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British Perspectives 2015


Socialist Party documents

British Perspectives 2015


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Weak and unstable government

16. Whichever party has the most MPs after 7 May, it is likely to have real difficulties forming a stable government or even any government at all. It is not ruled out that they will have no choice but to call a new election within months or even weeks. This scenario was unfolding in Sweden, most 'stable' of countries. It has now been averted by - in effect - a kind of unofficial grand coalition - where the Social Democrats rule with the support from outside of the other major parties - aiming to isolate the far-right Sweden Democrats. This is a growing trend across Europe for the establishment parties to band together in grand coalitions as the only way that the capitalist class can find a stable government to act in its interests. In Britain, there has been no such government since the wartime coalition during the Second World War. The capitalist class would not lightly move in this direction, as it would discredit all the parties participating in the government in one fell swoop, leaving the capitalists without any 'second eleven' to implement its policies. A grand coalition in Britain would have the same effect on Labour as the current coalition government has had on the Liberal Democrats. There was an element of a 'grand coalition' in the Scottish 'No' campaign, with Labour fronting it as the Tories were too hated to do so. It has now been revealed that Brown and Cameron were even sending each other notes! The net result is the collapse of Labour in Scotland. A grand coalition would have the same effect on a much greater scale. It would make the trade unions' continued support for Labour untenable. A new workers' party would be firmly on the agenda, and could grow very rapidly. For this reason, it is unlikely that a grand coalition will be the outcome of the general election, although it is conceivable that the capitalist class will feel there is no choice, particularly against the background of a serious deepening of the world economic crisis. It is more likely, however, that this option will be posed at a later stage when the capitalist class feels there is no other way of protecting their system. There may, however, be a situation with similarities to Sweden, where a very weak minority government is propped up from outside for a period in order to delay holding another general election.

17. Whatever the character of the government it will not be a reliable tool through which the capitalist class will be able to govern. The Tory Party remains the favoured choice of the majority of the capitalists but it does not represent the collective views of the capitalist class in the way it did in the past. Its election claim to have halved the deficit has been met with incredulity even by normally loyal Tory publications like The Spectator, which has accused the Tories of telling "porkies". In order to try and cut across UKIP, the Tories are increasingly using English nationalist rhetoric about 'English votes for English matters' and have also hinted that they might move the referendum on Europe forward from 2017. Cameron has also refused to rule out a coalition with UKIP, mainly as a means to try and limit votes haemorrhaging to UKIP. While these measures may have a certain effect in the short term, Cameron will not be able to just 'put them back in the box' after the general election, which will only fuel UKIP and make it more difficult for a Tory-led government to act in the objective interests of British capitalism, particularly on Europe.

18. The majority of funding for the Tory party comes from the Square Mile, with hedge fund bosses donating 38 million to the Tories since 2001. Nonetheless, the Tory party also receives large donations from every section of the capitalist class; from industry, to construction, to mining. The Tories' spending on the general election is expected to be three times the size of Labour's, which has received far fewer donations from big business. Still, Labour's big business donations are not insignificant. In 2013 and the first half of 2014, Labour received over 1.3 million in donations from companies and a number of large donations from business people. These included 1.6 million from John Mills, the owner of JML household products, who dismissed Labour's plans to cap energy prices as 'just rhetoric'. Other major donors include property magnate David Garrard, whose 600,000 cheque was the biggest single donation made in the second quarter of 2014 to any party.

19. A section of the capitalist class is worried that the scale of the cuts and the growth of inequality will further depress demand and also lead to social unrest leading, in the future, to revolutionary upheavals which will threaten their system. This was reflected in the outrage expressed even by the normally loyal BBC to Osborne's Autumn Spending Review. The majority of the capitalist class at this stage, however, see the only way to restore their system to health being to drive the share taken by the working class back to the levels of the nineteenth century. They therefore support even the Tories insane spending plans, even while the more far-sighted of them seriously doubt the Tories' capacity to carry them out, given the mass opposition they will face. The Financial Times Survey on deficit reduction showed a big majority of capitalist economists believe that Osborne's plan for an extra "50 billion of spending cuts was not credible and not likely to be achieved".

20. The same survey showed a distinct lack of alarm about the prospect of a Labour government, which they felt would also "continue with deficit reduction more or less as planned". The right-wing press's hysteria against the prospect of a Miliband government is laughable, given the completely pro-capitalist character of Labour's programme. But the hullaballoo against Labour's supposedly 'red' policies is not about Labour, but the crisis-ridden character of 21st century capitalism and the capitalists' correct fear of mass working-class revolt. Nonetheless, the serious sections of the capitalist class understand that a Labour-led government would attempt to act in their interests. On the issue of Europe, the economists surveyed implicitly suggested that a Labour government would be more reliable, as the referendum on Europe, which the Tories are committed to, would lead to sharp falls in business confidence and investment. What the capitalist economists in the FT survey all feared most was what is currently most likely: a weak, unstable minority or coalition government.


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