Home > Terrible Tories > The state we may be in

The state we may be in

I’ve lost track of the times I’ve seen, in the leftwing blogosphere, the following kind of sentiment:

‘Labour has betrayed its core constituency, has no value system, is only in it for the power and not for the people.  I/we shouldn’t vote Labour, and it’s not our fault if the Tories get in, and anyway they can’t be any worse.’

And that, in the end, is an abdication of responsibility, on two counts.

First, it is in part the Left’s fault that the Labour party has developed the way it has.  It takes two to tango.

Second, and more pertinent to the coming days, if the Tories get in it will be at least in part because people on the Left didn’t vote and/or didn’t encourage people to vote against them getting in.  It is effective voting that decides elections, not principles and protest votes.

So let’s just try to make this clear.  Labour may have done bad things, but a next Labour government will not be ANYWHERE NEAR AS REMOTELY DAMAGING to us all, and especially to the working class, as a Tory government.

You don’t have to support Labour’s track record to support Labour at this election.  It’s enough to want to keep the Tories out, and the way to do that is generally to vote Labour (I accept there is a tactical voting issue in some places).  Voting for TUSC, or RESPECT, or the Greens, will not keep the Tories out.  It’s not rocket science.

To aid thinking on this not-rocket science, here are my personal ‘top 5 things that the Tories are planning to do if they came to power which a Labour government will not do’:

1.  They will enter into a Faustian pact with the international bond markets and credit agencies, whereby their reputation and political survival will become fundamentally dependent on bowing to the whim of the markets at whatever social cost is necessary and howeever economically irrational the demands made are.  The bond markets and credit agencies will become ever more demanding of a compliant state, knowing that that state has left itself no choice but to comply.

2.   They will introduce legislation specifically designed to put the dismantling of 70 years of universal welfare state provision and services in the hands of local authorities, and constitutionally beyond the grip of parliament.

3.  They will introduce a compulsory system of  ‘community organisers’ designed to create thousands of little local surveillance states, where ‘community spirit” becomes synonymous with ‘doing what you’re told’, and where anyone different becomes the enemy.  They will do this by extracting from the charitable sector as much money per year as is currently spent on all arts and culture in the UK.

4. They will corrupt the giving of international humanitarian and development aid and link it inextricably to foreign ‘realpolitik’, and they will hive off significant amounts of the 0.7% of GDP they have ‘ringfenced ‘ for aid and give it to the military.  They will also run X-Factor style beauty contests for aid money and humiliate people in poor countries in a way which smacks of rank colonialism.

5.  They will unabashedly play dog whistle politics with immigration in a way which Labour, even though it has caved in to the right wing press on this policy area to a very significant extent, have never quite been willing to do.  Any sense that immigration may have an economically useful role to play, and any sense that immigrants are anything other than criminals intent on stealing our jobs, houses, wives and our British way of life, will be lost, perhaps irrevocably.

Labour will do none of these things.  That’s enough reason to vote Labour.

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Categories: Terrible Tories
  1. Stephen Low
    April 30, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Not that your reasons aren’t enough… but you could also have mentioned further anti union legislation/ attacks on rights at work, or as they put it “simplifying employment law” (…imagine , we used to think new Labour were Orwellian).

    Labour will increase the minimum wage year on year – don’t see Dave doing that.

    Incidentally the Lib Dems will support any anti TU measures the tories bring in.. and they have a track record of voting against minimum wage rises..

  2. April 30, 2010 at 11:44 am

    As someone who is despairing of Labour I suppose I should reply.

    First of all, I live in a seat that has never returned a Labour member, and has had two liberal mambers in the last 100 years. One following the 1905 liberal landslide and one sitting from 1993-2005 who I am trying to help a little to return this election. As such I haven’t really wrestled with the fact that Labour need supporting as the least worst option as I believe they are.

    But what I have seen on topics I care about such as immigration is a Labour Government behaving every bit as bad as a Tory one would have. That alienates me and although I’m used to supporting least worst options, its hard to get motivated.

    It is hard to imagine how bad a Tory Government will be, but you do paint a picture substantially scarier (and more accurate) than most imagine.

    I regret saying Brown only ever wanted power, as I know thats not true. But Brown and the whole of the modern party have been willing to not just compromise on their core values but betray them for electoral advatage; this sort of thing makes it difficult to support Labour. I understand this is politics and it is messy and ugly, but there’s lines that I do not like to see crossed by someone I support, even as the least worst option.

