play a positive role in helping to settle the rail dispute. This means investment in the railway infrastructure, unshackling Network Rail and the rail companies so we can come to a negotiated settlement on job security, pay and working conditions.”