Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party’

Ah. Brexit. The Tory Birthday present with a bomb inside that nobody wants to be left holding when the clock stops ticking. How did we ever get here?

 

Since Thatcher purged her ‘wet’ One Nation cabinet members and dropped her drawers for corporate lobbyists, there has been a growing fringe of hardcore Neoliberals in the Conservative party. Their ultimate goal is what they see is Thatcher’s dream: a state that is no more than custodians of the military and parts of the judiciary. Everything else not only owned and ran by private capital, but hardly regulated at all and paying peppercorn tax at a rate of something close to zero percent. Globalisation moved this dystopian fantasy into view, because it meant easy movement of capital and cheap labour. If they could only remove pesky, burdensome “red tape” like paying workers’ a legal minimum rate or having them work less than 12 hour days, the sun may yet rise on their utopia.

 

The two previous insurmountable barriers to this Randian wet dream were: parliamentary accountability, and the dreaded EU. With the gleeful assistance of Rupert Murdoch and his cronies, the first was mostly neutered with the creation of New Labour. Blair would keep the seat warm and not renovate the façade, so as soon as a financial crash came, the Tories could continue rabidly asset-stripping and moving towards their promised land. 2010 came, and the Neoliberals, who by now had significantly infected all three major political parties, attempted to seize the spoils of crisis. The never-less-than hysterical right-wing press managed to force David Cameron over the line in coalition with the relatively cowed Neoliberal Democrats. The narrative to justify the asset-stripping was as obvious as it was false: the crash was caused by too much public spending and not so much the bankers that supported and financially propped up the Tory party. And of course, this narrative was forced home day after day along with classic divide-and-rule bogeymen: chiefly the right’s old favourite scapegoats of the poor and foreigners. They compressed the complexities of an entire sovereign currency issuing nation’s budgeting into “living within our means”, as if the international markets may at any minute decide to call in our debts by seizing the entire island and repatriating British citizens to Calais.

 

Needless to say, Britons’ general apathy and/or lack of critical thinking capabilities meant that this worked like a charm. Perhaps the biggest success of the Tories’ seven years (so far) of enriching the elites and impoverishing most others was that they simultaneously oversaw the slowest recovery on record, while maintaining an impression of competence with most of the public, but also foisting blame for any adverse side-effects of their warped strategy on two targets: the last Labour administration, and the EU: the hardcore Neoliberals’ nemesis. This proved to be a very misguided strategy for David Cameron, a man so naturally smug with imagined superiority he practically glistened like a plump ham joint basted with privilege.

 

When 2015 rolled into view and things hadn’t demonstrably improved in the economy, Cameron called in master of ad hominem campaigning, Lynton Crosby, who successfully flung enough dung about a Labour-SNP coalition to squeak the shyster back into office, minus his coalition partners. This was actually bad news to Cameron, who had gambled that he would once more be in a coalition with the Lib Dems, absolving him of the obligation to hold the EU referendum. Cameron of course had previous for bombastic hubris, but kept on rolling the dice as he lost the house and car, by deciding Crosby’s tactics of campaigning would be well suited to the ‘remain’ campaign. ‘Project Fear’ generally involved patronising any waverers to death; evoking black rain, locusts and the earth being drowned in a tide of molten metal, rather than attempting to succinctly explain the positive aspects of being within the European Union. It didn’t help that another prominent feature of the now failed campaign was George Osborne’s delirious cocaine smirk.

 

Disaster was predictable: the ‘Leave’ campaign simply used Conservative tactics against them: form a fallacious narrative of blame against a large entity, easy to sloganise on memes and news bulletins and repeat the demonstrable lies endlessly with greater vigour. They had the added benefit of appearing to be the underdog fighting the Establishment (despite having many of the more extreme and unpleasant members of the Establishment in their camp). The result was a new triumph for the kind of aggressive demagoguery that Donald Trump would later utilise in an even more debased strategy of trash-talking anyone who disagreed as if he was a worried boxer at an endless weigh-in, and implying any contradictory evidence to his agenda was filtered through a lens of opposition and couldn’t be trusted (ironically calling out the very real elite bias in the mainstream media, but twisting it to suit his own purpose with a deftness that belies his generally astounding lack of tact or intellect).

