Friday 7 October 2022

The Pointlessness of Plotting

Another bad day for the Tories. Liz Truss displayed enough nous to press the button on Conor Burns's ministerial career after unspecified allegations of inappropriate conduct emerged out of Conservative Party conference. You can bet Boris Johnson would have let that rumble on. But one step forward is always accompanied by two steps back in Truss land. This morning we woke up to news that the Prime Minister had scotched Jacob Rees-Mogg's sensible(!) effort at producing an energy saving campaign in the lead up to winter. She is opposed to the state giving advice, apparently. And this evening we learn the government wants to scrap ex-military personnel's free train travel to remembrance services. A move guaranteed to bury the Tory party so deep that archaeologists won't unearth it for a century or two.

This reminds me of the period immediately following Black Wednesday when the Tories couldn't put a foot right and blundered into bad policy after bad policy. But Truss has cratered the Tories' chances inside of five weeks. No wonder Phillip Oppenheim, former Treasury minister (and my ex-MP, as it happens) suggested we could be in the last days of the last Tory Prime Minister. With the horizon black with imminent doom, I read with interest that efforts at a rescue are underway. The plotters are plotting and want to depose Truss and stick Rish! Sunak in the job.

According to our anonymous correspondents, Sunak could be relied on to do a Michael Howard. Long memories will recall he was coronated as leader to staunch the flow of damaging losses under Iain Duncan Smith's calamitous leadership, and indeed polled better than expected at the 2005 election. Sunak, apparently, would want to do this for the good of the country. A couple of problems. The former chancellor has been out of the spotlight for a month weighing up his downturn in political fortunes versus the guaranteed fortunes of a sabbatical to Silicon Valley. No one knows if he's minded to involve himself in this scheme. The second is the would-be rebels are divided. Some want to move yesterday, and who can blame them? But others want to give her a chance to claw things back. Every leader deserves at least one crack at the ballot box, don't they? The time to move will be after next year's local elections.

Let us play the plotters' game and suppose this coronation has legs. For one, it's unlikely Sunak - who's very much a tarnished figure these days - could undo the damage Truss has inflicted on the Tories. Short of giving everyone tens of thousands of pounds, or a declaration of war on Russia, it's hard to see how the party can come back. The self-inflicted wounds are too many and are being left to fester. Sunak, who is hardly the most sure footed and tactically adept of politicians (though, to be fair, he's a league above Truss) hasn't got the wherewithal or the temperament to carry the can. For him, it was Prime Minister for a decent interval or bust, and his moment has passed.

Our plotters look over another insurmountable problem: the party. Tory party democracy is strictly limited, and so what the members have they jealously guard. Just see the party's history of endless disputes between Association committees and the demands of Central Office for constituency money. The members supported Truss by a clear margin, though not one as convincing as any of her elected predecessors. They won't take kindly to her removal, and minus proper mechanisms of accountability in the party, swathes of the membership - which has more or less stabilised - are likely to abandon it in protest. But the main difficulty will be the Commons itself. During the leadership contest, it was obvious the divisions between Truss and Sunak and their respective wings were more serious than a matter of differing opinions. Truss was (and is) allied to a small section of City capital, while Sunak was the repository of wider City interests, and capitals big and small. Be that as it may, if Truss is dumped for Sunak what guarantees are there that her wing of the party - she didn't get a majority, but she did get a plurality of MPs - would meekly accept the Tory "establishment" head boy and file in behind him. No, even with extinction whispering in the party's ear it would become more of an ungovernable mess.

The sad truth for the Tories is there's no way out of this. Truss has cut the party off at the knees and all they can do is hobble toward the next election, bleeding themselves white and without hope of recovery until the electorate administers the euthanising injection.

Image Credit


Robert said...

I sincerely hope you are right but as the saying goes night and the Tories always return. I won't believe they're done until the election actually does it.

Anonymous said...

Robert, look at Ireland's Fianna fail party. As dominant as Tories prior to 2008, they doubled down on corruption and denial, sounded very much like the Tories on the recent question time. I'm reminded of a chat with an uncle in 2010 who couldn't believe they would be punished by the electorate, as there were so many tribal voters. Come the 2012 ge they got 20%, lost 80% of their seats, and are still dying. The similarity between Tories 2022 and FF 2010 are uncanny, and FF didn't even have weekly sex criminals. This is existential for them. Right now for gives a toehold, but if this gets worse, and if Linden's get a clegg moment / tactical surge, well, 1997 will be nothing in comparison. And, all this is before winter!!

Old Trot said...

It does look as if the Tories are now doomed to eventual electoral defeat, - but when ? as far ahead as 2024 looks still possible , since most Tory MPs will surely try to fit in another couple of years of open banditry before they lose their seats. And the likely next government ? Surely still some sort of Lab/Lib Dem Coalition, given that most of the 50 or so Scottish seats Labour used to always win are lost forever - and surely current Tory voters will still find it easier to shift to voting Lib Dem, rather than for Starmer's admittedly Tory lite Nulabour Party - as they did in my own North Shropshire constituency recently.

