Tuesday 18 December 2018

The "Surrender" of Jacob Rees-Mogg

And so government is planning for a Threads Brexit after all, the sort that will see imports held up, medicines vanish from hospital pharmacies and 3,500 troops on the street to "assist" the authorities. As Theresa May is accused of deliberately running the clock down to get her Brexit deal through, Amber Rudd is doing her heir apparent best to assure the world that no deal's not going to happen, while the likes of disgraced serving minister Liam Fox, Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt are saying it's no biggie. No, it isn't if you've got a cash pile of unearned wealth to fall back on. Meanwhile amid the chaos, the latest twists and turns of one Jacob Rees-Mogg almost escaped wide notice.

Blink and you'd have missed it because it led the headlines for all of five minutes. Mogg got up in the Commons yesterday to announce how he now had confidence in the Prime Minister because the Conservative Party had demonstrated its confidence. See the toadying for yourself. It's all a far cry from the gnashing of teeth and brandishing of resignation letters of just a fortnight ago. What are we looking at, then. Is it a capitulation of the Mogg-led European Research Group and the dank fantasies of hard Brexit to real politik, or is something altogether craftier afoot? Let's consider the options.

In what you might call the 'long June' since May lost her majority 18 months ago, she allowed herself to be publicly pushed around by the Moggites. The election said no to her hard Brexit approach, but the backbenchers were determined not to let the historic opportunity to slip. The ERG called the tune and May danced her merry jig long before the shapes she threw at this year's conference. And then, finally at Chequers she unveiled an approach to the negotiations with the EU that were not to her tormentors' liking. However, on this occasion she didn't cave, even when Boris Johnson and David Davis decamped to the backbenches to spend more time with their leadership ambitions. Whether she belatedly realised the ERG couldn't touch her, thanks to the inverted Bonapartism atop the Tory party, or was only stringing them along for the sake of an easier life is immaterial. The leopard print heel was now on the other foot and a humiliating kicking was duly administered. The confidence vote they spent a couple of months agitating for finally came to pass, and it must have been a cathartic 24 hours for the very dregs of the Tory party. 117 MPs in the end gave May's leadership the thumbs down, and the ERG were done. They can if they wish vote down the deal but they were shown not to be strong enough to be the threat to May they thought they were. Is Mogg's capitulation simply a recognition of their hopeless position and that their rebellion now is little more than for rebellion's sake?

Don't be daft. Remember what the Tory party's chief job is. It doesn't exist to be the "best managers" of British capitalism measured in terms of GDP growth, employment figures, trade deficits and the rest. Those are secondary considerations. It is above all a party of class war, of bourgeois power. Its mission is the preservation of the balance of power between capital and labour, up to and including using the power of the state to enforce it. Traditionally the different factions of the Tory party have mapped onto fractions of business interests, though in recent years the situation has grown complex as the ruling class itself effectively fractured, the relationship between party and class has grown strained, and some party factions have more or less grown estranged from their base. One faction who hasn't is, guess who? Our friends the ERG.

Mogg with his hedge fund interests typify the cluster of capital aligned with the ERG. Socially useless, speculative, short-termist, even from the perspective of British capitalism they are the wing who should be kept as far away from the committee for the management of the common affairs of the bourgeoisie as possible. Their immediate class interests are always in tension with the interests of the class as a whole. The pathetic vision of Brexit they've tried peddling to the public, which basically amounts to a heavily deregulated offshore tax haven entirely coincidentally is a picture of the kind of arrangement ERG-aligned capital would find most congenial. Even the disaster of a no deal Brexit maps nicely into this universe. The shock of an abrupt ejection from the EU would chuck millions of jobs onto the fire, the pound would plummet, imports and exports severely disrupted and the UK takes a permanent hit to an economy already at sub-par levels of performance. Disaster. Or opportunity, depending on where you're standing. Heavily exposed British businesses become ripe for take over, and the Tory government - assuming there's no election - are "forced" to rip up labour protections, regulations, and sell off remaining state-owned assets to restore "confidence". And all this before a weakened Britain signs up to a Trump trade deal with the United States. Eventually matters are bound to stabilise and growth will return, but the political economy of the UK is utterly changed - and it's the speculators and disaster capitalists of Mogg and the ERG faction who stand to make a killing.

Why May? Despite trying to no confidence her, the ERG's best bet is to go along with her for the next month, vote down her deal but stand against the inevitable no confidence votes. Whether it's the doomed attempt the SNP and Liberal Democrats are foolishly agitating for, Labour's own narrow no confidence motion targetting the Prime Minister, or the one certain to pop along after losing her withdrawal agreement vote. If May stays in office, and assuming she doesn't resign, that is the path to no deal. Few if any of the ERG are unhinged enough to go against their sectional class interests and usher in a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in normal times, never mind when their demented prize is close to hand.

The political collapse of Jacob Rees-Mogg is a ruse. It's anything but a surrender. Changing circumstances demand changing tactics, but the end game is the same: a disastrous Brexit for which we are going to pay the price while they and their friends help themselves to the loot.