 

Cameron of course scuttled away at the first sign of hard work as his historic election victory was immediately forgotten and his name forever associated with the most stupendous act of economic suicide this nation has ever inflicted on itself. We had a few weeks in which we genuinely had to imagine our next leader would be a clown, a goblin or a batty old reactionary. It’s hard to remember just how much of a collective sigh the nation emitted when we discovered it was only to be the failed Home Secretary; a minister with worrying authoritarian instincts who repeatedly failed her own immigration targets, made up stories and bought anti-immigrant vans to whip up her nationalist wing, and seemingly had an obsession with ignoring judicial oversight. Her nickname of ‘submarine’ to indicate she tended to duck under the surface when things got tough, was not analysed in the press at the time.

 

Leaving out the failed press hatchet jobs on Jeremy Corbyn being exposed to the full in the snap election, just what the hell are the government doing right now? We’re a year down the line from Article 50 and still we’re going round the mulberry bush with the “best deal for the country” nonsense. May can’t support or endorse any position without outraging one section of her MPs, and the wider picture is that the Neoliberal hardcore earlier referred to earlier, comprising of people like John Redwood, Iain Duncan-Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg, see their one glorious opportunity for extricating the UK from any remaining handbrake to their low-tax, low-regulation, rentier’s paradise, and they’re not going to let the opportunity slip. They’d rather take down their own PM (and, potentially, party) than compromise now. If it all goes wrong, they’ll use the press to foist the blame onto Hammond, May and the ‘treacherous remoaners’ no doubt. And, if their dearest wish comes to pass, amid the economic ruin, disgraced minister Liam Fox will be desperately offering up every UK public asset to American venture capitalist parasites. This will be ‘disaster capitalism”s finest hour, if the Brexiteers just play it right. That’s what’s it stake with this fiasco. Be warned, whichever way you voted. The worst will not be the wreckage, but the looters which follow.

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These current times seem very reminiscent of the dying days of the Major administration. Remember when they were under fire from all sections of the media, even print, couldn’t get any Tory legislation passed, and people were just itching to boot them out of office for a fresh start? Now we regularly see sacrificial ministers wheeled out to be plucked like quivering chickens by the usually gentle and convivial Andrew Marr; answering questions in the irritatingly evasive manner of a suspect waiting for their lawyer to arrive. Mistress Mayhem AKA The Maybot ™ AKA The Feeding Seal has discovered that, much to her chagrin, the left were right all along: that her honeymoon period was almost entirely superficial, down to a combination of soft interviewing, the lauding of her by the press and their relentless hatchet jobs and character assassinations on her opposite number.

 

The inescapable problem for the Tories is that they have boxed themselves in with their narrow ideological obsessions. When the global financial crash struck in 2008, Gordon Brown was at the helm, and by 2010, following his clandestine insult of a voter being inadvertently broadcast, it should have been a cakewalk for the Tories, and they almost even blew that. As it was, the coalition with the LibDems should have suited David Cameron down to the ground. He could play to his natural liberal instincts and put into place his own vision for the country, which may have been closer to a LibDem vision than a Thatcherite Tory one.

 

Unfortunately for him, his party had been packed with raving neoliberals since Thatcher’s day, itching for further privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts for big business. ‘One Nation’ patrician conservatism was outdated; an anachronism. This may not have been too much of an issue if Cameron was smart, dedicated and strong, but he proved to be none of those things as he gave the Chancellor’s job to his old Bullingdon chum George Osborne, rather than the eminently better-qualified LibDem Vince Cable. Suddenly, we went from “coalition in service of the country in its hour of need” to “coalition in service of forwarding the interests of Tory party hard ideologues and big donors”.

 

Osborne was a proper neoliberal in the strictest sense: socially and economically. He idolised Thatcher, and embodied the worst Tory instincts that come with mindless privilege and a cocaine addiction. As far as he was concerned, he could ‘learn’ the chancellorship ‘on the job’, and soon treated cutting expenditure as some kind of game of Monopoly. Some Tories have been accused of reducing the state’s role to ‘custodian of the military’ and using war simply as a colonial tool. Osborne took a similarly reckless myopic approach to the treasury, seemingly taking gleeful abandon in slashing benefits to non-Tory voters, and privatising everything he could lay his hands on, even bragging of it as an end in itself. He clearly understood ‘disaster capitalism’, and the opportunities it presents for furthering nefarious ideological agendas which would otherwise prove publically unpalatable. As long as he kept blowing the ‘deficit’ trumpet, the Emperor’s clothes could remain just about visible to the oblivious masses.

