The Tory Party is descending into an anarchy of plots. But a Labour victory in 2015 would be a disaster.
Although this opener may not seem relevant to the title, bear with me: all will become clear.
Several eminent microbiologists and antibiotic agencies in the West are becoming increasingly blunt about the threat to public health represented by bacteria’s growing resistance to antibiotics. I posted a while back opining that, if in the past we had focused more on scrupulous cleanliness in hospitals – and less on dishing out antibiotics as if they were sweeties – we wouldn’t be in this mess. But we are, and so the situation needs to be faced.
Now Jeremy Hunt, as the Health Secretary, is charged with reducing and preferably removing threats to public health. But Jeremy is a cute little bunny who spends most of his time knocking the public health service from behind an increasingly diaphanous veil of wanting to improve standards. I’m here to tell Jeremy that he won’t improve standards by starving hospitals of money. Nor do you do it by moaning on Twitter: yes, you’re the Health Secretary Jezzer, not us…..this is your problem to solve, not ours chummy.
However, thus far Hunt has not so much as warbled, squawked or peeped about resistance to antibiotics. And some of us are wondering how creeping privatisation of public health is going to result in a better combat strategy being developed re this one.
Yesterday, a Tory Party source I trust implicitly told me that Mr Hunt is bec0me a law unto himself. It seems policy advisers in Number Ten have been suggesting to the Health Secretary that his command of the detail involved in managing public health concerns is somewhat less than 100%. Jeremy’s response has been to ignore them. For he is primarily concerned with handing this (excuse the ironic metaphor) hospital pass to the private sector. Jeremy Hunt no longer gives a monkey’s chuff what David Cameron thinks. For it is his considered judgement that Mr Cameron is dead in the water.
It’s pretty obvious that the Prime Minister didn’t want Hunt in the Health job. But beyond that, it’s equally obvious that he’s pissed off about Theresa May briefing against Number Ten on an hourly basis. He also doesn’t need Liam Fox wittering on about the need to cut taxes. He especially dislikes talk of Boriso Johnsonini trying to recruit Michael Gove to his March on Westminster when the solids finally hit the fan. And he’s less than best pleased about Defence Secretary Philip Hammond telling him to cut welfare, not troop numbers.
The more sharp-eyed among you may well have spotted that all this open debate aka open warfare in the Conservative Party is building up just as George ‘Failed at Sums’ Osborne prepares to squeak his next Budget in the House over the coming days. The cynicism of this pressure-cooking is without parallel, even in the annals of internecine Tory cockfights. The strategy that the Chancellor is following clearly isn’t going to work: but the tactic of those who would like to be even more ruthlessly incompetent than Wee Georgie in pursuing their neocon aims is to amplify the noise of liberal naysayers. Nyyeeece.
There is an extent to which these assassins are following a reverse model of Sam Giancana’s 1963 Mafia approach to removing enemies. That is to say, the Mob shot JFK because they knew such an action would relegate his brother to the status of an Attorney General without balls. So too – fifty years on – one suspects that demanding the head of Little Osborne is the best way to make the Prime Minister’s position untenable.
On the other hand, the plotters must of course be careful: they may well demand George’s head, but be unwilling to have it delivered on a plate. For the General Election thus triggered would (based on current opinion polls) drive an awful lot of them from their seats. They would much rather render Cameron a paraplegic duck, so that the forcing of an eventual leadership election would appear not divisive, but absolutely essential ‘in the national interest’. The rebels would then have a clear eighteen months or more within which to build a genuine alternative to Fluffy Ed Miliband, and his running mate Toughie Ed Balls.
A lot of Conservative – and Left/liberal – commentators at the moment are (in my view) hugely underestimating the fanaticism of the more doctrinaire Friedmanites in the Tory Party. As I’ve suggested before, what we are witnessing here is a coup d’etat: nothing less than an attempt to privatise and commercialise the British political process.
I genuinely do not have a steer on where the PM himself stands in this battle for the Conservative soul, because he is that ether one simply cannot lasso. I think if David Cameron stands for anything, it is a maintenance of the status quo. But the forces lined up against that are myriad: he faces a Left Opposition wanting to wander back aimlessly into a dark past, and a Right Opposition behind him keen to accelerate at full speed into an even darker iceberg-field in the future.
Ultimately Camerlot can’t win. It is outnumbered by the media, the Thatcherites, the collectivist Left, and a shady group of donors from Ashcroft to Lewis who have a twisted vision of Government being taken over by technocrats. Que sera sera and all that, but we do very badly need a viable alternative to what looks increasingly like the victory of the losers.
On 16th December 2008, US President George Bush uttered this immortally moronic observation:
“I abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”
The laissez-faire free-market system is hopelessly flawed. It always was, but there will never be any shortage of pillocks desperate to explain why them getting stinking rich is a vital component of limited success for everyone else. What David Cameron is trying to do represents an impossible aim: the reconciliation of One-Nation Conservatism with Neocon Thatcherite Toryism. Such a marriage sounds like the Dream Ticket when presented in a paper from the PR agency: but in real life, it’s a nightmare of perpetual disunity.
There is a very good reason for this. The Prime Minister finds himself at the head of an Establishment wedded to the reality of an EU corporatist State. But he also finds himself at the head of a Conservative Party which is the mistress of multinational business corporatism – as represented by the Bob Diamonds, Lord Greens, Rupert Murdochs and Richard Bransons of this oddly muddled world we inhabit. That isn’t so much a circle you can’t square, as a square in which ideas will go round and round in ever decreasing circles.
The bottom line is that Mr Cameron has lost control of his Party….and his Party has taken leave of its senses. The result of that could be, perhaps, the triumph of banality in 2015: a win for irrelevant Harriet Harman feminism, peripheral Ed Miliband muddle, neolithic 1970s Ed Balls Unionism, and every other retrograde socio-economic idea you could possibly imagine.
Many on the Left will rejoice at the prospect of Tory meltdown, but that would be a vainglorious celebration. Every major Party in Britain is devoid of creative solutions to our problem – especially Labour. I hold no candle at all for Camerlot: but Britain is a country in reverse gear right now. We desperately need a new Movement to facilitate cooperation at home alongside competition abroad.
A bonfire of banalities would be a good thing. A bonfire of decencies would be incalculably bad. I fear we are going to get the latter unless something or somebody can break through, and break the mould.
Earlier at The Slog: Greece v Turkey v Islamism v Erdogan