PR Will Kill the Red Tories 71


The essence of Conservatism is that people doing quite nicely out of the current system do not want anything to change, in case the consequences are not good for them. That is why John Stuart Mill said the Conservatives would be better named “The Stupid Party”. Conservatism does not require a thought process. Generally it does require a callousness towards those not doing well out of the current system.

Radicalism is more diffuse. Its essence can be a cold certainty of the rationalist ability to calculate risk and consequence. Or it can spring from romanticism, the gambler’s instinct, or plain having nothing to lose. (In my case, all of the above).

The First Past the Post electoral system is a historic relic not fitted to a modern society. But by definition elected politicians have done rather well out of it, so have no incentive to change. With the neo-conservative consensus embracing all the main Westminster parties, it doesn’t make any difference who governs us apart from the question of which particular snouts are in the trough, which is no help to the man in the street.

Then along we come in the SNP and challenge some of the pillars of neo-conservatism, like the possession of vast hordes of nuclear warheads, the utility of ever increasing wealth inequality, a pre-Keynesian, Thatcherite attitude to public finance, and trying to get our way in the world by bombing poorer peoples. The SNP has managed to gather enough support for a radical agenda to pass the FPTP tipping point and for the system to work massively in our favour in Scotland. Cue massed panic in the Westminster establishment, including the corporate media. For the first time in a generation, people have appeared on a main television channel arguing that possession of weapons of mass destruction by the UK is not a good thing.

Whole sections of the Establishment have therefore woken up, for all the wrong reasons, to the fact that FPTP is a bad system. Yet neither the Blue nor the Red Tories are likely to embrace proportional representation.

The Blue Tories will not embrace PR because they are the Stupid Party. There is a right wing majority in England. If you separate Scotland, then UKIP and the Conservatives have about 48% of the vote in England compared to about 42% for Labour plus the Greens. I have left the Lib Dems out, though post Clegg they might fairly be added to the conservative total. Because of this right wing majority outside Scotland, PR would keep the Tories in government almost all of the time, though generally in coalition.

By contrast the Red Tories would be stuffed by PR. There just is not enough support for them, even after five years of a very unpopular coalition government. The reason there is not enough support for them is that they do not offer any kind of real alternative in policy. More austerity, more nukes, just fronted by an even less appealing set of neo-con “personalities” than the Conservatives in Miliband, Balls, Cooper, Murphy and Alexander.

What the SNP have shown is that there is a real public hunger for a more radical politics. PR would be the death of the Labour Party because the large majority of its voters lend the party their support purely to keep the Tories out, not because they are enthused by the policies or the line-up. PR would give the chance for a genuinely radical alternative to grow. There are legions of Labour supporters who would love to vote Green but fear it would let the Tory in. Under PR, other left alternatives besides the Greens would soon blossom. The Red Tories don’t actually have a unique offering to the public. There is not really a market niche for another set of Tories. They are maintained entirely by the inertia of the FPTP system. And they know it.

Expect a lot of angst about FPTP following major SNP gains. But do not expect the Establishment to do anything about it – the status quo suits them fine.


71 thoughts on “PR Will Kill the Red Tories

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  • MJ

    “But do not expect the Establishment to do anything about it – the status quo suits them fine”

    Sadly it seems to suit most of the rest of us as well. We had the opportunity, only four years ago, to vote for AV but we weren’t interested.

  • Les Incredibles

    The Bush tax cuts (continued under Obama) now amount to an incredible US $8 trillion and counting. NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE has emerged of any supply side trickle down benefit to the 99% for the past TWELVE YEARS eg minimum wage is stagnant. In the meantime the 99% have had austerity forced upon them ostensibly to reduce the budget deficit/national debt, which instead has ballooned to $15t today from the $4t under Clinton (to be paid by the 99%s VAT/payroll taxes presumably)?!

    THE SAME CON HAS BEEN PERPETRATED HERE BY THE CAMERON/OSBORNE TOO, THE NATIONAL DEBT HAS DOUBLED FROM £0.9t to £1.8t TODAY, in five years. ALL UNDER THE GUISE OF AUSTERITY, whilst taxes on the !% have been lowered !!

