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The only way to save Britain

Posted on November 17, 2010 by

As the growing horror that is the coalition government unfolds more hideously every day, the British people could easily be forgiven for harbouring a sense of complete and utter hopelessness.

The choices presented to them in May 2010 already amounted to little more than three slightly different shades of the same colour. But the moment when even any manufactured pretence at significant difference between the policies offered by the three major parties evaporated – the minute Nick Clegg got behind his Deputy Prime Minister desk – it became impossible to maintain the delusion that Britain remains a democracy in any meaningful sense any more.

Because who do you vote for in 2015 if you don't like the direction your country is taking? Clegg has absolutely destroyed the Lib Dems' credibility, perhaps forever. "I won't join a coalition", he said in his first speech as party leader, and then with barely-concealed puppyish enthusiasm joined a coalition at the first possible opportunity offered to him.

"I pledge to vote against any increase in tuition fees", he vowed – going so far as to sign his name to his promise in black and white in front of every camera he could find. Six months later he voted to treble them, sparking the first public riot of the coalition administration. It's unlikely to be the last.

(A riot, incidentally, that slightly harshly targeted the offices not of the Lib Dems but of the Tories, who during the election had never promised to do anything other than raise tuition fees.)

As a result the Lib Dems' poll ratings have seen perhaps the most spectacular collapse of any political party in modern British history, from an incredible high of 34% before the election to an abyssal 10% last month. And no matter whether the economy recovers or not, who's going to believe anything they say ever again?

Meanwhile, over in the Real Tory camp, Iain Duncan Smith's promises to help the unemployed, the sick and the poor out of the poverty trap of Labour's failed welfare system translated in reality to "viciously criminalise and punish benefit claimants for failing to take non-existent jobs by forcing them to walk the streets picking up dogshit, while being kicked out of their homes and forced into ghettos even if they do find work".

Reports of his great Easterhouse Epiphany and his Damascene empathy with the terrible plight of the economically disadvantaged have turned out, it would seem, to have been somewhat exaggerated.

(All the elements of labour camps for the unemployed are now in place. The principle that they have to work for benefits  – well below half of the minimum wage – has been firmly established, as has that of forcing them to go wherever the government orders, all with fulsome public support. All that remains is for the logical extrapolation of the policy to be implemented. Maybe they're saving that for the next Parliament, when the Lib Dems are massacred and the Tories can really be themselves.)

Cleverly, the coalition has presented the most savage attack on the poor in a hundred years in terms of "fairness". They point out that it's unfair on working families that they can't afford to live in houses that benefit claimants can because of high Housing Benefit payments. Which is, of course, perfectly true in so far as it goes.

But it takes a fundamentally evil mind to conclude that the best solution to that problem isn't to impose rent controls on greedy landlords –  which would drive down prices so that working families COULD afford them, and at the same time reduce the huge Housing Benefit bill – but to forcibly cram the poor and the sick into slums, or out of cities altogether.

There's a reason that housing is cheaper in deprived areas – it's because there are no jobs there. So poor people evicted from their homes in central London, or other expensive areas, will be trapped in poverty more inescapably than ever. At the same time, working people in low-paid jobs who are only on the borderline of poverty will be pushed over it, by being thrown out of their social housing and suddenly having to cope with their rent doubling, in order to accommodate the new deportees from the cities.

(The country's 'haves', of course – namely those with the good fortune to already be property owners rather than tenants – will continue to receive their own version of housing benefit, in the shape of mortgage payments slashed by hundreds of pounds a month by the low interest rates introduced as a result of the bankers reducing the British economy to rubble. Oddly these people will not be regularly demonised by the Daily Express.)

But anyway. We know all this stuff already, the question is what we can do about it. A Tory outright majority would have been even worse, but clearly voting Lib Dem wasn't the answer. Equally clearly, if the last 13 years taught us anything it's that voting Labour is no use either – they were also standing on a platform of massive public service cuts, they did nothing to reduce the gap between rich and poor while they were in power and the economy was booming, they planned welfare reforms almost as brutal as those of the Tories even before the banking crisis (not to mention a similar cap on housing benefit), and as a bonus they were also dragging us through quagmires of illegal wars and (not unrelatedly) dismantling centuries of civil liberties.

But there's a reason all that happened, and it can be summed up in a single word: triangulation. In the 1990s, frustrated and desperate for power, Labour rebranded itself as New Labour and set off on a deliberate journey to the right in order to become more electable. Out went socialism (in the shape of Clause 4), out went nationalisation, out went social housing, out went nuclear disarmament, out went higher taxes on the rich, out went absolutely anything that might scare middle-class Tory voters even a little bit.

