Some people might object to the view expressed in the previous post that the Tories are intent on even more drastic austerity – after all hasn’t the new Chancellor scrapped the target for achieving a budget surplus by 2020? And as one Tory official is reported to have said – “perhaps only a Tory government can save capitalism from itself.”
And hasn’t Theresa May gone even further than this? Hasn’t she said she will make capitalism fairer for workers, crack down on corporate greed, promote state intervention, provide for more workers’ rights and put “the power of government squarely at the service of ordinary working-class people.” Hasn’t she criticised uncaring bosses, tax-avoiding multinationals and directors who took out “massive dividends while knowing the company pension is about to go bust”?
Yes of course, she has gone further, but none of these steps are necessary for a Tory government “to save capitalism from itself” and the chances of a Tory government putting “the power of government squarely at the service of ordinary working-class people” is zero. So what is going on? Is it just a case of ideology being employed, not to unconsciously blind the beholder, but consciously to blind those naive enough to believe Tory lies?
Before I answer this it is useful to make two observations. First, the language of the Tories shows how bankrupt the anti-Corbyn forces in the Labour Party are – afraid to mention class while the Tories outflank them from the left. Just how much of a future would the Labour Party have if it stood permanently exposed on the left by a Thatcher Mark II? What future would it have to endlessly repeat an approach symbolised by allowing cuts to disability benefits to go through only for the Tories to then scrap them? Would the Labour right have wanted to abstain on scrapping them as well?
The second point is that this Tory rhetoric is described, by the same political commentators who got Brexit wrong, as the Tories moving against the Labour Party by ‘moving to the centre ground’. This is almost as funny as their voting for Cameron while opposing Brexit. Since when did promoting workers’ rights and cracking down on corporate greed, even if only verbally, been the centre ground – surely this is moving to the left?
And to answer the question – of course it’s moving to the left, and its only became the centre ground since Jeremy Corbyn arrived from Mars to become leader of that part of the British people regarded as swivel-eyed-mad-lefties by the media. But of course it is also claimed he leads an ineffective opposition – despite him causing the ‘centre ground’ to shift leftwards.
It’s difficult to know whether this ridiculous view of the Tories’ approach is unconscious ideological self-deception – that the political battle is always fought on the centre ground – without pausing to think just where this ground might be; but I tend to think that it’s more likely to be cover for the fact that the political commentators who write such rubbish know that it’s all Tory rhetoric without any chance of being implemented. If the Tories have moderated austerity it is only because they fear they have to because, as we have seen, a Tory government is necessary “to save capitalism from itself”, or rather a new Tory government is necessary to save the country from the last Tory government. But then, even the last Tory government carefully implemented austerity and extolled its virtues only to ensure it could continue as a political weapon and as an economic policy option that fitted an ideological agenda. They were well aware, or at least some of them were, of the limits of a policy that involved bleeding the patient to death.
The case for this new Tory tilt to the left being a conscious attempt to blind those naive enough to believe Tory lies is supported for two reasons. First, a ‘sovereign’ UK outside the EU will slip down the global power rankings like a stone. It will be too big to ignore but too small to decisively shift its environment to its benefit. The EU cannot afford to indulge its delusions of greatness because it’s big enough to matter but not big enough to influence the EU to submit to its claims or demands. Some Tories might believe it can trade with the rest of the world while turning its back on those next door – that it already has almost half its trade with – but it requires outside investment to pay its way and this can only come through modelling itself as an attractive centre for foreign investment.
To do this will not entail the reassertion of British sovereignty but will expose its weakness and expose its lack of sovereignty. The inability of relatively small and even medium sized states to interact in the world mainly to their benefit is precisely why larger economic blocs like the EU were formed. The world will not change its rules because the British don’t like them. The British state will therefore become weaker with less capacity to intervene and the economy it has to intervene into will be even more in need of assistance.
to be continued
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