It is clear that the ruling class is terrified of the prospect of a Corbyn Labour government and the threat this would pose to their power and privileges. The fear amongst the capitalists can be seen from the fact that the super-rich elites are already looking into ways of hiding their money from a future left Labour government.
It is because of this alarm that we see the endless smears and slanders by the establishment and their media mouthpieces against Jeremy Corbyn: that he is a Czech spy; a Kremlin stooge; and an antisemite (to name just a few).
Originally published 20 June by Socialist Appeal |
A recent poll confirms this panic, and demonstrates that it exists not just at the very top, but also amongst the rabid rank-and-file of the Tory Party.
In a YouGov survey of Conservative Party members, it turns out that the only thing the Tory rabble fear more than missing out on Brexit is the possibility of Corbyn making it into Number 10.
In the survey, Conservative members were asked: “For each of the following please say whether you would rather Brexit took place, even if it caused this scenario, or Brexit did not take place in order to avoid this scenario.”
Shockingly, the membership of the ‘Conservative and Unionist’ Party responded that they would rather see Scotland go independent, lose the North of Ireland to a united Ireland, bring about an economic crisis, or destroy their own party in order to see Brexit through. What they cannot fathom, however, is Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
It seems that Tory members will do anything for Brexit – but they won’t do that.
So committed to Brexit are members of the Conservative and Unionist Party that they would be willing to see Scotland (63%) and Northern Ireland (59%) leave the UK in order to secure it. https://t.co/9iJKlB292v pic.twitter.com/4j7bCPg6aK— YouGov (@YouGov) June 18, 2019
Such views are truly astounding coming from a party whose historic role is to defend the interests of the capitalists and preserve the unity of the so-called ‘United’ Kingdom. Far from being a party of Conservatives and Unionists, it seems the Tories today are a frenzied mob of English nationalists, with only one thing on their mind: Brexit.
No wonder that other surveys show how the Conservative Party is haemorrhaging support to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. For example, according to a poll by Lord Ashcroft (himself a former deputy chair of the Conservatives), 53 percent of Tory voters from the 2017 general election switched over to the Brexit Party in the recent European elections.
Elsewhere, another YouGov poll revealed that 59 percent of Tory members voted for Farage’s new outfit at the EU elections. And, most remarkably, a Mail on Sunday survey from a couple of months ago showed that even 40 percent of Conservative councillors were prepared to defect to the Brexit Party.
And why not? If your only concern is Brexit, you might as well vote for the single-issue party that literally has this demand in its name. Indeed, the more recent YouGov poll reveals that Nigel Farage himself is a popular choice amongst Tory members to be their party leader: more said they would like him as the next Conservative leader (46 percent) than would not (40 percent).
This latest survey demonstrates just how much of an overriding priority Brexit has become for the ranks of the Conservative Party. 83 percent of those asked said that it would be “unacceptable” to have a Remainer as leader. 68 percent stated that the main thing they wanted to hear about from prospective leadership candidates is their Brexit plan. And 53 percent said that they would vote for a new leader who had a “good plan for Brexit”, even if “the rest of their domestic policy was bad”.
This, then, is the mood amongst those who will soon receive their ballots and begin voting to decide who becomes the next Prime Minister. No wonder Boris Johnson, with his promise to leave the EU on 31 October with no deal if necessary, is the hands-down favourite to win, with 77 percent support amongst Conservative members.
At its post-war peak, the Conservatives had almost 3 million members. Today – whilst the Labour Party has surged to become the largest party in Europe, with over half-a-million members – the Tory membership has dwindled to just 160,000.
Even the Scottish Nationalist Party, recruiting from a population of only four million, revealed last year that they had more members than their Unionist rivals did for the entire United Kingdom.
This numerical decline, meanwhile, has been matched by an extreme narrowing of the party’s social base. Research shows that the Conservative membership conforms to stereotype: it is old, white, male, and middle-class. For example, whilst other mainstream parties have around 30 percent of members aged 65-plus, for the Tories this figure is a whopping 44%.
Walking into a local Conservative Party meeting must feel like taking a time machine back several decades. According to recent data, 84 percent of Tory members believe that schools should teach children to obey authority. 77 percent think that young people “don’t have enough respect for traditional British values”. And only 41 percent support same-sex marriage – far less than the 54 percent who want to bring back the death penalty!
Unsurprisingly, talking of being stuck in a time-warp, far-and-away the most popular Conservative leaders of all time amongst Tory members are (you guessed it): Margaret Thatcher (with 93 percent support) and Winston Churchill (on 95 percent).
This is the bigoted base that Tory leadership candidates are currently appealing to: a Brexit-obsessed, backward, ‘hang-em-flog-em’ brigade. There is no position or policy too reactionary, it seems, for these decrepit zealots.
No wonder, then, that Tory Party members hold such disdain towards the idea of a Jeremy Corbyn premiership. The Labour leader embodies a movement that is everything they are not: young, growing, and hopeful.
Like the protagonist of the recent horror film Us, Conservative members have looked in the mirror at their opposite and found themselves terrified at what stares back at them. Corbyn’s Labour represents the future; the Tory Party and their greying membership, the past.