It's highly debateable whether most of this dramatic lurch to the right was necessary. By the mid-90s the Tories under John Major were already sliding into acrimonious oblivion. The economy was in recession, unemployment was rising, interest rates were terrifying and the country was such a basket case it had to withdraw from the ERM. After that Black Wednesday the Tories never regained a lead in the opinion polls, and Labour would almost certainly have won the next election so long as they didn't stand on a platform of free Lamborghinis for paedophiles.

But in the five years between Black Wednesday and the 1997 elections, Labour kept shuffling stealthily closer to the Tories, cowed out of their principles by their traumatic unexpected defeat in 1992.

There was to be no such shock in 1997 as the Tories finally completely imploded in a mire of sleaze, and the vast landslide victory was taken by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as proof that triangulation had worked. So even as they enjoyed an enormous majority, they continued to take the party further and further right.

A manifesto promise of a referendum on voting reform was swiftly dumped as soon as it was clear that the support of the Lib Dems was no longer required in the light of Labour's large majority – one which all but guaranteed a second term, with the Tories in total disarray and consumed by infighting. (A second term which saw a strikingly familiar precursor to Nick Clegg's sudden U-turn on student funding, as Labour campaigned on an explicit promise not to introduce tuition fees, then did it anyway.) Draconian anti-union laws initiated by Margaret Thatcher's administrations were not repealed. The party's long-standing policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament was abandoned.

Labour, of course, weren't the only ones affected by their positional shift. As the party of power, they dragged the Lib Dems to the right too, because first-past-the-post politics essentially works like The Price Is Right – the most profitable spot to occupy is the one that's the smallest possible discernible margin away from the other guy.

If someone's guessed a price of £500 for a telly and you think the real price is £300, you don't say £300 and risk his guess being closer than yours if the answer was (say) £405 – you say "£499" and to hell with the boos of the audience (read: your core support). The Lib Dems only needed to be a little to the left of Labour in order to try to capture their disgruntled voters, so they shuffled along to the right too, as close as they could get to New Labour  (and therefore the Tories) without appearing to be identical.

In theory, of course, the same should have applied to the Conservatives. But the party, already fragile and wracked with guilt after its coup against Thatcher, had been driven completely mad by the events from 1992 to 1997. Convinced by New Labour's win that their problem had been not being right-wing enough, the Tories were pushed out to the margins in order to differentiate themselves, spending several years in the grip of the party's barking-mad "Eurosceptic" wing.

And like a boxer whose opponent was on the ropes, Labour kept up the pressure by advancing further and further onto Tory ground.

After almost 20 years, the inevitable results can be seen in the image above from The "triangle" formed by the three main parties exists entirely within the right-hand half of the political spectrum. Labour and the Lib Dems both occupy positions dramatically to the right of the centre, with the Tories occupying an area almost indistinguishable from that of arch-Eurosceptics UKIP. (Indeed, so horrifyingly vampiric has been Labour's transformation that they've actually overtaken the Conservatives in terms of authoritarianism, something barely conceivable in 1992.)

Despite the 2010 election result, this trend shows no sign of reversing. When Ed Milliband was elected Labour leader a few months later, his union backing resulted in the right-wing press dubbing him "Red Ed", a name he reacted to with a mixture of embarrassment, mockery and condescension, as if the very idea was so absurd as to be farcical.

"Red Ed? Come off it!" was the response of the man elected to lead a party whose banners are red, whose emblem is a red rose and whose conferences still close with a rousing rendition of The Red Flag. Margaret Thatcher must have permitted herself a small moment of lucidity in her madness to smile at the final completion of her victory.

Hopefully alert viewers will already have worked out what we have to do to save Britain from ruin, because I've been putting off saying it. But however horrible the surgery, the disease is worse. And so we have to bite the bullet. We have to join the Conservative Party.

The only hope for our once-proud nation is to turn our enemy's weapon against it. We have to triangulate back, to undo all of New Labour's treacherous, craven work and recalibrate the country's political centre back to where it belongs – the middle – so that voters have the genuine choice they've been denied for the past 13 years. And the only way to achieve that now is from inside the Conservative Party.

Think about it. The Lib Dems have all the credibility of the Monster Raving Loonies now, so they're a complete waste of time. Wear an orange rosette at the next election and you might as well be standing in front of a firing squad with a white target pinned to your chest. And even if it were possible to haul Labour to the left now, all that would do is make them look like the party of Michael Foot again. They'd be seen as loony Marxist extremists abandoning everything they've told us they believed in for the last decade and a half, leaving them easy prey for the Murdoch-dominated media and consolidating the marginal Tory supremacy into an outright majority.

