By Penny Cole
Boris Johnson’s victory is like a death rattle of the old regime, despite appearances to the contrary.
The ruling class must disguise the reality that the economic situation requires a fundamental transformation, behind something that claims to be a return to the good old days.
Johnson feels the necessity to claim to those who have “lent” him their votes that he is a “one nation Tory” and “taking back control”, whereas in fact he has thrown all the one-nation Tories out of the party and represents a very different social layer.
These are Conservatives of a new type. They are the British format for right-wing populism. It has often been said that a fascist party can’t take hold in Britain because we have the Tory Party, which is capable of extreme right-wing authoritarianism when required.
This new type of Tory comes out of four decades of globalisation, the growing power of finance and banking in UK economy, which is the beating heart of the debt crisis. Fear of the next and imminent financial crisis is driving them to try to remake the state even more fully, to meet the changing interests of capitalism in crisis.
Ideologically speaking, they recognise that something has to give. Even the modest elements of the welfare state and NHS that remain must be sold off. There will be more cuts – people with learning disabilities are next on the list of victims of cruelty. Promises to change social care provision equal a promise to make people pay for it.
Why does this section of the ruling class want to leave the EU? Is it as some on the left claim, that they want their mates to be able to avoid EU rules on tax evasion? This is a trivial kind of explanation.
It is rather that they see that things cannot go on in the same way, but there is a randomness and recklessness about the changes they grasp at – a kind of lashing out by all the classes that make up society.
Millions of people voted for Brexit to be implemented. The swing from Labour to Tory was biggest in the Leave voting areas. The left and right remainers can’t bear that reality. In the end, it was John McDonnell’s attempt to find a non-existent middle ground that failed at the polls. The stats are pretty clear.
Clearly, to continue to claim the right to rule, the ruling political party has to implement the “will of the people” as expressed in the referendum.
This is a deep contradiction that must work itself out and our responsibility is to ensure that the actual essential moving parts are our focus.
An empirical review would include the history of the Labour Party and trade unions, their inability since the crash to offer an alternative, the correct scepticism on the part of the older working class that a Keynesian policy can be implemented in today’s world, the view across classes that constitutional change is crucial (taking form of the vote to leave the EU and in Scotland votes for the nationalist party).
We have to examine the growing global slowdown and coming debt explosion, expanding right-wing populism, low wages and despair at actions of a ruthless state, how that interacts with British history including empire, a bankrupt mouldering constitutional structure and outmoded state structures
The role of propaganda, transformations of the world of work particularly for the younger generations, and the social being of the classes and generations overall, in particular the young and their concern over the climate crisis, has to figure in our review.
The essential whole, of which all these other areas are moving parts, are the global economic crisis of capitalism – of which the climate crisis is an increasingly determining part – and the mouldering capitalist state/constitution.
Whatever practical notion we develop must be driven by the need to address these fundamentals.
The only way to resist the Johnson regime is to put together a proposition that overcomes all the weaknesses of the Labour manifesto. It proposed to manage capitalism better, with a Keynesian dream which people found attractive but they did not say how it would be implemented.
They did not state that they would mobilise people in their communities to defend this economic policy. It was as top down as Johnson’s proposition. Johnson says, just go home now, forget politics and enjoy your Christmas – we’re going to sort everything for you.
But the Labour Party too had this kind of position – vote for us and we will do good things. They did not follow up on their original proposition to mobilise citizens in assemblies to defend themselves and defend a Labour government.
There is going to be a new constitution when we leave the EU and it is crucial that the people intervene to shape it in their interests – not leave it to Johnson whose proposition is to remove constitutional powers from Parliament and the courts, and put it into the hands of the executive. His government will be a clique of extreme right-wingers in service of the global oligarchs.
Those who supported Corbyn’s manifesto, which with all its weaknesses was at least a break from neoliberalism, need to come together to build citizens’ assemblies in communities to fight for real democracy and a people’s constitution to resist the transfer of all power from the EU to the Johnson government.
We also need to show solidarity, unite with the most vulnerable, resist all racist laws and fight for our rights as workers, and for the environment.