Tuesday 6 February 2018

Analysis of Anna Soubry's extraordinary Newsnight rant

On the evening of Monday February 5th 2018 BBC Newsnight broadcast an extraordinary interview with the Tory MP Anna Soubry in which she called for Theresa May to conduct a purge to remove Brextremist MPs from the Tory party.

In this article I'm going to analyse some of the stuff she said in the interview embedded below.
The clip begins with an assertion that "Labour's front bench itself is ideological" and a claim that the Tory front bench "probably isn't".
This is absolute nonsense for several reasons.

Of course Labour's front bench does have an ideology, they have a clear and unmistakable ideological commitment to democratic public ownership of vital UK infrastructure and services like the NHS, police services, the courts, the education system, the rail network, Royal Mail and the National Grid. (An ideology that is commonplace across the developed world and which has massive public support).
But it's obvious that the Tory front bench has an ideology too. They're not just wedded to the neoliberal ideology of privatisation mania (flogging off the national silver on the cheap to unaccountable private entities), their ruinous obsession with austerity dogma stems directly from their ideological desire to shrink the role of the state too. 
Anyone trying to weaponise the concept of "ideology" with claims that they have no political ideology of their own is clearly trying to bullshit you, because even the most directionless, opportunistic and self-serving of politicians are still guided by an ideology, an ideology of prioritising their personal self-interest.
Soubry then goes on to assert that Theresa May's cabinet are "in hock to 35 hard ideological Brexiteers"
This is undoubtedly true but the number is an underestimate. The Tory Brextremist faction even have their own secretive group called the ERG, which has significantly more than 35 members. In fact they have easily enough MPs to call a vote of no confidence in Theresa May if she doesn't do exactly what they demand. Their previous two leaders (Steve Baker and Suella Fernandes) have both been elevated into Theresa May's government, and the next ERG leader in line is Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Soubry then claims that these Brextremists are "not Tories" and "not the Tory party I joined 40 years ago".
The problem here is that they are Tories, and undeniably so. Just like Anna Soubry and the more Europlilic Tory MPs all of the Brextremist Tories voted in favour of every crackpot Tory privatisation scam; they voted in favour of loading the cost of the bankers' crisis onto the shoulders of the poor and ordinary through austerity dogma and wage repression; they voted in favour of welfare cuts and the systematic abuse of disabled people; they voted in favour of erecting one barrier after another to social mobility; they voted in favour of slashing taxes for corporations and the mega-rich whilst simultaneously slashing tax credits and other in-work benefits for the working poor; they voted in favour of gagging their political critics and unprecedented state snooping powers; and they voted in favour of imposing unlawful restrictions on workers' rights to take bad bosses to employment tribunals
The Brextremists are just one faction of the Tory ideology. They've always been there, and Soubry knows it because in her next damned sentence she accuses them of bringing down John Major in the 1990s and David Cameron in 2015, which they obviously couldn't have done if they're not a longstanding faction of the Tory party.
"And it's about time Theresa May stood up and slung 'em because they took down John Major and they took down David Cameron, two great leaders, neither of whom stood up to them."
This is an overt call for an ideological purge of the Brextremist wing of the Tory party, which is remarkable because it's only a few weeks since Nadine Dorries of the Brextremist wing was calling for an ideological purge of so-called "Mutineer" Tories like Anna Soubry
So now we have two distinct factions of the Tory party calling for the other to be purged, yet the mainstream media remains absolutely fixated on highlighting and magnifying the internal disputes within the Labour Party with the aim of presenting them as hopelessly divided. 
Then there's the delusion that Theresa May has the authority to stand up to Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Brextremist faction he leads. In reality Theresa May is a puppet Prime Minister with no authority whatever because she would be ousted immediately if she ever dared to defy her Brextremist puppet masters. 
Then there's the absurd description of John Major and David Cameron as great leaders. Admittedly Major had more integrity, competence and authority in his little finger than Theresa May, but he was also the leader of a dead duck administration that clung pathetically onto power for years. And as for David Cameron, he gambled away the entire future of the UK in a ludicrous short-term party political ploy to nick votes off UKIP. It doesn't matter what else he did (most of it terrible) that's how he'll be remembered in the history books.
"The time has come for the moderates, the centrists in the Conservative party - dare I use the expression - to 'take control' of our party and make it the sensible, moderate, centrist 'one nation' party that its voters, and I think its members are."
In a political system that has been drifting ever further to the right for four decades, the concept of 'centrism' is a complete misnomer
If 'centrism' involves supporting ruinous austerity dogma, imposing the longest sustained collapse in the value of workers wages since records began, systematically persecuting sick and disabled people, slashing in-work benefits for the working poor, overseeing the lowest levels of house building since the 1920s, lumbering students with vast unpayable debts before they even start their careers, privatising thousands of taxpayer funded schools into the hands of unaccountable pseudo-charities, attacking workers' rights, and catastrophically under-funding the NHS and social care services ... then 'centrism' is clearly extremism, not moderation.
"If it comes to it I'm not going to stay in a party which has been taken over by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson."
She needs to face facts and accept that the Tory party has already been taken over by the extremist blue-kip faction, and those who remain within the party and continue voting in favour of hard-right anti-democratic abominations like Theresa May's European Union Withdrawal Bill (like Soubry did) are even worse. 
They're collaborators who know exactly how bad it is, but they vote in favour of it out of a combination of self-interest and misguided loyalty to a party that's been usurped over by the hard-right fringe.
 "Unless Theresa stands up and sees off these people she's in danger of losing huge swathes of, not just the parliamentary party, but the Conservative party"
This analysis is half correct at the absolute best.  
Tory party membership is already down to well below 70,000, meaning years of austerity dogma, wage repression, and persecution of the sick and disabled have already taken a massive toll on 'one nation' type Tories. Of those who remain Tory members, a hefty majority are already pro-Brexit, and Tory MPs these days are left bolstering their ranks of activists with the worst kind of extreme-right, white supremacists, Brextremists, and the alt-right fringe
As for the parliamentary party, Soubry herself illustrated their spinelessness by actually voting in favour of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which was nothing short of a shambolic hard-right power grab dressed up as a Brexit bill. If they were going to revolt, they would have revolted over that.
What the Tories are seriously in danger of losing is voters, because the more they pander to the fanatically right-wing ultranationalist blue-kip faction, the more they'll alienate the rest of the public, and especially the under-50s. 
"If that means leaving the party for some new alliance, God knows, but we just simply can't go on like this any longer. Something is going to have to give, because if it doesn't, not only will we end up with Jacob Rees-Mogg as our Prime Minister, we'll get a devastating hard Brexit which will cause huge damage to our economy for generations to come. And I am not prepared to sit by any longer and put up with this nonsense."

