Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Tories are still Blue.


Some of you, my fellow coach potatoes, will note the debate over the "Big Society" was reignited with a notable appearance from Phillip Blond on 10'Clock Live back in February and it will no doubt come up again in the future. As the proponent of a new kind of a communitarian conservatism Blond has found himself influential in the Conservative Party in recent years. The impact of the 'Red Tory' has been to shift rhetoric from the "compassionate conservative" limbo to a consistently conservative message. 'Red Toryism' has been posited as a viable alternative to the failures of the egalitarian Left and the pro-market Right, socially conservative but sceptical of neoliberalism. Though the commentariat have yet to buy it and many feel it is simply a "cover for cuts". On 10'Clock Live he took part in a discussion with liberal columnist Johann Hari and Conservative Shaun Bailey hosted by David Mitchell. The clashes between Hari and Blond were notably entertaining, though the government has still failed to promote the "Big Society" especially in this time of public spending cuts. 

The progressive credentials of David Cameron can easily be seen. Cameron is the product of affirmative action for rich white-men, he was born the fifth cousin twice removed to the Queen and got his first job with the Tories after he was recommended by an equerry at Buckingham Palace - not to mention the recent revelations about Clegg's internship. Aligned with the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party David Cameron has joined his German and French cousins in his opposition to multiculturalism. Cameron also maintains the Atlantic alliance between the US and the UK, whilst he is also a friend of Rupert Murdoch as well as to homophobes and anti-Semites in Europe. Never mind his advocacy of small government, austerity and Victorian family values on top of all this. These are not the credentials of a progressive, these are the warts of a reactionary which are hidden behind the well crafted veneer of a youthful, soft and modern conservative. This is an inversion of the 'Nixon in China' principle. Only Nixon, the anti-Communist, could sip tea with Mao and only a progressive can slash and burn the welfare state.

The only sense in which the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats could be considered progressive is in the Enlightenment sense of history as Progress. Conveniently this interpretation of history eliminates the need for radicalism of any kind: We will get there in the end, so why make big changes now? This is compatible with the economics of market liberalism, from which we might hold that there is full employment in the long-run so current trends of unemployment are only temporary. Along this road of Progress towards a liberal utopia, reminiscent of North Oxford, there are numerous obstacles that must be removed swiftly. There are the barbarous ideas and the dangerous enablers of such ideas, in the way that Islamism is supposedly empowered by liberal multiculturalism. Not that there is a need for a common project to unite people, as that would presuppose a different take on history, but rather that a "muscular liberalism" should succeed the multicultural order. Similarly, the culture of dependency has to be jettisoned along with all inefficiencies in the public sector.

Then we have the shattering revelations over the very warm relationship between the Conservative Party and the financial hub of the British economy should not be a surprise to any serious commentator. And if we lived in a free society there would be such a degree of transparency that the ordinary citizen would be informed of all the details, by which I mean all the figures of contributions to the parties. Contributions from the City of London to the Tory Party have risen since Cameron became Party leader in 2005. When David Cameron just came to lead the Party, funds from 'Big Finance' accounted for just less than £3 million which would represent around 25% of total donations. 5 years later and the Conservatives had received over £40 million in funds from Canary Wharf. Though it would be interesting to see the details of all three major parties, as in the US every election is won by the candidate who spends the most on the campaign trail. As I suspect the rich dumped New Labour  in favour of the Conservatives in the run-up to the 2010 General Election.

Keep in mind the strong support Cameron received from over 1,000 business leaders and the blessing of Rupert Murdoch, which may well have swung the election in 2010. Notably Blair received similar support from business leaders before his victory in 1997. The Murdoch media empire has been notably influential in elections for a long time and has acted as a base of media support for Thatcher, Major and Blair. From 2006 to 2009 the contributions added up to £16 million and in 2010 the Party raised £11 million from Canary Wharf - this is equal to the amount Labour raised from Unite from 2006-2009. Until recently this is all we knew about the financial ties to the Conservative Party, but now we know that the donations received by the Party are over £40 million since 2005. Under the leadership of David Cameron financial support procured from 'Big Finance' has literally doubled, the wealthy have leaped from 'Blue Labour' to 'Red Tory'. The same old platform has been recycled and refined slightly, it's pursuit of class interests even more brash and vicious than before.

When asked by Dylan Jones as to what his views on the City, and whether a Conservative Prime Minister can be a meaningful critic of the banks, Cameron responded "I think a Conservative Prime Minister can and should be a friend of business, where you praise and reward good business practice and then feel absolutely free to criticise bad business practice." Cameron went on to clarify that he does not believe the answer to every problem is regulation and legislation. Instead he opts for public debate and advocates responsibility in the business community - this is as shallow as it gets. Note Mr Cameron's words as we can now read of the Black and White Party, formerly known as the Winter Ball, where each of the 900 guests paid a minimum of £400 and went on to bid for City internships which could pave the way for their children to become hedge-fund managers and stock-brokers. Five were sold for £14,000 that night. All together the event may have raised £500,000 for the Conservative Party, funds which will be used to tell us all that "We're all in this together."

The "Virtual Parliament" of investors who vote on government policy minute-by-minute and will seek to undermine particular social policies and reforms - that strikes at the interests of the rich - through capital flight, this is the result of the financialisation of the economy over the last 30 years. We're talking about the global ultra-rich now, the people who have accumulated $40 trillion by 2009. The bailouts of 2008 to 2009 were a way of maintaining high rates of profit which could not be gained from the exploitation of labour. The same can be said of the bailouts of Greek, Irish and now Portugese banks. As a man of corporate public-relations David Cameron knows a good slogan when he sees one, which might explain why he ripped off the Obama theme of "Change". But at a time when profits have to be wrested through accumulation by dispossession we are already seeing the re-use of methods of race-baiting and military aggression. The current global situation could lead to movements for independence emerging in developing countries, as seen in the Middle East recently, as well as attempts by organised labour and the radical Left to fight against austerity.

No comments: