Monday, 11 May 2015

It's Going to be a Long Five Years

I really didn't want to be writing this. At the very least I was hoping to have a Kremlinological geek out over possible coalition combinations. But no. The worst came to pass. Not only were the Conservatives the largest party, but contrary to everything I've written about them this last two-and-a-half years they scraped the thinnest of majorities. The lesson there is never think the Tories win elections from the centre ground when they can rally irrationality and fear to their standard. So here we are. Five more years of Osborne, May, Shapps, Hunt, IBS, Hammond, Soubry, Fallon ... a grotesques' gallery if there ever was one. Yet what we do know with certainty is the one man who won't be there is Dave, who will swan off when he feels his work is done - presumably after the referendum on EU membership.

All said, one thing doesn't change. As one swallow doesn't make a summer, so one Tory majority does not mean a reversal of their long-term decline. It's cold comfort, but even after pulling out all the stops throwing money at the election, scaremongering and promising uncosted policy goodies, they could only manage a wafer thin majority. To do it again they have to gerrymander the system, which they're bent on doing. But, again, in pursuing their short-term interests they place the entire constitutional set up - a system they want to conserve - under intolerable pressure.

That, however, is for another time. For now, it's nice to know that the next five years are going to be excruciating for the Tories. Who knows whether they'll survive the EU referendum as a discrete entity. Oh, and the small matter of Scotland hasn't gone away. Nor has the effective disenfranchisement of two thirds of voters from an election system that is obviously broken (full disclosure: I'm a STV fan). Unfortunately, the most vulnerable people in Britain are going to get the pain well before the Tories are put on the rack.

Just look at this list of social security "reform". A stricter work capability assessment. Limiting state support to families of an arbitrary size. No housing benefit or incapacity-related benefits for the under 25s. They're even thinking about abolishing statutory maternity pay. And we know these truly awful policies are what all Tories, whether of the "nice chap" tendency of your Jo Johnsons, Edward Timpsons, and Jeremy Lefroys; or the red-in-tooth degenerates of, well, the rest of them; care about. Regardless of how the coming fratricidal warfare plays out, not one of them will have the slightest qualms tramping through the Aye lobby over the bodies of the disabled, the jobless, and the destitute. This is why the Tories are front loading their legislative programme and ramming it through during the first 100 days. They believe, as per the Labour leadership contest in 2010, the party will be too introspective to act as a rallying point, thereby leaving it to the SNP to make the noises (and craftily undermining Labour's remaining social justice creds). Secondly, while Dave still has a majority he can get it through without some Commons footsie with the DUP who, despite their legion of awful faults, would have issues with the impact such policies would have in their working class constituencies. And lastly, it frees up Parliamentary time for the unnecessary EU nonsense.

As a party that is structurally myopic, by condemning people as outside mainstream society they run the risk of building a coalition against them. The okay-off relative of the cancer sufferer expected to undertake some work instead of convalesce. The parents having grown up kids at home because they're too young for housing benefit. Knowing families whose kids go hungry because child benefit is limited to the two. And, in what would really be the death knell of the Tory party, stop paying new mums maternity pay. Not only are these things morally abhorrent they're economically illiterate, they shut down flows of money around the economy that keeps businesses as well as families afloat. There are limits to what they can get away with when it comes to social security - if they transgress them the point will come when it bites them hard.

The poorest are in for a terrible time. And the country itself will suffer as the (still ongoing) investment strike by the Tories' big business pals continue, and is likely to deepen thanks to Dave boxing himself in over an EU referendum. As the Conservative Party slides further into collective senility, it will be you, me, and almost everyone reading this that will feel its effects.


Vinyl Miner said...

The lid will blow off the kettle perhaps.

Speedy said...

So you're saying Cameron is a Bolton?

The ironic thing is the people voted for it. With PR UKIP would have likely got 100 seats (given that their vote would not be "wasted").

This is the problem with socialism - it tries to make capitalism work, as you discussed in an earlier post, an "enabler" in practice - so I find your comforting words about Tory decline unconvincing. They just adapt, unless of course Labour moves toward them (as it did in 97).

So the goalposts, in the UK at least, are always moving to the right.

Affluence is their friend - as the UK gets richer, it will get more Tory. If not in strictly party terms.

asquith said...,_January_1910,_December_1910

Anonymous said...

Even the Tories seemed shocked at how utterly pathetic and ignorant the British public are