 

When Cameron quietly dropped his ‘Big Society’ idea, most came to the reductive conclusion that Cameron was simply an empty vessel: an acceptable housewife-friendly face to front the completion of the UK’s asset stripping by the Tory neoliberals; a leader whose background in PR would stand him in good stead for bullshitting his way through the myriad social and economic issues Osborne’s demented slashing and burning would wreak.

 

Now though, finally, the tide seems to be turning. Whether the reality of Brexit fallout has been grasped, or people have just seen through the contradictory rhetoric of “all in it together”, the Tories have lost their majority, despite again being investigated of cheating on election expenditure, and having huge swathes of the mainstream media dancing to their tune.

 

Separating Theresa May’s abysmal campaign from the effectiveness of the party in general, an obviously oversimplified hypothesis of their failings would be that they do not know how not to do what they’ve done since Thatcher’s day, despite society and events moving on immeasurably. When Thatcher was handing every public asset to the private sector, it was new. You could disagree with it, but you couldn’t prove categorically that it would fail. Memories of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ sustained Thatcher’s crushing of trade unions and selling off of state monopolies: the context has changed in these last 40 years. Neoliberalism is a discredited economic ideology and a busted flush: 2008 was its natural death.

 

But rather than be flexible, the Tory ideologues have only one thought process: more privatisation and deregulation. Only, there is hardly anything left to sell, and it is now hugely unpopular with the general public. Their ‘zombie neoliberalism’ is fooling no one. People can see the connection between the Grenfell Tower disaster and the wider narrative where people are only valued for their economic power and big business literally gets away with murder in pursuit of profit.

 

They no longer have an aura of competence, or a plausible narrative for their plundering of state assets. How can they say more cuts are necessary when they’ve had 7 years to deal with the deficit and failed miserably? Who will be inspired to welcome more misery and cutbacks when they’ve seen no positive results from the 7 years they’ve already endured? Did they really think nobody would notice the stealth abolition of the NHS?

 

The Conservatives have managed to alienate and piss off most of the public sector, including the people we tend to value the most: doctors, police and firefighters, while propagating a culture of racism, class discord and anti-intellectualism. And the only plan they have to satiate these people is to tell them to suck it up because Brexit is the only thing that matters in the world, but they can’t tell us anything about what its aftermath will look like.

 

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun: record numbers still voted for the worst manifesto I have ever known from a major party, and a leader who is seemingly terrified of people unless they’re subservient acolytes. But a leopard can’t change its spots. Either the Tories start ripping off more Labour policies, or they will continue claiming the state can’t do anything positive other than bending over for big business. I cannot see either inspiring again, particularly when it becomes clear that Brexit was a huge mistake. A purge of the neoliberals may take a decade, but surely it is the only cure for this death spiral for the party that seemed unassailable just a fortnight ago.

I’d like to take issue with something I’ve seen repeated quite often in the media in recent days: revisionism amongst Tory supporters or MPs. It goes like this; they’ll talk of the unnecessary election called hubristically by May that has almost inevitably backfired and left Brexit negotiations in doubt at a critical time for the UK.

 

Now as much as I have no respect for May or her actions, there wasn’t a Tory in the country who wasn’t like a nodding dog at the announcement that there would be a snap election “in the national interest”. They gleefully parroted the line that opposition parties were talking of hindering the Brexit process so it was entirely appropriate to spend £130 million on a General Election, despite an actual law forbidding it for another 3 years.

 

Of course this was, like Cameron’s coup de grace with the Brexit referendum, entirely self-serving for May and the Conservative party. Learning precisely nothing from Cameron’s idiotic assertion that nothing bad could possibly come from gambling the whole nation’s economic future on a single roll of the dice, she not only repeated that feat, but also used the exact same tactics in reducing a series of complex arguments to binary choices and simple-minded slogans and bullshit smearmongering – “Project Fear” all over again.

