Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Tories and Betrayal

I regret to report the Tories are at it again. Ben Bradley having been forced to apologise for claiming Jeremy Corbyn was an agent of a Warsaw Pact signatory, the Tory rhetoric has moved on to the language of terrorism and betrayal. Not that they're accusing Corbyn of anything specific, mind. It's betrayal in the abstract. We have "respected" Tory cadre Tim Montgomerie going hard on non-existent terrorist sympathies supposedly harboured by the Labour leader. A case of physician, heal thyself if I ever saw one. Then yesterday, "Kaiser" Bill Cash asked Theresa May if she thought Labour "betrays the country", to which she replied yes. And I got it first hand from Stoke's own idiot squad, who were apparently out knocking on doors about Labour "betraying" Brexit.

Terrorism, betrayal. Betrayal, terrorism. None of this is new. Indeed, back in the dog days of the Michael Howard Tory party when policies like subsidising private health care costs were failing to catch the electorate, the then not disgraced, but already reprehensible vacuity Liam Fox went about suggesting New Labour was "un-British" and Tony Blair the most "un-British" Prime Minister ever. Then, as now, the Tory party were fast running out of options about what to do, and without a record worth defending or anything positive to offer they plump for the name-calling and the lies. On this occasion we have the PM, the defence secretary, and myriad others carping on about betrayal. There's no use pretending this is a few bad apples mouthing off; it is instead a cold blooded, deliberate strategy.

The Tories aren't interested in winning over new votes. The polarisation we saw at the election and faithfully replicated in every poll since is pointing toward the next election being a turn out game. Whoever can get the most supporters to the polling station wins. There's no room here for fudging or middle ground shallying, this is the game the Tories are playing. Why then do they keep banging on about Corbyn and Venezuela, or communism, or Hezbollah, or practically everything to the exclusion of addressing Britain's pressing problems? Why play necromancy with political phantoms and not deal with real people? Because they know talking constantly about betrayal, regardless of what is being "betrayed", dredges up all that's been said about Jeremy these last three years. By inserting a particle of doubt into the minds of mainly old, mainly retired Labour-leaning voters about his patriotism and loyalty to the country, whatever these may mean, they hope it will suppress Labour's vote and perhaps turn some of them toward the Tories. We're not talking big numbers, but as the last election showed this was enough of a factor to ensure ex-Labour kipper voters disproportionately transferred to the Tories than go back to their old party, and that cost Labour places like Stoke South and Mansfield. Whether this would repeat again, especially after the chaos the Tories have wreaked on the NHS, remains to be seen. But regardless, they're running with it.

What can Labour do? Carry on campaigning, carry on talking about the issues, carry on trying to win over new people, and carry on mocking the Tories for these desperate tactics. There is, after all, an apposite Thatcher quote for such occasions.


David Timoney said...

I suspect the real target of this language of "betrayal" is closer to home. The government is vulnerable to a backbench rebellion (in more than one direction) and the Conservative Party in the country appears to be falling to bits.

Tarring Corbyn is obviously part of it, the same way that any Labour politician can expect to be cast as somehow illegitimate, but I think the current hyperbole owes a lot to the Tories' existential anxiety.

lynnpheatley@outlook.com said...

100% agree! The default setting of the Tories when they are losing an arguement or don't have an answer to something is - lies,smears and accusations - of treachery or -Un-Britishness! Think we all know the people this that this will appeal to! Labour don't need to worry - Nothing new here!

Joseph said...

Smears, lies and accusations. The Conservative Party in the country appears to be falling to bits