And the only option that leaves is to hijack the Conservatives. It's not that astronomical a target: the party currently has a mere 177,000 members. In May more than twice that many people voted for the SNP alone. There are almost 100,000 more Green voters than Conservative party members. It costs just £25 to join the Tories, or a piddling £5 if you're under 23. Chums, they're up for grabs. We can take them.

And the thing is, they know it. As recently as last year, reforms within the party significantly reduced the power of the grass-roots membership. Following in the footsteps of New Labour, the Conservative leadership has quietly seized a great deal of control for itself and largely disenfranchised its ordinary members. But that can be reversed. Overwhelming weight of numbers can't be resisted for long.

If the Tories were forced from within towards the centre, the other two would be pushed along too, for fear of having their toes stepped on – Labour could hardly stand, say, on a less redistributive tax policy than the Conservatives, so they would gradually be driven back towards something at least vaguely resembling, well, a Labour party.

And in much the same way that New Labour could realign itself as a Tory Lite outfit because it knew its core vote had basically nowhere to go and could therefore be taken for granted, unhappy hardcore Tories will have to either splinter off to UKIP and the other fringe nutters rendered safely impotent by FPTP, or just grin and bear it as we choose George Galloway to stand as the Conservative candidate for Hampshire North East.

It's a doomed plan, of course. I was going to do it myself, as a gesture of faith (and so I could scan the membership card as proof), but it's like trying to kill yourself by holding your breath – your primal animal being rebels against your conscious mind. My fingers just wouldn't fill in the form.

And as long as people like me are weak, the country that stood up to Hitler will slide meekly into a toxic oligarchical state – bordering on feudal – where a handful of born-to-privilege millionaires and billionaires once again do as they please regardless of the views of the huddled, frightened, powerless masses.

You know in your heart that I'm right. I certainly know it. Other than mass infiltration of the Conservative Party there is no other course of action, short of armed revolution, that can save Britain now.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (and Nick Clegg) are the greatest betrayers of the British people since Lord Haw Haw and Oswald Mosely, because their cowardice has robbed us of even our flawed and distorted version of democracy. But only by wearing the colours of our enemy can we fight back, and few of us are brave enough for the dishonourable life of a spy.

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20 to “The only way to save Britain”

  1. Partario

    A good post, but rather spoilt by your Price Is Right analogy. During the first bidding stage if you bid above the actual price then you lose. You have to be the closest under the actual price to win. So both Labour and Libdems are above the actual price & therefore we all lose. Hmm. Maybe your analogy was right then.

  2. Craig Grannell

    "or just grin and bear it as we choose George Galloway to stand as the Conservative candidate for Hampshire North East."
    I was with you right up until that very moment. I might not like our MP, but Galloway? *kills self*

  3. RevStu

    “During the first bidding stage if you bid above the actual price then you lose. “

    Indeed, which was why I deliberately chose the “underbid” example. And of course, post-1997 the Tories went for the huge insane overbid too.

  4. Partario

    Ah. That was far too subtle for me. As you were.

  5. A2

    And what would stop the cons excluding the fifth columnists from the party in the same Labour shed Militant?
    Not a bad article but skeptical that it's actually a serious plan of action rather than a way to fill some blog space.
    Have you taken your own advice and joined?

  6. RevStu

    You didn't get as far as the last three paragraphs, then?

  7. RevStu

    "I might not like our MP, but Galloway? *kills self*"

    I'm in no way endorsing George Galloway. But you have to admit that'd be piss-funny, and unquestionably a very significant bit of triangulation. Bigger picture, man.

  8. RevStu

    "And what would stop the cons excluding the fifth columnists from the party in the same Labour shed Militant?"

    Weight of numbers. Militant was a tiny rump, and could never have been expelled if they'd outnumbered everyone else. Apart from anything else, the logistics are horrendous. How do you identify and take action against hundreds of individual members of a constituency party if they don't helpfully label themselves?

  9. David

    It really annoys me how Nick Clegg and Vince Cable seems to be blamed for the raise of Tuition Fees while the Tories get the blame for everything else.
    Clegg could well have fought tooth and nail not to raise Tuition Fees but at the end of the day we got a Coalition Government with a majority of Tories, not a Lib Dem one. They aren't going to get everything. And once the decision is made, publically he has to support it.
    The Tories want to make us hate the Lib Dems for "betraying" us and it seems to be working.

