THE Prime Minister has opted for the time-honoured device of government when faced with a political problem the resolution of which would present the government party itself with insoluble problems. It proposes to set up a commission of inquiry.
For the Tory Party — founded on the principle that private property is sacred at a time when the capture, transport, possession of slaves was the foundation of many a bourgeois fortune — any scrutiny of the methods by which fortunes were made is a threat to its legitimacy as a party of government and of the class its represents.
The decision to establish a cross-government commission to look into inequality in the context of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of the last few weeks will not, of itself, solve any problems.
The extraordinary character of these protests has sent a shock wave through the political elite.
Our rulers are more or less content when demonstrations consist of a few thousand anti-racist activists, a cluster of trade unionists and a rag-tag and bobtail of left-wing groups.
They are somewhat alarmed when such demonstrations draw in more thousands of recognisably ordinary folk.
They are definitely worried by the latest, and from this newspaper’s point of view, beautiful phenomenon of a huge and extensive mobilisation of extraordinary numbers of people, many taking part in rallies self-organised and spontaneous in places that have not seen a demonstration in decades, organised by people who may not have been bothered much by politics but who are deeply passionate for justice and equality.
The way in which the sense of solidarity with people in the US fused with the feeling that — in essence if not in scale — the same problems of policing exist in Britain and that this has engendered a rising sensibility to the unaddressed problems of our own history makes this moment very significant.
The Stop the War movement that arose in response to Tony Blair’s alliance of willing imperialist warmongers transmuted opposition to the Iraq war into a genuine and deeply rooted mass current of conscious anti-imperialism.
The present-day challenges to conventional representations of Britain’s colonial and slave-holding history compel an examination of the sources of wealth that underpin today’s fortunes of our ruling class.
The government will hope that this wave of protest will subside and that its tame commission will produce platitudes and proposals which will be as quickly forgotten as those that emerged from earlier inquiries.
Keir Starmer was right to urge the government to get a move on with the “findings and recommendations of the reports we’ve already got.”
Meaningful measures to tackle systematic and institutional racism will never emerge if the mass movement is allowed to subside.
Labour in opposition has an important role in making clear that its governmental programme will include a whole raft of policies that will address contemporary problems of racism in British society while the labour movement as a whole must take the lead in keeping up the pressure.
Britain and the US are in an alliance of imperial power in which the techniques of repression perfected on subject peoples find a domestic use.
CND and the Campaign Against Arms Trade remind us that BAE Systems has licences to export ammunition, grenades, drones, explosives and chemical weapons to the US.
Several US companies that manufacture armaments in our country — Boeing, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, Moog and Northrop Grumman — have been granted licences to export equipment regularly used by US police such as small weapons, armoured vehicles and even more advanced tools such as tanks, drones and helicopters.
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