- Monday, 15 October 2012
- Written by Felix Lighter
The Tory leadership have always despised the massed ranks of their party, seeing them only as election fodder to be tolerated like unruly butlers. In truth, the Tory Party is dominated by big business and, in particular, finance capital. The Tory grandees have little time for these small-time local councillors prattling on about the importance of small businesses and so on. However, over the years some in the leadership have made use of the ranks to push through their own campaigns for highest office. Thatcher, for example, knew exactly how to push their buttons. Boris Johnston is the latest such person to have a go at this. He strolled into Birmingham like a conquering Roman emperor ready to swear allegiance to the current leadership whilst working hard to push himself forward at every opportunity. By imagining that his current popularity in the opinion polls represents real leadership skills, his supporters in the party and in the national press have convinced themselves that he is a shoe-in to be the next Tory leader. This says volumes about the decline of the Tory Party itself that such a bumbling buffoon should be rated as PM material. It is a sign of the extreme desperation within the Tory ranks that his name has even been jokingly considered.
Of course, these are grim days for the Tory party. They have been hammered in the local elections and in by-elections over the last period. For all Labour’s failings this process is set to continue as opinion polls continue to show a healthy Labour lead. Since gaining the Tory leadership, Cameron has attempted to give the impression that he has learnt the lessons of the past and that there will be no return to “the nasty party.” However, though his words said one thing, his deeds have said quite another. The government’s regime of austerity has meant a degree of attack on the working class that has surpassed anything Thatcher might have even dreamed about doing. Given the slump in Tory party support (and remember they actually did not win the last election) this year Cameron decided that he had nothing to lose by pandering to the Tory right sitting in the hall listening to his keynote speech.
Before that we had George Osborne and his new great idea – shares for all. Based on an earlier idea floated a year or two ago by one of the myriad Tory think tanks, this new plan involves saving the economy for capitalism by dishing out shares to the workers. The only little thing they have to do is give up all their rights. Of course, no one in his or her right mind would willingly take up such an offer. You lose all your legal protection in return for what? A bundle of shares that in all probability will result in very little return if any in the form of a dividend and, should the company get into trouble, will become worthless as you are booted out the door without even a redundancy cheque. It is a con designed by Osborne to deflect attention from the fact that every economic prediction he and the Tories have made have been proven to be worthless. Indeed whilst the conference was underway new data was downgrading the UK economy and pouring scorn on any hope of an early recovering in fortune.
Once Osborne was out of the way, conference was allowed to drag on with very little to stop the delegates from exploring the shops of Birmingham. One plan was floated about allowing people to “bash a burglar” All very exciting for the Tory Death Wish fans until it was pointed out that in the US, where such rights already exist, burglars tend to pre-empt their hammering by murdering the people they are robbing. Still it all sounded good for the Tory press looking for nice right-wing sound bites.For Cameron, the crisis was about blaming the poor, the public sector and those on benefits for the recession. For him it was nothing to do with the banks and his pals in the City. Naturally he supported tax cuts for the rich arguing that it was “their money.” Actually, it is money stolen from the working class in the form of rent, interest and profit. Although most of the speech contained the same vague promises about a better Britain that party leaders make every year (funny how it never happens) he also made clear that the cuts would continue and be worse than expected. He was telling a strange sort of truth when he said “ I’m am not here to defend privilege, I’m here to spread it.” Yes, amongst the rich and powerful. Cameron will have departed the conference centre in a happy mood – he will soon have that smile wiped off his face. The Tory right wing is already mobilising around a strategy of extreme cuts as the way forward and will be pushing this agenda hard. The voters will be looking to punish the Tories for the cuts at every opportunity and the pressure will only grow as the date of the next election approaches. The task for Labour is to get this rotten crew out which means abandoning the “One Nation” approach of slow cuts to sweeten the package and taking up instead a clear programme of socialist policies. This is how to defeat the Tories once and for all.