  3. JK
    April 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I agree, Now is not the time for left posturing. Not voting Labour – even in safe Tory seats constituencies is essential to maintain the national share of the vote.
    As much as I despise the New Labour project and all that it has come to represent, it is the least worse of the lot. Hold your nose, take a deep breath and vote and if there is a Tory victory and all the misery and destruction that will undoubtedly follow, you will be able to sleep easy and know you weren’t to blame.

  4. JK
    April 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Sorry, was in a bit of a rush. Second sentence should read ‘Not voting Labour – even in safe Tory seats/ constituencies is a no-brainer as it is essential to maintain the national share of the vote.

  5. paulinlancs
    April 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Stephen @1: You’re quite right that this should be in there. I hereby make the list a Top 6, and thanks for reminding me of this area of toryhorrorpolicy

    LO @2:I wasn’t having a go at you personally re: the ‘only in it for the power’ (if I had, i’ve had linky-loved you), and I must say it was gracious of you to accept you’d stepped a bit far. I understand why you’re angry though; as you know I’m wholly against current immigration policy as it is implemented (in fact didn’t you link to my Yarls Wood piece).

    What I’m trying to say – and which I really should spell out more fully than I have here – is that Labour’s immigration policy has been foisted upon it through its (poor) reaction to events/media battering in the mid 2000s. While it is not acceptable to have accepted that foisting in the way it has, there is an important distinction between Lab and Con, in that the Tories will alwasygo out immigration with gusto, while Labour have been dragged to this position, not kicking and screaming enough, from an early 2000s policy position much more in tune with where we’d both want it to be. Again, this is not to excuse the way Labour has caved in to pressure; it is simply to point out that the Tories will be worse.

    Josie @3/4: Thanks for this, Josie. Didn’t know you still kept an eye on this blog. Nice to be backed up by a clever person with a real understanding of how policy gets implemented, path dependency and all that.

  6. Jono
    April 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Sorry, no.

    You don’t have to support Labour’s track record to support Labour at this election. It’s enough to want to keep the Tories out.

    You do have to support Labour’s track record (which I accept has many good things in it, but has enough bad things they did or attempted) because they would interpret my vote as accepting everything they did. You cannot believe their manifesto (PR, top-up fees, to name 2 things), so it is record and personality that must rule the day.

    (You probably can’t put too much stock in anyone’s manifesto, but that is a separate issue – Labour have a record of not living up to parts of their manifesto)

  7. JK
    April 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    One other thing, Paul. I’ve been reading your comments about the LGA’s draft Local Government Bill. And I agree with your concerns. I too suspect that there will be an attempt to devolve welfare spending to the local authorities. But and it is a pretty big but, the Tories will have to get the agreement of HMT to devolve that amount of expenditure, which will require major checks and balances to ensure the accountability of that level of public expenditure. LA have a poor record on paying housing benefit and there is a view that that taking on wider responsibilities would be very difficult bureacratic task for councils to manage. There are historical reasons why welfare payments were nationalised and these remain relevant. Tory councils, even in so called safe areas, don’t necessarily remain Tory for ever and the prospect of a Labour authority (or several) having a fight with central government on welfare payments can’t be discounted. A second problem is that variations in welfare payments risk population movements. Whilst the idea of social cleansing of the poor out of the localities would be appealing – this is what several Tory London boroughs have done effectively over the last twenty years by selling council housing, I suspect it would be more difficult to use variable levels of welfare benefits as a mechanism to the same end.
    It is true that the DWP have their own difficulties in paying benefits – that is because of the complexities of the system and in a devolved system there would be less specialist expertise and the level of unforced errors would rise (I would imagine that the incident of casual and organised fraud would rise too). I do agree that through the Total Place pilots some Tory councils are keen to take on the harrying of excluded families but I think that they will find that it is not so easy to find the savings they anticipate. Sorry for the long post but I’ve lost your email address. Do get in touch.

    Sorry just one other question; I have wondered whether anyone has attempted to map some of Carswell and Hannan’s proposals in their book The Plan against the Tory manifesto. I know they argued for elected police commissioners, for example. I’ve misplaced my copy and I can’t bear to buy another one.

  8. May 1, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I think an article like this is about the only real place that you and I differ, Paul.

