So the British election has come and gone, and yet it wasn’t really a British election at all, was it? The Scots voted almost unanimously against it, the Irish voted both ways at once and the Welsh and Cornish weren’t consulted. So it was an English election, and the English have, by a margin of not a hell of a lot of votes but a huge number of gerrymandered seats, chosen to commit suicide.
To those who don’t think clearly, this probably sounds an extreme thing to say. How can voting for a chubby, hearty posh lad whose only concern is to enrich the wealthy, promote xenophobia, kill dark-skinned people and otherwise do whatever the colonial power of the United States demands, possibly be a bad thing? Or, at least, such a bad thing? Isn’t David Cameron a safe pair of hands?
Indeed he is, although the hands are not his, but those invisible hands which rig the casino popularly called the City. And the word “safe” simply means that he can be trusted to serve the interests of the City, meaning the big banking and financial agencies who generate the bulk of Britain’s gross domestic product and organise its transfer into the capacious pockets of chubby (or skinny, or obese), hearty, posh lads and (occasionally) lasses in the ruling class.
The grim fact is that although Labour made a dog’s breakfast of ruling Britain under Blair (being able to win elections does not mean that you can run things properly) the Tories managed to perform less well, even though Labour had been applying Tory policies. However, the Tories were not in charge when everything went pear-shaped (ironically, a pear was the symbol of the Labour Party at the time, the rose being abandoned because someone might have thought it should be red) and have been running ever since on the ticket of not being responsible for the disaster which their policies and their financial masters brought about. Like saying that you weren’t responsible for the accident because the four-year-old in the back seat had a toy steering-wheel on his pushchair and this steering-wheel, you claim, was actually controlling the car.
But that was in 2008, which is seven years ago now, and although the Tories claim to have run the economy brilliantly since then, in reality unemployment and underemployment remain stubbornly high and life for a lot of Poms remains as miserable as it has been since the bottom fell out of the false Brown boom with its fake strong and stable pound (which still remains, of course, strong and stable because the United States won’t let anyone attack it, not because the British economy is powerful enough to justify such a strong currency). In other words, Tory genius is predicated on Britain remaining a colony of the metropole across the Atlantic.
So much for the claim of running the economy well. The Tories have, admittedly, expressed their hatred for immigrants brilliantly. Immigrants play an absolutely vital role in nothing substantive whatsoever, but are useful for stirring up sadistic hatred among the substantial class of Britons who, recognising the relative nature of happiness, find it easier to make their neighbours unhappy than to make themselves happier. It works well in the South African townships, so why not among Westerners infinitely more privileged and better-educated? Why not, indeed.
Apart from this, the Tories have also managed to build bad relations with Europe, bad relations with Russia, poor relations with most Asian and Latin American countries and with most Middle Eastern countries apart from Israel and Saudi Arabia — in other words, apart from their hostility to Europe, their policies are a mental annexe to the United States. But this means that they depend on the United States to defend themselves militarily and economically against the hostility which they are arousing, and since U.S. friendship cannot be trusted, as history shows, the Tories have been unusually inept in their foreign policy.
Given all this, the Tories’ landslide victory is a little surprising. It may be argued that it isn’t a landslide victory since they received less than two-fifths of the vote, but this is a constituency-based system which is inherently unfair, and in which there were five major parties — in order of support, Conservative, New Labour, United Kingdom Independence, Liberal Democrat and Scottish Nationalist. (The last two changed places with the election.) With such a lot of people competing for votes, inevitably there were a lot of votes wasted in many constituencies. However, the Tories are the biggest party and they thus justly received the lion’s share of the representation.
So, why vote Tory if you know from experience that they are incompetent? One argument is that the press commands public opinion — “It woz the Sun wot won it”. Numerous Labour supporters were spending a lot of time before the election telling everyone who would listen that the polls were proving that this theory was false. Now that Labour have been comprehensively defeated they are probably telling everyone who will listen that they lost because of media bias. The media is, undeniably, biased against Labour, and has always been with the exception of the Blair years; nevertheless Labour managed to win against the tide of the media in 1945 and 1964 and 1974. So the Tories profit from the media, but not inevitably or comprehensively so. (On the other hand, hearing a relentless drumbeat of news about the incompetence, corruption and general worthlessness of Labourites and the genius, diligence and soundness of Tories must make a difference.)
