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Divisions in the Tories reveal divisions in the ruling class

JACOB REES-MOGG is struggling a bit to convince Tory Brexiteers to put their money where their mouth is.

His bid to no-confidence his party leader is hardly the best preparation for an election campaign. Electorates do not like parties that give the impression of being divided against themselves.

The divisions among Conservatives in Parliament reflect not just divisions in the Tory Party on the ground — thinly spread though it is — but divisions in our ruling class.

In 1892, Engels, who lived and worked in our industrial north, permitted himself a small self-congratulatory pat on the back when he pointed out that his predictions in his 1844 The Condition of the Working-Class in England concerning the critical state of English trade “brought on by Continental and especially American competition” had been proved correct.

He would not recognise the industrial areas of Britain today. The vast assembly of manufacturing industry was already succumbing to competition and the paper-thin patriotism of Britain's capitalist class was already too flimsy for them to prioritise domestic investment to renew British industry over the export of capital in the service of bigger profits and imperial gain. 

This is, of course, the abiding feature of Britain’s notoriously short-sighted bourgeoisie who have, at every historical stage, failed to sufficiently modernise industry and invest in upskilling our working class.

Goodness only knows what pressures are exerted on Channel Four News beyond those set by the advertising market and the imperative to secure audience share. The channel retains remnants of its radical positioning in the terrestrial TV spectrum, but, like the bulk of the liberal media, its balance and objectivity vanishes with the problem of what to do about the British public’s obdurate insistence on leaving the European Union.

Channel Four News is better than most of the mainstream media when reporting on life in austerity Britain, but even so it fails to understand the anger that decades of exposure to the crosswinds of capitalist crisis has stirred in working-class communities.

It is unfortunate that its tongue-in-cheek attempt, on Monday night, to commission a top advertising agency to fashion a new image for Brexit Britain spun off into frivolity.

The notion that Meghan Markle, now married into the royal family, might make a new Britannia invites a dangerous comparison with the last time a US citizen was invited to revitalise the gene pool of this decaying Anglo/German dynasty.

Channel Four’s ad men were on to something more positive in coming up with the idea that Brexit Britain could become an exemplar of innovation, technical expertise and industrial entrepreneurship, but this too lapsed into whimsey.

They might have taken inspiration from Labour’s industrial strategy but didn’t. In the same news cycle the media reported on Jeremy Corbyn’s presentation to the Confederation of British Industry.

His remarks were framed in the context of his clear commitment to respect the result of the referendum and a marked reluctance to envisage circumstances in which a second vote on Britain’s membership might emerge.

His focus was instead on investment in training, infrastructure and modernisation. His vision is of a well-educated, highly skilled and well-paid workforce engaged in productive labour and the delivery of products and services that served a prosperous nation secure in its place in a peaceful world.

None of this is possible without controls over capital, state aid to industry, a labour market with workers’ rights restored and the nationalisation of key sectors of the economy.

And none of these is possible while Britain remains subject to the EU treaties and the judgements of the European Court of Justice.

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