Thursday 22 June 2017

Theresa May has finally admitted that she was talking Orwellian nonsense during the election campaign

After trying to sell the country the absurd Orwellian narrative that the nation is wonderfully united, Theresa May has finally been forced to admit that we're actually more divided than ever.

To go from talking about unity and how the country is "coming together" in April to admitting that "our country is divided: red versus blue; young versus old; leave versus remain" in June is quite some turnaround, but despite identifying three of the significant divisions she tried to deny during the election campaign, she missed the biggest division of all, the division between the mega-rich and the rest of us.

Red vs Blue

Theresa May is right that the country is divided between Tory and Labour support. Labour's 40% share of the vote would have been enough to finish with a parliamentary majority in any election since 1979, but they came second to the Tories 42% vote share (obviously also enough to win a significant majority in any other election).

When it comes to support for hard-right austerity dogma and investment-based economics the divide is even more stark, with 14.5 million people backing hard-right austerity parties (Tories, UKIP, DUP) and 14.5 million backing  pro-investment parties (Labour, SNP, Green, Plaid Cymru).

Young vs Old

 There has been a massive change in British politics. Ever since universal suffrage the best predictor of voting intention was always social class, with the Tories generally favoured by the wealthier classes, and the Labour Party generally favoured by the working poor.

The Scottish independence vote in 2014, the Brexit vote in 2016 and Theresa May's vanity election have revealed a massive change, with age now becoming a much stronger indicator of voting intention than social class.

If it was up to the working age population of Scotland to decide their future then the result would have been too close to call, but pensioners swung the vote in favour of the union by voting 73% - 27% for continued Scottish subservience to Westminster (the way the newspapers told them to vote).

In 2016 the roles were reversed with the young voting to retain the benefits of EU membership and the older generations voting to sign a blank contract with the hard-right of the Tory party to make Brexit up as they go along (the way the newspapers told them to vote).

In 2017 the under-45s voted heavily in favour of investment economics, repatriation of public services and a cooperative approach to the Brexit negotiations, while the older generations voted heavily in favour of more austerity dogma, more privatisation of public services, and Theresa May's belligerent and antagonistic approach to the Brexit negotiations (the way the newspapers told them to vote).

The country has never been more divided between the rich and the poor, but the situation as exists now is clearly a demographic timebomb for the regressive right as ever more young people will join the electoral register, and ever more elderly people will fall off it as they die (the Tory grandee Michael Heseltine reckons the Tories will lose 2% of their voters per year in this way).

Leave vs Remain

The country is still split down the middle on whether they think Brexit is a good idea, but one thing we are pretty strongly united on is recognition that a "no deal" Tory strop away from the negotiating table would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom.

The economic damage from a chaotic flounce out of Europe would be bigger than the consequences of the 2007-08 financial sector insolvency crisis (that we still haven't recovered from), and what's more, it would trigger economic fallout on the global scale, for which Britain and the British people would be held directly responsible for allowing it to happen.

Characterising the Brexit debate as a binary Leave vs Remain debate is a very poor oversimplification in a situation which is much better seen as a choice between a catastrophic nuclear Brexit, and any other option (hard Brexit, soft Brexit, Swiss style Brexit, no Brexit ...).

Mega-rich vs the rest of us

The biggest divide in British society is the division between the vast majority of ordinary people and the mega-rich class who completely bankroll the Tory party.

Since the financial crisis UK workers have suffered the longest sustained decline in the value of our wages since records began, 400,000+ more kids are growing up in poverty, local services have been slashed to the bone, in-work benefits and social welfare for disabled people have been cut time and time again ...

Meanwhile the Tories have lavished one handout after another on corporations and the mega-rich, meaning that while the rest of us have carried the burden of Tory austerity dogma, the mega-rich elitists have more than doubled their wealth.

Labour's transformative manifesto was aimed at reducing this widening division between the mega-rich and the rest of us, and Theresa May's manifesto of misery was aimed at snatching even more wealth and opportunity from the majority of us in order to lavish even more handouts on corporations and the super rich.

It's obvious why Theresa May decided to avoid mentioning the division between the mega-rich and the rest of us. She knows as well as anyone who has been paying the remotest bit of attention that the Tory party have spent the last seven years widening that division by transferring as much wealth as possible from the majority of us to the tiny mega-rich minority.

Theresa May doesn't want us thinking about this particular division, because if we do, we'd obviously want to sling the Tory party out of power for what they've done, and make sure they never come back again.

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