Sunday, 14 June 2015

Europe: hot Tory-on-Tory action belies the reality

For Cameron, the honeymoon was short and uncomfortable.  What a shame.  Within a month of winning a corrupt majority, the internecine strife amongst the Conservative Party has reared its ugly head and the rest of us can enjoy the spectre of the partially-evolved sparring with those for whom most brain-stem activity is expended upon swivelling the eyeballs.

Having lived through John Major's inept progress from incoherence to immolation, those of us who were around the 1990s will be familiar with the pattern.  For younger voters, coming to terms with the reality that the Tories will spend much of the next five years engaging in self-destructive theological debate, interspersed with random and damaging assaults on the wider state, may take a little longer.

Each Tory decade has had its Rasputin.  Thatcher's initial mentor was Sir Keith Joseph, whose credibility took a knock when he in effect endorsed both racism and eugenics.  She then switched to Norman Tebbit, whose vitriol and demagoguery continue to entertain us to this day - allowed out, occasionally, when there isn't a full moon.  Major's bastards included John Redwood, whose histrionic egotism was yet further proof of the decline of the Tories.  Now we can revel in the latter two remaining on the scene, added to by a number of egregious fools whose xenophobia and anti-European posturing will add to the jollity.  The Fabricants and Bones of this world have a new champion - watching Philip Hammond in the Commons was akin to watching a Redwood tribute act.

There is both danger and political opportunity from the Tory introspection.  For the lunatics, Cameron could jump over the moon on a stick in terms of renegotiation, and still fall short.  The incoherence of a party which still contains mainstream centre-right politicians alongside people for whom a relay of carers is necessary will become clearer.  For those of us who consider that the only opportunity for European reform comes from enthusiastic participation and coalition-building, this is the basis upon which a "yes" campaign needs to build.

The other clear requirement is for the tactics of fear to be deployed by the "yes" side.  The right are happy enough to sacrifice citizen sovereignty for the dictatorship of plutocrats and corporations, and will use whatever tactics are necessary or expedient to advance their cause.  The risible and ignorant arguments that they will deploy need to be met with clear warnings about the likely risks and impact that their naive jingoism will have on the economy, including jobs, living standards and the protection  of the citizen and worker.  Playing the danger card early, loud and often will reinforce the innate conservatism during the referendum that irrevocable change cannot be tolerated if the effects can't be calibrated.

In the meantime, the European referendum battle will be used as a proxy for the succession to a lame-duck Prime Minister within the Tories.  Given the uninspiring and divisive choices that they have to parade, there will be internal advantage from identifying which groups of the backbench sheep can be mobilised in support of, or against, individual candidates.  This is an internal matter that will spill out into wider politics.

For the short-term, with Labour bogged down in leadership battles and half-hearted recriminations and reappraisals of its position, the arguments against the Tory position will need to be articulated beyond party boundaries.  This is how it should be, going forward, as machine politics don't cut the ice, and a campaign that is both cross-party and non-partisan will be much more powerful.  By the time that the referendum comes round, the impact of wider Tory idiocy will be being felt, and given that the decision on Europe is the most fundamental facing the country, the tactics need to reflect common sense against the private sorrows and stupidity of a party whose denizens are rapidly resembling a third-rate branch of the Sealed Knot.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.