Trying to fathom the Tory strategy over Brexit is not dissimilar to trying to work out where you were and where you were going in one of London’s infamous smogs in years past in which, sometimes, you were unable to see your hand in front of your face. I well remember being completely disoriented, not really knowing where I was, in which direction I needed to be going, and even whether I was on the pavement or road. I recall one occasion in which I had managed to get myself onto a grass covered roundabout near my home, which we frequently crossed, so that I knew exactly where I was, but still had no idea of the direction I needed to head in if I left it’s 360° sanctuary and had to face the fact that I was completely disoriented and utterly lost on what I would normally regard as familiar ground.
That is exactly how I ‘feel’ about Brexit, the difference being that what is creating these feelings of disorientation and confusion is one of intent, even the smogs were ‘man’ made, so too is what I regard as the omnishambles of Brexit, and my argument here is that whereas the smogs were an unintended consequence of human actions, the apparent shambles of Brexit is driven by intent.
Let’s begin with a very eloquent axiomatic description of the Tories by the Guardians Jonathan Freedland, “the Conservative party has a will to power so strong, it will subordinate every other consideration, principle or interest to obtain and keep it. It’s this that has made the Tories arguably the most successful political party in the democratic world over the course of nearly two centuries.”
Nothing could be clearer, since Theresa May became leader of the Conservative party, than her subordination of any and every moral, ethical, social or political principle to her one over riding ambition, which is, to retain power. Seen in that light, everything she has done makes perfect sense even whilst being seemingly incomprehensible to our moral and ethical sensibilities. The error then is ours, not hers, our confusion is in not seeing or understanding where she’s coming from, in which she is entirely consistent. I do think she misjudged and has stumbled over the degree and intensity of the opposition to the travesty of her misrule, an opposition which is confusing and, indeed, incomprehensible to the arrogant self belief, paternalism and self serving greed of conservative ideology.
However, there is a second set of principles which apply at this particular juncture in history, which is the global neoliberal agenda which I will sum up here as, the subordination of every moral, ethical, social or political principle to the unconstrained greed of free market economics and the global transfer of wealth and resources from the vast majority into the hands of a tiny wealthy elite. In the light of that neoliberal world view, a hard Brexit which avoids all the tedious intricacies of negotiation in pursuit of the what is in the best interests of Britain in general is highly desirable, giving the Tories a free hand in their pursuit of power in the UK and the sacrifice of the interests and well being of ordinary people. Their policies have been consistent since 2010 when they launched their economic war against ordinary people, and the poorest and most vulnerable people in particular, and the countless deaths that have been the inevitable result and about which they care nothing, not even acknowledging those deaths as collateral damage.
From this writers point of view the most significant part of the Health and Social Care Act, 2012, ‘marked the end of a National Health Service in England that for more than sixty years served as one of the most successful models in the world, widely praised and copied’. The Act also ‘ended the Secretary of State’s duty to secure or provide health services throughout the country, a duty that had been in force since 1948’. The purpose of the Act was and remains the theft and privatisation of our most revered national treasure, the National Health Service, by stealth, and about which Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health, with mealy mouthed deceit, assure us that, ‘The NHS will remain a taxpayer-funded system free at the point of use’. We can bet the shirts off our backs that it will remain taxpayer-funded, but that does not mean tax payer owned. The Tories are dedicated to asset stripping the nation and the transfer of public taxation (wealth) into private hands and ‘free at the point of use’ is a meaningless statement which only means that we will not, if we can stretch our credulity to believe even this much of the Tory plan, be expected to pay at the time of use, which would also cover a privatised insurance based system. The danger of the Tory party is in taking anything they say at face value and they get away with telling the most egregious lies because that’s precisely what far too many people do and who, in utterly naive, docile servitude, vote for them.
It is now no secret that our system of social security has been turned into a vicious and brutal clandestine penal system with financial penalties (fines) rivalling those of the entire UK judicial court system. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been corrupted in its entirety by Tory ill will and private financial interests, even allowing a US insurance giant, UNUM (discredited, prosecuted and heavily fined in the US) to play a major part in the planning of the bogus ‘fit for work’ programme, which is now a system of widespread despair and death by intent. The government don’t even bother to collect data on the astronomic rise in food banks and their usage about which I stand with Mike Sivier over at Vox Political in being entirely unsurprised, and, even if they did, I would expect, as a matter of course, for the figures to be highly manipulated and falsified. That is, after all, the Tory way.
Taking what we know of the policies of the Conservative party, which are punitive by design against the lives and well being of ordinary people, then a hard Brexit is all about serving the objectives of punishing and impoverishing ordinary people and giving the Tories a free hand to do just that. The restrictions on the free movement of people will in no way restrict the free movement of the financial markets to abandon Britain for richer pickings elsewhere, or to exploit Britain for profit and as a haven for opportunistic tax avoidance and evasion whether in Britain or via its crown dependencies.
Whatever advantages leaving the EU might have for ordinary people, they will never be realised under the Tories, for them, Brexit is a neoliberal wet dream which will, if the Tories are allowed to have their way, mark the end of human rights in Britain and be an economic disaster for the vast majority of people whilst being an economic boom for free market, private, interests in pursuit of which there will be few, if any, restrictions. Brexit is described by Barnabas Reynolds, a partner at Shearman & Stearling, as a ‘win-win opportunity for the City of London’. You betcha.
And last, but by no means least, in this brief exploration of Tory abuse and deception in this disunited kingdom under the Tories bogus austerity and Brexit, is the myth that the Conservatives are the party of fiscal and socially responsible and Labour as the party of social irresponsibility, profligacy and waste, when the exact opposite is true. Labour have always borrowed less than the Tories and have always paid back more. It was labour who rebuilt Britain after the WWII, which included the founding of the NHS, the welfare state and Britain’s revolutionary social housing programme. The post war consensus which started in 1945 under the leadership of Labour’s Clement Atlee, was an uneasy consensus drawing the reluctant Tories along with it, which Margaret Thatcher finally killed off in 1979. Concern for the cares and well being of ordinary people has never been high on the Tory agenda and without the Labour party we’d all be worse off and nothing more than wage slaves living lives in even greater want and deprivation, which Harry Leslie Smith remembers with such stark clarity and to which the present Tories are at such pains to drive us back to. The Tory myth is a product of its own propaganda and a sympathetic right wing media which beats the propaganda home with relentless force and continues to do so, which is why working class Tory voters are aptly likened to gullible turkeys voting for Christmas.
The Tories have always been the party of self serving greed and their seeming failure over Brexit is, in reality, a treacherous opportunity for the grasping few at the expense of the many, which is why Jacob Rees-Mogg, venal champion of privilege, paternalism, anti-abortion and Victorian stiff upper lipped male supremacy, is also such a vocal champion of a hard Brexit and the oppression of ordinary people. His claim that ‘hard Brexit would boost UK by £135bn over five years’ is, in reality a boost, if it is even remotely true, for the free markets and the financial sector, the people of Britain and the real economy would see little or no direct benefit.
The bottom line is – Never trust a Tory. The Tories handling of Brexit is not in any way accidental or unintentional, it is entirely consistent with their historic role in British politics.
KOG. 09 December 2017