The Conservative Workers Party! Wtf?

Some Tory twat just suggested on Newsnight that the Conservative Party should be renamed, The Workers Party.

He went on to say that the Conservative Party needed to be the ‘trade union’ for everyone in the UK and that as a political party it had always stood for workers rights, workers opportunity, workers jobs and high wages for workers.

The thing is the twat seemed to really believe what he was saying. He seemed to really believe that the Conservatives are and always have been the party of the workers.

He said the symbol of the Conservative Party needed to be a ladder because they were all about helping workers onto the ‘ladder of self-improvement and prosperity.’

However, I personally found it very revealing about why people who aren’t rich vote for the Tories.

They seem themselves as hard working and aspirational. They ‘aspire’ to ‘make something of themselves’, to be ‘somebody’.

They buy into the rhetoric that failure to ‘succeed’ or ‘make something of yourself’ by ‘playing by the rules’ demonstrates laziness or moral fibre.

This is guy is describing the Party of the aspiring lower middle-class who believe in ‘hard work’ as a moral virtue but who do not wish to be identified as ‘workers’ in the sense of being ‘working class’.

Hence for them voting Tory is for them a signal that they aspire and validation that they are not members of the lumpen proletariat.

Jack London once said that socialism in the USA had never gained traction as a political idea because poor Americans did not see themselves as an exploited working class but as temporaryily embarrassed millionaires.

This is the self-deluding form of Conservatism that allows millions of the victims of capitalism to vote Tory.

My father trained as a plumber but became a self-employed builder with economic and especially ‘social’ ambitions. He was a classic lower middle-class Tory who was convinced he could ‘make something of himself’ by his own sheer determination and hard work.  He worked as hard as any man I have ever known and did indeed manage through this relentless slog to provide his kids with the material benefits of a lower middle-class life-style including periods of private education.

BUT he paid a terrible, terrible, price for this as the capitalist system like a school bully sensed his character defects and his emotional vulnerability and ate the poor bastard alive. A serial bankrupt, his life from his early thirties to his death was one long tragedy of stress, confrontation, rage, marital  failure, financial insecurity, humiliation and mental illness. His career ended in divorce, bankruptcy and complete financial aniahlation.

By his 65th birthday he lived alone in a small rented furnished flat above a shop and his only income was the state pension and housing benefit. Three months later he died in hospital from Multiple Myloma a form of  Leukemia that had rotted his spine away meaning every and any tiny movement was excruciating agony. He was in an NHS hospital for nearly three months in a private side ward and on increasingly large doses of morphine

So at the end, despite all his efforts, despite 40 years of humiliating and unimaginatively stressful ‘hard work’, this aspiring working class Tory was entirely reliant on the NHS and the welfare state that his politics told him was the domain of dispicable, lazy scroungers, and which he had so resented paying for through the taxes he could not afford to pay and sought to avoid paying at all costs. And he didn’t even get to enjoy his free bus pass or his senior citizens rail card or free pensionsers meals at the day care centre because he was dead within three months of his 65th birthday.

This is not the story of ‘aspiration’ that the Tories want to tell, but for every Alan Sugar, every Richard Branson, every self made millionaire, there are ten thousand like my poor old man who were naively seduced by the lie that capitalism will reward hard work and broken on the wheel of their ownhopes and dreams.

The workers party my arse.

About I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is written by Chris Jury. For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio He is currently the Communications Officer for UCU at Bath Spa University and a UCU SW Regional Rep at SWTUC.
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2 Responses to The Conservative Workers Party! Wtf?

  1. Bill Malcolm says:

    Spot on.

    The Conservatives representing the establishment people who have actually ruled over you since about 1720 or for ever, depending on what the criteria are, are now desperate that the Labour Party might win the next election and kick over the trough they’ve been slurping at especially deliciously since Maggie’s time.

