The terminal decline of the Labour Party continues to be a long drawn out, painful and damaging affair and the idea of the UK public ever trusting the Party with national government again is risible. There is no way of coming back from this. Labour had a history of adapting within the context of capitalism in order to survive, whilst pushing their Slow Revolution of social justice paid for via fiscal growth. So called “Supply Side Economics”. The Crash put paid to that plan and Austerity has meant the Labour Left is returning to the failed model of State Capitalism instead of recognising what even the Harvard Business School acknowledge; capitalism is destroying itself.
Where does that leave UK politics? Whilst the Left can bicker to Olympic Gold medal standard despite coming to politics from a position of caring, the Right can unite in an instant when it sniffs victory. That’s because their main interest is cold hard cash and protecting filthy lucre is paramount to their thinking. So despite a bitter and rancorous 29 year (if you take Thatcher’s Bruges speech as the starting point) civil war the Tory Party have taken the hatchets out of each other’s backs, unless your name is Michael Gove, and are intent on burying them firmly in to the working class.
The appointment by the prime minister of David Davis to the second most senior jobin Cabinet is proof positive that she is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that this is the Tories Century. This was confirmed when Mrs. May looked straight down the camera lens on the steps of Number Ten and promised, “If you’re just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you are working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle.The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.When we take the big calls we will think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we will listen not to the mighty, but to you.”
Mealy mouthed and pernicious words coming from a Tory but brilliant politics. Mrs. May registered that the Out vote was not necessarily about Europe but about Austerity and the Cameron era where it was OK to be loose with the actualite regarding tax whilst at the same time introducing a China style two child policy and trashing social security and wages.
Theresa May is reaching out to poorer voters and those from outside London who feel ignored and considered stupid and racist by the political class and others. By doing this she aims to ape Thatcher by snaring these voters. Maggie did it via, amongst other things council house sales, and May hopes to do it by promising an end to Austerity thus cutting the ground from under Labour’s feet.
May has played the long game. In 2002 during her time as Party Chair Mrs. May identified correctly that the Tories were viewed by many voters as, “The Nasty Party” and she quickly became associated with the drive to de toxify the Conservative Party brand. As a result once she was in Government May assiduously any portfolios related to the economy or social security which could have tainted her with Austerity. This was because she wanted colleagues such as IDS and Osborne to be the lightning rods of public anger.
To maintain her popularity with the Sir Herbert Gussett Tory rank and file May indulged in dog whistle nastiness such as the infamous Go Home immigration vans and anti police leadership rhetoric which goes down well in the shires and in some small sections of working class communities. Thus when the proverbial hit the fan she was well protected from the fallout. Showing as much enthusiasm for Remain as the Labour Left leadership Mrs. May could not be linked to Project Fear. By keeping the back channels open with Tory Grandee David Davis she could then hoover up support from Leave when the time came to strike.
There are still many minefields for the prime minister to navigate. But May’s visit to Edinburgh last week threw up a twist as Nicola Sturgeon wrung a significant a concession regarding a pan UK approach to Article 50 which triggers our cessation from the EU. It will be interesting to see if and how Arlene Foster can likewise exert pressure on May. Despite campaigning for Leave N. Ireland failed to heed their First Minister’s advice and a clear 11% gap existed for Remain. Nevertheless the politician in Arlene will realise that this gives her leverage when it comes to invoking Article 50. Another possible time bomb for May is the prospect of a second vote on the terms of our exit….
But if Mrs. May can get through this period then the real prospect of post party politics is here. With Labour out of the game, the Lib Dems irrelevant and the electoral system rigged against parties such as the Greens and UKIP a pretend centrist Tory government backed by the establishment and the media could rule for a generation.
The only concessions would be gained by very occasional pushbacks by the public on issues regarding the NHS or a blunder such as the Poll Tax. Whatever is thrown up by the post left leadership era will only exist as protest movement on soft issues. Remember the vested interests of 240 or so Labour MP’s plus the council/ union gravy train means they will never challenge on hard issues as the brakes may be applied and all those expenses, allowances and quango payments could end.
But this post politics situation will only happen if we let it play out this way.
Either way the voters have been galvanised by what has unfolded over the last few months. People who paid scant regard to politics are now engaged because they felt that for once their vote and their voice actually counted for something. Where can they go now? Many have joined the Labour Party but they have been and will be sorely let down. The last thing the Labour Party be it so called moderates or the Left wants is mass engagement. Then they would have to be held to account over matters such as voting for Social Security cuts in June 2015, bombing Syria and perhaps most tellingly the Left saying in September 2015 (just after they won the Leadership) that cuts to Council budgets would not be opposed. This despite agreeing in 2014 that local government was the front line of Austerity and recommending that Labour councillors follow the example of three Hull City representatives that voted against a cuts budget that a fellow Labour councillor called, “compassionate”.
Many Labour members, trade unionists Councillors residents are sick to the back teeth as they watch the death throes of capitalism hurt and destroy those who are least able to defend themselves. That’s why it’s time to draw a line and form a steering committee with a view to starting a new political party. One that can reflect and appeal to the hopes and needs of the 99% who are paying the price for the crash. The soap opera in Labour may be interesting but it’s a huge distraction and saps energy from a movement that could be formed to end exploitation and misery for ever by implementing a true workers democratic programme that raises everyone up to fulfill their true potential.