It is tempting this month to just pour scorn on the debacle that continues to spiral downward among the governing British Conservative Party, but that would be to miss a more important dimension to the events here and elsewhere. The ridiculous coming and going of Chancellors and Prime Ministers in quick succession is actually only a surface political phenomenon in 2022. Of course, the new ‘behind the scenes’ wars and open scuffles between elements of the Tory New Guard, are not at all like the ones during the 1960’s to 2, 000’s, that the Tory Old Guard used to quietly manage resignations and demotions over whisky at a Gentleman’s Club. Many of these Old Guard, one-nation Tories had a slight modicum of concern for the poor and downtrodden.
But that was a post Second World War, one-nation Tory and Labour sensibility, which the New Guard, upstarts lack. So, this new generation of college groomed conservatives (financial and career politicians) have worked their way into the Conservative Party in order to jump the queue for lucrative government posts. Coming well after the old guard had retired, these subsequent young Tories do not have the cultured patience to wait their turn at the golden ‘trough’ nor the sensitivity to resign if they are exposed as being incompetent or corrupt. Just remember Cameron’s reluctance to resign over his Brexit miscalculations, May’s reluctance over her failed Brexit negotiations, Boris’s reluctance to resign over Party Gate fiascos and Lizzi’s reluctance to leave office over recent crippling Mortgage Rate rises. All four (and a few lesser incumbents – such as Cummings and Kwasi) had to be levered for days or weeks out of office by their own Conservative Party colleagues. These New Guard Tories clearly have no shame and have to be practically bulldozed away from their stipends at number 10.
Furthermore, these Tory Downing Street upstarts are the mirror image of the other new guard upstarts in control of the privatised utilities, such as electricity, gas, water, petroleum, telephones and big-businesses such as tech firms, banks, footballers, comedians, musicians, TV and film celebrities with their tax evading foreign accounts. Greedy revolving door bankers in financial institutions in particular also have direct and indirect power over politicians. All these new-generation high-paid, pro-capitalist grasper’s are shameless citizens, who have little or no regard for the ‘dire straits’ of those ‘left behind’ in the wake of their neo-liberal profit-making and advantage-taking. With millions or billions stashed away, increased food and housing costs are no inconvenience to such obscenely greedy people. Unsurprisingly, these same citizens display no serious regard or shame for the huge carbon footprint their bloated life styles stamp on the planet everywhere they land, take off or take root.
The Tory Party is now split between a few new guard upstart personality based factions, the remnants of the one-nation groupies and the new Red Wall Tories occupying former Labour seats. Over the last few months all three or four shifting alliances of Conservatives have openly demonstrated that their prime concern has been with their own personal futures either with regard to access to government posts or with the safety of their own seats in Parliament. They have not even tried to pretend that their prime concern was for the welfare of the country as a whole or to ensure that all the low paid public and private paid workers have enough to feed, house and keep themselves warm into the next decade or so. Nor have they tried, on behalf of the younger generation, to put in place socio-economic adjustments in order to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Maintaining humane standards of social and hospital care are also clearly the last thing on their minds. With an 80 seat majority, personal advantage overwhelmingly in mind and untroubled by guilt or shame, the Tory MP’s can keep this leadership farce going as long as they like.
Sadly, none of the other political parties in the UK seem to have bothered to address these important issues comprehensively either. The British Labour Party, who are joyfully making the most of the Tory debacle, are still not outlining in any detail how they would even maintain a moderate standard of living for all citizens, let alone an improved one for the most desperate. After the previous New Labour ‘stable governments’ of Blair and Brown, Starmer (the knight in tarnished Armour) promise this week to bring a ‘stable government’ to the UK, may not seem very enticing to those with a memory recalling dodgy documents and the Labour endorsed Putin-like war on Iraq. The Greens and the Liberals, lack the personnel to create a government by themselves so if successful in any election would need to compromise with any other party which did not have an overwhelming majority.
In any case, any new government in future, will experience the financial power lurking behind the so-called sovereignty of Parliament. As the last weeks or so have emphasised it is the global financial sector, who pull the strings, or push the rods connected directly or indirectly to the hands and wallets of all politicians. This financial ‘influence’ is exerted whether politicians are in or out of Parliament, Congress or any other seat of representation. Any political movement or party not prepared to campaign for taking on and restricting the power and influence of this sector of capitalism, will be hog tied and helpless. Not one of the contenders for political power in the UK (or elsewhere as far as I can judge) have even discussed whether the financial sector should be brought under social control, let alone how to achieve this. Consequently, if elected, they (and the rest of us) will still be subject to the whims and needs of the lords of mammon.
Thankfully, a new generation of young citizens, in the UK, Europe, Iran, America, India and elsewhere, have also emerged who are already active in supporting struggles against racial and gender prejudice and for human rights, animal rights and the right to clean air, clean water and unpolluted land for every geographical part of life on earth. I offer them an important paragraph or two of warning that they will definitely not hear from the mainstream media. This concerns the social, economic, climate and ecological crises maturing within the global economy and which is heading toward us like a succession of unstoppable tsunamis. It is important to remember that whether during boom, recession or slump, large-scale societies need a high degree of discipline to allow their extensive divisions of labour to be integrated fully and to function effectively.
Moreover, whilst mass societies exist, that level of discipline can only be achieved in one of two ways. A: By voluntary discipline; in which case the socio-economic distribution of goods and services needs to be fair enough to satisfy every citizen and worker to be supportive of it. If that condition for voluntary support is lacking, then discipline will need to be attained by; B: Force; in which case an authoritarian regime, with an armed enforcement agency will be employed to ensure the needed socio-economic discipline. This latter situation has happened many times before during times of war or extreme crisis and it has always ended with large-scale tragic and inhumane results.
So young people, do support the outspoken campaigns for a general increased level of socio-economic fairness and justice for humanity alongside your other important single issue campaigns. The former are important for their own sake. However, such general campaigns are also important to create the preconditions for resisting and also transcending any future tendencies among any elites and their supporters (left, right or centre) to institute authoritarian solutions to the coming economic, social, ecological and climate crises.
Roy Ratcliffe (October 2022)