    Voting TUSC won’t keep the Tories out – but a) by the looks of it, neither will voting Labour and b) a large number of those who will vote TUSC are unlikely to be Labour waverers – they’ve been long since disillusioned. We can either engage them in a Left fight back, which Labour can’t, or they can swing Right.

    The very existence of a group like the LRC which is half-in, half-out of the Labour Party proves the death grip the Party bureaucracy has over the institutions of the Party. And yes, if you view a fightback from within synchronically, it’s all a matter of just building up the numbers to overcome this.

    That’s not how politics works, however. There are ebbs and flows in morale, and it has been a long time since the Labour Left won any battles, never mind the key ones. When morale is low, turnover in numbers of people recruited will be high and we may as well try to grasp sand with our finger tips.

    Even having won two or three new selection battles, it’s a whole different ballgame explaining to people why this small victory means that someone three constituencies away should vote Labour, when Labour have just about privatised kitchen sinks and scraped services to the bottom of barrels.

    Meanwhile, in the country, the disintegration of Labour until there’s a cluster at the top, of careerists, and little else, is permitting the politics of the country to swing right and damning a reconstruction of Labour, as Labour is the entity that let it happen, from the p.o.v. of committed Left activists.

    Anyway, all that is neither here nor there, really. There will and must be a socialist challenge to Labour – even in supposedly “Left” constituencies like Stoke, because if there isn’t, the BNP will sweep up. That’s what decides the issue for me – Labour fiddling while Rome burns. And this isn’t an overestimation either, as I suspect we’re about to see.

    I’m on my way to Lewisham to campaign for TUSC and there I’ll be telling voters that every vote that goes TUSC’s way is a signal to union leaders and activists that it is time to re-align the efforts that have proved sterile for eighteen years towards the only socialist alternative there is, that win the election or lose it, our current impasse must be resolved – or we face Labour being entirely denuded of its worker base to become another Liberal Party (which has always been what New Labour aspired to).

  9. May 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Not buying this, although I’ll probably vote Labour, since my local candidate is pretty good and his voting record reasonably in tune with me.

    That said, all the parliamentary party has said to me in the last decade has been Hey, that’s a nice NHS you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it while pulling all kinds of insane financial, military and legal bullshit. If the best a Labour government can offer after three terms in office is to point out that the Tories are evil lunatics, that’s a piss-poor state of affairs and I don’t blame anyone for dicking them off.

  10. charliethechulo
    May 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    A similar position taken by Johhny Lewis at Shiraz Socialist:

    To Mark Steel and other socialists now backing the Greens and Respect:

    Where would you stand on the Labour government that sent in troops to break a dock strike
    in the 40s – the same government that gave us the A bomb and tied the UK by treaty
    (Nato) to US foreign policy?

    Would you have called for a vote for them? The Communist Party at the end of
    the war campaigned for a coalition with Churchill’s Tories: wrong but at
    least realistic.

    It is sad but true that the age profile of today’s left activists means that
    we include a disproportionately high number of comrades who campaigned
    against the Wilson and Callaghan governments’ policies. By 1979 we had convinced
    people of what was wrong with the Labour Government -but we failed to convince them of
    the method or even the necessity of organising to build an alternative that
    could do a better job for our class.

    Would you have called for a vote for Barbara Castle, the pioneer of
    anti-union laws ?
    Are your anti Labour candidates guaranteed never to sell out? Do they differ
    in some way from the good left candidates who have been elected to
    parliament (or as local councillors or union General Secretaries or even stewards) and failed to
    deliver?

    Yes of course they do: they will never sell out because they will never have
    anything to sell . Is it the case that making sure you don’t win and
    therefore have no responsibility for the actions of goverment that is the
    attraction of these candidates?

    I can understand members of religious organisations being more concerned
    with the state of their souls on judgment day than the passing affairs of
    this world but we on the Left exist to improve the position of the
    working class here and now.

    We should judge all our actions on the probable effect they have on the
    lives of our class.

    The probable outcomes of your Green/Respect campaign are (in order of likelihood):

    1. A Tory goverment
    2. A Tory-led coalition
    3. A Labour-led coalition
    4. A Labour government

    Do you believe that the difference between these is negligible?

    On the eve of the 1979 election Duncan Hallas from his then lofty position
    in the leadership of the SWP expressed the opinion that the election was not
    something to get excited about. Many on the left agreed with him that there
    was not enough difference between the (old) Labour Party and Margaret
    Thatcher’s Tories to warrant an active campaign for Labour. I do not think anybody is going to argue now that they
    were right about that.

