Now, the change might not be too great and is in fact within the margin of a statistical error, but the sight of the headline was enough to send a shiver down my spine. "Why?" you would rightly ask. It is true of course that I only moved to Scotland about 3 years ago and was in fact not born until after the mid 80s. But this is inconsequential.
The weighted average of the main surveys conducted in March puts the Conservative Party on 39 per cent (up one point since February), Labour on 31 per cent (down one) and the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent (no change). So the Tory lead has stretched from six to eight percentage points in a month.
I developed an instinctive repulsion to anything Tory related within my first month in Scotland. The very rocks here seem to shout "fuck the Tories!". I've yet to meet one Scot that has a positive thing to say about the Tories. This of course is hardly surprising. The class composition of Scotland meant that she was hit harder than England by the outrageous policies of the Thatcher administration. Now, before you accuse me of Scottish nationalism (I've been described as a Scottish nationalist in the past, though how this is possible, given that I'm Greek, escapes me) and go on to say that working class areas of England were hit equally hard, let me say that I meant Scotland as a distinct civil society, which it is, with a distinct identity, which it has. Now, given that said society is about 10 times smaller than its southern neighbour, it was only natural that it would feel, as a collective entity, the Tory impact far more strongly.
Anyhoo, I've strayed from the original topic. What does this Tory revival imply politically? Not much, one would say. I've discussed in the past how ruling class and co. parties eventually come to promote the same policies as class divisions sharpen and the bourgeoisie becomes more and more homogeneous. Bloody hell, the Tories could probably sue Labour for stealing all their policies. Stupid, infuriating wars? Check! Obscene amounts of money spent on weapons? Check! Anti trade union policies? Check! Dismantling of the welfare state? Check! Rabid authoritarianism? Check! Xenophobia and scapegoating? Check! So what could probably be the problem? Shame shit different party.
Well, the problem does not consist in the reemergence of the Tories in itself, but in what it signifies. It signifies the "things can only get better" mentality that is prevalent among a large part of the working class that actually uses its vote. Back in 1997, when New Labour first got into power, the landslide victory it achieved against the Tories was, to an extent, understandable. Labour was a party with a more or less social democratic history and after the ravaging years of Thatcherism everyone believed with some justification that things could really only get better. But now, the true faces of both New Labour and the Tories have been exposed. So why go with either of the two?
There is no reply other than that socialists in England and Wales have failed to put forward a credible alternative. While the SSP has made some significant gains and progress which have been stalled, but not reversed or nullified, by the split, the left south of the border has been in stagnation. The Socialist Alliance, a hopeful unity project was destroyed by the SWP in a pathetically sectarian and opportunist manner in order to set up the RESPECT coalition. RESPECT itself is little more than a personality cult centred around George Galloway who is as absent as any other politician. RESPECT of course seems to forget that the "S" in its name stands for Socialism and has opted to refrain from talking about it, for fear of alienating some of its non-socialist supporters. Principled politics I tell you!
This failure to establish a strong socialist pole is also the reason for the overall apathy of the British electorate. The working class is not indifferent to politics in general, but to the specific politics that dominate the British landscape, that is, the politics of global capital and imperialism. A socialist alternative could very easily establish a support base within the huge number of people that do not even bother to register to vote. But such a force cannot be established by sectarian groups nor by coalitions that conceal their socialism in order to gain votes. Remember that the bourgeois vanguards can internalize all seemingly left wing demands, as shown by the new found greenness of the Tories and the shamelessly opportunistic opposition to the war by the Lib-Dems. What they can never internalize is the demand for socialism and the principles that underlie it.So, southerners, get yer act together and build something to stand up to the Consabour filth! I'd personally say that the Campaign for a New Workers Party (not to be confused with the idiotic and sectarian campaign for a new Marxist party) is a good place to start. The Socialist Party that leads it has, at least up to know, behaved in a good manner, unlike its northern counterpart (CWI-Scotland).