 

But let’s not pretend this is all about the arrogance and delusion of one woman: the whole party was behind this. They’d seen the polls and could not resist the temptation, but this wasn’t just about getting a comfortable majority, or even humiliating their opposition party; this was about snuffing out the only credible threat to the ‘Neoliberal consensus’ for the last 30 years. If they crushed Corbyn, who was actually proposing rolling back corporate dominance and raising taxes on the very richest, their core purpose would not be challenged again, even from an opposition party.

 

Their eyes lit up and they greedily made the grab so thoughtlessly, they hadn’t even considered that they might have to actually make a credible manifesto and have some kind of debates over issues other than fucking Brexit. They looked at the hysterical press slurs at Corbyn, they heard the Labour MPs flouncing out of the Commons and giving up getting re-elected, and made a calculated gamble that for 7 weeks they could make up any old shit for a manifesto, while treating their own voters like mugs, and the rest of us as imbeciles who might get excited and inspired by a cold and unapproachable woman ignoring our questions and crow-barring the same two catchphrases in to every conference, as if she had made bets for a university drinking game.

 

May has now proved herself to be not only a “bloody difficult woman”, but a “stupendously hubristic woman” who learnt nothing from her predecessor’s fall from grace, but instead allowed the press’ preferential treatment of her and lauding of her Brexit intransigence delude her into thinking she was some kind of  a queen; impatient for her glorious coronation.

 

I have to admit I am slightly baffled by her haste in hustling for the DUP to prop her up. Surely she realises that the persistent connection of Corbyn to Irish terrorists will now be even more laughable as an attack method; not to mention the insane risk to the Northern Irish power-sharing agreement by having one side prop up the supposed mediator for the Assembly agreement. The fact she has already described the DUP (despite their clear connection to loyalist paramilitaries) as ‘friends’ is incredible, considering she wouldn’t stop making reference to the fact that Corbyn specifically referred to Hamas as ‘friends’ when seeking negotiations for peace with them.

 

Which makes me wonder: what’s she actually playing at? She must surely know when politically engaged moderate Tory voters begin to research the DUP’s views on homosexuality, climate change and creationism (amongst others), they will be revolted, and turned off the Conservatives. Associations will be permanently made between the parties, which generally damages the party ‘brand’ for more than one election cycle.

 

So does the conspiracy theory contain perhaps a kernel of truth? Did May call the election as an all-or-nothing shot, where she would either get Erdogan-style dictator status in her own little one-party state, or be relieved of the inevitable disasterpiece of Brexit? I’m coming round to this theory more with every development, even if I’m not entirely convinced yet.

 

Whatever happens, we now have a genuine alternative narrative to dismantle the failed neoliberal system in the mainstream, and Corbyn will only grow in stature as this atrocious and offensive coalition of chaos staggers on, in the death throes of their destructive ideology we may finally be able to lay to rest for good. So, young people, you were neglected, ignored and patronised, but now you’ve rescued us, the people who most believed in you. We have all been vindicated. iVive la revolucion!

 

So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.

 

Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.

 

Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.

 

Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.

 

Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.

 

“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

Sometimes I do wonder whether I’m in some kind of paranoid coma fantasy that I can’t wake up from.

 

If you’d have explained that a party that had been in power for seven years as the majority in parliament had overseen anaemic growth across the economy and a ballooning national debt, and their message was essentially: “Blame everyone else, we’re the only option. We haven’t fixed it yet, but give us another term and we’ll try to fix it by then”; then explained that they were on course for a landslide General Election victory on the back of insulting and antagonising officials of an organisation we are about to leave and desperately need a good deal out of, I’d have scoffed.

 

Even with our appalling anti-intellectual media, surely our population could not be cheerleading the biggest act of economic suicide in a generation, and getting excited at the prospect of the organisation we need a good deal from telling us to fuck off, because we don’t really need those bloody foreigners telling us what to do and we’re going to resurrect the Empire, only with less bloodshed and slavery. The famed magical money tree of the Commonwealth only needs its ripe fruits plucked by the mighty hands of Blighty, and there will be peace and prosperity for all. No more immigration; and shiny unicorns for all in this Brave New Britannia. Nothing can go wrong as long as we TRUST THERESA MAY; the tabloid loudhalers screech at us.