    I don’t think left (and not-so-left: Respect and Green) alternative candidates are going to pick up many
    votes, but as in 1979 I do believe that if the left is not out working for
    Labour we can find ourselves saddled with a Tory government elected by a
    minority of the electorate. And we will face this in a mileu in which New Labour and the Cruddas soft-left control the politics because the
    hard left is not prepared to do the work.

  11. May 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Good post, Paul.

    To those on the left who can’t bring themselves to vote Labour becuae of New Labour’s record since 1997 I would ask:

    Where would you stand on the Labour government that sent in troops to break a dock strike
    in the 40s – the same government that gave us the A bomb and tied the UK by treaty
    (Nato) to US foreign policy?

    Would you have called for a vote for them? The Communist Party at the end of
    the war campaigned for a coalition with Churchill’s Tories: wrong but at
    least realistic.

    It is sad but true that the age profile of today’s left activists means that
    we include a disproportionately high number of comrades who campaigned
    against the Wilson and Callaghan governments’ policies. By 1979 we had convinced
    people of what was wrong with the Labour Government -but we failed to convince them of
    the method or even the necessity of organising to build an alternative that
    could do a better job for our class.

    Would you have called for a vote for Barbara Castle, the pioneer of
    anti-union laws ?
    Are your anti Labour candidates guaranteed never to sell out? Do they differ
    in some way from the good left candidates who have been elected to
    parliament (or as local councillors or union General Secretaries or even stewards) and failed to
    deliver?

    Yes of course they do: they will never sell out because they will never have
    anything to sell . Is it the case that making sure you don’t win and
    therefore have no responsibility for the actions of goverment that is the
    attraction of these candidates?

    I can understand members of religious organisations being more concerned
    with the state of their souls on judgment day than the passing affairs of
    this world but we on the Left exist to improve the position of the
    working class here and now.

    We should judge all our actions on the probable effect they have on the
    lives of our class.

    The probable outcomes of your Green/Respect campaign are (in order of likelihood):

    1. A Tory goverment
    2. A Tory-led coalition
    3. A Labour-led coalition
    4. A Labour government

    Do you believe that the difference between these is negligible?

    On the eve of the 1979 election Duncan Hallas from his then lofty position
    in the leadership of the SWP expressed the opinion that the election was not
    something to get excited about. Many on the left agreed with him that there
    was not enough difference between the (old) Labour Party and Margaret
    Thatcher’s Tories to warrant an active campaign for Labour. I do not think anybody is going to argue now that they
    were right about that.

    I don’t think left (and not-so-left: Respect and Green) alternative candidates are going to pick up many
    votes, but as in 1979 I do believe that if the left is not out working for
    Labour we can find ourselves saddled with a Tory government elected by a
    minority of the electorate. And we will face this in a mileu in which New Labour and the Cruddas soft-left control the politics because the
    hard left is not prepared to do the work.

  12. May 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    “They will enter into a Faustian pact with the international bond markets and credit agencies, whereby their reputation and political survival will become fundamentally dependent on bowing to the whim of the markets”

    “Labour will do none of these things”

    No government needs to enter any such pact, provided it’s running a balance of payments surplus and the government accounts are not in deficit. But for the last 30-odd years we’ve chosen to import more than we export, clocking up greater and greater debt – and for the past 10 years, since Gordon put Prudence – remember her ? – on crack and sent her to work the streets, Labour have been spending faster then they could raise taxes. How did they fund the difference ? Selling Treasury bonds.

    The British fiscal position is dire. Tax receipts 2008-9 – 508bn. Government deficit calendar year 2009 (don’t ask why they can’t keep them in line) 160bn. Something like a 12% of GDP annual deficit – or 30% of the government tax take – and a total debt rapidly heading for 100% of GDP – up from 40% to 70% in just two years. This was incurred when they decided to bail out the banks – aka ‘Gordon saving the world’.

    If you knew someone had debts of 100% of gross income AND was spending 30% more than he took home each year, how would you feel about the likelihood of him paying his debt back. That’s the calculation the bond markets will soon be making about the UK.

