The defection of Clacton's MP at least represents a watershed for David Cameron. The bastards are now out of the closet, and the vultures are circling. Unlike John Major, who faced internal revolt from the coterie around Redwood, and the risible Referendum Party bankrolled by the ultra-rightist and friend of Lord Lucan, James Goldsmith, Dave now has sworn enemies amongst the Tory press and the confidence trick that Farage is attempting to pull off. Fortunately Carswell fits the swivel-eyed loon job description perfectly.
The Tories have spent four years grumbling and picking at the scabs caused by their abject failure to win the 2010 election. Forced to recognise that the majority of the electorate did not support even the modernised rhetoric that Cameron was spouting, with about as much sincerity as Gideon's pretence that the current spate of economic growth is designed to benefit the whole nation rather than those sections of the electorate most likely to support the Tories in 2015, and that the Commons arithmetic had unaccountably deprived them of the divine right to govern, much of the right has been in a coded sulk since then - looking to topple Cameron on the basis of a dog-whistle anti-European racism not grounded in anything other than a desire to be applauded by the Barclay Brothers and their tax-avoding mouthpiece The Daily Telegraph, and points madder.
Carswell has been feted by these proto-fascist cheerleaders as exactly the sort of free-thinking Tory libertarian that UKIP needs to attract. He resembles, intellectually, the offspring of a night of passion shared between David Willetts, a three-eyed amphibian on speed, and the more intellectually-challenged end of the Tea Party/City AM market. Fortunately, appearances aren't deceptive in this case. He is a symptom of why, as part of her post-resignation sulk, Warsi warned that the Tories are increasingly unelectable as the nation's capability to tolerate outpaces even the sloth-like platitudes that the "modernisers" used five years ago.
So Carswell triggers a by-election, which should prove embarrassing to all the main parties. And Boris, the hypocritical canting pillock, is too scared to put his name forward. In the meantime, Cameron's tactics are clearly demonstrating his new-found capacity to multitask - raising the terrorist threat level to concentrate on the perceived enemy within (and at the same time trying to make the Liberals and any other civil libertarians look poor), in other words the Blair technique, and continuing the rhetoric on a nebulous European "reform" agenda which, when stripped of the Union Jack and self-importance, does not look significantly different from the changes being pursued by the German and other governments.
Putting aside the Middle East, with the Israeli game of "don't kick me" (to which I intend returning imminently), Iraq, Syria and the potential final unravelling of the Bush-Blair hubris, the Ukraine, world health and the stuttering recovery based around consumer spending and unsustainably low interest rates, these are clearly the key issues on which Cameron should be building his programme. For a party which is so opposed to the state doing good, the Tories are remarkably sanguine about unaccountable expansion of surveillance, control and the apparatus of authoritarianism. Dressing it up in fear does nothing to suggest that the values they purport to defend are sufficiently strong and persistent to survive on their merits. The continuous irony of destroying liberty and citizenship as a means of defence cannot be lost.
As for Europe, the arguments that the right are using are now so fanciful to suggest that various hallucinogens have been used in their concoction. Again, irony is lacking. The arguments that are being so ineptly deployed by Mr Darling to defend the Unionist position in Scotland would be much more effectively reserved for any unpicking of the UK/European relationship. The dishonesty with which the Tories and UKIP pretend that an exit would be on their terms, and that they will be able to dictate what Europe does in the circumstances would be hilariously hubristic were they not so dangerous. Forty years of membership of an institution, will not be rolled back cleanly or quickly, and in the meantime it becomes a self-imposed exile from influence and benefit.
Not that this worries many of the people cheering for the xenophobes. Promoting a fear of the other is their stock-in substitute for a rational argument on the benefits and disbenefits of the policy position. For the puppeteers, their wealth is mostly offshore and untouchable as the economy unravels, a process which would be accelerated should Britain leave the EU. Their commitment to democracy and popular sovereignty, shouted from the rooftops, is non-existent - and Carswell embodies this.
This does now resemble 1995, where nothing Major could do could stem the rot of a festering corpse. Cameron has no option but to go down fighting - Carswell's resemblance to a vulture should not be understated - but the circling around the Tory corpse is likely to trigger the kind of realignment that the left nearly saw in the 1980s. A Front National, under Farage, could emerge, with the vestigial Tories recast much more towards the centre-right - and the vagaries of the unreformed electoral system makes this very dangerous. Interesting times - and worth remembering that Carswell's only redeeming feature is support for proportional representation.
Monday, 11 August 2014
Whenever it is clear that UKIP's idiotic posturing cannot sink any further into the mire, one of their legion of the dumb emerges from the slime to add to the general jollity. This time it's Bill Etheridge, one of the MEPs whose subsistence at the expense of an institution they profess to despise would be hypocritical if it were not so evidently pathetic. The egregious cretin has been recorded advising UKIP activists to study Hitler's rhetorical technique as"magnetic and forceful" - accusations that cannot be laid against the fool himself on the basis that anyone professing such admiration would be carted off to secure accommodation at once.
Farage's band of neo-con charlatans have not had a good year, although the fruitcake harvest is clearly early. When it was homosexuals causing floods, or the lies and half-witted spin around immigration and a fear of the other, this was par for the course. UKIP has spent its life trying to deny its connection to the neo-fascist fringe, but every time it does so something else emerges, be it a former blackshirt or an MEP whose sense of public decorum should disqualify him from public office.
The nutter sideshow has not detracted from Boris "I'll never do two jobs" Johnson's declaration that he is seeking a Tory seat in order to contest the next General Election and then enter the lists to compete to lead the hulking corpse from the ditch into the cesspool. Baroness Warsi, who managed to bring an undistinguished career to an end with something approximating to principle, has identified that everything Cameron promised about the Tory reform agenda is skin-deep, and that the drooling dotard fraternity still rules the roost.
This makes the Bouffant Buffoon's entry into the right-wing mire fascinating. From Cameron's point of view his brand of hypocritical, ruthless populism may provide a short-term electoral boost, as the dribblers who are flirting with Farage may not be particularly keen to be associated with a party whose acolytes are flying too close to the right's dark secrets for comfort. However, in terms of centrist, and non-London appeal, this is akin to suggesting that the party has given up on its modernising project altogether. This may appeal to the core vote, but from Labour's perspective it is akin to making a free gift of anyone whose capability of rational thought and holding ethically-consistent positions does not extend to the doublethink necessary to underpin a Tory vote.
Johnson's popularity is a London-centric phenomenon, witnessed by his resentment that the potential price of a "No" in the Scottish referendum will be genuine devolution. At the same time he wants more for London, whether or not it is in the national interest or whether or not there is the basic infrastructure in the form of water, power, transport and health in place to support his crass narrative. Less a noble giant and more Baron Munchausen, I suspect.
If the electoral situation were not so volatile and unclear, then this would all be a sideshow. Instead, we have a need for the rest of the political community to keep drawing attention to the current right-wing spats - ensuring that the narrative that has led to at least a grudging respect for the Coalition is spelt out; namely that there is not an extreme right-wing majority and there never will be. A test of Miliband's leadership will be whether he can recognise that the most fertile territory for Labour is to ensure that the language of inclusivity applies irrespective of the party alignment - building a winning margin for a centre-left government is essential beyond tribalism.
Boris, Etheridge and the rest are dancing round handbags at the moment, circling around the right to win the accolades of their own narrow constituency. The right has nothing to offer beyond windy rhetoric attacking the European Union, and the kind of forked-tongue paternalism that continues to destroy social cohesion and the wider economy. Time to enjoy, but time to expose.