The question is, who are you going to believe, the newspapers or your experience? The newspapers and the BBC tell you that the Tories have saved the country, experience tells you that things are tough. Either you are a workshy benefit scrounger refusing to exercise entrepreneurship in the new big ownership society, or else the newspapers and the BBC and the Tories are talking bullshit. Who would want to believe the former? But luckily there’s a Third Way — which is to believe that you are a victim of workshy benefit scroungers refusing to exercise entrepreneurship. It’s the Muslims and the blacks and the coal miners and the National Health Service and the Welsh and the Scots and the Cornish and the gays and the women and practically the whole population of Britain except David Cameron, Nigel Farage and you. You’re all alone out there (Tony Blair says so quite explicitly in his latest pronouncement advising Labour to win by making itself more right-wing)
And so, given that you are suffering, you have the choice of changing the country in a way which might benefit you (but the only party which actually promised that was the Scottish Nationalist Party, the principal beneficiary of the election) or changing the country in a way which harms other people who appear to be competing with you, and whom the media and most of the parties all combine to tell you are evil and deserve to be punished. Who’s going to beat up the weak, poor and brown-skinned? Who’s going to tell the foreigners to fuck off and die, and back it up with bombs if necessary? Labour say they will, but you can’t trust them to. UKIP will certainly do it, but they aren’t going to win. The Liberal Democrats will pursue any policy which keeps Nick Clegg a seat in the Cabinet. Therefore, vote Tory and the world is yours!
So in a sense people were voting Tory out of sadism. But a lot of them were voting for other parties out of sadism, too. After all, Labour has its own history of brutality and destruction and cruelty — and within the party, the big beneficiaries of the election are the Blairites who are the quintessence of everything evil about Labour.
So the British — or rather, the English, for the Scots and Welsh were probably concerned with other things — were, in the end, voting about something. They were voting to hurt people more than they were being hurt themselves. This is not, however, because the English are genetically nasty (which is a widespread theory in post-election theorizing). It is, rather, because they were told that the best possible option was to hurt people, and then, that they had a choice between hurting people a little or hurting people a lot. In our culture more is always supposed to be better, so they voted to hurt people a lot. Those who did not vote to hurt people enough are wusses. You have to be tough. There are hard choices to be made. Nobody said it was going to be easy, as Heinrich Himmler said when he stood too close to some Jews being executed and blood and brains spattered all over his uniform.
Those who say that the option is to help people? Well, there are the Scottish Nationalists and to a lesser extent Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein, but only the Scots and Welsh and Irish would vote for them because their primary allegiance is to help people of the same ethnicity as themselves. The only English party which is against hurting people is, nominally at least, the Greens. They didn’t do at all badly in the election, but they have a nasty miasma of crankishness hanging over them and they also have a tendency to tell everyone that the solution to all our problems is really easy and simple to implement — just wear hemp fibres and recycle your polystyrene drinking cups and all difficulties are over. As of now they are not a majority party and could not compete with a tidal-wave of evil hatred.
The only party which could have challenged this tidal wave, had it been true to its pre-1983 history and its political interests, was Labour. Instead they ran on a pledge to hurt people almost as much as the Tories, but not quite as much. In other words, they were gutless pink Tories, as the Liberal Democrats were yellow Tories. In which case, why not vote for the Tories?
But the thing about all this, then, is that there’s a vacuum in British politics which is only filled by hatred. However, that hatred does not actually fill the important part of the vacuum, which is an absence of any policy which addresses the problems confronted by Britain in the twenty-first century. Hatred doesn’t do it because the problems are structural and produced by class forces. You have to understand what is going on to address those problems, and instead you’re off beating up Muslim women for wearing veils (or for not wearing veils if you’ve been recruited for ISIS by the Secret Intelligence Service). This vacuum is only going to get more vacuous over time, and it sucks all sanity and all hope away. And this is the problem confronted not only by Britain, but by every country and political system everywhere which cleaves to the neoliberal model which the Anglo-American world has imposed.