The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Death of the Conservatives

Someone I know made an astute comment in response to a political argument. It was that the Conservative government voted to accept the last George Osborne budget (despite the fallout, the resignations and the almost-rebellion), it sailed through parliament and yet now nearly half of them are calling Gideon O, amongst other things, an incompetent charlatan. If we can draw any conclusions about this EU referendum it is quite clear - there is massive division in the Tory party, one that has existed for years simmering away in the background, but now has come to a angry and pus-filled head.

I've said before that the left's worst enemy is its ability to fracture and split into factions, thus ultimately diluting their vote; while the Tories disagree with each other over the same amount of things, but money keeps them united and I really don't mean that in a nasty way; political parties need unity and a strong bond to keep them together - Labour should have social justice at its core; the Tories should have money, it's why people, misguidedly, trust them with the economy and why a lot of people vote for them; people think they will be better off under a Tory government and are more likely to trust them if measures such as austerity happen. They are, after all, the elite of British society and are moneyed people.

Take the EU referendum as a yardstick: half the Tory party are calling the other half liars and vice versa; both of them know pretty much the real cost of leaving the EU - they're in government and have access to every expert, bit of data and economic forecast imaginable; so one of them is deliberately lying, or both of them are, but one thing is certain, both of them are not telling the truth.

So how can you trust them to run your country whether we're in the EU or not?

Forget what you're voting for, who you're voting against and whatever flimsy or concrete reason you have for not voting, the noisy backbench Tories, the ones there to keep schtum and nod and patronise and vote for whatever they're told to are now getting noisier and Cameron's future is being called into question (and, honestly, if I could forecast this 6 months ago, just how politically astute are our media's political reporters?) and this is a man who led them to their first majority government since 1992. We all know politicians, in general, are self-serving bastards where principles are no longer a pre-requisite for the job, but look at it at the moment: Tory eating Tory over Europe; never-say-die Blairites constantly stirring up unhelpful background noise for Jeremy Corbyn; the press which is so right wing that it'll pursue any agenda that it thinks will keep readers happy; there are even rumblings in Scotland that the SNP are facing a tough time because they are having to implement a Scots-lite version of austerity, because they're overspending (which I also find amazing didn't make it into English papers in any great way).

Unity in politics no longer exists.

Let me really generalise and give you a silly, but relevant, example: when I were a lad there was maybe seven or eight genres of music; soul, rock, c&w, pop, classical, jazz and folk - there were subdivisions of these, but they were grouped under one label. Forty years later there are maybe the same amount of 'genres' but the music that exists within them is far more diverse and unusual than you could have imagined; some of those sub-genres are extremely popular and might even be, at a certain point, more popular than the genre they exist under, while others mix and match, mash-up and flirt and could be labelled many rather than one. This is politics now - different versions of the original ideology existing under an umbrella that isn't big enough to contain them.

The man in charge of the Commons, John Bercow, MP for Buckingham is regarded by some (in his own Tory party) to be more left of centre than a third of all Labour MPs. I've heard apocryphal stories that he was put forward for the Speaker's job because the Tory party didn't like their own version of Dennis Skinner speaking his mind rather than the party line. Michael Gove used to be a shop steward for the NUT and is now considered to be on the hard right of the party (hard right in my language equates to 'scary').

There is apparently this kind of division within the Tory party: Pro Europe 15%, Ambivalent Europe 35% and Anti-Europe 50% - this is a fundamental schism within the party because whatever the outcome of the referendum there could be 50% of a 'united' party in total disagreement with the other, still.

Just to balance this out, even without the media, old New Labour still finds a way, almost weekly, to stick the knife into current Labour, with the vile and dislikeable Tony Blair seemingly believing someone in the country gives a hoot what he thinks any more. It pains me to know that arguably the most successful Labour PM since Atlee is also as responsible for some of the nastiest, most corrupt and neo-Conservative decisions since Margaret Thatcher.

It's becoming obvious to those that notice - politicians like each other about as much as we like them.

