Wednesday 8 February 2023

The Rise of Lee Anderson

Congratulations to 30p Lee on his elevation to the Tory front bench as deputy chair of the Conservative Party. If you're racist, mediocre, but don't have an Oxbridge degree, a contact book that skims Debrett's, nor a thing for tax dodging you too can make it up the greasy pole of the right wing political establishment. It's not really a shocker though, is it? Rishi Sunak has already demonstrated his penchant for anti-woke politics by reappointing and keeping Suella Braverman in post. As if there was any doubt, giving Anderson a titled non-job is entirely typical. There might not be much in Sunak's fashionably expensive briefcase, but among what little there is is racism.

It makes sense to hold Anderson close for a couple of reasons. There are the internal politics. As someone with an instinct for irking liberal sensibilities and regularly blowing up social media with "outrageous" statements and stunts (challenging the almost-as-annoying Steve Bray to a boxing match, telling food bank users they can survive on 30p a day, and saying he won't be supporting the England men's team when they took the knee), until getting the job he was the best known Tory back bencher who hadn't got a profile from serving in government. Someone else probably qualifies now. But what the backbenches lose, Sunak gains. Rather than having a "maverick" shouting his mouth off and who might be a focus for red wall discontent, bringing him into the government's fold heads that potential trouble off at the pass.

Externally, incorporating Anderson serves a dual purpose. Westminster wisdom remains of the view that everyone north of M25 is racist, that the northern Leave vote was powered by racism and anti-immigration politics, and these trump all considerations. I.e. That social conservative "values" come before material interests. Of course, this isn't the case. Values are conditioned by and find interests sublimated within them. And besides, when Liz Truss did her thing the sharp dip crash in the polls should have put a bullet in the brain of this zombie argument. Still, Sunak and loads of the Tory establishment believe it, and going into the next election a lot of their strategy is riding on this being true.

But being Tories, even the clueless suits know the crudities of creatures like Anderson give "respectable" Tories pause, and rub right-leaning pearl-clutching voters up the wrong way. It's not hard to see why. The man is a thug and fancies himself as such. But promoting Anderson, Sunak hopes, will shore up his government among racist voters tempted away by the overstated, overrated Reform UK via favourable tabloid coverage, while reigning Anderson in and blunting his "provocative" qualities now he's bound by collective discipline and, presumably, is going to have some tasks assigned to him by the new chair, Greg Hands. And there you have the modern Tory party. The barrel has well and truly been scraped.

Yet let us not forget that Anderson didn't appear from nowhere. He had spent several years fermenting in the constipated bowels of Ashfield Labour Party before he was voided out as a Tory turncoat in 2018 and then their candidate for the 2019 election. We should not forget that eight years ago, the Labour apparatus determined him suitable enough to be one of its councillors and then Labour MP Gloria De Piero found his bearing and values entirely compatible with running her constituency office. She has never been held accountable for helping bring this disgusting toad on and has happily had a soft interview with him on her show for GB News. Lee Anderson is something of a Tory success story. But he's also a product of Labour's systematic failings, of the tensions that go back to Labourism's very beginnings.


Anonymous said...

You missed out that he was UDM

David said...

Nailed it. I went to Ashfield School, as he did, and he is exactly the sort of thug that made my life a misery there. I see his latest excretion is to say that we should bring back the death penalty; he should tell that to the Birmingham six and the Guildford four.