AS THE Tories fight each other like ferrets in a transparent sack, Labour leaders can be forgiven a little glee at the spectacle.
For two years, the Establishment and right-wing media — helped by some Labour MPs — have been traducing Jeremy Corbyn and his team on a grand scale, daily.
He has been mocked, ridiculed and damned as an incompetent, unpatriotic terrorist sympathiser.
No lie or smear has been too outrageous, right down the charges of anti-semitism, misogyny and thuggishness hurled at his supporters in Momentum and the wider labour movement.
Yet now the jackals are devouring their own. Five days after her calamitous conference speech, Tory ministers, ex-ministers, MPs and MEPs are still knocking lumps out of each other as Theresa May’s regime stumbles on, divided and directionless.
As former deputy prime minister Willie Whitelaw once put it after a piece of Labour misfortune: “Mustn’t gloat. Bad form to gloat. Mustn’t do it. No, no, no. Well I can tell you, I’m gloating like Hell.”
But amid the gloating, the Labour Party leadership must remember to conduct itself as a government in waiting, recognising the gravity of Britain’s position at the present juncture.
The working class and peoples of Britain need a government that will put aside Conservative complacency and tackle the very serious economic and social problems besetting our society.
Theresa May’s ramshackle regime has no serious policies to boost domestic industrial investment, renew our vital public services, raise working people’s living standards, provide decent and affordable homes for all, nurture the potential of younger generations and reduce the massive gulf between the haves and have-nots.
Faced with the most ignorant, unstable and dangerous US president in living memory — despite some very stiff competition — the only posture adopted by Tory Cabinet ministers is that of prone.
Sixteen months after the referendum vote to quit the EU, Tory strategy to prevaricate and find a way to either reverse Brexit or pay lip service to it while remaining in a pro-big business “free market” arrangement with the EU is splitting apart at the seams.
Led by right-wing politician-cum-bureaucrat Michel Barnier, with unelected EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker above the stage pulling the wires, the EU negotiating team appears determined to impose a punitive exit settlement.
Every gesture and concession offered by Brexit Secretary David Davis or by the Prime Minister herself has been rebuffed by Barnier or Juncker with derision, either openly at the time or through sly and unattributed leaks and briefings a short while later in Brussels.
Of course, the fanatically pro-EU politicians in all three main parties at Westminster are doing everything they can to assist Barnier and his Brussels crew.
Reflecting the predominant view of big business, they want to keep Britain enmeshed in EU treaties, rules and institutions by any means necessary.
Likewise, the capitalist monopolies of Germany and France, and their hired politicians Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, want to keep Britain as close as possible to the European single market and its business “freedoms.”
But not at the cost of a huge hole in the EU budget after May 2019, or by weakening the fundamentally neoliberal capitalist character of the EU itself.
That’s why Labour should be under no illusion that a Corbyn-led government would find EU negotiators any the less duplicitous and inflexible than have Davis and May.
The EU Commission and the economic and political forces behind it have no intention of allowing a left-led government to implement progressive policies on state aid for industry, public investment, taxation, public ownership and contract compliance while remaining in a “free trade” relationship with the EU.
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