It is a sign of the sterility of Westminster politics that the best Ed Miliband can do is to make mischief by exploiting the coalition’s most visceral divisions, and that the most visceral divisions in the coalition have been about the constitution and the European Union. These dry and tedious matters are the two issues that have derailed the Liberal-Conservative love‑train, emboldened the Tory right and fatally weakened both Clegg and Cameron.
Tories delight in a spat with Brussels, because upsetting foreigners is second only to killing them in stimulating the pleasure centres of the Conservative Party. Liberals, on the other hand, love Europe. They adore anything continental: the cheeses, the voting systems, anything. Their party’s whole raison d’etre is the vast superiority of French campsites. I refer, obviously, to sleek, modern Liberals, not the old-fashioned radicals who were content with a good cheddar, a thermos and a wet walking holiday, reading a biography of Joe Grimond.
And to be fair to Liberals, all of them have always loved democracy. The left is ambivalent about it. We pay lip-service to it but can’t help suspecting that people might be too stupid to realise the high regard we have for them. And Conservatives, despite belligerently enthusing about western democratic values, have never truly been convinced by this country’s experiment with universal suffrage. Their greatest terror is the mob. That’s probably why they want the troops home from Afghanistan. They don’t want to be left without a squadron of dragoons when the millworkers get restless.
If they were honest with themselves, they’d admit that they were perfectly happy with the House of Lords as it used to be. Conservatives like things that are inherited: money, land, property, titles. Most of them even have hereditary disorders.
#232: Rue Britannia ● The legacy of the British Empire ● An interview with Priyamvada Gopal ● The People’s Olympics ● An interview with Neville Southall ● Agribusiness in India ● Deliveroo’s disastrous IPO ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Shifting Cornish landscapes have brought with them substantial social change writes Naomi Rescorla-Brown
Belligerent abroad and oppressive at home, the government's rhetoric is being gradually cemented into law. Protest is the only response, writes Rohan Rice
Proudly 'anti-woke' posturing is just the latest government attempt to memorialise white supremacy. Meghan Tinsley reports on the politics of commemoration
Nic Murray argues the need for collective solidarity and organising amongst welfare claimants as Covid-19’s economic fallout threatens to render thousands jobless
Politicians, the state, and the market have failed to come to terms with Covid-19. Can 'people power' navigate a way out of the crisis? K Biswas introduces the TNI Covid Capitalism Report
New curriculum guidance will limit critical thinking and cement a neoliberal capitalist consensus. It should be setting off alarm bells, says Remi Joseph-Salisbury
Want to try Red Pepper before you take out a subscription? Sign up to our newsletter and read Issue 231 for free.