By Ian Richardson
The Tory deal with the DUP has faced widespread criticism both for its blatant bribery and the threat it poses to the Good Friday Agreement. But the degree of hostility to Jeremy Corbyn from pro-establishment political forces in general is so great that other potential allies are also preparing to come to the Tories’ rescue if needed.
In addition to the 10 DUP MPs, the 12 Lib Dem MPs are being prepared as a possible source of support for the Tories’ minority government. Commentators suggest Vince Cable could be elected to the leadership of Lib Dems without a contest. Cable is an ‘Orange Book’ Lib Dem, from the wing of the party that effectively embraces Thatcherism and continues to defend the Lib Dem record in the Coalition government, including hiking tuition fees to £9,000 a year.
The campaign to oust the outgoing Lib Dem leader Tim Farron was orchestrated by the Tory press and picked up by the main TV stations. The important political difference between the two is on Brexit tactics. Both are EU-austerians, who see membership of the EU as vital while pursuing austerity. But Farron’s platform was for a referendum on the terms of any deal, while Cable prioritises a campaign against Freedom of Movement. The effect of Cable taking the Lib Dem leadership would be to make the Lib Dems more amenable to the supporting the Tories, who similarly prioritise curbing immigration over maintaining living standards.
Within Labour the right wing is another potential source of support for the Tories. The Labour right cannot currently mount a frontal assault on Jeremy Corbyn because of Labour’s stunning advance on 8 June, so they have already started to attacking Corbyn from the sides. They are manoeuvring against his leadership, and are willing to help the Tories out of their crisis.
Yvette Cooper has made repeated calls for a cross-party commission to negotiate Brexit. The effect of this would be simply to prop up the flailing Tory minority government, as its leadership struggles to form any agreed, coherent line on Brexit. Helpfully to the divided Tories, Cooper never spells out any aims or ‘red lines’ for such a cross-party commission.
Also the purpose of Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech on the Single Market was to undermine Corbyn, not to seriously protect the population from Brexit’s attacks on living standards.
All of this corresponds to ruling class opinion in Britain, which is virtually unanimous in its opposition to Corbyn. At the same time, it has a decisive majority opposed to any Brexit which hurts its profits. So, the Financial Times (£) reports a string of leading businesses and business organisations who have called for cross-party collaboration to tackle Brexit. The purpose is to keep Corbyn out and British businesses in.
The key dividing line in British politics is for or against the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party. That is the view put forward by the capitalist press, which lines up against Corbyn. Naturally, on this socialists take the entirely opposite side and want to see Corbyn in power. Some of us also argue that Brexit will also destroy jobs and hit living standards, as well as profits. And this is an ongoing discussion within the pro-Corbyn camp.
This mirrors the debate among pro-establishment political forces. They are all committed to keeping Corbyn out, as well as driving up profits and driving down living standards to achieve it. Their debate centres on whether Brexit hinders that project, or not. But they are agreed on their anti-Corbyn position, and will try to pursue it ruthlessly with all the allies that become necessary.
The pro-establishment forces will try to ensure that there is no early general election, as the most likely outcome of one would be a Corbyn government. Labour is continuing to rise in the polls and the support for the Tories will likely be hit by their internal disarray, falling living standards and their reactionary deal with the DUP.
It is still possible the Tories will have to call an early election, so it is important Labour is prepared which is why Corbyn is right to step up Labour’s campaign in the Tories’ marginal seats.