    Balls & meatpie eating nulabour fools have not even brought this doubling of the national debt to finance TAX CUTS to the election attention of the 99% under AUSTERITY ???! And its 3 days to the election, its a farce !

  • Ba'al Zevul

    No, we haven’t heard much from Labour about Janner, and that is very far from surprising. And Tony, who might have asked a few questions but was as usual completely unaware of anything dodgy going on (such is the privilege of sainthood) hs been noticeably absent from the UK news this week.

    But the rightwing press is full of it.
    Apologies for even mentioning the Express, which, though, has managed to find a Scottish dimension (an investigation by the Scottish police seems to have been suppressed as thoroughly as the English one)

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/574604/Scots-police-on-spot-Lord-Greville-Janner-probe

    And Ian Henning’s case notes seem to have found their way to the Mail.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3064947/Lord-Janner-director-firm-THREE-WEEKS-ago-emerges-damning-dossier-alleges-police-chief-allowed-peer-molest-young-boys.html

    All of which would be sub judice if any charges had at any time been preferred. But they haven’t.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Radicalism is more diffuse. Its essence can be a cold certainty of the rationalist ability to calculate risk and consequence”.

    The certainty may be “cold”, but it is none the less delusional for that. (Indeed, probably even more delusional, as someone who is certain about things that are, in their nature, uncertain must certainly have a screw loose somewhere).

    Consider the mathematician who proved, with the cold certainty of physical laws and equations, that the bumblebee cannot fly. Evidently, he was wrong about that. Now consider the difference in complexity and diversity between that simple problem and that of calculating the future of whole societies and economies. Anyone who honestly believes that he can predict, with cold certainty, the consequences of any given change needs education or therapy (or both).

    By the way, it was discovered many years later that the reason for the bumblebee discrepancy was that the insect’s wings, in beating, create a complex system of mini-vortices which give it additional lift. Precisely analogous to the tens of thousands of undiscovered effects and relationships in human systems which altogether preclude any kind of predictively accurate scientific description.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    “Rather an ancient link there Fred. 2006.”

    Doesn’t matter if it’s out of date, biased, fraudulent, or even a downright lie, just as long as it can be used against the SNP.

  • Tom Welsh

    It’s not quite fair to characterise conservatism as the philosophy of those who are content with the status quo. True, there is probably some element of that – and why not? After all, it is very fine and admirable to wish to improve the lot of the poor and downtrodden, but there is also the risk that if some attractive-seeming plan misfires, everyone may end up worse off. (More or less what happened in the USSR).

    I would say rather that conservatives are people who live by the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Also the cautious principle that dictates making changes a little bit at a time, in a provisional way, and always keeping open the option of returning to the status quo ante if things go wrong. As a matter of fact, that is exactly how all engineers, software developers, and others charged with building substantial and important systems go about their work.

    Robert Conquest’s First Law of Politics sums up this belief:

    “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best”.

  • lysias

    “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” only applies as long as it ain’t broke.

  • lysias

    “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best”.

    I guess the things I know best are classical antiquity (advanced degrees in the subject) and military affairs (retired naval officer). As people know who have followed my posts here, I am radical about both.

  • fred

    “Rather an ancient link there Fred. 2006.”

    Thanks for pointing that out Mary, as of 2012 it had risen to 88% maybe with the addition of cancer patients to the list in 2009.

  • eddie-g

    A US political theorist, Corey Robin, argues that modern conservatism is based on the preservation of hierarchies. (He sets it out in a book called “The Reactionary Mind”) Sounds like you’d agree with him.

    On the whole rise of the SNP, my amateur political science take on it is that the UK political centre has always been to the right of the Scottish political centre. New Labour moved the UK centre even further right, the SNP filled that vacuum (especially so after the Lib Dems hitched themselves to a Tory coalition). I now believe this element of the SNP might have more appeal than their nationalism.