 

Theresa May, who has done a remarkable volte-face from “Brexit isn’t a good idea” to “Brexit is the only idea to make Britain great again”, also has a husband who seems to have done remarkably well financially out of her Brexit decisions thus far, and has misled parliament on the misfire of our nuclear defence system, but our eager media is far too busy splashing headline over headline on whether Corbyn would ever find a reason to (get America’s permission to) use said anachronism. It’s got to the point where it sounds like when you were at school and used to wind each other up with hypothetical scenarios. “What if a dragon was at Buckingham Palace and about to eat the Queen; would you use Trident then?”; “What if Putin annexed Surrey and drew a hammer and sickle on the Union Jack at Westminster? Then surely you’d use Trident, right?”

 

I had to pinch myself when I heard the Prime Minister talking about launching a FIRST STRIKE nuclear attack as if it was some kind of computer game. On what planet is a nation’s leader boasting of unleashing an unprovoked holocaust across the world a positive thing that we should nod to and respect? This is brinkmanship for the braindead. Listen to what she’s saying, it’s Kim Jong-Un-esque. She would wipe out millions of civilians and poison the earth for generations, and presumably the target nation would also be nuclear-armed (Russia is normally the go-to bogeyman), so she is basically telling us all that she would happily sign all of our death warrants on a whim. HOORAY! ALL HAIL OUR GLORIOUS LEADER WHO WILL BLESS AND KEEP US FOR EVERMORE.

 

We mock America for Trump, but we are well down the road to our own Trump. Right now it is an inevitability. Trump became possible because American partisan politics became more and more debased and devoid of intellectual rigour that the dumbasses became orators. Suddenly, battles for policies and visions became battle to defame and whip up hysteria. A baseless and racist slur became an actual mainstream campaign to call into question Barack Obama’s citizenship credentials. Evangelicals would throw God into everything: all emotion and no logic. The ‘Tea Party’ movement formed from a bunch of slow-witted malcontents to an actual influential pressure group with arms in government.

 

How does this reflect the UK’s situation? It’s the ad-hominem trash talking and the general infantilisation of political discourse. We don’t hear reasoned critiques of policies any more: it’s just character smears, implied negative associations, false narratives and ‘Back to the 1970s’ tropes. The fact that Corbyn’s proposed manifesto is hugely popular, but many people won’t consider voting for him, based on the media onslaught and constantly repeated narrative of ‘weak leadership’ and erroneous ‘hard-left’ labels thrown around like particularly sticky mud.

 

How gullible are we to vote back in a party whose leader doesn’t respect her ‘people’ enough to actually meet and talk to them? Who refuses to debate with Corbyn unless it’s in a sanitised House of Commons where the toffs bray along to her rubbish and scripted jibes are practically auto-cued for her. Who repeats two phrases endlessly like a malfunctioning child’s toy? Where is the vision? Where are the ideas? If we fall for this shit and return the Tories to office, we will have our own Trump eventually, because the population are responding to demagoguery with relish. If Farage joined the Tories and became leader, he would be PM at the first time of asking, I have no doubt.

 

I’m not sure how we go about resetting this ignorance of expert opinion, academic backing or actual policy justifications when all the money (and the voting system) is on the side of those who will hold practically untrammelled power for the foreseeable future. When we get our British Trump, will any right-leaning voters realise things have gone too far? Probably not, as no parallels in history are ever reviewed. We are Great Britain, free to make our own mess way in the world again, and you’d better not provoke us, because we have strong and stable fingers on the holocaust button whenever Dacre gives the word.

It’s important to give a few days between a horrible event occurring and commenting on it. When the referendum result came through, I found myself lashing out at various people I had no business attacking, and promptly banned myself from social media for the weekend, which kind of worked.

So now the dust is settling on the stupidest decision the British public has probably ever made, and there is a complete absence of any political leadership, just when it is surely needed most.