Speedy said...

You're right that May will take us to no deal out of Hitlerian spite if her own deal is rejected, but what is Labour doing? It could be appealing to the pro-EU non-no dealers and trying to force its own government of national unity, it could DO SOMETHING to avoid this car crash FFS, but the only clever card Corbyn is playing is the same one as Rees-Mogg - a secret hope for scorched-earth Brexit in which the scales will fall from the eyes of the proles and they will embrace Labour's Brave New World.

The scales should also fall from your eyes Phil - both parties are in thrall to lunatics, and the real victims will be those ordinary people whose lives are devastated as a result.

Boffy said...

There is not a chance in hell that May intends a No Deal Brexit. That is why the markets have not tanked, and the Pound has been rising rather than collapsing. The big speculators know that May is bluffing, the EU know that May is bluffing, Starmer knows that May is bluffing. Yet just as it was known all along that it was obvious to the EU that Britain had no negotiating power, and no cards up its sleeve to play, May based her negotiating strategy on the idea of being able to bluff that she did have some crafty strategy some unknown power of the UK in the negotiations that 43 years of EU membership, huge banks of financial and legal analysts, and all of the accounts of the British State available to the other sides negotiators, were somehow unaware of!

The real reason for not coming to parliament with a plan over the last 2 years was because the Tories did not have one. Now their bluff has been called, they have capitulated to the EU, and in order to get acceptance of their capitulation they now seek to bluff parliament with the same empty hand. But, their cards are turn upright on the table for all MP's, and for financial markets to see. So, May is again trying to pretend she has some other card up her sleeve. The £2 billion of No Deal spending is just an expensive part of that empty bluff.

The DUP will not vote for May's Deal, so she can only get it through if she can get the votes of some weak minded Labour MP's. But she's not going to persuade enough of them to outweigh the DUP and Moggies. Mogg has only said he will vote for May in a confidence vote. He and the rest of the ERG will continue to vote against her deal, and they have said so.

So, the only way May could get the deal through would be to get sufficient Labour votes. But, then the DUP have said they would pull out of their confidence arrangement, meaning that the government would fall - though Labour would not necessarily gain their votes. So, May would be screwed unless she forms a Brexiters alliance with Corbyn, in a National Government. Such reactionary nationalist lash-ups are not unknown, but if Corbyn went down that route the LP would be destroyed.

Unless May actually does intend to move further down the road towards a Bonapartist regime, we are headed for either a General Election in which the Tories will leave Labour to clear up the mess as they usually do, with no time to do it, or else we are headed for another referendum, where this time Leave will be decisively defeated.

Anonymous said...


OK then, what should Labour actually do?

Apart from, of course, putting forward a no confidence vote that AT PRESENT (ie before any "meaningful vote" on May's deal) has precisely zero chance of actually passing. Suggestions, please.

Oh, and this "Corbyn wants a no deal Brexit in order to make us some sort of Venezuela" centrist wank fantasy is exactly that. It says more about how deranged with hate many EXTREMELY SENSIBLE types have become than anything actually connected to the real world.

In that actual reality, only a handful of non-Tory MPs actually want a no deal Brexit. Corbyn and McDonnell are not amongst them.

Hope this helps :)

Anonymous said...

What the Tories want is a cake and eat it Brexit, and I don’t mean a cake and eat it in relation to the UK vs the EU but between Capital and Labour. This Brexit will still ensure that Corbyn will find it almost impossible to get through his manifesto, just as impossible if we had remained.

Those who support remain should be honest and understand that the only programme on the agenda would be between the programme of imperialism, austerity and the gig economy of the Tories and the imperialism, austerity and the gig economy of the Yvette Cooper loving centre left. So remainers should admit that they really represent neo liberalism in all its hideous glory. Otherwise I must conclude they are frauds in one way or another.

The other thing to bear in mind is the weakness of the EU itself, which I believe and hope will be torn apart by its own contradictions. After all we are revolutionaries are we not?

I agree with those who say Brexit was a victory for the right and one based on anti immigrant reaction but the defenders of the EU are simply defending an embedded neo liberal bulldozer that is doomed to fail.

The dialectic is like the forest fire, from great destruction comes great renewal.

Only out of the ashes will the battle for a socialist Europe be possible, and one that from day one must have a socialist character. You cannot reform beasts.

So a plague on all their houses, the rotten sewer that is Brexit and the anti democratic techno-tyranny of the EU.

Toward the ashes with joy!

Jim Denham said...

"The dialectic is like the forest fire, from great destruction comes great renewal" no wonder you are "anonymous", spouting anti-Marxist "true socialist"/"reactionary socialist" drivel like that.

Boffy said...

You only need to pick out the obsessives phrases such as "sensibles" or "Yvette Cooper loving", to identify who Anonymous actually is, or more precisely what cast of sock puppet characters they belong to.