And that NuLabour/Lib Dem government will of course impose humungous new Austerity on us all (except the superrich ) , to 'rebalance the public finances'. Such a government will finally utterly discredit Labour as any sort of pro working class party - and finally usher in the radical populist Far Right as a mass movement- as it has across Europe over the last ten years. All those Lefties who still think a Labour government, even under the Trilateral Commission's man, Starmer, will actually be significantly better for us than this rapacious Tory gang of crooks, are going to get a bracing wake up when it happens ! Labour , now, as ever, is merely the second eleven reserve party of UK capitalism, to be allowed in periodically to 'steady the status quo ship' when the more open banditry of the Tories has discredited the illusion of our facade democracy.

All this is predicated of course on the ever ratcheting up war fever of the NATO/US v Russia, Ukrainian imperialist proxy war not leading to nuclear war. The blowing up yesterday of the bridge between Crimea and Russia, and the undoubted US destruction of the Russian Baltic gas pipeline, has upped the ante now to the most dangerous situation for our species since the Cuban Missile crisis. But most of the 'Left' in the UK have so totally imbibed the fake propaganda of 'poor little democratic Ukraine v evil totalitarian Russia' bilge that most seem happy for the UK to fully participate in an inter imperialist conflict remarkably reminiscent of the pre 1914 period leading up to WW1 , but with potentially human species ending nuclear weapons on both sides this time.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's a fine load of bullshit.

Zoltan Jorovic said...

I agree with some of Old Trot's analysis. The bit about Starmer imposing a sort of austerity lite, to prove he has a "safe pair of hands" seems all to likely. But with the main media outlets controlled by neoliberal believers, you could argue that there is little option. The problem is, not only will it usher in a right wing populist government, it also will just make the situation worse economically. The times we are in call for vision and daring and major structural reform (economic, electoral, and constitutional), but the resistance to these from those who benefit from the status quo will be massive, and probably immovable. I see no irresistible force other than that of the deteriorating climate and the diminishing availability of affordable energy. These are like a glacier, slowing crushing us against a mountain.

From that perspective, we face a quick end via nuclear inferno, or a slow one via climate driven economic collapse. But a decent government could at least make the last few decades bearable.

Old Trot said...

Crikey, Zoltan, that's a deeply gloomy prognosis ! But I think you are more 'on the money' than the all too typical, content empty, responses to any analysis that reaches beyond their ideological comfort zone , like that of 'Anonymous', above. I am amazed that the Left Liberal 'Left' (and
wider social layers), in the UK and US and Europe aren't out on the streets with huge 'Stop the War' demos . But instead, as that poor, now suspended, Labour member at Conference found out when he tried to point out that the Ukraine is just as much a corrupt oligarch infested facade democracy fiefdom as Putin's Russia, and that what is happening is a US/NATO v Russia imperialist proxy war, today's 'Left' has entirely imbibed the mass media's false Ukraine War narrative 'Coolade' nonsense. We are closer to all out thermonuclear global extinction today than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. One serious misjudgement by either imperialist bloc and we are all toast, as a species. And the war mongering 'Left' seems perfectly happy to cheer along the capitalist NATO war machine. Extraordinary. But all so tragically reminiscent of the immediate era prior to 1914 and WW1.

Interesting article in today's Guardian Opinion, by Momentum's Michael Chessum - finally grasping that the always Right dominated Labour Party will forever thwart any significant advance by the Left - and calling for PR to give a new Left party any chance of a real independent voice. Though , ironically, Chessum and co actually massively helped the Right to crush Corbyn and 'Corbynism' via their unstinting , divisive, support for the Remain and 2nd Referendum policies that sunk Labour's chances in 2019 !

Ken said...

I was with OLD TROT until the third para. Then I found this on Canary, now a Workers’ Coop apparently (!)
Given Ukraine is backed by NATO, it’s not surprising if many on the left may adopt an ambivalent stance regarding the Russian invasion. But as the Canary’s own Joe Glenton said in an article published just 48 hours after that invasion:
“It’s long past time for some of us to update our software on Russia/NATO antagonism.”
With regard to those on the left who support Putin, Dubovikhave and Shevchenko explain: ( RKAS Russian Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation)
“The left sees Putin’s Russia as an alternative to NATO, as a rival to NATO. In a sense, they are right: Russia is indeed opposed to NATO. But they do not see, and do not want to see, that the Russian alternative means only a desire to pursue its own, independent but equally (if not worse) imperialist policy.”
They say such ‘leftists’ are “idiots”.
They add:
“It suffices to say that throughout the existence of the independent Ukrainian state, there has not been a single political anarchist prisoner here. At the same time, many dozens of our comrades in Russia ended up in Russian prisons – guilty solely for their anarchist convictions.”
Further, as an an “old trot” I’m guessing that during the Vietnam war, you would have supported the CP led NLF despite the murder of Trotskyists by said CP. Afterwards, Ho Chi Minh somewhat hypocritically declared “We mourn him..” Sometimes you just have to take a side, and if you think that Ukraine has the right to its borders without invasion, then you have to accept what is necessary for that to take place. However, if you OK with big countries unilaterally incorporating bits of other countries, by violence if necessary?