David Cameron, the privileged PR guy who once said he should be PM because he’d “be good at it”, has proven that assertion absolutely false, by calling a referendum simply to iron out internal party issues and allow him to squeak an election win against the odds. Now his arrogance and immaturity has cost him everything. No longer allowed to sail into the sunset with a positive political legacy, he has been forced to resign in disgrace, having lost any credibility by calling the needless referendum, and then losing it. The fact he has vowed to continue until October, despite refusing to deal with Brexit negotiations, is a mark of the hubris and petulance of the man. He will go down as the Prime Minister who lost the ‘Unionist’ from the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’; as once Article 50 is triggered, Scotland will surely call a second referendum, where they will vote for independence to stay in the EU, while the rest of the Tory Britain will finally finish Thatcher’s dream of killing off any and all things with ‘Union’ in their description.

Plenty of turkeys seemingly voted for Christmas, as parts of Wales and Cornwall, big recipients of EU funds, voted out. Better the devil you know, or, to put it another way, better to be fisted by Westminster than patronisingly patted on the back by Europe.

Other than the obvious lies about NHS funding and immigration reductions gobbed out of loudhalers by the lead Brexiteers, other things irked me about this result: the complete lack of exit strategy, proving more evident by the day; the fact that a number of people I spoke to who voted leave tended to preface it with ‘I don’t really get into politics’; the gloaty sneering about the result as if it was a rugby match, rather than something which would negatively affect generations to come. I’d be a complete berk to suggest everyone who voted Leave was a xenophobe or racist, but it is indisputable that the Leave campaign would not have won without the racist vote.

As I watched the tediously long-winded campaign unwind, I knew one thing for certain: the ‘Leave’ team could not win without pandering to fears about immigration. You never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator, as the saying goes. Fears about mass immigration are not fabricated or undue, but, as many like me tried to argue, leaving the EU would not reduce immigration in any circumstance. Were we to leave the EU, our economy could not afford to leave the European Economic Area, therefore, like other non-EU members trading in the EEA like Norway and Switzerland, we would have to accept the freedom of movement principle.

If, somehow, we decided to shoot ourselves in both feet and cut our noses off by leaving the EEA, big business would simply import far more non-EU nationals than EU nationals, and lobby for regulations to be relaxed to ‘save the economy’ (and their profit margins). These are the fundamental tenets of the church of Neoliberalism: Capital is God, and must be fluid. Capital potential can be reduced if worker supply is reduced, or, Heaven forbid, big business has to pay to train British natives. Therefore, the lobbyists call the shots. If the Brexiteers don’t like this, join the rest of us who actually get off our arses and try to change it, rather than constantly posting anti-immigrant rhetoric and falling for divide-and-rule every time.

Joining Cameron in the cowardice sweepstakes was Boris Johnson, who shocked everyone by pulling out of the Tory leadership race at the last minute. So two men who manoeuvred specifically to stay PM, and become PM, had both failed miserably, and gutlessly ran away, leaving others to clean up their considerable mess.

Meanwhile, the opposition have decided to react to this vacuum of leadership with the most embarrassing coup attempt since, well, Boris Johnson’s! But that’s a discussion for another time.

“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital” Noam Chomsky.

We are living in pretty desperate times. More and more people thankfully seem to be awakening to the fact that this Conservative Party of Neoliberal asset-strippers is as bad as most of us had warned.

When the Conservatives forced through the Health and Social Care Bill in 2012 (two years after initially presenting it), and then legally blocked the potentially explosive risk register from being made public, the writing was on the wall for anyone even moderately politically aware. The further disclosure of Andrew Lansley’s financial backing from a private healthcare giant just lit a neon sign around their obvious long-term agenda.

I’ve seen people roll out counter-arguments along the lines of:

1. “The Labour Party have claimed every election since 1950 that a Tory government would end the NHS and yet it’s still here. It’s just scaremongering.”
2. “Any party that privatises the NHS would never see government again.”
3. “If they tried it, they’d be voted out at the first opportunity and the NHS would be reinstated.”
4. “ What’s wrong with a mixed public-private model? Works well in most of Europe.”
5. “It’s getting too expensive now we’re all living longer, we need to look at new ways of funding it.”
6. “The country’s got no money. The government’s doing the best it can under the circumstances.”