    There is another option – one Gordon has already tried. Why worry about the bond markets when you own the printing presses ? Last year the Treasury issued £200bn of bonds to itself, using electronic ‘printed money’ – calling it ‘quantitative easing’ and sparking an inflationary asset boom that saw the FT100 rise from 3500 to 5600 and caused the fortunes of Britain’s wealthiest to rise 30%. It also prevented house prices falling to a level where someone on an average income could afford to buy one. Keeping the bubble inflated is what Gordon’s all about. Britain has had a very Weimar feel to it in the last few years.

    Rising Inflation ? Check.

    Rising Unemployment ? Check.

    Ethnic division ? Check.

    Alienated working class ? Check.

    Fearful middle class ? Check.

    Savings losing value ? Check.

    Clueless rulers ? Check.

    Right-wing parties on the rise ? Check.

    Anti-Semitism likewise ? Check.

    I don’t think Cameron is likely to be a huge amount better than the last administration. But the only thing holding sterling up (and remember, it’s dropped already from $2 to $1.50 since 2007, at a time when the US economy is in poor shape) is the market’s belief that the Son of the Manse will get kicked in the pants.

  13. chris y
    May 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Labour may have done bad things, but a next Labour government will not be ANYWHERE NEAR AS REMOTELY DAMAGING to us all, and especially to the working class, as a Tory government.

    This can not be said often enough. But it isn’t a reason to vote Labour; it’s a reason to vote for the candidate (other than BNP) most likely to keep the Tory out in your constituency.

  14. May 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Laban! Come off it. This paragraph is so full of holes its ridiculous.

    “I don’t think Cameron is likely to be a huge amount better than the last administration. But the only thing holding sterling up (and remember, it’s dropped already from $2 to $1.50 since 2007, at a time when the US economy is in poor shape) is the market’s belief that the Son of the Manse will get kicked in the pants.”

    The only thing holding the markets up is the expectation of a Tory government?

    Well why have the markets not reacted negatively as a hung parliament becomes more and more likely? The pound has been strengthening against the Euro in the last few months. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/20100502/eur-gbp-weekly-outlook.htm

    Likewise your comment “(and remember, it’s dropped already from $2 to $1.50 since 2007, at a time when the US economy is in poor shape)” is nonsense, absolute strengths of economies aren’t that important for currency trading compared to the relative strength, and the US economy as far as the markets are concerned is doing better than Europe’s or our own (unemployment is bad, but the markets don’t ever seem too concerned by that).

    I do like you Laban, because I like extremists who make the blogosphere a little more interesting, but you do talk some utter shite.

    And your phobia of printing money is normal but Weimar?? Really? This post might be interesting for you http://freethinkingeconomist.com/2010/04/30/if-the-answer-is-helicopter-money-how-do-you-sell-it/ but I agree that Quantitative Easing has disproportionately helped the wealthy and it should have been focussed differently but it has also helped us avoid deflation, which is something good to avoid.

  15. RevStu
    May 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    chris y :
    This can not be said often enough. But it isn’t a reason to vote Labour; it’s a reason to vote for the candidate (other than BNP) most likely to keep the Tory out in your constituency.

    Precisely. Voting Labour to keep the Tories out is a fool’s response to a fake dichotomy. Returning Labour to power with a majority would simply mean giving them a blank cheque for the further destruction of civil liberties, the further squandering of lives and billions of pounds in Afghanistan, and yet more despicable attacks on the unemployed.

    Voting for the best-placed non-Tory, on the other hand, will very likely bring about electoral reform, which could well protect us from the Tories FOREVER, and at the same time also protect us from the Tory Lite policies of New Labour.

    This election is not between Labour and the Tories, and pretending otherwise is insane and criminal. It’s between the stranglehold of the status quo – which forces ALL parties to triangulate ever further rightwards, and will see the future “Labour” party somewhere to the right of UKIP – and the chance to bring about the most revolutionary change in British politics since universal suffrage. Vote for democracy, while you still can. Vote hung parliament.

  16. May 3, 2010 at 3:46 am

    The one thing David Cameron is scared of is a hung parliament, and perhaps that is the most desirable outcome. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been leading Labour along the road to fascism — both desired 90-day detention. And Labour have led Britain into THREE wars of imperialist aggression — in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Giving Labour a blank cheque would encourage them to continue along that path. A hung parliament would put a brake on the evils likely to be propagated by either a Tory or a Labour government.

  17. May 3, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Hardly a road to fascism, Steve. This country has a long history of imperialist wars and illiberal laws used to form the backdrop to our way of life.

  1. May 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm
  2. April 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm

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