The responses to the financial violence of the banking coup has been massive – a whole new movement has been created (#UKUncut to name just one) – and a whole generation has been politicised or radicalised by the closure of a raft of basic social opportunities in education, housing and employment.
This week we have the Tory Party conference and responses to it are telling. I find George Osbourne economics unconvincing. I’m not alone. The Tory-Liberals call it ‘Credit Easing’ – Labour called it ‘Quantitative Easing’. You and I call it printing money. The Tory-Liberals will charge you £9 k for a university degree, Labour £6k. We all know this is just education for an elite few. This is government by a political class that is intellectually bankrupt.
The annual cycle of UK political parties revisited obsessively by the media seems increasingly detached from Scottish politics. With David Cameron lecturing the Scottish Government, elected with a landslide he can only read about, the question of this UK Govts legitimacy arises again.
In this context I find Gerry Hassan’s stout defence of the Tory Party bizarre. He writes:
“The Conservatives are reduced to a series of stereotypes: of being selfish, uncaring, just for the super rich, not understanding what it is like to live on modest means, unmoved by poverty, and wanting to turn back the clock to Dickensian Britain. If these clichés were true the British Conservatives would be reduced to some impotent rump the size of the Scots Tories or Lib Dems. But they are not because they have always spoken for a large swathe of British society.”
No they haven’t, they have always spoken for a large swathe of English society.
But Hassan is wrong about more than this simple fact. The same weekend he penned his defence the Bureau of Investigative Journalism ‘uncovered’ that over 51% of funds for the Tories comes directly from the Square Mile. It’s hardly a ‘stereotype’ that they are just for the super-rich, it’s public record.
The influence of the City over the Conservatives has been laid bare showing that more than half of the Tory party’s donations since the general election have come from individuals and businesses working in finance.
Hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed more than a quarter of all the Tories’ private donations – which this year poured in at a rate equal to £1m a month – the study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.
This is hardly surprising, but it is now laid bare.
Hassan writes: “Despite the economic gloom and doom, which you think might lead to a revival of left thinking, so far the running has been made in ideas from the right. There is a thoughtful Conservatism out there trying to address some of the challenges, post-Blair Bubble. And it is made all the more potent by the paucity on the left, and the blinkers many have about the Tories.” But what are these ideas? And what is the left that Gerry describes?
On economics, on constitution, on social issues, on ecological crisis? What is this renaissance of Tory thinking that demands our respect?
The reality is a desperately divided party in Scotland that looks likely to split and indeed re-emerge as two rumps of right-wing groups with half the funding and half the vote they currently muster, still clinging to the same reactionary views of the world as the likes of Ross McFarlane and Stewart Green. We do not live in the world of Philip Blond’s ‘Red Toryism’ (which Gerry calls a powerful exciting thesis) but the world of casual racism, bigotry and economic austerity.
These are important questions for Hassan to clarify. Let’s avoid visceral tribalism, but let’s also avoid being detached from reality into a realm of commentary. Hassan continues: “As long as there is a United Kingdom there will be a powerful British Conservative constituency. It is now mostly in support an English Toryism, but Scotland and Wales matter at an instinctual level.”
But what does this mean?