A coalition of the willing – How the Tories are remaking their party Part II
30 October, 2007
For the first half click here
Sure there have been new Tory think tanks like Iain Duncan Smith laughable centre for social justice and the more Cameroonian policy exchange but there is an emphasis on campaigning rather than politics in this new coalition. I think this a mistake as the problem for the Tories wasn’t their well funded campaigns but the idiotic policies and world view that they are trying to foist on the British public. Trying to hold this is all together is George Eustice from Conservative Central Office whose role is directly modelled on that of Tim Goeglein who is in charge of relations with the Conservative Coalition in the Whitehouse. But what will the effect of all this be and how are they going to use it to regain power.We should not be in any doubt that a future Conservative government will mount a vicious attack on the Labour movement as a whole. Not only can we kiss good bye to the union modernisation fund in the first hours of a Cameron administration but any reform of party funding under a Conservative government will attempt to stop the Unions from funding the party. The original Thatcherite attack on the unions had more to do with their public role as actors in the economy. New Conservative thinking understands the benefits of rooting a party in a societies social structure. They understand the strength the Labour-Union link gives to working people and will do everything they can to smash it.
The Republicans have also been brilliant at using social issues to their own advantage. Now the British tory party isn’t going to make opposition to gay marriage their most important policy, for one thing that wouldn’t work over here. What they will want to do is find an issue that extends and strengthens their base will attacking people who are unlikely to be Tory voters. We can see such a play on their position on incapacity benefit but the real cleavage they hope to open up is bashing Scotland.
They may call themselves the unionist party but whipping up anti Scottish feeling amongst skilled and semi skilled manual workers in the marginal constituencies of England with a perception that the Scots are ripping the English off would play very well for them electorally. With only one MP from the whole of Scotland it’s a wonder that they put up candidates in the general election. So they have much to gain and little to loose from such a strategy. Already they are proposing an English Grand Committee with English votes for English laws, expect more concerted attacks on the Barnet Formula and more Kelvin McKenize style batterings on the alleged lazy fecklessness of the Scots from Tory outriders rather than party HQ.
Oppositions always have more time to concentrate on their organisation. The challenge for Labour is both to govern the country effectively but also to press ahead with developing the party and the rest of the movement so that we can embed a long lasting social democratic culture in the country as a whole. Not just a temporary political hegemony brought about by an electoral system that favours the largest party but a social hegemony that forces any future Conservative party to choose between being in government and accepting a social settlement instituted by Labour as they had to do in the fifties and their Thatcherite extremism of permanent opposition. If we manage that it will be Labour’s greatest triumph.