Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

27 October 2020

Facebook   Twitter

Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Greater Manchester coronavirus row

Working-class based campaign needed

Roger Bannister

It is undoubtedly true that the defiance of Tier Three coronavirus proposals for Greater Manchester shown by its Labour metro mayor, Andy Burnham, took the Tory government by surprise.

Thirty five miles away in the Liverpool City Region, workers began to grumble that their own metro mayor, Steve Rotheram, now dubbed 'roll over Rotheram' in the city, had given in too easily to the Tories, and should have stood up to them.

Since then, both Johnson and other Tory spokespersons have praised Rotheram for his cooperation and used this as a stick with which to beat Burnham.

When Burnham's response hit the news, the 21 September minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, had just been published, calling for a national lockdown across England, which Boris Johnson had refused to introduce.

This destroyed the carefully preserved myth that the government was simply implementing advice received and opened the door to the idea of regional and local administrations taking their own advice and determining local restrictions themselves.

Burnham posed the issue as one of both defending and supporting local businesses, and giving financial support to workers who would be laid off work, calling for the original 80% of wages furlough scheme to be applied, as opposed to the new lower 67% rate. The government felt obliged to negotiate with him, which must have caused them to question the advisability of introducing elected metro mayors in the first place!

The government originally offered a support package of 55 million, and Burnham and the constituent councils in the City Region asked for 90 million.

During the negotiations the government raised the amount on offer to 60 million, while Burnham dropped his figure to 65 million.

Neither side would move from these positions, and the talks broke down. The government subsequently imposed the 60 million across the City Region.

Greater Manchester is 5 million better off as a result of Burnham's stand but much more could have been achieved had he organised a working-class based campaign, and taken steps to build it, rather than attempting a cross-class appeal to businesses and workers.

The demand to maintain the '80% of wages' subsidy should be replaced by one for full pay; and it should be demanded that firms threatening bankruptcy are taken into public ownership - for example the Welsh government has announced the nationalisation of the Transport for Wales rail service as a result of low passenger levels during the current crisis.

An approach along these lines would undoubtedly get the support of trade unionists, and would also hit an echo in the working-class areas of Greater Manchester, and with students and other young people.

Arrangements should be made to organise on the estates and in the student areas to build unity around a campaign to force the Tories to provide the funding that is needed, which would help give rise to similar movements in other towns and cities.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


Related links:

Greater Manchester:

triangleManchester death rate caused by deprivation

triangleHealth before profit - Work or full pay

triangleManctopia: billion pound property boom

triangleArriva Rail North under pressure after nineteenth Saturday strike


triangleManchester & Salford Socialist Party: The Grenfell disaster

triangleGo Ahead offers deal to Manchester bus drivers

triangleWith public campaigning back in full swing - now is the time to raise fighting fund

triangleManchester bus drivers' indefinite strikers fight on


triangleSocialists and the four-day week

triangleWho pays for the climate crisis?

triangleEnergy market chaos makes the case for nationalisation


triangleMexico City subway train collapse - negligence, corruption and capitalism

triangleRMT condemns Welsh government rail privatisation

Andy Burnham:

triangle#NorthernFail: 250 rail services cancelled

Article dated 27 October 2020

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party


Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales


Bulk book orders

New member submission


triangle26 Sep Martin Powell-Davies for National Education Union DGS

triangle27 Sep Leeds Socialist Party: The Transitional Programme

triangle29 Sep Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: Brazil and Latin America


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1148 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files

CWI rally, Sunday 26 September 2021, 14-00. Youtube.com/CWImedia

A CWI rally, Sunday 26 September 2021, 14-00. Youtube.com/CWImedia

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version