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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.