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For seven years, Conservative governments have been adamant that austerity is essential; we are told that scrimping on vital public services and welfare is a way for us to ‘live within our means’ and salvage a crumbling economy.
Labour’s proposals to bring an end to this ideology and the Dickensian reality that it creates have been met with relentless derision: ‘There isn’t a magic money tree’, the Tory rabble has screeched for months, despite Labour having a fully costed and reasoned manifesto.
But much to our surprise, it seems that Theresa May has finally managed to locate the elusive money tree! And just in the nick of time, with key votes on the Queen’s Speech just around the corner, and her position as PM wavering like a stick of wheat on a breezy summer’s day.
The tree must have been feeling especially generous too, because Theresa has managed to dislodge a staggering £1.5 billion from within the magic branches to buy a confidence and supply deal from the gay-hating, anti-abortion, climate change-denying creationists known as the DUP. Such is the Tory desire for power that not only are they open to outright bribery, but they will sacrifice their policies to get it.
This time round, unadulterated power isn’t on the table and so if the Tories want to rule there will be a price to pay – Theresa May’s government propped up by the DUP will have to settle for caretaker status, treading lightly, avoiding votes that could embarrass them and potentially trigger a general election. The arrangement that May has bought will give her the power she craves but without the claws. For her party though, which prioritises power above all else, this grubby settlement will be worth the cost.
The bribe (or blackmail, depending on which side of the table you’re on) perfectly shows the Conservative party for what they are: greedy, self-interested politicians more concerned with the preservation of power than the millions they represent. If they truly believed in the policies they presented a few weeks ago (the resurgence of grammar schools, a dementia tax, scrapping of free school meals and the triple lock pension), they would call another general election in a bid to implement them. But alas, the Tories have as much confidence in their own policies as the rest of us do, and so a weak and wobbly term will ensue, protected by a coalition of obsolete, cowering MPs, terrified by the prospect a progressive Labour government.
How can it be that £1.5 billion can be made immediately available as a get out of jail card for Theresa May and co, but is off-limits when it comes to levying the burden on the NHS, building affordable homes, or appropriately funding schools? Indeed, the Tory power-grab is symptomatic of a culture which fails to get its priorities in order.
As the sixth largest economy on the planet, the UK is a prosperous, wealthy nation. But is also one whose government professes to be financially unequipped to protect the most vulnerable, while making billions available for the corporate entities that they truly serve. As people wake up to this fact – especially in the aftermath of the mass corporate manslaughter at Grenfell – the Conservatives will be forced into biding time and delaying their inevitable downfall.
Indeed, with the myth of austerity well and truly busted, and a right-wing propaganda machine no longer able to uphold it, this minority government is incredibly frail. And though I fear an immediate general election seems ever more unlikely, if the left remains vigilant and dedicated to promoting a progressive, fairer kind of politics in the years to come, Jeremy Corbyn will be our next prime minister.
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Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
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The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali