'The COVID-19 pandemic should not be blamed for yet another severe crisis of the capitalist system caused by corporate ownership of the economy and the anarchy of market forces', Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told an online meeting of the party's executive committee at the weekend. 

'The impact of the coronavirus will make the forthcoming recession all the deeper, but this is not the primary cause of a cyclical downturn which will also expose yet again the greed and corruption at the heart of the British and international financial system', he added.  Mr Griffiths pointed out that, according to official UK estimates and the latest analysis from the UN Council on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), bailing out private enterprise in Britain will cost at least £350bn over the coming period.  'That's more than the annual public expenditure on healthcare, education, transport and the environment combined', the CP leader pointed put. Recalling that the banking bailout had been followed by a decade of state-imposed austerity, he urged the trades unions, the People's Assembly and other movements to prepare for mass campaigning to defeat future Tory moves to make the working class pay for 'capitalism's life-support treatment'. 

'The COVID-19 crisis underlines the inability of capitalism - especially its privatised, free-market neoliberal model promoted by New Labour, the Tory right and the EU - to meet public health and environmental emergencies', Mr Griffiths added. 

Responding to the coronavirus crisis, the CP executive committee criticised the Tory government's failure to plan much earlier to requisition production, distribution and R&D facilities to ensure adequate supplies of protective equipment for front-line staff, ventilators, testing kits and intensive care beds.  'Many workers are being forced to risk their own and other people's lives by employers who continue to put profits before public health and safety', Mr Griffiths warned.

Britain's Communists urged solidarity with workers refusing to work in breach of coronavirus regulations, insisting that trade unionism in the workplace was the best protection for workers exercising their lawful right to 'stop the job' in unsafe conditions.   

The CP executive committee repeated its call for a ban on home evictions during the current emergency, immediate payment of Universal Credit, the release on licence of many more non-violent prisoners and an end to the 'shameful and inhumane embargos' enforced by the US and its allies on material and financial aid to the peoples of Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. Britain's Communist Party is one of more than 230 politicial parties across the world to have signed an 'Open Letter' drawn up by the Communist Party of China urging international solidarity and cooperation in the struggle against COVID-19. 

This weekend's CP meeting also decided to proceed with the publication of an updated edition of the party's programme 'Britain's Road to Socialism' this month, welcoming a 'big upsurge' in applications to join the Communist Party following Saturday morning's announcement of victories for anti-socialist, pro-EU and pro-NATO candidates in Labour Party leadership elections.