It’s not enough to challenge Tory ideology. We also have to dismantle the Orwellian semantic thrifts and shifts. We have to defeat the Tory propaganda machine that lies, persuades and lulls people with meaningless populist slogans, empty glittering generalities and glib catch-phrases.
You’ve heard those slogans – “less government”, “personal responsibility”, “hard-working families”, “making work pay” and lots of nationalist flag waving. These are shorthand messages to the public that are thrifty with the truth, codifications for an entire world-view. But it’s ever such a shabby, ruthless, isolating and paltry one.
The clue is in the name: the word “Tory” derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, which means outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”. It was originally used to refer to an Irish outlaw and later applied to Confederates or Royalists in arms. The term was originally one of abuse.
The Tories live by plundering. They steal your taxes, your public services, your state provision and your labour, in order to raise more money for the rich. They have reneged on our post war democratic settlement. Legal aid, human rights, social housing, the NHS, lifeline welfare support – the essential components of any functioning democracy – have been viciously and systematically dismantled by the Tories over the last decade.
It’s a dystopic world of corporate fiefdom. I heard a very smart person from the States once sum up the Tories neatly with the phrase “cheap-labour conservatism”. How very apt. It fits so well. It makes sense of such a lot.
Basically, the larger the labour supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the less you tend to demand for your wages to be fair, and the more power those big business Tory buddies have over you. This is what the Tories actually mean by “making work pay” – it’s either rationed out peanuts or starvation. But for big business, your work pays them handsomely in fat profits.
The Tories engineer this same socioeconomic situation every time they are in office. Think back to the Thatcher era, she did it, Major did it – it’s a manufactured recession and a large reserve army of cheap labour every time. ALWAYS the same with the Tories. Because it suits their “business friendly” agenda.
That’s another Tory slogan that means corporate greed, profit before people and Tory donations – see the Beecroft Report, for example, written by a British “venture capitalist” that has donated more than £500,000 to the Conservative Party. The overdogs write policies to make sure that we remain the underdogs. Fat profits are all that matter to the vulture capitalists.
Beecroft is currently Chairman of Dawn Capital. The release in May 2012, of the long awaited Beecroft Report in the UK caused considerable controversy because it recommended that the government should “cut red tape” in order to make the hiring and firing of employees easier and cheaper.
The report claimed this would help to ‘boost’ the economy although no evidence for this was provided. It’s hard to imagine how increasing job insecurity would encourage workers to spend their money. It does, however, help boost profits for
venture vulture capitalists, and the government-commissioned report strips workers of their rights.
As the TUC said at the time, the ideas have taken the UK back towards Victorian era working conditions and standards. Conservatives don’t like social spending or welfare – our safety net. The safety net we funded. That’s because when you’re unemployed and desperate, companies can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably next to nothing, so their profits can grow.
You see, the Tories want you in a position to work for next to nothing or starve, so their business buddies can focus on feeding their profits, which is their only priority.
Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. These policies undo all of their efforts to keep you desperate. They don’t like European Union labour laws and directives either, for the same reason.
Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like unions, because when we unite, organise and collectively bargain, wages go up and living standards rise. Working conditions improve. That’s why workers unionise. Seems workers don’t like being desperate.
But businesses don’t like to pay out money. They like to hoard it. Cheap-labour conservatives constantly bray about “morality”, “virtue”, “respect for authority”, “hard work”, “responsibility” and other such vaguely defined values. This is only so that they can blame you for being desperate due to your own “immorality”, “lack of values”, “lack of character” , “idleness” and “poor life-choices” when you are poor, within a system designed to generate a few ‘winners’ and a lot more ‘losers’. It’s not a level playing field that hosts the great neoliberal ‘competition’.
Those inane soundbites have been used to dismantle another worker’s protection: the welfare state.
They have also been deployed so that the Tories can justify their “business friendly” workfare schemes to further exploit the reserve army of labour and keep us desperate, unpaid and in our place.
Cheap-labour conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. That’s because bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognising their common interests as wage earners. Divide and rule was invented by cheap labour-conservatives. To keep labour cheap.
An ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives don’t like working people. They don’t like working class opportunities and prosperity, and the reason for this is very simple. Lords have a harder time kicking us around when we aren’t desperate, hungry and in fear of destitution.
Once we understand this about the cheap-labour conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Cheap-labour conservatives, the neo-feudalist fools, believe in social hierarchy and limited privilege, so the only prosperity they want to permit is limited to them and their elite class.
They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits us whatsoever. And even better if we fight amongst ourselves for scraps. Divide and rule. The Tory mantra “making work pay” is an argument for RAISING WAGES, not cutting benefits, talk about the rationally illiterate …. But then cheap-labour conservatives hope that those affected will take comfort in the fact that if your wages are not enough to meet the cost of living, at least those without a job are much worse off.
The Tory “race to the bottom” is hidden in plain view, and after five years of austerity, Osborne is forced to concede that the new welfare cuts leave £9bn of the deficit reductions promised by the Chancellor unaccounted for. The cuts are PURELY ideological. Tories: dangerous with the economy, dangerous for society.
“Less government” is another defining right-wing slogan. It’s also all about cheap labour. Referenced by the slogan is the whole conservative set of assumptions about the nature of the “free market” and government’s role in that market. However, we pay for government. We pay for protective state services. It is not the government’s money to hand out to millionaires, it is ours.
The slogan “less government” permitted the conservatives’ cunning transformation of a crisis caused by banks into a crisis of public spending. It was a huge triumph of Tory dogma over the facts. And of course, our public services are being sold off to private companies. A few people are quietly making megabucks while the rest of us are told to “live within our means.”
And anyone would think, to hear the Tories talk, that the “free-market” isn’t rigged to benefit the wealthy. There’s no such thing as an “invisible hand”, unless you count the iron fist of the authoritarian state, getting on with getting their own way. The bedroom tax, welfare cuts, public service cuts, cutting inheritance tax and handing out tax breaks to the wealthy are, after all, examples of state interventions, and not “market forces”, which the Tories always use as a front to suck the life out of entire communities and to keep people desperate.
The whole “public sector/private sector” distinction is an invention of the cheap-labour conservatives. They say that the “private sector” exists outside and independently of the “public sector”. The public sector, according to cheap-labour ideology, can only “interfere” with the “private sector”, and that such “interference” is “inefficient”, “costly” and “unprincipled”.
Using this ideology, the cheap-labour ideologue paints him/her self as a defender of “freedom” against “big government tyranny,” while all the time, the conservatives are extending an extreme, oppressive authoritarianism.They have to because no ordinary person who knows what they’re up to actually wants their policies. And in fact, the whole idea that the “private sector” is independent of the public sector is totally bogus, because “the market” is created by public laws, public institutions and public infrastructure.
But the cheap-labour conservative isn’t really interested in “freedom”. What they want is the privatised tyranny of industrial and financial serfdom, the main characteristic of which is – you guessed it – cheap labour.
Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone
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