    I was in Blighty for the early seventies, and even then, after Mary Whitehouse’s caterwauling, Maggie was doing the schoolmarm with a cane verbal routine on the lazy scallywags and union members who were ruining the country. As she saw it. Nothing like a small shopkeeper’s daughter for knowing what was right and wrong about society, and especially people who didn’t adopt the manners and outlook of the genteel, who wanted to be “respectable” and vote Tory. Exactly as you say your Dad was. These union layabouts and manual workers needed six of the best was Thatcher’s theme. And apparently the country wanted to be spanked severely a few years later when Thatcher was actually elected. The privileged, smoking cigars at their exclusive clubs, were thrilled. Far past the time when the louts needed a comeuppance was their world outlook.

    Privatise the lot was Maggie’s theme, and so British Rail was flogged off to the lowest bidders who have subsequently run the system into the ground. Part of the Post Office and much more. Public wealth sold for pennies on the pound to capitalists. It has always seemed inconceivable to me that some politician or another at the stroke of a pen can flog off to their friends things that belong to everyone, who never get to vote on the matter themselves. Oh and while she was at it, and her pals were exporting jobs to third world countries, people were exorted to stand on their own two feet. Social services have deteriorated since that time, the bedroom tax just makes me shake my head in disbelief.

    I was born in Oxford myself a dozen years before our family emigrated to Canada in the late 1950s. My maternal grandpa was a chemist and always a member of the local Conservative Club along with such stalwarts as the Asst Chief Constable and other worthies. Granny spent elections stuffing manifestos through letterboxes as a valued party volunteer.

    When my grandparents were unable to make ends meet after they had to live on only the old age pension in 1960 – about six quid a week between them – we imported them to the wilds of Canada. Bad winter storms had the electricity going off, but Granny always said: “They’ll be repairing it soon.” Who “They” was she could not explain, and could not grasp the concept that “They” was us. Never crossed her mind.

    Take my father, who had done the private school, public school and Oxford thing as a single person from the age of eight while his parents remained in Injuh on Colonial matters. He hated the system that gave him a lonely upbringing and nowhere to go on vacations, and vowed to never let his offspring suffer a similar fate. Yet he remained an idealist conservative until he ran afoul of the nudge, nudge, wink, wink movers and shakers running local affairs for their own personal gratification. And that was in Canada. As a psychiatrist he saw on a first hand basis what the system did to single women with children, how clergymen representing the establishment highly resented his proffering advice to clinically depressed people who should have just been praying to the Lord for deliverance. The whole establishment mess. Shook him up and he died far too young after two decades of heart trouble.

    Like Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances, your average Brit is still a toff at heart, voting Tory. And so the rapacious in power have had a free ride with millions of ready believers trotting along with no mind as to the consequences. Even as their aspirations have been continually dashed, they never gave up hope, believing the “They” were looking after their best interests.

    One hopes that the performance of T May will finally wake up the great British public. But I doubt it. Now this idiotic Tory claiming his party is that of the workers is hard at it trying to duplicate Trump’s success in the USA, where working people think he’s on their side. Totally mesmerised while their pockets are picked and the contents siphoned off to bankers and the already far too rich. Apparently the public is as stupid as they appear, and the Tories hope to win with this new strategy. I wouldn’t bet against it. People are quite adept at shooting themselves in the foot.

    I’m afraid I’m a fatalist at heart. Here in Canada we have a two-faced smiling Prime Minister who promised much and once in power has done bugger all but maintain Tory policies, pretend to be an environmentalist while approving oil extraction and pipelines, and who would have been given the spanking of his life if his father Pierre Elliot Trudeau were still around for being a spotlight-loving jerk with no core. Neoliberalism rules here, we love NATO, and are scared by the US so do its every bidding, no matter the idiots in charge down there. There is no reciprocity and we are treated like the colony we in fact are.

    Best of luck in Britain. You’ll need it.

  2. Thank you Chris for this posting and the illuminating story of your father. In Finland, our conservatives reinvent themselves, in presidential elections some years ago, with the help of ad company spin doctors as a party for labour. They have kept their position quite well since that. They even managed to harm state economy by promising pay rises for nurses in some campaign. It seems that quite ordinary people are inside wannabe conservatives, without much thinking of the real politics. We will be lost if politics are steered by ad managers and not by ideas.

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