How Britain Became the World’s Newest Banana Monarchy
Everything is changing very fast but it also feels like nothing is changing at all. Consider the following three statements:
- Labour have a 33 POINT LEAD with YouGov/Times, the biggest since 1981. That would give them a majority of 346.
- But it would also mean the SNP would win all the Tory seats held in Scotland and become the official opposition at Westminster. If the 33-point Labour poll lead were replicated in a General Election … “On a uniform national swing the Conservatives would win THREE seats, and Labour 564. The SNP would be the official opposition with 51 seats”, according to the Electoral Calculus website.
- Also, according to John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times, the Conservatives are now the most economically right-wing major party in the developed world:
Not only are they the most economically right-wing major party in the developed world – they are a government that nobody elected.
So, as with so much recently it feels like we are living though momentous crazy accelerated change, but it also feels like we are living in ennui – a sort of strange serenity in collapse.
The glee and relief with which the Labour polling landed yesterday was palpable. And why not? Who doesn’t want some way out of this madness? But look closer. Starmer’s conference was solid, unremarkable, well received. But what did he come up with? A publicly owned energy company. I mean, that’s great. We could have done with it forty years ago but sure. But is that it? Pretty much.
Starmer’s Labour party have surged to a huge polling lead by sanitising themselves to the conformity of the British tabloids, wrapping themselves in the Union Jack and saying nothing at all. They have inherited the crisis of the Tory revolutionaries. But even if this Safe Pair of Hands Party were to be elected (there is no path to this happening) what would they do? Not be the Tories.
And if the SNP were to become the official Opposition, what would they do? Nobody really knows.
Into this abyss we have the Truss government, which aren’t going anywhere soon and aren’t in any way repentant.
In a major essay for the New Statesman, Jeremy Cliff explains Truss’s ideological background (‘Liz Truss and the rise of the libertarian right. The free-market thinkers and ideas behind the most radical economic experiment in Britain for 40 years‘). In it he explains the cluster of ‘think-tank’s and lobby groups clustered around Tufton Street:
“Ideologically, the institutions and thinkers of this world share a common commitment to a low-tax, low-regulation, Anglo-Saxon social model, distinct from the social democratic “European” one. They tend to favour certain mechanisms for advancing that model, such as free-trade deals levelling down state intervention and demarcated zones pioneering extremely limited government (variously referred to as “freeports”, “investment zones” or “charter cities”). They instinctively prefer market-led solutions to collective problems, such as climate change, over state-led ones. Perhaps not unrelatedly, many of them draw on opaque funding from big private-sector interests. Cato, for instance, has received backing from corporations such as FedEx and Google, and, in the past, from the tobacco industry – which has also been a source of funding for both the IEA and ASI.”
This political project is Transatlantic and deeply anti-ecological.
Cliff outlines how during a September 2018 visit to Washington, Truss held off-the-record meetings on “regulatory reform” with representatives of Heritage as well as discussions with Americans for Tax Reform. “Her visit was immediately followed by Cato and Hannan’s IFT publishing an “ideal” UK-US free trade deal that included input from the IEA and Heritage. It promoted a greater role for private firms in British education and healthcare, an end to the “precautionary principle” in British food regulation as well as watered-down environmental rules.”
That UK-US free trade deal is on hold, or gone forever. It was part of the Brexit Fantasy. But so much of this is fantasy they really don’t care.
So this disconnect between change and stasis is real. Because what’s coming next ISN’T Starmer and Great British Energy it’s massive massive cuts.
Cliff again: “In Tuftonland, and in its US equivalent, the announcements of 23 September are seen as just the beginning, despite the reaction from the markets. Next up, it is hoped and anticipated: spending cuts to balance out the tax cuts. But where and what to cut? In 2015 Bourne and Kwarteng co-authored a book, A Time for Choosing, that proposed halving the number of Whitehall departments. During her leadership campaign, Truss floated the possibility of regionalising public sector pay (this idea was quickly dropped). In his statement, Kwarteng hinted at coming welfare cuts.”
Indeed The Times today had the headline ‘Defiant PM set to curb benefits to fund budget’:
I see people sharing D:Ream’s ‘Things can only get better’ this morning.
This isn’t true.
As the Portuguese writer Araci Almeida has put it:
“The world will not end tomorrow. But the world as we knew it is ending every day, every hour, and a little more. 2050 seemed far away and still is, but 2050 has arrived now. Or, as they say, all the catastrophic predictions of irreversible temperature increases, extreme droughts, and everything else we have become accustomed to living with are happening as I write these words. Simultaneously, as a result of all this tragedy, the winds of fascism everywhere are spreading like poisonous dust.”
Britain is a Dickensian failed state, but the routes out of it are unclear,