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British Perspectives 2018
British Perspectives 2018
22) Not only Labour but also the Tory Party has an element of two parties in one, with the different wings completely hostile to the other.
Whereas the Labour Party contains a clearly pro-capitalist wing and a potential anti-capitalist wing, both wings of the Tory Party have the same fundamental class interests.
Nonetheless they have sharp tactical disagreements. The very seriousness of both civil wars, however, drives the urge to try and paper over them, realising that open conflict will be likely to lead to an unstoppable slide towards a split.
This is the only reason that Theresa May remains prime minister. Both sides of the Tories realise that a leadership contest will lay bare the divisions within the party.
Neither have they any hope of finding a candidate more able to win popular support than May. As pro-EU Tory grandee Michael Heseltine put it, May had to stay in place as the party has 'no new singer and no new song' desperate as he is for both.
The depth of divisions in the Tory Party is shown by Heseltine even declaring that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would be less detrimental to the country than Brexit, because the 'damage' a Labour government would do 'could be reversed'.
23) This is not the attitude of the majority of the capitalist class to Corbyn, at least at the moment.
They hope he is more malleable to their interests on Brexit than the Tory Party, but they fear the massive radicalisation his election could trigger, and that he could move dramatically to the left under pressure from below, particularly in the face of a new economic crisis.
This is what The Economist meant when it feared that Corbyn could see a new financial crisis as 'Act One in the collapse of capitalism'.
The Financial Times feature on 'how to hedge your finances against a future Corbyn government', quoted two well known City fund managers arguing that it is "fear of a Labour government, rather than fear of Brexit, which is depressing the valuations of domestically focused UK companies." In reality, it is both.
The capitalist class are stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable to see a way forward. On balance, however, they would much prefer to keep the Tories, led by May, in power for as long as it is viable.
Therefore, while the government could collapse at any point, felled by any number of possible Brexit rows or even by further sexual harassment or other scandals, or by a social explosion, it is also possible that they will succeed in clinging to power for a period.
24) The capitalist class in Britain is suffering a gigantic crisis of political representation resulting in a mood of profound pessimism.
The Tory Party is an extremely unreliable representative of their interests. How did it happen that the Conservative Party, once the most successful capitalist party in Europe, become the hollow shell it is today? The Tories refuse to release their membership figure but it is estimated to be 100,000 or even less.
More than half are over 60, one estimate put the average at 71. Seven out of ten are men and three quarters are middle or 'upper' class.
Ultimately, the hollowing out of the Tory Party - reduced to a small and shrinking band - is a reflection of the unpopularity of the capitalist system in whose interests they act.
The rump that remains is dominated by a nationalist section of the upper middle class who feel sharply how they have been pushed down by the forces of global capitalism, and yearn for an earlier, easier age.
25) Their dreams are utterly utopian. The 'hard' Brexit desired by this dominant wing of the Tory Party rank-and-file is not in the interests of any major section of British capitalism.
On the contrary, if it took place it would be a factor in British capitalism's continued slide down the league table of economic powers.
So, however, would remaining in the EU! Nonetheless, there is no version of capitalist Brexit which would strengthen British capitalism.
The socialist and internationalist Brexit which we campaign for, by contrast, would be a step towards transforming workers' lives in Britain and reaching out to the working class across Europe to take the same path.
Moreover, there is a whole number of political and economic issues arising from Brexit to which there is no good solution on the basis of capitalism: including the problems of increased tariffs and border checks and of the Irish border.
The only way forward the government can find is to kick the can down the road, and, Mr Micawber style, hope that something turns up.
This was the basis on which the first stage 'deal' was cobbled together before Christmas. It was a complete fudge, with both sides interpreting it to have been a step in their direction.
26) The majority of the capitalist class would like to reverse Brexit. However, they are nervous of an attempt to reverse the referendum decision leading to a serious undermining of the democratic legitimacy of the institutions of capitalism.
While an attempt to do so cannot be excluded if the polls shift more dramatically it is therefore not the most likely scenario.
Instead they aim to get as near as they can to this outcome by remaining in the single market and customs union permanently or, failing that, for a prolonged transition period.
Their hopes were raised by the 'stage one' deal that something along these lines might be achievable.
This remains a possible, even a probable, outcome as the Tory Brexiteers are forced to bang their heads against reality.
However, given the capitalist class's lack of reliable political representatives, and the possibility of any of number of political conflicts spiralling out of control, it is not guaranteed.
Any attempt to push through such a deal could be the trigger for a formal split in the Tory Party. A 'no deal' Brexit therefore cannot be excluded, and would undoubtedly be extremely disruptive for the EU, and particularly for British capitalism.
Such a scenario would almost certainly lead to the collapse of the government. The prospect would then be raised of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government coming to power against the background of an extremely chaotic economic and political situation for British capitalism.