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Editorial: We must deny the Tories even a sniff of power

IF THE contenders for leadership of the Conservative Party — and thus by desperately undemocratic convention, prime minister of the country — appear still to be befuddled by their consumption of mind-altering substances, the people, in contrast, seem remarkably clear-headed. 

When asked to choose, in a YouGov poll, between the long list of Tory hopefuls, the greatest proportion chose “none-of-the-above.” 

Boris Johnson had more support than any of the others, but even he was the choice of less than a fifth of voters.

This does not augur well for the Conservatives if an election comes any time soon. This is probably why, if the decision to call an election remains in the hands of the new premier alone, it may not come until the allotted time.

In a separate survey the Independent’s pollsters BMG Research showed that both Johnson and Michael Gove are regarded as untrustworthy by voters. 

As this poll was undertaken before the current controversy about drug use, we can assume it was based on their more transparent defects and their unpopular politics.

Clumsy confessions about youthful drug-taking and pious proclamations that such adolescent adventures are deeply regretted are purely formulaic. 

An informed discussion about the drug trade would focus on the close correlation between the personal consumption of these substances in developed capitalist countries, which produces the revenues that make this quintessentially capitalist enterprise so profitable, and the foreign policies of imperial states like Britain and the US.

British governments of both coalition and New Labour stripe have stayed remarkably complicit with the US policy regarding Colombia, which is where much of the cocaine production so widely consumed in more affluent circles originates.

The production of this stuff has increasingly fallen under the control of armed right-wing militias in the pay of the big landowners and commercial interests.

It was Kim Howells — perhaps the most disreputable minister in the last Labour government — who appeared laughing alongside the commander of Colombian National Army, one General Montoya, who was named in a US House of Representatives report as having collaborated extensively with terrorist militias.

Justice for Colombia says Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Howells was photographed with members of a Colombian military unit accused of involvement in the murder of trade unionists. 

His subsequent defence of British arms exports to the Colombian death squads remains a stain on Labour’s record.

Latin American progressives, including the new Mexican president, make the forceful point that the drug business is conducted exactly like other businesses with its patterns of investment, trade models and the assorted nexus of illicit connections with police and political power an exact replica of more conventional capitalist enterprises. 

Indeed, the revenues generated by North American and European drug consumption follow the same path as capital more generally and continually seek even more profitable outlets.

It is here that Britain's network of tax haven colonial dependencies — managed in harmonious co-operation with the US state — are so useful in hiding the illicit origin of much capital and recycling it as investment capital cleansed of any obvious association with the human degradation that accompanied its entry into the system of capital accumulation.

Among contending Tory drug experimentalists both Gove and Johnson are famously flexible in their political positioning and have taken measures to broaden their appeal — Johnson by ostentatiously avoiding Donald Trump, Gove by posing as an environmentalist.

It won’t wash. Only a moron on Mogadon would overlook the opportunism of these two, or the clear inadequacy of their rivals.

We need a general election and a Labour government led by a premier of uncompromised principles.

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