Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's time to be radical, Dave

This piece of mine appears in today's First Post.

Where has it all gone wrong for David Cameron?

Considering the desperate record of the present government, the outcome of this spring's general election should be a foregone conclusion. But instead, it's the Conservatives and not Labour who are in disarray as a series of polls show their lead continuing to shrink – culminating in today's Populus survey for the Times which suggests the two parties are neck and neck in 100 key marginals where Tory strategists expected to be well ahead.

What seemed unthinkable a few months back - the re-election of Gordon Brown and Labour - now seems distinctly possible.

The reason why Cameron has failed to capitalise on New Labour's unpopularity is simple. It's because on the issues which most concern the public, where anger with the government is at its greatest, the Conservative leader is singing from the same hymn sheet as Gordon Brown.

Cameron's Conservatives don't represent a break with the discredited policies adopted by all governments of the past 30 years, but a continuation of them. Fed up with privatisation? The Conservatives, in common with Labour, want even more of it. Under the Tories, the whole of the Royal Mail, not just part of it, will sold to the private sector. They've even mooted the possibility of selling the Met Office too. Privatised weathermen? What a vote winner that will be.

On foreign policy, an area where New Labour should be particularly vulnerable, the Conservatives once again simply offer more of the same.

While 64 per cent of Britons believe the war in Afghanistan to be unwinnable, and 63 per cent want troops home by Christmas, the Tories, like the Labour government, remain totally committed. Not only that but on the issue of Iran, they're even more bellicose than Labour, with the party's defence spokesman Liam Fox warning that "2010 is the year in which we will seriously have to confront Iran". Again, not a policy that's likely to have them rushing to vote Conservative in Croydon Central.

You can read the rest of the piece here.


Robin Carmody said...

a propos Cameron's boast that "there is not an anti-globalisation party in Great Britain", there is. Unfortunately, it's called the BNP. And it will gain more and more ground unless the neoliberal pseudo-consensus is broken soon and dramatically. The big parties will not realise the damage they have done until it is too late, I fear.

vladimir gagic said...

I certainly don't know very much about English politics, but what is the practical difference between labour and the conservatives? The difference seems to be about the same as the difference between the Clinton Democrats and Republicans; in others words, not much at all. Isn't Labour just Conservative-lite?

Neil Clark said...

Hi Robin,
You're absolutely right.
Vladimir: Yes, Labour is just Conservative-lite. We've got the choice of two neoliberal, pro-capital, pro-globalisation, pro-war parties. Isn't 'democracy' wonderful.

Mr. Piccolo said...

Hello Mr. Clark,

Great post. I agree that the convergence of major parties into basically two wings of one big neoliberal party is very unfortunate. As Mr. Gagic notes, in the U.S. we have the same problem with the Republicans and Clinton Democrats, who are so similar they are practically the same.

I also really like your discussion of Conservatives that support protecting British industry. I actually used to be a typical economically right-wing Republican until I started reading Pat Buchanan, who is an old school pro-American industry conservative. Now I am what I guess you could call left-wing/populist on economics.

Even though I don't agree with Buchanan on everything, he really helped wake me up to social justice issues and the problems of globalization. In many ways, Buchanan is more pro-worker than most Clinton Democrats, in that he actually cares about defending American jobs from the ravages of globalization

Best Regards,


Neil Clark said...

Hi Mr Piccolo: many thanks.
I agree with you about Pat Buchanan- he's certainly more pro-worker than most Clintonian Democrats.
All the very best,

R J Stove said...

A very interesting piece, Mr Clark. I have passed it on to an Australian magazine editor friend of mine who will, I hope, be able to cite it (with, of course, full credit to you and to the original publication).

Undergroundman said...

The story of oligarchies of power, rapacious financial capitalism and neoliberal corporativism destroying entire societies in dealt with in my blog on Krakow.

This is a cautiounary tale of the way political parties are, as Gunter Grass suggests, middlemen between the money markets and the citizenry, mere PR placemen.

No longer is politics concerned with policy alternatives but with trying to reconcile the demands of rapacious corporations with the demands of citizens.

The nation state has declined,the EU does not reflect any political forum in which people believe that have a real say and are unacountable bureacrats.

Meanwhile NATO morphs ever more into a version of Orwell's Oceania competing in the Great Game for Eurasia's stupendous prize of oil and gas.

All these democratic deficits are interconnected as the idea is to transform citizens into mindless consumers who will not care what methods are used to grab the oil that makes the permanent growth Utopia possible.

That and the destruction of middle classes and the workers in favour of a global elite of the super rich who see themselves as transnational ubermensch fortified in their gated communities is the greatest issue of out time.

A "refolution" like that of 1989 is needed in both East and West to remove the development of authoritarian power, unaccountable bureacracies and make "civil society" a reality and not a pious buzzwords parroted like the "workers state" was under Eastern bloc communism.

That means seperating real citizens movements and civil society activism from the phoney and bogus ones promoted by those like the neoconservatives and neoliberal corporations, what I term designer revolutionaries.

These are merely the groomed "successor generations" to maintain the US Empire, one that has proved itself incapable of using its power wisely or sanely since end of the Cold War.

Undergroundman said...

PS Eastern Europe Watch is back after its absence. Please leave a comment if you can as Czarny and Piccolo have as this bumps up the blog in the search engine.

Especially when referring to pthologically greedy and rapacious property developers like Henryk Gaertner of GDK Group who used his intimate connections with Krakow's Rada Miejska to stitch up a deal to build a skyscraper near the centre of histical Krakow.

As Symon Duda commented the Treimorfa Tower will be Krakow's version of "the Rockefeller Centre" with Henryk Gaertner's aim being to aim for his clients to control "only centrally located position" to build tacky plate and glass po-mo kitsch.

There, I mentioned him again, the bastard, just so his google search profile contains my blogs and criticism. Including the words rapacious, greedy and oafish philistine Henryk Gaertner of GDK Group. He's not on my Xmas Card list.

Next for a skewering is a review of Edward Lucas's propaganda as history book, the absurd The New Cold War, where his website retains a facade of objectivity that masks his anger that he and the interests he supports can't grab and loot Russian assets as they did in the 1990s.

Nick said...

"By focusing on over-crowding, and not on issues of race, Cameron could address legitimate public concerns and reap the electoral benefit."

So Britain's overcrowded because of immigrants, is it Mr Clark? Well, I never thought to see you come up with an argument like that one - how sad.