  10. Craig Grannell

    "But you have to admit that'd be piss-funny"
    You clearly don't know precisely where I live (or you do and you're just being evil now). I'll make you a deal: Galloway can have North *West* Hampshire or Aldershot instead.

  11. RevStu

    "It really annoys me how Nick Clegg and Vince Cable seems to be blamed for the raise of Tuition Fees while the Tories get the blame for everything else."

    The point is, the Tories didn't sign a pledge solemnly promising to vote against raising tuition fees, and then vote in favour of raising tuition fees. It's not the raising of tuition fees per se that people are angry with Clegg and the other Lib Dems about, it's that they absolutely promised, in writing, not to do the thing they've just done. Clegg's argument is "We didn't know how bad the finances were when we said that", but fucking hell, doesn't he read the papers? The rest of us bloody did. And if you're not sure about something, DON'T SIGN FUCKING PLEDGES ABOUT IT.

    The Tories are cunts, but they stood on a platform of "We're cunts who're going to cut everything". If people vote for that, fair enough, that's democracy. But Clegg got elected to power on the basis of either a despicably cynical lie, or breathtaking fucking idiocy. Neither tends to make people happy they voted for you.

  12. George

    "There is no other course of action, short of armed revolution, that can save Britain now."
    Armed revolution it is, then.

  13. Tom Howard

    Good, but no UK Pirate Party on the graph, disappointing…

  14. Tom Camfield

    Wasn't Labour going to raise Tuition Fees? If so, I don't really see why the Libs couldn't abstain from voting… 
    I'm signed up with the Lib Dems and this, so far, is really my only bone of contention; if the fees have to go up, fine, but why vote for it?

  15. jay jones

    great blog, it could be far worse thou, we all could living in america where they voted for change but as the change wasnt happening quick enough and the republicans spent billons on TV ad scare mongering that free health care is bad. they voted them back into control.
    Or we could be in the Eurozone that is on the verge of imploding. but end of the day i say let finish what guy fawkes started 🙂 i say let follow the french example and via la revolution brother & sister ( there will be punch & pie)
    let take the country back from the courrpt weathly few who havent a clue how the real world operates, not everyone has PA, nanny and housekeeper,driver.
    But no to pacify the masses they announce a royal wedding and the media jump on it and now its the biggest story going.

  16. raveturned

    Isn't there a voting reform referendum on the way? How do things change if FPTP is replaced by AV, or another system? Couldn't we then start voting for the people we actually want in power, rather than those we think have a shot at winning? 

  17. RevStu

    The referendum is coming, but it's quite likely to lose. The Tories are going to campaign against it, Labour are going to campaign against it, and everyone hates the Lib Dems (who in any event dismissed AV before the election as a feeble and pathetic fig-leaf).

  18. Old Sam

    Problem is most people are just asleep it seems.  They don't really care what happens so long as today is more or less the same as yesterday, shamefully.  Only when people start to starve do they riot.  Hopefully these short-sighted, so-called-progressive cuts will bring us to that stage so that people stand up collectively.  Adhering to the rule of law doesnt seem like much of an option when you barely live in a democracy anymore.

  19. Steve D

    It should be mentioned far more than it is that one floppy haired young go-getter came out of Black Wednesday (when he was a special advisor or some bollocks to Lamont)..

  20. MJ

    I know I’m eight years out of date but the Political Compass image showed up on a Google Image Search and I thought “it’s Wings, it must be a decent read”.

    Sadly, much of this article is depressingly prescient. The chunk about Labour moving to the left turned out to be totally on-point, given how Corbyn has been utterly smeared not just by Murdoch and the Tories but his own party. Then again, the gutter press had a field day with how Red Ed ate a bacon sandwich. It literally doesn’t matter who is in charge.

    In the 20 years of New Labour, they have created a party that is now either unelectable or completely unmanageable, depending on who is in charge. The parliamentary party is largely Ted Heath, led by Harold Wilson and a handful of merry men (who somehow stuck around) with a party membership which stretches from militant socialists to borderline neo-cons. These people believe in fundamentally different things. This is not a cohesive party, this is a mess. The Democrats have experienced exactly the same issue and it allows your disgusting opponents to coast through on minimal effort.

    There’s an episode of the West Wing where Bruno Gianelli tells Arnie Vinick that he’d be the best thing that has happened to the Democrats because he’d move the political discourse away from the far right and bring it back to the centre. We can’t have a decent country until the Tories abandon this ever increasingly rightist stance. The Maybot puts Maggie in the shade. She’s the most right-wing home secretary and right-wing prime minister in my lifetime. Unfortunately, what is said here in semi-jest is now what we need to do.

    Thanks for the great article.

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