The pretence that the Brexit Party straddles the class divide — that it stands for an imagined national community united across ideological divisions and bound together in the defence of national sovereignty and the implementation of the popular will — has evaporated.
The Brexit Party — an ephemeral expression of Nigel Farage’s overweening ambition to occupy a permanent position in the limelight — is rendered viable as a electoral vehicle only by the failure to give effect to the referendum result.
As Labour’s radical policy programme gains traction, and the polling gap with the Tories closes, the possibility that a bifurcated Brexit vote might aid the election of a Corbyn government has forced the contending factions of our ruling class to close ranks.
Fearing for their futures in Parliament the still substantial Remain tendency in the Tory Party at Westminster has backed Johnson’s Brexit-lite deal.
Where yesterday Farage condemned this bodge job and “would rather accept extension and election than THIS deal” today he says that Johnson’s claim that his free trade deal with the EU would not include regulatory alignment is a “significant change” that warrants a complete U-turn.
His suggestion that it was an overnight revelation occasioned by clear signalling from Johnson that led him to change his position rather suggests that this was a shared PR pitch. Either that or Farage the Faker has access to some seriously strong mind-altering substances.
Farage remains the standard bearer for a particularly virulent strain of national chauvinism that has cloaked its reactionary class character in the language of popular sovereignty.
Electoral support for a continued policy of austerity economics is diminished and the management of the present day Conservative Party has departed from traditional Tory tactics to focus on capturing a strategic slice of Labour voters. They calculate that with a package of spending promises and a promise to get Brexit done they can squeeze into office.
This strategy looked somewhat beguiling when huge percentages piled up for the Brexit Party in the European elections. But with the launch of the election campaign it was inevitable that broader issues would gain salience and this vote would fragment along class lines.
The strategy of the Tory Party dovetails with that of their erstwhile partners in David Cameron’s austerity coalition government. The Tory tactic to make this election exclusively about Brexit is shared with the Lib Dems.
And in signing up to a so-called Remain Alliance the Greens and Plaid Cymru have fallen into a Tory trap.
In many constituencies it will not be a Remain Alliance confronting Labour but a reactionary one united in deflecting attention away from the neoliberal consensus which Jo Swinson exemplified as a minister in the Tory-Lib Dem government.
For the Greens this is a spectacular own goal. At precisely the point at which voters are paying especially sharp attention to policies which convincingly tackle climate change the Greens have diluted their core message and downgraded it to prioritise breaking Brexit.
Probably one in five Green voters voted Brexit in the referendum and presumably their leadership thought this could be discounted without considering that in doing so they placed a big barrier to them engaging in a productive conversation with more than half the adult population. This is where the party’s lack of roots in the working class has led it.
Farage thinks he has played a masterstroke but a key effect of his surrender to the Tory Party is to make the differences between Labour’s progressive policy portfolio with its Green New Deal and those of the newly minted Reactionary Alliance even more stark.
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