So the worst ever election campaign has now been followed up with the world's most vacuous party conference; half-attended and tepidly applauded by a smattering of people, and half-heartedly addressed by a cabinet of inept, shell-shocked stooges, many of whom appear to know the game is up. It truly was a conference for the undead by the undead to the undead.
A zombie party and government indeed, and something of a zombie media trailing around in their wake. The Tories acting like everything is business as usual reminds me of the dining scene at the end of Carry on up the Khyber. As the final gurgle of stagnant Thatcherite bath water drains down the plug hole of history, even the conference faithful (those still awake, that is) can see that Conservatism simply isn't working anymore. This is no chair rearrangement on the Titanic; instead it's like watching a tidal wave slowly roll towards the shore while people stand on the beach calmly discussing whether the weather is likely to be sunny that afternoon.
May is reaping the rewards of two decisions she has taken in the last year and a bit: to stand for party leadership after all other candidates had formed a circular firing squad, and to call a general election despite repeatedly saying she would not do so. The gamble of winning a large majority in parliament to shore up her credibility backfired, and she has never recovered from that. Whatever authority she had is gone, and as Gideon Osborne has said (and he's a man who certainly knows about stagnation), she is a 'dead woman walking'.
The country's services are in chaos, with the poorest hit by the austerity her party has enforced upon us all. The worst off and the most disenfranchised will continue to be hit the hardest under her government, with a government offering us a future of austerity, backward-looking insularity, bigotry and hate in an ever more polarised society. Refusing to listen to anyone who doesn't live in their postcode, producing increasingly mad, tone-deaf, tin-ear policies based on ideology and dogma rather than anything that does anyone any good, and fighting like rats in a sack, whilst the juggernaut of their inept governance rolls ever closer to the cliff edge, taking everyone over with it.
Perhaps May's cringe-worthy performances and Boris's crass stupidity have been orchestrated, aiming to disarm the nation in much the same way Colombo did as an ostensibly bumbling detective, whilst behind the scenes they are razor sharp, highly competent individuals. If so then their advisors are just as inept as their masters, and yes, this is pushing the realms of reality a little too far. (Who can forget the infamous Osborne Straddle?)
In comparison we saw in Brighton a structured and well-delivered speech by Jeremy Corbyn. He looked assured and confident and has clearly grown into the leadership role. There were policy commitments to invest in public services, implement progressive taxation policies, invest in new technologies, encourage training for life, a national house building programme, and the nationalisation of industries that maximise their profits through uncompetitive practices, (state ownership is fine for the Tories, as long as it's another state doing the ownership). Then there's the repealing of the Thatcherite anti-trade union laws, and finally, when in government, bringing to an end rhetoric that blames migration for all of society's ills.
It was an extraordinary speech Corbyn delivered, incorporating domestic and foreign policy in a way we never hear from our usual politicians. But then Corbyn is no normal party leader. He is at the head of a real, mass social movement that offers the only hope for any sort of progressive politics. His policies and commitment to bring about real change has energised people; some look at the rallies as self-congratulatory, but they're an expression of the enthusiasm people have for a framework based on real economic strategy, that will actually benefit all.
It's no good pretending that the political landscape hasn't changed and that the New Labour bridge that collapsed into the electoral abyss is still perfectly serviceable. Britain has changed drastically, both economically and socially, and to a large extent because of New Labour's adoption of Thatcher's neo-liberal project. The demand for solutions from a more radical left position has never been stronger.
New Labour took a moment in history and turned it back on itself, contorting the Labour Party into a neo-liberal proxy willing to torture and kill alongside the USA and, when push came to shove, impose austerity on the poor to save the banks and underpin the multi-nationals. It was the corporate creation of a corrupt and corrupting idea. It turned its back on indifference, inequality and injustice, and became a bastion of privilege, creating a party not even fit for history's dustbin. We are a Labour movement once again, and we reject the whole New Labour project. It was built on greed and died as a result of eating its own rancid tail.
You can stay on the side lines with the naysayers, or you can participate in ending the murderous neo-liberal construct, which has become the mindset of modern oligarchies ruled by financial markets, where value is monetized, and people are mere products or, useful cogs in a machine built solely for creating wealth for the privileged few and their bank accounts in Panama and elsewhere. Neo-liberalism is capitalism's last fling. We are moving into a post-capitalist era and Corbyn/McDonnell get it even as May and Hammond still praise free markets with their desperate last gasps. But, as they say, the dead don't always realise when they're dead and the Tories are trying to breathe life into something that expired long ago.
A Great Social Revolution in the UK is is now within our grasp. Let us embrace this tremendous opportunity in British history and seize the moment with every fibre of our being.
John Sweeney for Political Provocateur