Tuesday, 9 October 2012

For Cameron Is A Honourable Man

Boris Johnson arrived yesterday in Birmingham to be greeted by the throngs of supporters and media. His arrival had been well prepared and announced via social media, and invitations to the press. It reminded me of Mark Anthony's return to Rome to bury Caesar. In his famous speech from Shakespeare, beginning “Friends, Romans countrymen.....” Mark Anthony sets out his “support” for Brutus who had been one of the conspirators that had murdered Caesar. In that speech Mark Anthony repeatedly states that “Brutus is an honourable man.” Each repetition is yet another barb directed at him. As everyone suspects that Boris Johnson is setting himself up as a replacement for David Cameron, in his speech at a packed fringe meeting last night, and in his Conference speech today, he set out at length all those things he has achieved as mayor of London, whilst declaring his support for Cameron. And why wouldn't he – “for Cameron is a honourable man”.

 The reality is that the Tories, like the Liberal wing of the Liberal-Tory party have serious problems. They have shown themselves peculiarly incompetent. By talking down the state of the economy in 2010, describing it ridiculously as being in the same condition as Greece, by frightening everyone with their threats of swingeing cuts in spending, and tax rises, they stopped the economic recovery of the time dead in its tracks, and sent it into a downward tail spin, even before they had even begun implementing those illiterate economic policies. At the same time, they began attacking the very elements of the Capitalist State apparatus they need to co-operate with them in carrying through their policies. Its not surprising that at every stage they have found themselves being set up by that State apparatus. The centre piece of their economic and political agenda was to reduce the deficit and the debt, and promote growth.

No doubt, because they knew the economy was not as bad as they were painting it, they hoped this would indeed happen. It hasn't precisely because of their own incompetence! That means their economic agenda is screwed, and their political narrative now has them trapped. The economy continues to deteriorate even though they have only implemented 6% of their austerity programme! That also means their political agenda is screwed too. Liberal members know that come the election they will go the way of the Dodo, and their Tory brethren now, also know they too will lose. Increasingly, Liberal and Tory leaders are having to resort to simply shoring up their core support within the electorate, and even within their own parties.

The Liberals have a particular problem with that as I set out recently. Their left of centre support has gone forever. The Centre Right belongs to the Tories, and any attempt to position themselves to the Right of the Tories as some kind of traditional Libertarian Party, is doomed. Unlike the US, where such groups even so have difficulty, there has been no such Libertarian tradition since the 18th Century, or at best the time of Bentham. The Liberals cannot take up any other position to the right of the Tories, because that ground is taken by the BNP and UKIP, and its core membership would not wear that kind of position anyway. The only future for the Liberal is sunk inside the Tory Party.

That will not be acceptable to many of the remaining Liberal members, as the Tories are themselves forced to move increasingly rightwards. Cameron has already come under pressure from his Party base, because of being seen as too soft on the Liberals. So, any attempt by the Tories to shift Left to pick up Centre-Left votes from Labour is out of the question. Its no wonder that ideologue of “Red Toryism”, Phillip Blond, has abandoned Cameron in favour of Miliband.

Rather like the Republicans in the US, the Tories under pressure from UKIP, who have now replaced the Liberals as the third party, will and are having to move to the right to assuage its core support and membership. That is why they have ramped up the right-wing populism in their attacks on Benefits, its why Osborne came out to strongly oppose Clegg and Cable's proposals for a Wealth Tax or Mansion Tax, its why they have come out with the traditional hang 'em and flog 'em response on crime in relation to shooting burglars and so on.

It was noticeable that in Osborne's speech he referred to the example of the Heath Government of 1970, and compared it unfavourably with that of Thatcher in the 1980's, which set out to slash spending, and attack workers. Yet, as I pointed out several months ago - History Repeating As Farce – today is not the 1980's. The attempt to simply place themselves in the garb of Thatcher from that time is reminiscent of what Marx describes in relation to the coming to power Louis Bonaparte compared to the rise of the first Bonaparte. It is indeed history repeating as farce, not only because this present incarnation are marked by their total incompetence, whereas Thatcher and her cohort, whatever else might be said about them, were ruthless and effective in pursuing their agenda.

But, in that series, I compared the current events with what Marx says about the rise of Louis Bonaparte, and his coup. It was made possible because the bourgeois parties continually were forced to move to the Right, each time undermining and narrowing their own base. In the end the polity had been hollowed out, allowing Louis Bonaparte as the representative of the petit-bourgeoisie, but based upon all of the rootless, and lumpen elements, to simply march into power.

During the June days all classes and parties had united in the party of Order against the proletarian class as the party of anarchy, of socialism, of communism. They had “saved” society from “the enemies of society.” They had given out the watchwords of the old society, “property, family, religion, order,” to their army as passwords and had proclaimed to the counterrevolutionary crusaders: “In this sign thou shalt conquer!” From that moment, as soon as one of the numerous parties which gathered under this sign against the June insurgents seeks to hold the revolutionary battlefield in its own class interest, it goes down before the cry: “property, family, religion, order.” Society is saved just as often as the circle of its rulers contracts, as a more exclusive interest is maintained against a wider one. Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most shallow democracy, is simultaneously castigated as an “attempt on society” and stigmatized as “socialism.” And finally the high priests of “religion and order” themselves are driven with kicks from their Pythian tripods, hauled out of their beds in the darkness of night, put in prison vans, thrown into dungeons or sent into exile; their temple is razed to the ground, their mouths are sealed, their pens broken, their law torn to pieces in the name of religion, of property, of the family, of order. Bourgeois fanatics for order are shot down on their balconies by mobs of drunken soldiers, their domestic sanctuaries profaned, their houses bombarded for amusement – in the name of property, of the family, of religion, and of order. Finally, the scum of bourgeois society forms the holy phalanx of order and the hero Crapulinski [a character from Heine’s poem “The Two Knights,” a dissolute aristocrat.] installs himself in the Tuileries as the “savior of society.””

As the Tories move further to their Right to avoid losses to UKIP, and to shore up their base, they likewise, narrow that political base, and enhance those alternative forces. At some point they will seek out a standard bearer, their own Crapulinsky, and it will not be Nick Griffin, and it will not be Nigel Farage. But, it could be Boris Johnson.

Boris is not likely to hand over his position of mayor, precisely because it provides him with a power base. Why would he give that away, in order to become an MP, at a time when the Tories are likely to lose the election? On the contrary, Boris will wait until Cameron loses the election, when the Tory and extra Tory Right seek to remove Cameron, and then Boris will make his move. Then he will “Come to bury Cameron, not to praise him.”


Jacob Richter said...

Try commenting on the newest Employee Ownership scam, trading away what measly labour rights left after Thatcher's anti-union laws. Then again, a UK trade union has been illegal under common law long before the Iron Lady came along.

Boffy said...

Even Tory MP's and business leaders spoke out openly to the media about those plans to say they were ridiculous, unthought out, and impractical. Pretty much in line with the incompetence we have seen from the Liberal-Tories for the last two years in fact.

If it was being proposed to transfer ownership to workers rather than a few measly shares then it would be worth it. But, there is no point owning a few shares that give no controlling influence over the company, which will be worthless in non-listed companies, will only be capable of being exercised in privately listed companies with the say so of the owners and so on.

But, what about all the companies the Tories are really concerned about that are small companies that do not even have shares? What about the family businesses, partnerships, sole traders and so on?

What about when employees move on to another company, which is the norm in UK industry today?

As with most of the announcments at the Liberal and Tory conferences they had nothing to do with practical policies that will ever see the light of day. They bwere just announcements to shore up the morale of their unsurprisingly demoralised troops.