Tuesday 25 September 2018

In The Blood

The contaminated blood scandal is a sign of what would become of the National Health Service if the Liam Fox Tendency had its way and a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States brought in the American healthcare companies.

Mercifully, though, the right wings of both parties are now so peripheral that they are on the brink of secession. They are not, however, beyond that brink. They both know that if they were to put up as themselves, then no one would vote for them.

On the Labour side, that is now established beyond doubt. The Blairite rump has used its old trick of an all-women shortlist in an attempt to guarantee for itself the second Deputy Leadership that is otherwise going to be set up for no apparent reason. 

But is practically certain that that position is in fact going to be filled by Angela Rayner, who is politically between Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson, and it is quite possible that she will be the only candidate.

If anyone can find something to do with what would otherwise be this non-job, then it is Angela. She is also a staunch supporter of the County Durham Teaching Assistants, having marched with them at the 2016 Durham Miners' Gala, and having signed their petition at my instigation. So much for the Blairite Right of the Labour Party.

As for the Thatcherite Right of the Conservative Party, its irrelevance was clear from Keir Starmer's Labour Party Conference speech, which simply assumed that the likes of the European Reform Group were going to have to vote with Labour against whatever Theresa May brought back, and which was instead addressed to the Conservatives who really mattered, namely the ones who wanted a second referendum, but this time between the EEA and Remain. 

Despite May's instinctive sympathy for either of those options, and especially for the latter, she has set her face against such a referendum. But of course she has never been noted for consistency. Another of her screaming, arm-waving, "Nothing Has Changed" moments would seem to be in order. 

Or something really would be changed, whether she liked it or not. Twice in the last 30 years, the Conservative Party Conference has cheered the Leader to the echo and that Leader has been out within a few weeks. One of those Leaders was a serving Prime Minister who had won three General Elections and who had an overall majority well into three figures. Compared to that, getting rid of May would be very small beer indeed.

The EEA-or-Remain referendum would then be held very early in 2019, even though Winter is hardly the ideal time in which to do this kind of thing. Reduction to a colony and a satrapy would be the only thing worse than staying in the EU, so vote Remain against the EEA and then resume the struggle the next day, as in 1973, in 1975, and in 1983.

But what else would change? The new Conservative Leader would be as committed as Jeremy Corbyn to the abolition of Universal Credit, May's Poll Tax. He, and it would almost certainly be he, would be as committed as Corbyn and May to the renaissance of council housing. He would probably be as committed as Corbyn, the Adam Smith Institute and The Economist to the Universal Basic Income.

He would certainly be as committed as Corbyn, and really May as well, to the implementation of the report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, which is the Beveridge Report of our age, and which is the balm to heal the wounds with the Federation of Small Businesses, the National Farmers' Union, the Church of England, and a former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and former Commercial Secretary to the Treasury under David Cameron, writing in the Financial Times.

And he, like May, would be as receptive as Corbyn to the economic vision set out in John McDonnell's Labour Party Conference speech, excoriated as that has been by Thatcherites and Blairites who insist, if not always on the back of very much evidence, that they speak for and from "the real world". Well, if you were that good, then you would not have had a complete coup against you in both parties.

One party is now led by a Home Counties housewife of the kind that never asks what her husband does all day, and fills up her own time with the social side of the local Conservative Party, with her parish church, with the Women's Institute, and with the Girl Guides. "Real world" Thatcherites, this was the only person in the entire country whom your party considered capable of being Prime Minister. She still is.

The other party is now led by a man who has been either an MP or a full-time trade union official, and that in the public sector, for about 50 of his 69 years. "Real world" Blairites, this is who has beaten you. Twice.

Both Leaders will have thought that McDonnell had talked "a lot of common sense" yesterday. But remember, you are so much more capable than they are. That is why they are the Leaders and you are not.

The House of Commons will soon be made up very largely of those who now accrue to both political parties, namely the most bookishly bachelor sons of the heavily subsidised landed interest, and the most bookishly bachelor beneficiaries of the benefits system.

Both of those have always regarded it as a public good that their scholarship and their activism were effectively made possible by State funding. Both of them will feel that that view had been vindicated when, within the next 20 years and then for at least 80 thereafter, they provided more than 150 Conservative and more than 150 Labour MPs.

But there will still be all too many Thatcherites and Blairites next time. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and our people need to hold the balance of power in it. My crowdfunding page is here, or email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com for other options. That address accepts PayPal.

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