Britain: Rishi Sunak Declares War on the Working Class and the Oppressed

By Laurence Humphries, RCIT Britain, 7th March 2024




On the 1st March in a speech outside Downing Street Rishi Sunak said that the pro-Palestinian marches taking place were extremists and descending to mob rule. He also referred to extremism in Britain as a direct attack on democracy and democratic structures in Britain. He also referred to right-wing commentators who are attacking Muslims and engaging in Islamophobia.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned police chiefs of a "growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule". He wants more robust police responses that he says are needed to protect politicians and democratic processes. This includes an "immediate response" from police to intimidatory protest at MPs' homes. But human rights group Amnesty International says the PM "wildly exaggerates the issue". Mr Sunak was speaking the day after the Home Office announced a £31m package aimed at protecting MPs, stating it was in response to the impact of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict”. [1]


“Rishi Sunak has claimed extremist groups in the UK are “trying to tear us apart”, in a hastily arranged Downing Street statement that came hours after George Galloway won a by-election in Rochdale. Standing outside No 10 late on Friday, the prime minister condemned what he called “a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” after the 7 October massacre by Hamas and the Israeli invasion of Gaza. He also claimed democracy itself was a target, as he condemned the election of Galloway, who easily won the seat in Rochdale on a platform that focused on anti-Israel sentiment over Gaza. However, in a sometimes rambling and seemingly contradictory 10-minute address, Sunak made points likely to anger MPs on the right of the Conservative party such as Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick, who have sought to frame recent tensions as almost entirely the responsibility of Islamist extremists.” [2]


As the RCIT has analysed in a number of articles the capitalist system is in meltdown. Since 2019 when the great depression and slump happened it has shown that the anarchic system of capitalism is characterised by a contradictory clash between the productive forces and the nature of production as Karl Marx explained in Capital. The main feature of world imperialism is the intense rivalry between the Great Powers leading to inter-imperialist rivalry chiefly between the USA, Europe and Japan against China and Russia. This has revealed itself in conflicts in the South China Sea and the war in the Ukraine which Russia invaded.


Islamophobia is widespread in Britain and during the last four Tory governments there has been a campaign of intimidation and outright racist oppression of Black, Asian pupils who are followed and investigated under the Prevent programme in schools. Under this program, police officers come into schools in order interrogate Muslim students with no evidence (often it is male officers who interrogate female Muslim students).


It has recently been proved that the Metropolitan police are both racist and there is a high intensity of domestic violence perpetrated by police officers. The recent case of Sarah Everard stalked by a serving police officer Wayne Cousins who killed her confirms this assessment. Research has shown that black or Asian youth are more likely to be searched and detained by the police under these prevent regulations. The official reason for the Prevent strategy is that these pupils may be susceptible to being recruited by ISIS and other radical Islamic organisations according to the government. suppression of freedom of speech together with racist profiling is endemic in Britain today. But Sunak will certainly not address this form of extremism perpetrated by the state!




The Gaza War and the pro-Palestine mass movement




The reason for Sunak’s attack is because of the war between Israel and the Palestinian resistance which started on 7th October 2023. Britain and the USA have continually supported the state of Israel arming it to the teeth. Without their support they would not be able to prolong the conflict. Israel is an imperialist outpost in the Middle East and hated by the Arab masses. It is a colonial apartheid state committing murder, assassination and now genocide with its murderous assault on Gaza. Condemned by the International Court of Justice the Zionist entity will not stop until it has driven all Palestinians out of their land. To date 30,000 Palestinians have been killed including women and children, aid convoys have been attacked and hospitals bombed.


However, a mass movement in solidarity with Palestine has emerged – in Britain as well as globally – which is putting pressure on the governments. That is why Sunak condemns the marches for Palestine because of their support for the Palestinian resistance. His defence of democracy is false as his government has enacted legislation to reduce and ban protests completely.




The by-election results in Rochdale




The by-election results in Rochdale shocked both the Labour party and the Tory party. These are extraordinary times when both of the main parties end up 4th and 5th in the result. The dominant issue was, of course, Palestine and the Gaza War where demands for a ceasefire have been raised by a number of semi-colonial countries and the masses in Britain – but not by western imperialist powers like the U.S. and Britain.


Both Sunak and Keir Starmer are opposed to a ceasefire. Starmer, the pro-capitalist leader of the Labour party, disowned his candidate at Rochdale because of perceived anti-Semitic remarks (which were in fact anti-Zionist remarks). “The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, appeared to back the prime minister’s message calling for unity in the country. He said: “The prime minister is right to advocate unity and to condemn the unacceptable and intimidatory behaviour that we have seen recently. “It is an important task of leadership to defend our values and the common bonds that hold us together. Citizens have a right to go about their business without intimidation and elected representatives should be able to do their jobs and cast their votes without fear or favour.” [3].


George Galloway stood for a ceasefire in Gaza and received overwhelming support from the Muslim population in Rochdale. The RCIT has serious political differences with George Galloway but nevertheless he was speaking up for the Palestinians and for everyone who is opposed to the Zionist slaughter taking place in Gaza.




The failure of reformism and the trade union bureaucracy




Keir Starmer, the pro-capitalist leader of the Labour party, has since the beginning of the genocide in Gaza taken up a position in support of Israel and in opposition to a ceasefire – despite the fact that this demand is supported by the majority of Labour party members. Many black and Asian members have either left or been suspended from the Labour party. Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn are both suspended MP’s as are a number of others. Starmer has stated that he is a faithful Zionist and proud of it. At the beginning of the war, he stated that Palestinians particularly women and children should go without water and electricity.