Old Trot said...

Ken, for a self proclaimed anarchist you seem to have a surprisingly bourgeois respect for the shibbolith of the nation state ! The modern nation state is a pretty recent invention of bourgoise capitalism. Surely any particular capitalist nation state is, in its specific borders and composition, a historically fluid thing . This is particularly so when a particular nation state has been captured within a much wider great empire, such as that of the British empire, or indeed the stalinist Soviet Union and its east European Satellites. The sub units of great empires often encompass population blocs who don't wish to live in one state, and are only held together by the power of the imperial hegemon. Look at the break-up of British India for a bloody example of the splitting apart of a supposedly integral state - along ethnic and religious lines. Another, more recent example is the, peaceful, breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Yugoslavia the splintering into many nation states on ethnic lines was very bloody indeed. In the case of the Ukraine, the Donbas region is overwhelmingly ethnic Russian in language and culture. As with Scotland and Wales in recent times, the Donbas ethic Russian majority responded to the hyper nationalism (and bans on Russian as an equal language) of the post 2014 'Maidan' coup, regime by seeking Scottish- style limited autonomy . The response of the Ukrainian government was invasion (a total failure given mass Donbas armed resistance) and then eight years of shelling by the Ukranian Nazi-worshipping irregular militias that prevented President Zelensky from implementing Minsk 1 and 2 to solve the problem peacefully. It was the West , NATO and the EU, that deliberately provoked the undoubted gangster Putin into the 2022 invasion - as part of the 'imperialist Great Game' the USA is playing against the Russian Federation- and of course , the real major enemy - China. What is happening in the Ukraine is a very dangerous inter imperialist proxy war -intended to break the Russian regime and open its vast resources up for Western capitalist exploitation. I would have expected a supposed 'anarchist' to have been a bit more immune to the simplistic 'Ukraine is an innocent victim' nonsense propagated across the entire capitalist media. As in Russia ALL the state assets in the Ukraine were stolen by a gang of oligarchs on the fall of the Soviet Union. The Ukraine is a hugely corrupt , oligarch-owned, facade democracy just like Putin's corrupt regime.

I am not surprised though that not a single anarchist has been arrested in the Ukraine, even though Zelensky has abolished all Leftish parties and abolished all worker's trades union rights - because the petty bourgeois philosophy of anarchism poses no threat at all to the capitalist status quo - anywhere. And contemporary Trotskyism of course also poses no threat - like modern anarchism being a niche belief system of mainly middle class youth. If anarchists are being arrested in Russia I imagine it is because , as in the West, they are an unruly 'black bloc' type pain in the arse, not any ideological threat. And yes. I did support the genuine Vietnamese national liberation struggle against US imperialism - despite the Stalinists organising it. Who did you support ? US imperialism ? The Ukraine is not 1960's Vietnam , the surrounding geopolitical and historical context is radically different.

Zoltan Jorovic said...

@Ken. Isn't that a little too simplistic? I take the side of peace and survival. Like all discussions on any contentious issue, it depends on context, and how far back you need to unroll that historically. Let's go back to the fall of the USSR.

Can we ignore how Russia was subjected to so called shock therapy which was driven by western(mostly American) free market ideologues who oversaw the stripping of assets and the privatisation of the publicly owned industries into a few oligarch hands. The chaotic years that followed left the ordinary Russian near destitute. Putin is still popular with many Russians because he stabilised the country and restored some semblance of economic order. He also rebuilt its status in the eyes of its people - which should not be underestimated. Much of this was without help from the West.

If when the USSR collapsed we had stepped in with a sort of Marshall plan to rebuild a democratic Russia through positive action rather than join in the frenzy of vulture capitalism, perhaps ordinary Russians would see the West differently. Russia would have become, like Germany and Japan - a democratic and largely stable influence. Instead, we set our course by turning Russia into a neoliberal experiment resulting in the mafia state it now is, and also bedding in the existing cold war ideological antagonism into the nationalistic one we have today.

That's part 1.

Ken said...

Old Trot
I’m not an anarchist, any more than Joe Glenton is.
I could be described as a petit bourgeois nationalist, so that’s why I supported the NLF and not US Imperialism.
I do understand the oligarchic nature of post-Soviet Ukraine, and its corruption.
Nevertheless, like a civil war, sometimes you just have to pick a side, no matter who the other allies might be.
Civil War Spain, support the republic although it was armed by the USSR. (And yes I’ve read Orwell
Or, like WW2, allies with Stalin, although we, or at least our leaders knew, about Katyn.
Ironically, I was labelled a Neo-Nazi supporter on Quora because I raised the question of the BBC ignoring its own guidelines about the reporting of the Azov regiment.
So there we are, a Neo-Nazi to Anarchist, and the year isn’t over yes. What next I wonder?