Monday, August 28, 2017

'Maggie's Hammer': Thatcher, Miners, Poverty, Arms

A heart-rending description in today’s (London) Observer newspaper of poverty in the former coalfields of Northern England. So many to blame. So much to do. And so few driven even to try.
The tragic irony is that the Tories are now reaping the ‘benefit.’ For we were the ones who devastated the mining communities with our war on the unions in the Eighties. Not a proud moment in my life.
The article reminds us of the toxic danger of ignoring the long-term consequences of short-term political gain. And recalls for me the personal shame of having looked the other way.
It was the evisceration of British industry which served as the trigger for the massive corruption of the British body politic with arms bribes. As first Margaret Thatcher, and later her successors, of all political hue, sought to replace the lost industry with arms manufacture.

Tories, Neo-Liberalism and the Conservative Co-operative Movement

Oh look. The British Conservative Party does have thinkers. The linked to magazine is for those more towards the center of the Party. I’m always taken with what Jesse Norman has to say (Page 27). He comes from a banking background. But he realized quite early on that the economic model used by all major political parties in the UK, and by the UK Treasury, was totally broken. It treated people as predictable economic agents. Rather than the unpredictable a**holes we all are.
His general thinking is that the solution is to devolve as much decision-making process as possible to the people in all aspects of life. He is one of the prime supporters within the Conservative Party of mutualism. Established the Conservative Co-operative Movement (of which I am a founding member. And supports the concept of co-operative provision of both private and public services, including health care and education.
Now, while we’re on the subject of old economic models, and alternative Tory thinking, let’s include a handy history of what is currently still regarded as ‘traditional’ Tory economic thinking – neo-liberalism. All good background wonkdom …

Facebook comments here.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Life after (Election) Death for Red Toryism?

Nick Timothy, the ‘brains’ behind Theresa May’s pre-UK General Election 2017 brand of working-class Tory populism, is all over the place at the moment attempting to revive interest in Red Toryism.
The thing is, I don’t disagree with his central premises. That Tories should be interested in what is best for the whole nation. That they should always be concerned to reform, carefully. Wherever that reform sensibly should go. That they need to have an ear to what the populace wants. And that a lot of folk, especially working people, feel very uncomfortable with the prescription of the center-left for a supranational economic melting pot, which doesn’t appear to take care of those who can’t necessarily make the grade in the brave new world.
It is the healthier aspects of this approach which allow me to meld those aspects of Red Toryism with my own brand of US proletarian populism, which I call Democratic Populism.
The problem is, when people are scared, they aren’t always at their, hmm, ‘healthiest.’ And, as another Guardian article points out, it is often not the principle of free movement of labour, capital and goods that the ‘left-behinds’ vote against, as it is the colour of the skin doing the moving, and the fact that the capital ain’t moving into their bank account. Frankly, I think the author of this article, one Stephen Bush, misses a lot in his essay. But I do believe him correct when he says that, if Red Toryism dies, the alternative could be a lot uglier.
As Nick Timothy himself admits, he is as much to blame as anyone for the possibility that his policy baby may well have got thrown out with the election-failure bathwater. But, even before the 2017 UK General Election, some in the British Conservative Party were inadvertently doing their level best to condemn Red Toryism by allowing others favorably to compare it to Trumpism.
For myself, I do believe that politics in both the US and the UK will be driven, for a while to come, by a large section of the working population who feel they want to retake control of their economic future. I think that is best obtained by devolving as much power over economic decision-making as possible as far down the political ladder as possible.
The upshot of that will undoubtedly be less interest in supranational decision-making. A desire for some breathing space, while new priorities are designed. Which itself may take the form of an element of protectionism and isolation. Together with some localized intervention in the marketplace, to keep at bay the impersonal forces of capitalist change, while ordinary folk better prepare themselves for that brave new world. And it might even see a surge of interest in mutualism. All in all, a gentle ‘qualification’ of the absolute freedom of the free market.
What I strongly believe will not work is boffins of right and left seizing on the distress that exists to superimpose trendy prescriptions of social engineering, which are not desired, and have not worked in the past, and may only result in further distress, and a headlong rush towards greater political ugliness.
It is not left the people want. Nor right. Nor even the center. It is populism. It is what the people say they want. It’s easy enough to work out. Just stop prescribing before you’ve listened. And then have the generosity of political will actually to accept what you are hearing.

Facebook comments here.