In the face of a deadly virus, and an unparalleled shutdown of society, it is working class solidarity that will help our communities survive this pandemic.
Predictably, the response from the Conservative government has been too little, too late. It has come as no surprise that they have looked to use workers as a buffer against economic damage. Whilst other countries were in a state of quasi-martial law pubs, clubs and cafe’s in Britain were still open for business, as was the high street.
As of the 20th of March the government has closed most of the above, but this lethargic response has put working class lives in danger, and it has done so intentionally. The huge insurance firms would have been financially ravaged had the government ordered this lockdown sooner. Now many of those pubs and clubs have already closed voluntarily, or been forced to because of financial pressure. In this scenario insurance firms aren’t paying out. It doesn’t take a political genius to realise that Johnson is saving his mates in the insurance industry, using the lives of service workers as a meat shield for his toff buddies’ cash. The same is true of retail workers, where supermarkets are reporting the highest profits in years, but protection for workers are still woefully inadequate.
Even with the reasonable measures they have begrudgingly put into place whole sections of the countries workforce are still not being looked after. Many of those in vulnerable work conditions often living paycheque to paycheque as self employed are being offered nothing more than the basic universal credit and housing element. These people have to face not only the shuttering of their industries but the real prospect of financial destitution and struggle. The government has failed to recognise quite how many fall under this bracket with the effects being felt from the entertainment industries to builders and other tradesmen.
In this situation, you’d be forgiven for expecting the response of the working class to be one of hate and anger. And that is present, without a doubt. But overwhelmingly, the response of ordinary people to the crisis has been one of love, charity and solidarity.
Messages of support for NHS and other frontline workers have sprung up around Manchester. Online neighborhood groups have been organised to make sure the elderly and vunerable are getting the food they need. Health and care workers are being stopped in the street and given food, probably not a good thing given the “social distancing” circumstances, but still an example of how our communities’ base instincts are ones of solidarity, empathy and gratitude.
In addition to this, the work of groups like the community union Acorn have put pressure on the government on a national level to implement rent and mortgage restrictions, saving thousands from homelessness or financial ruin.
0161 congratulates and applauds the response of our communities to the pandemic. Working class society is defined by solidarity and we are showing that even now, we are not the selfish drones that the rich desperately need us to be. The time will come when the rich and the politicians will pay for trying to use us as a shield for their economy, but for now the refusal of the people to abandon each other is an act of resistance in itself. This community solidarity must continue. Every day it does, the rich are proven wrong.