FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Threats to David Cameron’s Tories

Continental people have sex lives: the English have hot water bottles.
George Mikes, How to be an Alien (1946)

So much fuss about nothing, which is the perfect storm for a British political scandal. Even as the British Prime Minister David Cameron was readying for the Tory Party conference in Birmingham, his minister for civil society handed in his resignation over a sex scandal. To make matters more baffling for the Prime Minister, the UK Independence Party’s siren song proved impossible for another Tory MP to resist. In a matter of hours, Cameron had a resignation and a defection.

In what is surely a comic miscasting, Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, decided to add credence to his name by leaping over to Ukip, whose anti-EU message has spoken in moving volumes. This followed in the wake of Douglas Carswell’s move to the same party for similar reasons. The Eurosceptic group among the Conservatives, which has been a bone of contention for years, is assuming serious proportions with the presence of a proudly fashioned anti-EU party. “I promise to cut immigration while treating people fairly and humanely. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative; I can keep it as Ukip.”

The optimists in Cameron’s camp might be relieved that there is finally a beacon to draw away the rabble rousing anti-Europeans, who have had a habit of sabotaging the conservatives at vital moments of their political fortunes. But such departures do bring their inevitable costs.

The strategists will be worried whether the Ukip temptation may convert the Tories into mere mimicry, an anti-European, populist echo keen to smash welfare and don the John Bull attire. In the words of Home Office minister Damian Green, “We must at all costs and at all times resist the temptation to become Ukip-lite.” Critics such as The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee are convinced that the push to the right is entirely self-inflicted and conscious, a very clear, all out strategy to begin with. “Out of Europe is not just a policy, it’s a proxy for all they hate, form human rights to welfare.”

That brutal fight for the inner Tory has proven a dysfunctional, and disorienting one. No one is genuinely conservative enough, just as no one is clear what exactly a modern conservative looks like, however much welfare is slashed. “As with so many things,” surmises John Harris, “it’s ultimately Margaret Thatcher’s fault.”

The good tradition of Tory turncoats has been well complemented by that of titillating sleaze. The Reckless defection was complemented by the resignation of the MP for Braintree, Brooks Newmark, who proved he was not the sharpest knife in the conservative drawer in sending “inappropriate messages” on the WhatsApp to a journalist. Such inappropriateness involved a “girl snap of his willy” as a tabloid so unflatteringly called it. The Sunday Mirror decided to make it less graphic, but the suggestion was unmistakable: “As a part of a series of exchanges, he sent a graphic picture exposing himself while wearing a pair of paisley pyjamas.” Such taste from the founder of the Women2Win campaign group!

The male journalist was ever so cheeky in posing as online alter-ego and party activist “Sophie Wittams”, someone Newmark wanted to bag and shag. The conservative magazine, The Spectator, decided that such behaviour was not reprehensible to require expulsion from Parliament. “But it doesn’t help a ministerial career: Newmark is out as a civil society minister.” Nor did it help Malin Sahlen, a Swedish model whose photo was used to cover for Wittams. While Newmark was a rank amateur relative to his Tory predecessors of the “Back to Basics” era of John Major, he paid the expected price.

Those selling the paisley pyjamas were the only ones to cheer at this story of entrapment. “It seems that the suburbs of England are now feeling the ‘paisley effect’ as the classic pyjama design has now sold out at M&S.”

Cameron’s calculations have been thrown out given his reluctance to continue with the Liberal Democrats in a coalition arrangement. The Tories have been doing much effacing and removal of their Lib Dem counterparts, much of it in anticipation of cutting them away like irritating impedimenta. In the view of the prime minister, “I’m more keen than ever to lead a government that can really deliver, unencumbered by the Liberal Democrats. We can take it from here now.”

The threat posed by the Tory vote eating organism that is becoming Ukip may well force the Tories into an arrangement they otherwise despise. Much of that may well be academic – the British voter is unlikely to spare the Lib Dems for their spineless performance in the coalition bedroom. But even as such manoeuvres take place, it is touching to see the tradition of Troy sleaze, but more importantly reaction to it, being upheld with a touching diligence.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail