A pitched battle between two privileged minorities is in danger of destroying British democracy.
Following the Slog’s piece about Cameron being in danger of doing a Heath, events have solidified – and the general line being taken by the UK’s more right-wing media is that the time for some rabid Union-bashing has arrived.
They’re right to an extent: the sanctimonious hypocrisy of these folks beggars belief at times, and is surpassed only by the gullibility of those often quite reasonable people who fall for it.
But there is a wider issue here: and as I hinted in that last piece, it is to do with privilege further up the socio-economic scale.
After 1977, what had been the Uni-radical burgeoning young middle class shifted their ground – at first to the SDP, then Majorite Tory – and finally,’New’ Labour. Their experience at every stage of this migration has been disappointment.
But there is a simple truism, and we must be reminded of it: New Labour still had an Old Labour Chancellor, a hardline feminist Deputy, and the money of Trade Union knuckle-draggers. There is absolutely no substantive difference between what Healey did in the Seventies, and Brown did in the Naughties: viz, apply bad science, waste, and jobs-for-the-boys to a country undergoing structural change.
But the Left appears to have a point because of the quite disgraceful behaviour of bankers both before, during, and after Crash 1. It was Peregrine Worsthorne who first (in early 2008) fingered the bankers as ‘every bit as much of an anti-social group as the Unions were in the 1970s’. Now it seems they have handed those not-quite-dead Unions a lifeline.
The only thing saving Labour and the TUC from utter electoral and influential disaster is the reality of the truly momentous greed and stupidity of the banking sector. One again,we have the bankers to thank for something undesirable: a degree of credibility for the Left’s continuing need to present absolute necessity as class victimisation.
I find this a fascinating and unique situation, in that it’s almost as if we’re about to have showdown between two social forces who are both dangerously privileged minorities. The great majority of the British, I suspect, would like the two groups to simply kill each other and go away. But that is definitely not going to happen.
Labour will never reform the Trade Union movement, nor the Tories the banking sector. For this reason alone, Britain desperately needs a new democratic Party committed to justice and radicalism. The Libdems are merely Labour Lite, and UKIP a popular Party desperately in need of serious leadership and broad credibility. Our political structures, capitalist financing and fiscal systems are breaking down – and the horror of the situation is more than doubled by the fact that two warring and illiberal factions are getting in the way of fixing it…by using their political wings – the Labour and Coalition groupings.
As The Slog has argued from the outset, privilege remains the main obstacle in the way of Britain’s short-term recovery, and longer-term adaptation to the new world after Crash 2. I now think that membership of the EU runs this a close second. And here too, neither major Party has this problem in mind to any real extent.
Left and right is dead: it’s time for Small v Big to take a different approach. If we don’t, the two vicious elites in Britain will be replaced by yet another Third Way: the one that Hitler called National Socialism.