Let's also get one thing very straight and clear - voter apathy is a boon in our current first-past-the-post voting system; the more you think governments do nothing for you the more likely you are to stay at home and watch Corrie. We can be governed by a party, which will claim to have 'the mandate of the people' despite only getting 32% of the vote share from a total turn out of 58% - my maths isn't brilliant, but that's something like 16 million out of 46 million eligible voters giving that mandate.

Think about that for a bit. My figures do stack up.

Two-thirds of the country hate politics. Our politicians disagree on more than they agree on. No one is right, no one is wrong. One thing is becoming obvious - we should elect officials to represent the good of the ENTIRE country, not the interests of their political party, personal wealth or to help their mates. The problem there is if you're one of those rare things, a politician with ethics and principles, you become a target for the right and they're only really supported by about a third of the country and you see my tail fast disappearing down my own throat?

Monday, 23 May 2016

It's Not A Party Politics Thing (Much)

As hard as I try I cannot separate the EU referendum from a specific party's politics, therefore I can only draw the conclusion that if you don't take party politics as a given in this you are allowing the future of this nation(s) to be severely jeopardised.

To view the EU debate as an alien you would not think that the most vehement on both sides of the argument are not in the same political party, especially now the Brexiteers are targeting the Chancellor as [reading between the lines] incompetent; yet they vote for his budget and his policies and then criticise them as part of another enclave within the same party. It's a weird juxtaposition of 'you're with us or you're against us, but we're all in it together'.

Lose and leave and Cameron's position should be untenable; in fact the odds are the entire cabinet of Remainers will eventually fall by the way in favour of people who will fight to see someone else lead the Tories. Narrowly win and his position is severely weakened and the Brexiteers, like the SNP, will still have a rag to cling onto and a threat to stability in the future. Even a massive win for Remain places Cameron in a position where he has to attempt to unify a party that's deep divisions are on show every day and, if we had a more balanced press, would be scrutinised more.

The question now isn't In or Out, it's what happens afterwards?

I believe that a Tory coup would be inevitable in two of the three scenarios I offered and that will probably lead to a unification by means of a new leader, chancellor, home and foreign secretaries and a far more hard-hitting belt-tightening than half the population could possibly imagine. The excuse will be 'we're on our own now, we have to watch the pennies' and more cuts, less services, higher prices and less wages will make most but the most hard-nosed racists wonder what the hell they've done. The right wing of the Tory party wants more savage cuts, more targeting of the poor and disenfranchised and with their 'mandate' they can swap the top dogs around and attack the parts left untouched with gusto. The people who want us out want the government to be harder, more rigid and divisive towards the disenfranchised; it has been the second biggest argument after the EU, welfare and how to abolish it.

Voting out, gives the hard right a way to move in and yes, they might screw up so royally they get voted out in 2020, but whoever comes in, whether it's Labour, or Labour in a coalition, there is going to be nothing they can do to reverse changes without bankrupting the country and there won't be an EU to regulate the things we don't think about but affect us - positively - every day. We can't just go back in 2020 and ask to be let back in and even if we could, I'll ask the same question I'm asking if we come out now - how will it be cheaper for us? If we fail on our own, we're on our own and the rich will look after themselves first and foremost, regardless of the detriment to the rest.

People are saying, "I can't vote for Cameron because he's the enemy." Boris Johnson or Michael Gove aren't? Nigel Farage says nothing and appeals to aged racists, bigots and xenophobes and yet he's been living off MEP money and stymieing every directive, whether it's in our interests or not and probably making more out of Europe than he will being Out of it. Plus, if you're saying you can't vote with Cameron and Osborne then you are making it about party politics and you have to remember you're saying you're not voting for a Staffie and a Dobermann, but you'd gladly vote for a Pit Bull and a Rottweiller.

A protest vote this time could seriously damage the country. You will not be protesting about the government, you'll be giving the right wing of the government permission to change the face of Conservatism and that could have dire consequences for everyone. I don't like the idea of saving Dave's bacon any more than other people, but it's a bit like the EU referendum: you know what you've got at the moment, to wish for something else might just come back and bite you on the arse.