Comment Editor Samuel Pennifold on the genius of the Conservative Party and their ability to win at all costs.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln
These famous words spoken by the founder of the grand old Republican Party were once meant to inspire unity in an America that was tearing its self apart, in today’s conservative Britain they seem to instead be the guiding principle of how the Conservative party can divide and rule.
In a way it is impressive – the political know-how of the Conservative party is a marvel of the modern political world. In the midst of a global pandemic where Boris Johnson and his accomplices in the cabinet have failed every single person in this country, they remain ahead of the languishing Labour Party in the polls. In recent days, though the conservatives have taken a small dent in polls, they remain ahead by more than the all crucial margin of error, along with a huge majority in the Commons and more than enough time before the next election.
But Boris Johnson and almost the whole Conservative party may have sold their souls to the devil to get there. It seems that in a post-truth world the Conservatives have become kings of spin and bending reality to their will. After all the people cannot oust you if they are too busy fighting amongst themselves.
The most recent example it seems is the so-called “pingdemic” where the Conservatives along with right-wing media have convinced people that the NHS track and trace app is to be blamed for the number of people being forced into isolation, as opposed to it being the fault of Boris Johnson and his cabinets inability to get a handle on this virus. But that argument is not the one that gets played out across social media, newspapers and radio- instead, the focus of discussion is so effortlessly moved away from the government’s irresponsible decision to reopen the floodgates to socialising and mass covid cases.
This though is just one example, not so long along it was calling taking the knee before football matches “gesture politics”. This instead fuels a debate over the action its self, not the issues it represents and the conservatives can ride out a news cycle or two with minimal damage sustained to themselves whilst not having to so much as think about the monster under the bed in this country of systemic and institutionalised discrimination and racism. All Boris Johnsons talk of gesture politics almost becomes laughable when you consider he runs a government that will support an almost ironically patriotic national song and organise a national clap for key workers, doctors and nurses but then at the same time offer nurses a pitiful pay rise of 1% followed by an equally pitiful 3%.
It is not just Boris Johnson and this iteration of the Conservative government, though – it seems deceit is a systemic and institutionalised policy within the Conservative party. Comedian and actor Alexei Sayle once said “Austerity is the idea that the global financial crash of 2008 was caused by there being too many libraries in Wolverhampton”, whilst a funny line it is deeply tragic that this country was ever subjected to austerity. There is a difference between fiscal responsibility and economic conservatism that seeks to limit government debt and the hacking away at public services when the people who needed them most became poorer and poorer after the 2008 world financial crash that was tory austerity. It cannot be said enough –
THIS. POLICY. KILLED. PEOPLE.
But still some of the poorest people in this country, those measurably most harmed by the over a decade now of Conservative leadership would still rather vote for them than the Labour party. Why? Because Labour is playing checkers whilst the Conservatives are playing chess.
Labour seems so afraid to get down in the mud and play dirty they don’t even know the Conservatives have pulled their pants down.
So because of this rather than the conversation being about the years of genuine, hard failures of the Conservative party they are happy to fuel a fight over soft issues of a culture war where they know they can spin, dodge and just lie their way to a parliamentary majority. In a dark and twisted way, you almost have to admire the ability of the Conservative party to win, because first is everywhere and second is nowhere.