by Ken Ferguson · As the crisis wracked Tories, for centuries the premier pillar of the British state, fall in behind proven blunderer, racist and imperial fantasist Johnson a pitiless spotlight is thrown on the gathering Westminster crisis.
Before discussing this in detail however we should make the central view of the Voice clear—there is no good Tory choice.
All the contenders for the shaky Prime Ministerial crown back austerity, are echo chamber supporters of Trump’s attacks on Venezuela and military build up menacing Iran, back demonisation of refugees and cheer lead for the “successes” of today’s poverty pay, insecure work economy.
From the days when Nye Bevan described them as “lower than vermin” to today the PR gloss may have been updated but they remain the same anti working class “nasty party” of Theresa May’s revealing phrase.
Faced with the apparently endless nightmare of the increasingly unreal imperial fantasies thrown up by the Brexit crisis it is hardly surprising that millions of voters’s main desire is to make it all go away and this is being ruthlessly exploited by the hard right.
Right wing fantasies
It is this which largely underpins the success of the charlatan chameleon Farage and his camp followers on the Tory right.
As the Voice warned in 2016 their empowerment has given a dominance to right wing fantasies about sorting out the EU foreigners, restoring Britannia’s glory indeed in a Neo-Trumpian way to “make England great again”.
Historical lessons need to be treated with care but we have been down this road before. Hitler, it needs to be recalled, won an election and rode to power on a mood of disillusion to some extent mirroring today’s Britain and Europe.
In Britain in the same period the openly pro-Nazi British Union of Fascists led by the black shirted Sir Oswald Moseley (a Labour defector) gained plaudits from the Daily Mail with its headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”. More importantly, the BUF’s influence went well beyond its own ranks and played an important role in influencing leading Tories as they socialised with Nazi diplomats and appeased Hitler, leading to horrors of World War Two.
However, as in all such moments of crisis, there is always an alternative road that can be taken.
Beneath the increasingly fevered fantasies about seeing off those EU foreigners and repainting the world map Empire red, sits a cold reality of a hugely diminished Britain which according a leaked report from one UK ambassador is now regarding with a mixture of bafflement and scorn.
In sharp contrast with the world seen through the Tories’ Union Jack-tinted spectacles, millions have to cope with a material world a million miles away from that inhabited by the vintage car-driving, fine wine-drinking Tory grandees.
One person in five in the UK—14 million people—live in poverty, insecure and zero hours work is rampant, tens of thousands languish on housing waiting lists or face every rising rents from greedy landlords.
Privatised public transport delivers high cost low reliability trains and buses, grovelling to Trump on trade menaces the NHS and a country with a navy reduced to 19 boats still wastes billions on Trident.
All of this both faces voters with real world struggles to get by and adds to a mood of spreading crisis and this mood of public unease was well captured in the recent UN report on extreme poverty by Professor Phillip Alston which sent Tory ministers into a raging fury.
The Professor said: “Observers might conclude that the DWP had been tasked with designing a digital and sanitised version of the 19th century workhouse.”
The most famous scene portraying this approach was penned by Charles Dickens when hero Oliver Twist confronts the workhouse beadle asking for more gruel. Presumably in the Tory 2019 version, he would send an email.
Prof Alston surely scores a bullseye when he says: “Much of the glue that held British society together since World War two has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh uncaring ethos.”
Allied to the many-sided human crisis largely sidelined by Brexit we also face a gathering climate emergency forced into the headlines and eclipsing even the three year EU debate by the actions of the largely youthful X Rebellion.
Indeed this crisis and crucially how to deal with and deliver justice for the working class majority is the topic of the next Scottish Socialist Voice forum in Edinburgh at the end of the month.
Recent work by the Scottish TUC on the gap between to jobs promises made by successive governments from renewables and the rather less impressive reality will be at the heart of the event.
The crying need is for a strategy that grasps the changes urgently needed and, through public ownership and a major programme of re-skilling and re-industrialisation meet the needs of both people and planet.