Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The end of the Tory Party?

On the route to self-immolation, there have been many strange twists.  Thatcher's unbridled enthusiasm for Europe in the 1970s has been airbrushed out of history, as has "Lord" Lawson's pursuit of currency union.  Instead we now have Lawson, the unthinking successor to David Icke, being paraded out as an elder statesman, clad in sackcloth, bemoaning the decline of British influence from his retirement chateau, dribbling insanely on climate change denial to those forced to listen.

The significance attached to the part-time MP, part-time Mayor of London, part-time overpaid columnist, and full-time self-seeking manipulative narcissist, Boris to his xenophobic clan of worshippers, indicates the extent to which the Tories are prepared to sacrifice everything else to their own internecine struggle.  The analogy of bald men quarrelling over a comb springs to mind.  When you have such intellectual and moral titans as Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, and Michael Gove lining up alongside Nigel Farage, George Galloway and Kate Hoey it is perfectly reasonable to postulate that the damned have risen from Hell and wander amongst humans.

Johnson is now parading, looking as though he is attempting to mutate into Donald Trump, trying to pretend that the anti-Europeans have a post-exit strategy.  This is their biggest weakness.  The Buffoon  seems to promise the economic equivalent of jetpacks and teleporting, while the remaining dribblers have no answer to what would happen beyond the expectation that there would be some kind of deal.  Probably true, but not to anyone's advantage, and certainly destructive to the economy where English outputs compete with domestic markets.  Bad acid trips have nothing on this.

The xenophobes and delusionists can currently count on the support of the plutocracy and much of the media.  In this situation, the preoccupations of a clique within the Tory party jostling for a Toytown succession to Cameron are even more damaging.  For those of us who believe that the weight of evidence is strongly tilted towards wanting to remain in Europe to progress international co-operation, trade and the raising of the human condition, rather than retreating to a fantasy world of Britain against the world that was exploded in 1940 and 1941, requiring both the United States and the Soviet Union to rescue the nation, this requires campaigning that emphasises both the risks and opportunities.

In the interim, the collapse of the Tory party, which, despite the lies and legerdemain deployed over the last decade, has only been partly arrested by the left's inability to articulate an argument, continues.  By most standards of democracy, the last election's travesty does not convey legitimacy on this administration, and the decline of the party outside the snivelling shires and affluent commuter belts continues apace.  Every time Osborne opens his mouth on the elusive and slippery Northern Powerhouse it drips with the contempt of the entitled for those who have found themselves on the receiving end of thirty years of spatial and economic policy that concentrate wealth and opportunity in the unsustainable London bubble.

Cameron, by his lights and by the manifesto he fought his election on, secured a decent result from his negotiations with EU partner nations, which is now being forgotten in the light without heat that characterises what passes for political discourse in England.  The break-up of the United Kingdom would be accelerated by an exit from Europe, the irony would be lost on a bunch of knuckle-headed morons who only engage to their own personal advantage.

From the Major period onwards, the Tories have been a mass of contradictions that is now uncontainable.  Through gritted teeth, there remains, within Cameron's loyalists, what could form a genuine centre-right party that could line up alongside the Christian Democrats and allies within Europe.  On the right there are a bunch of clowns who would be seen as too demented even to fit within the UKIP freakshow - and whose racism, bigotry and ignorance resonates wth a large, but not immutable, minority of the paranoid and scared.  These are not groups that can be reconciled.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Cameron is wounded fatally until his successor emerges.  If the Tories pursue their current course, the split will be inevitable, alongside further erosion of the party's core support.  Whereas in the 1980s, the sundering of Labour bought Tory hegemony, the next decade may well be one where, if the centre and left can learn the art of collaboration and coalition, there is a fundamental shift in British politics.  All that can be hoped for is that Tory civil war does not send the UK into meltdown, sulking on the economically-irrelevant sidelines., in order to resolve the leadership succession in the land of the stunted intellects.