There are many points to raise here, so I'll resort to bullet points.
  • The future economic potential of the UK has already been trashed thanks to Tories like Anna Soubry and the eight punishing years of Tory austerity dogma, wage repression, and the lowest levels of infrastructure investment anywhere in the developed world that they've overseen. It's a bit much for her to suddenly begin pretending to care about devastating long-term economic consequences now!
  • Soubry says she's not prepared to put up with it any longer, but why on earth did she wait until after she helped push through the horrific EU Withdrawal Bill to make this stand?
Remainer reaction

Huge numbers of Remainers and #FBPE hashtags on Twitter have been sharing this rant as if Soubry is some kind of hero of the Remain movement, but she actually voted in favour of Theresa May's hard-right anti-democratic EU Withdrawal Bill just a few weeks ago.

It's extraordinary that people are buying into this empty posturing, because it's a demonstration that they place more value on Soubry's mouth words than they do on her actual actions!

Anyone who is genuinely committed to opposing an extreme Tory Brexit should be furious with this rant, because it's just empty rhetoric from someone who actively collaborated with the Brextremists just a few weeks ago by voting in favour of the shameless and shambolic legislation they've put forward to seal their hard-right power grab.

Brexiteer reaction 

Soubry's rant has enraged the Brexiteers, with numerous calls for Soubry to be expelled from the party. No doublt she'll be inundated by another wave of death threats from the revolting Blue-kip mob too.

As delusional as she is, there's no way Soubry deserves death threats for expressing her political opinions. Nobody does.

When it comes to the calls for expulsion from the party though, that's surely got to be fair game , because she called for her political opponents to be purged in the rant. It would be profoundly hypocritical of her to cry-victim when her opponents respond to her rhetoric with more of the same.

If Soubry does get punished by May, then that will help to illustrate the point that the Tory party is completely controlled by the Brextremists, because it's only a few weeks ago that the Brextremist Nadine Dorries was allowed to get away with a similarly divisive and damaging call for an ideological purge of "mutineer" Tory MPs.

If Soubry gets punished after Dorries was let off for spewing exactly the same kind of factional rhetoric, then that's an obvious indication of which faction of the Tory party is in control of Theresa May.

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