So, to tackle them in turn:

1. Of course, opposition parties, particularly when they have introduced something universally popular and successful, will electioneer. But it is ridiculous to claim today’s Conservatives are even remotely similar to the ‘One Nation’ types that ruled in the 50s and 60s under a mixed economy social democracy. Today’s Tories are simply economic extremist Neoliberals. Much like America, UK political parties, rather than engines of change, have simply become enablers for the corporate elites (witness the relentless character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn to understand how defensive they become at any challenge to their corporate agenda). David Cameron is not a man of principle; he is a P.R. face for the corporate takeover. In everything the current government do, from forcing illegal debt onto former students by privatising the old student loan book, to making the taxpayer subsidise fossil fuel giants and underwriting mortgages people can’t actually afford, there is a singular agenda: everything must be sold to private enterprise, deregulated and made as irreversible as possible should any opposition party actually grow a backbone and try to reset some sense of democracy.
2. This is why Thatcher never dared to simply sell off the NHS like she did with British Gas, British Telecom and so many other British industries. Instead, she played the long game; introducing “internal markets” into the NHS to begin to alter the management focus from medicine to money. Privatising cleaning and other ancillary functions began the fragmentation of the service, ensuring “cooperation” became a dirty word, replaced by “competition”. John Major’s government took this a stage further by introducing the disastrous PFI schemes: building hospitals with expensive private loans rather than public borrowing. New Labour continued and expanded this treachery gleefully. With the Health and Social Care Act in force, private vultures have been hovering up lucrative ‘contracts’ within the service, sometimes dropping them when they decide they’re not making enough lucre: http://www.gponline.com/practice-dropped-nhs-trust-500000-losses-re-procured/article/1308060 Of course, the ultimate aim is to then reduce funding to the point of collapse, until the media stories convince the majority that “something needs to be done”. The junior doctors’ contracts and ending nurses’ bursary schemes is another step in making the service more ‘affordable’ for any private companies post-NHS, though of course the convenient cover-story is about “making a 7-day NHS”.
3. Hence why the current incumbents seem hell-bent on reducing constituency numbers, reducing Union income for the opposition, taking voters off the electoral roll, gagging opposition, criminalising protest and forcing 5 year fixed terms. If they can make it through the next election with the NHS in ruins, they will have slain the Neoliberal project’s biggest, and previously impervious foe. If they can’t, the damage will be immense, with debts, less nurses, less doctors and unsafe hospitals to turn around, with corporate vultures all still demanding their slice. If the intolerable trade deal TTIP is ratified, we can forget about the privatisation being able to be reversed anyway.
4. Well, the NHS is pretty consistently rated top of Western healthcare systems, particularly cost-efficiency: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/17/nhs-health, so one might ask why a change is even required, particularly as it wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto in 2010. If a change is required, then the swarm of US healthcare providers bidding for contracts and donating to the Conservatives seems to point to a different agenda: the American private insurance model. http://www.nhsforsale.info/database/impact-database/conflict-of-interest/GOVERNMENT-POLITICIANS.html
5. Well we’re certainly getting older, but I don’t see how exchanging a hugely cost-effective service for a demonstrably more expensive model would alleviate this, particularly as government can source everything more cheaply, by virtue of its ‘monopsony’ status, and of course, we issue our own currency. There is always, God forbid, the option of increasing National Insurance contributions a little for everyone, or the dreaded taxing of the super-rich. Of course, the super-rich are exactly the kind of people who are both donors to the Conservatives, and biggest potential beneficiaries of a private health market, so that won’t happen.
6. You’ve fallen for the bullshit. Sovereign currency issuers can never ‘run out’ of money, and hyper-inflation is a very remote threat (or, in the Neoliberals’ own terms: “scaremongering”). There is plenty of money, there is just no desire among the elite for any kind of redistribution (for pretty obvious reasons).

I am genuinely terrified of what comes after this Junior Doctor strike. If Jeremy Hunt wins, then we will all lose in the long run. The NHS is irreplaceable, but is currently being fattened up for slaughter. Without hyperbolising, our children are at risk. Can you afford a grand a month on top of bills for private insurance? We have become a nation built almost entirely on rentierism and usury. We’re already being figuratively bled dry. Now the Establishment want to do it literally.

I don’t want to return to a time when the working classes could not afford to be sick. We all need to realise the clear and present danger and fight it, before the worst case scenario becomes a dystopian reality, as we hear our friends and family justify it through specious newspaper narratives.