The impact of their aging membership, meanwhile, is taking its toll on the party’s coffers. With 15 percent of the party’s members aged 75 years old or more, it should come as no surprise that the Conservatives now receive more money from the dead than the living.
In 2017, the party received less than £1 million from membership fees (compared to Labour’s £16 million), whilst £1.7 million was bequeathed to the Tory Party in the wills of deceased members.
It has often been remarked that we are now living in an era of ‘zombie capitalism’, where businesses stagger on only thanks to a drip-feed of cheap credit. Well here we have the perfect political representatives for this senile system: a party that has more support from beyond the grave than from people with a pulse.
All these figures graphically demonstrate just how far the Tory Party has degenerated. But, at root, this Conservative decline is a reflection of the decline of British capitalism.
Britain long ago became a rentier economy, with the capitalists abandoning productive investment in favour of short-term speculative profits. As a result, British industry has fallen far behind. Unable to compete with its international rivals, factories have been mothballed, jobs have been lost, and working-class communities have been laid to waste.
It is clear that the flag-waving Tory ranks long for a bygone age of ‘Rule Britannia’. Undoubtedly this is what Conservative members have in mind when it comes to the country’s post-Brexit position in the world: taking to the seas and ‘making Britain great again’ through a renewal of gunboat diplomacy.
Unfortunately for these nostalgic ladies and gentlemen, however, the glory days of the Empire are a distant past. The UK has been reduced to a second- or third-rate power on the world stage. ‘Great Britain’ is no more. Welcome to Little England.
This can be seen by the endlessly craven behaviour and kowtowing displayed by Conservative prime ministers towards imperialist monsters such as Donald Trump and Mohammed Bin Salman. The so-called ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK is nothing more than the relationship between the master and his servile butler.
This century-long decline of British capitalism now finds its most acute expression in the political representatives of British capitalism: the Conservative Party.
The Tory Party was once considered the envy of ruling classes across the world. ‘Strong and stable’, with an accumulated weight of history and tradition behind it, the party could trace its roots back to the late 17th century and the reign of King Charles II.
So confident were the ruling class at the height of the Empire, that its political leaders would, Leon Trotsky remarked, think in terms of decades and centuries when it came to the interests of British capitalism.
But back then, Tory leaders were drawn from the aristocracy, whose elevated position would give them a more far-sighted view than the rent-seeking capitalists playing around in the dirt below. By the time of Thatcher – the shopkeeper’s daughter – this long-term vision had been thrown out of the window, replaced by an insatiable appetite for immediate, parasitic profits and privatisation.
These days, after years of crisis, austerity, deindustrialisation, and rising inequality, the ruling class is increasingly forced to rely on xenophobia and flag-waving in order to maintain a semblance of control.
But in doing so, they have created a Frankenstein’s monster that has run amok. With the liberal ‘centre ground’ collapsing, as part of a global process of political polarisation, the Conservatives have been transformed from a party of responsible statesmen into one beholden to an army of ‘swivel-eyed loons’.
“The party that was once the instrument of the British establishment,” notes the Economist, the journal of the liberal bourgeoisie, recently, “is in the process of metamorphosing into a full-scale nationalist-populist party.”
“Since [the 18th century] they [the Tory Party] have intermittently done their best to tear themselves apart,” explains Geoffrey Wheatcroft, author of The Strange Death of Tory England. “And yet they have almost always come to their senses and returned to office, driven by a deep pragmatic love of power.”
“But now the party is dictated to by a fraction of fanatical Europhobes who’ve been described as people ‘who won’t take Yes for an answer’,” Wheatcroft continues.
“If one final nail in the Tory coffin were needed it would surely be the choice of Boris Johnson as leader, and thus prime minister, as the conventional wisdom — and the bookmakers’ odds — suggests is likely. The very fact that he’s favourite demonstrates the decayed and sclerotic state of the party whose members will choose him.”
Responding to the claims by Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin that war-ravaged Europe was a “lunatic asylum” and that England was “the only country that has kept her reason”, Leon Trotsky replied:
“As a matter of fact, Baldwin understands exactly nothing about what is taking place before his very eyes…
“England is nothing but the last ward of the European madhouse, and quite possibly it will prove to be the ward for particularly violent cases.”
These words could have been written yesterday. Only now, it is the Tory Party itself that is the madhouse. And the patients have taken over the asylum.
“Foreigners increasingly talk about Britain in the way they would talk about an admired relative who has gone stark raving bonkers,” the Economist remarks elsewhere. “Across the world Anglophilia is giving way to Anglobemusement,” states the article’s headline.
“Britain could afford to be such an endearingly odd place, with its bloated royal family and tub-thumping tabloids, because it had a genius for putting sensible people in charge of the things that mattered.
“Today the general view abroad is that this formula has malfunctioned. The circus acts and charlatans have taken over, in the form of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the sensible people have been locked up in the Tower of London.”
A party whose whole raison d’être was to defend and uphold the status quo, is now held hostage by an enraged horde who would rather burn the country – and their own party – to the ground than allow their beloved Brexit dream to slip through their fingers.
In the words of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, echoing the comments of Roman historian Tacitus about the insatiable appetite of the Empire:
“Mark where his carnage and his conquests cease! “He makes a solitude, and calls it — peace.”