    My amateur political sense is that Scottish voters, overall, want a fairer society underpinned by a larger welfare state. That’s what the ever-strong Devo-max polling indicates. And so independence will come about if one day enough Scots decide that only the SNP are capable of delivering this type of society.

  • Leon's lapbone

    Episode 9,000,000 of Fred, the fake revolutionary, in which our hero tries to get his head around rigorous economics and catastrophically fails: “In both England and Scotland there is only so much money available for health care and education.”

    Modern Monetary Theory. It’s the antidote to stupid shit like that.

    Time for Fred to mutter Fuck off and Die Retard, like he always does when he gets caught mouthing statist bullshit.

  • fred

    “So a free-to-all NHS is also a right wing policy?”

    I think socialist policy says “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” doesn’t it? The working man paying for the millionaire certainly isn’t left wing.

    In these parts we only recently got a National Health dentist and now there is one the waiting list for adults to join is very long. They are closing services at the local hospital, first time mothers have to go to Inverness to give birth yet people driving round in Rolls Royces get their prescription charges paid for.

    If they could offer free prescriptions to all without making cuts to other areas of the health service it would be different but they can’t, they are making those cuts. If they could give free tuition fees to the children of the wealthy without making cuts for the poor it would be different but they can’t, just take a look at the figures.

    http://www.keziadugdale.com/2014/07/15/scotlands-colleges-2/

  • Ba'al Zevul

    would say rather that conservatives are people who live by the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Also the cautious principle that dictates making changes a little bit at a time, in a provisional way, and always keeping open the option of returning to the status quo ante if things go wrong. As a matter of fact, that is exactly how all engineers, software developers, and others charged with building substantial and important systems go about their work.

    An eminently defensible point of view, which permits conservative versions of both socialism and nationalism as well as of (utterly benign, obviously) capitalism.

    Just a pity you forgot to mention that the kind of conservatism in favour at the moment works by putting populations into collective debt, regards the workforce as a marginal commodity, and decries enforced change change only when it threatens the very advantageous position of the obscenely rich. (Violent change, such as war, in order to abstract other peoples’ assets, is entirely permissible, and indeed policy).

    He who wear rosetinted glasses think everyone redder than him (ancient sage Ko Mo Do)

  • fred

    “Time for Fred to mutter Fuck off and Die Retard, like he always does when he gets caught mouthing statist bullshit.”

    The only time I say that is when thugs and bullies try to shout me down with personal insults rather than engage in rational debate.

    So fuck off and die retard, you are just proving you don’t have an argument.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    I’m just wondering how one can be “radical” about classical antiquity……

    But it’s a nice soundbite.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    I’m not convinced that a military background is any guarantee of political insight (or even sanity).

    The late General Montgomery is a case in point.

    And the Eisenhower Presidency is not rated too highly either, I believe… 🙂

  • Phil

    Robert Crawford

    Although the the site says it is available to read online, the link is broken and I cannot find it. Do you have a direct link to the poem?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    There seem to be quite a few trolls and sockpuppets on this thread.

    But that’s usually the case with Scotland.SNP-related threads, isn’t it.

    I wonder why.

  • Phil

    Vronsky

    If you can be arsed I would be interested in hearing what convinces you to hang on in with the SNP.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I wonder if Fred is actually hoping to influence a single vote here? And I wonder if having a plummy-voiced transvestite and a rabid Blairite address anyone in a Glasgow street situation couldn’t itself be construed as incitement to riot? Nevertheless, the BBC, if not the Mail, concedes that the leader of the little demo (for that is what it was) claims that his concern was with austerity, not nationalism.

    Fred, what of austerity from you?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-scotland-32581803

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Fred : I think socialist policy says “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” doesn’t it? The working man paying for the millionaire certainly isn’t left wing.”

    So, to be clear, you are saying that a free-to-all NHS is a right wing policy. Yes?

  • Phil

    Robert

    According to the web site the film came out of a poem “Royal Babylon” by Heathcote Williams. It sounds interesting but the link to read the poem leads to a piece about the film. But what’s not to love about Alex Cox so I may watch the film later. What’s it about?

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