Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In the battle of ideologies it's no contest. The Tory Right will beatthe Corbyn cult hands down

The misconception on which the Corbyn cult is founded is that ideology equals intellect. It doesn't. Politics is the "Art of the Possible" and those of true political intellect understand this. But even this isn't enough. To succeed you need intellect, cunning and pragmatic plans far more than you need ideology!

David Cameron had no ideology at all - far from being a disadvantage in modern politics. But even this most pragmatic of men failed because the (apparently) nakedly ideologically driven opposition to him on the Conservative Right were cleverer than he was. They set a trap. Baited it. And Dave took the bait. The Eurosceptic Right attacked Cameron relentlessly over Europe until they got their way and secured a manifesto commitment to a referendum. Then they beavered behind the scenes with their brother in arms Lynton Crosby in situ for the 2015 General Election. The main, though largely undeclared, objective was to kill the Liberal Democrats. This gave Cameron a raft of handy new MPs as well as ensuring that there was no need for another Coalition. Once the Conservatives had a working majority then the Referendum could be held and the Right could ensure they won it.

Is Euroscepticism an ideology and are its fervent adherents members of a cult in the same way that Jeremy Corbyn's are? Up to a point. But if deep down the real goal was the defeat of one Tory tribe (the Cameroons) and its replacement by another then even the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU can be seen as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The tribe of the Right care more about the defeat of socialism and of the welfare state than they do about Europe. But Europe, with its human rights commitments and its social legislation and regulation could stymie even a democratically elected UK Conservative government which wanted free enterprise reform. The triumph of Capitalism could be denied by the EU - so the EU had to go.

Is Capitalism an ideology? Again up to a point, but it is also liberal in the sense that, in its purest form, it is anti rules . Look at the recent writings of Daniel Hannan MEP and you will see eulogies to capitalism and competition that are almost religious in their fervour. Pressure groups like the "Tax Payers Alliance" and other Right Wing "think tanks" were all pro "Leave" in the EU Referendum. The front of all these people was superficially ideological - Euroscepticism. But the real goal was to create a profoundly more neo-liberal Britain.

Back to Jeremy Corbyn. He and the Tory Right have a lot in common. They both want their party to shift away from the centre so that they can radically change our society and our economic and political construct. The Corbynites have the ideology alright - classic socialism from the Left Wing handbook. Public ownership. Anti militarism. Tax the rich. Empower the people through the trades union movement and do on. But as I say above this is ideological but it's ignores the reality that you have to be electable. If you agree with my analysis of how the EU Referendum was won you have to admit it was clever. There were clues if you looked for them but the removal of Cameron was achieved with cunning and intellect. It's not yet quite complete but Theresa May is surely well to the right of Cameron and unlikely to be picked off by the Tory Right in the same way that he was.

So that's the scene. The Conservative right are one small push away from power. Brexit will remove the inconvenience of foreigners telling us what to do. Theresa May will do our bidding because now she's in Number 10 she'd like to stay there. Labour is a shambles and no sort of threat. Daniel dog and his friends will surely have his day, and a great many more. Will it be a triumph of ideology - of course it will. But by stealth not by rallies and slogans. Jeremy Cirbyn will have been comprehensively outsmarted by some much cleverer people than he !

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Donald Trump has hijacked the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan in the same way that Jeremy Corbyn has hijacked the party of Attlee and Wilson and Blair.

The cuddling up of Nigel Farage to Donald Trump should surprise nobody. Both are Right Wing populists with prejudiced views of minorities and foreigners and simplistic anti-politics manifestos. And neither is a conventional politician in any way. Indeed you would think that neither could possibly survive in, let alone lead, a respectable political party. Farage did not attempt to. This once Conservative had to be part of a new anti status quo protest movement to progress. UKIP is not a political party but as David Cameron once memorably and rightly put it a "...sort of a bunch of ... fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly,"  

Although Trump and Farage are clearly ideological bedfellows it is not Farage that the "Donald" most resembles in Britain, but Jeremy Corbyn. Farage personally broke away from mainstream politics to join and then lead UKIP. He did not try and exist in a broad church political party (unlike many of his political fellow travellers on the Tory Right). Corbyn, however, has always stayed in Labour even in the Blair/Brown years when "New Labour" pursued policies in power which were anathema to him. That he now leads Labour is the serendipitous outcome of a bizarre, even accidental, series of events a year ago. He is shifting Labour to the Left, marginalising the "Blairites" and occupying ground that would previously have been the territory only of minority parties like the "Socialst Workers Party" or of the small rabidly socialist Left in Parliament (of which, for thirty years, he was a member).

In America the divisions between the Democrats and the Republicans, which when I was young were fairly small, are now much, much wider. America is two nations like never before. The Republican Party had already become a much more Right Wing party appealing to a distinct electorate before the arrival of Trump. Indeed George W Bush's neo-conservatism won two Presidential elections showing that this electorate is potentially at least in the majority. But the absence of a credible leader over the past year and during the Primary season left a gaping gap into which Donald Trump rode. 

For Jeremy Corbyn to lead Labour from his Hard Left positioning is directly analogous to Donald Trump leading the Republican Party from his Hard Right stance. A difference is that Corbyn is a career politician, albeit one with previously little prospect of, nor desire for, high office. Trump is not a politician at all.  He is the only Presidential candidate of a major party in modern times (Eisenhower excepted) never to have been elected to any political office. Similarly Corbyn is the first modern Party leader never to have been a Minister or Shadow Minister. Donald Trump has hijacked the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan in the same way that Jeremy Corbyn has hijacked the party of Attlee and Wilson and Blair.

"Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best” as Bismarck put it. We have to concede that it is just possible that Donald Trump could be elected President of the United States of America. But it is far more likely that Americans will choose the " next best" - we must certainly hope so! Trump has a chance because his brand of populism strikes a chord with (especially) the working class white male who is virulently anti Obama/Clinton. He is the archetypical anti-Establishment figure. Jeremy Corbyn is also anti-Establishment but the difference to Trump is that his Left Wing brand of populist anti-establishmentism has a much more limited appeal. There is a significant body of support for Corbyn and they are very vocal. But there is no chance of this cultish group being able to create an electable Labour Party. Again the "next best" - Theresa May and her centre-Right Conservatives - would be the people's choice in a General Election. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Patronising twaddle from an arch Brexiteer !

Do me a favour Tim. OK you won. It was a victory that those who engineered it should be ashamed of. Scare-mongering lies. Appeals to the gut prejudice of that significant proportion of the electorate that will always be uninformed either by choice or lack of ability to be anything else. I have never been so ashamed of my country - not the foolishness of the outcome so much as by the fact that a few clever people engineered it. And now you patronise those of us who campaigned for "Remain" with this tosh !

The aftermath of Brexit will not be sketched by Britain - David Davis and Boris Johnson to determine Britain's future place in the world! Don't make me Larf ! No that future will be in the hands of the 27 EU member states we are so foolishly sticking two fingers up to. And if I was them I'd be telling Britain to take a running jump! Give me one reason why they owe us anything at all ? 

Not the least offensive and absurd of the disingenuous lies of the Brexiters was that Britain is somehow  different (= better) than our European partners. The EU result has shown the reverse - we are infinitely worse. Inward-looking, arrogant, prejudiced, closed-minded and stuck in some sentimental bygone age when we did rule the waves. The guilty who precipitated this disaster are entitled to to their balloons and bubbly. But not to insult our intelligence that we can have a "happy relationship" with the European leaders we have just so viciously abused.