In the wake of the election result, there have been many takes on the Tory victory from the centre, the centre-left and the proper left, all of them very, very bad. I thought it was worth taking the time to go through them and talk about why they don’t work the way they are intended.
- The Tories are creating a fascist dictatorship
No, they aren’t. Or at least, it’s very unlikely. Brexit is a bad idea. The Tories have installed a very right-wing person to be Home Secretary. These two things do not add up to the Tories trying to create a dictatorship. Rule number one of 21st century politics should be this: just because you disagree with someone, it does not make them a Nazi. When you hysterically go on about this, people switch off and think you’re insane. And then vote Tory because they seem like the only non-crazy bunch by comparison.
2. Okay, perhaps fascist was going a bit far. But they are certainly a hard right government this one
Well, you say that, but they are doing things like promising more money for public services, which whatever it is, is not hard right. Yes, perfectly acceptable to ask how and when the Tories are going to deliver on these promises. But when the government appears to have moved slightly to the left, at least in economic terms, to call them hard right just makes you look a bit ridiculous.
3. Dominic Cummings is hoarding power
One could make a point about how Dom Cummings, now an unelected bureaucrat, raged against and is raging still against unelected bureaucrats. There is an interesting discussion at least within this idea. Labour types never bring this up, however, happier to go on about how Cummings wants to hoard power and centralise control. Given Corbynism was all about hoarding power and centralising control, this doesn’t work as a critique. You can’t say you want to run a socialist government and then complain when someone wants to use the government to change the country.
4. Boris is lazy and delegates everything
Literally no one who is not a Labour, Green or Lib Dem member gives the slightest shit about this. Most of the electorate care about how the government as a whole operates. If Boris wants to delegate everything to his advisers and cabinet, so be it. If he wants to be a sort of figurehead who lets others do the heavy lifting policy-wise while he acts as the cheerful public face, all right then. So long as the government does what it said it will do, people don’t mind. It is also worth noting that this point also unconsciously counteracts points 1 and 2 – is Boris a dictator in waiting, hungry to inhale all power and keep it for himself, or is he a carefree bloke who is happy to give power away to those around him? Trying to paint him as both is confusing.
Fine then, you say, what should the opposition be saying instead of the things listed above? How about effectively opposing the government, holding them to task on making Brexit a success as well as all the spending promises the have made to everyone and their brother? What about doing so in language that normal people can understand? What about coming up with their own vision for how the country should be run that isn’t fresh from some 1970s SWP members meeting? Crazy, but it might work.