By R Banks
It’s not been a good month for Rishi Sunak. His fall from grace has been dramatic; just weeks ago he was being touted as a favorite to replace beleaguered Boris Johnson.
Now, this enthusiasm has been replaced by mockery, scorn, and speculation over his potential resignation.
The scandal arose from the revelation that his billionaire wife, Akshata Murthy, exploited a loophole to avoid paying approximately £20 million in tax on the £54.5 million of dividend payments she has received from her £690m stake in her father’s IT consultancy Infosys, worth an estimated value of $100bn.
Taking advantage of her non-domiciled status, she has avoided tax on £11.5m in the past year alone. This has come at a time when many are forced to choose between food and heating; choices foisted on them by her husband’s policies.
Crisis, no solution
The chancellor’s response to the cost of living crisis has been lackluster to say the least. By raising the energy cap by £693 in April with another hike expected in October, the government is making the working class pay to keep energy companies profitable.
The announcement of the government’s £200 energy loan to each household has been met with confusion and indifference, while the April council tax rebate of £150 to those properties in bands A-D has been widely derided as insufficient.
The changes to National Insurance contributions, worth only £204 per year for someone earning £25,000, won’t go very far either.
That is the full extent of the financial aid currently being offered by the government in this crisis. For those facing rising energy and fuel costs, spiraling inflation and stagnating wages, such ‘aid’ is akin to a sticking plaster over a gaping wound.
The revelations of the Sunak household’s tax avoidance, while he stands back and allows the cost of living crisis to rip, clearly demonstrates that it is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us. The ruling classes accumulate their enormous hoards of wealth on the backs of the working class, while refusing to even pay taxes on their ill-gotten gains to fund the few remaining public services.
The working class must organise
The Tory Party generally represents this ruling class in all its unashamed wealth and privilege and Sunak has become the embodiment of this. A man who is estimated to be worth £200m (independently of Murthy) with a property portfolio worth £10m across the UK and USA, including a beachfront penthouse in Southern California overlooking the beach where the TV show Baywatch was filmed. The contradiction between the lifestyle of this pampered former investment banker and his billionaire wife, and the lifestyles of the population at large is striking.
While Sunak’s removal would certainly be welcomed, this wouldn’t change the nature of the Tory party, or the corrupt and morally bankrupt capitalist system in general. We can and must resist the rising cost of living by protesting the energy cap rises and linking this struggle to the new wave of pay strikes, uniting the organised labour movement with the wider working class to topple the Tory government.