The situation in Gaza is dominating British politics, but it had gone beyond that. At the beginning of Ramadan, Palestinians living in Gaza face annihilation. Starmer is determined to drive the last vestiges of socialism and humanity out of the Labour party in order to defend the imperialist entity Israel in the Middle East. In fact, his politics is indistinguishable from the Tories.


The trade union bureaucracy meanwhile is tied inextricably to the parliamentary party and remains the privileged and conservative layer which dominates the trade union movement. It role during the Gaza War has been to follow the imperialists in their desire to murder, annihilate and destroy the Palestinian people. The bureaucracy is an unelected clique which has slavishly followed every decision of Starmer and his ilk. Not one of these leaders has come out publicly to support the call for a ceasefire – despite the fact that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions has written to all the affiliates of the TUC seeking their support. There has been little or no support and most of the bureaucracy fail to speak or support the marches in Britain demanding a ceasefire.


The RCIT described the labour aristocracy in this way: “Furthermore, we also need to take into account the labour aristocracy, the uppermost part of the working class (e.g., certain sectors of the highly-paid skilled workers, etc.). It is the sector of the proletariat which is literally bribed by the bourgeoisie with various privileges. In the imperialist countries, this layer constitutes a much larger proportion of the working class than it does among the semi-colonial proletariat. The financial sources to pay off the labour aristocracy in the imperialist countries, and thereby undermine its working-class solidarity, are derived precisely from the extra profits which the monopoly capitalists so readily obtain by super-exploiting the semi-colonial countries as well as migrants in the imperialist metropolises. Without any smoke or mirrors, monopoly capital uses part of these extra profits to gain the support of sectors of the working class in the imperialist countries, for it is at home that the capitalists need stability first and foremost. Thus, the “bought off” labour aristocracy can be a much smaller sector of the proletariat in the semi-colonial world. Together with this, the labour aristocracy – along with its twin, the labour bureaucracy – plays a dominating role inside the trade unions and the reformist parties in the imperialist countries”. [4]


This shows that both – the trade union bureaucracy and the labour aristocracy – have an affinity with the pro-capitalist policy of the Labour party. The middle and lower sectors of the proletariat – many of them migrant workers – and are the most oppressed section in Britain and therefore more open to revolutionary ideas and actions.




Crisis of centrism




The most notable feature of centrism in this period is its reluctance to understand the national question. Throughout its history, it has shown hostility to anti-imperialist movements and movements outside the official Labour movement. These groups – in particular those coming from the Ted Grant tradition – have always opportunistically adapted to the labour bureaucracy. They claim that nothing will change without the role of these conservative organisations who have a complete disregard for migrant workers who are often not in trade unions but form their own organisations to fight for their views.


One of the leading centrist organisations in Britain is the Socialist party – the section of the CWI – originally led by Peter Taaffe but now by other leaders. Their opportunist adaption to the labour bureaucracy in the present Gaza War is reflected in their support for a two-state solution (i.e. a small Bantustan-like Palestinian state alongside Israel) – in contrast to the long-standing demand of the Palestinian liberation movement and their supporters to fight for a Palestine from the river to the sea. “An independent, socialist Palestinian state will be possible, alongside a socialist Israel, with guaranteed rights for all minorities, as part of a voluntary socialist confederation across the Middle East”. [5]


The RCIT believes that such a one-state solution is the most democratic solution. However, we advocate a Red Palestine from the river to the sea, i.e. a workers and fellahin republic, in which Jews will be a sizeable minority with full cultural and religious rights.




For a revolutionary solution




The recent period has shown the weakness of capitalism and the bankruptcy of reformism. At the same time, we see an unprecedented mass movement independent of the labour bureaucracy. This polarised situation offers an excellent possibility for revolutionaries to intervene in the labour movement and to split the progressive, anti-imperialist sectors – i.e. not the cynical bureaucrats but the numerous rank-and-file members who still understand themselves as socialists – away from Starmer & Co. It is crucial to bring such a left wing of the Labour party together with the militant sectors of the pro-Palestine movement (not some liberal figureheads but rather the hundreds of thousands of activists).


Revolutionaries need to explain to these activists the importance of a new party of the workers and oppressed. In our view, such a party should not have a left-reformist or populist program as it is advocated by Corbyn or Galloway. It should be rather based on a fighting program which links the struggle against capitalist attacks and imperialist wars which transitional demands aimed at overthrowing the bourgeoisie. Naturally, communists must not have a sectarian attitude in case their program does not find support by the majority. In such a case they to work within such a party as a revolutionary minority and continue to argue for their ideas.


Such a new workers party, which organises the oppressed independent of the pro-imperialist Labour party, would be a tremendous step forward. However, it can only be a interim stage in the process to build a revolutionary workers party committed to the goal of smashing capitalism and opening the road to a socialist future!


The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following demands in support of the Palestinian resistance and for a military victory of Hamas without political support for their leadership.


* Call on the trade unions including their leaderships to follow the example of the offshore workers in Oakland California who refused to load or unload military hardware bound for Israel. We call for the dockers, rail workers and transport workers to refuse to load or unload shipment to Israel.


* Support the boycott movement against Israel!


* For a Free Red Palestine from the river to the sea!


* No to Islamophobia and racism! For open borders, no to immigration controls or deportation to other countries!






1) Protests descending into mob rule, Rishi Sunak warns police - BBC News


2) Extremists trying to tear us apart, says Rishi Sunak in impromptu No 10 speech | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian


3) Extremists trying to tear us apart, says Rishi Sunak in impromptu No 10 speech | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian


4) Marxism and the United Front Tactic Today - RCIT - Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (


5) Mass democratic struggle for Palestinian national self-determination and socialism - Socialist Party