All political parties want power; that’s kind of the point. But the myth we’re sold here in the UK is that there’s a democratic vote and the party that wins the most votes, takes power, fair-and-square. It’s democratic, it’s transparent and it’s fair. Except it’s not at all. The balance is always tipped towards the Tory party and they plan to manipulate the systems they control to make this a permanent state of affairs. Here’s how the plan is emerging for permanent one party rule:
There’s a culture war going on and you’re a part of it, like it or not. This is not new, but the depths that the Tory party is willing to go to, to weaponize it is pretty disgusting. The idea behind a culture war is that if you can turn issues into a ‘wedge issue’ then you can use it to divide people into your side and the ‘other’, driving a wedge between your side and the ‘other’ side. This gap makes it harder to move voters between blocks and keeps your ‘base’ energised and turning out to vote. In the past issues like racism, the Royals were ‘sort of’ outside this sphere. However the current Tory party see everything though the lens of the culture war; hence the Crime & Policing Bill giving 10 year jail sentences for toppling a statue whereas there’s less for rape. It helps make the police ‘on-side’ in the culture war and not an institution that is there for all. Hence the hyping of the Megan vs Queen row, the re-framing of the flag a symbol of the Tory party and not the UK. Same for the shameful ‘Race Report’ pretending the UK has no institutional racism. Brexit (another culture war issue) unleashed a torrent of racism in the UK and basically the Tory party is fine with this as long as it helps them keep power.
However, you do need people to amplify the culture war and to ensure that the message gets to your side loud-and-clear. This is where the next part comes in; media control.
This is a key one. Already the UK media is very right wing. The Mail, The Sun, The Times, The Telegraph, The Express and a host of well funded right-wing outlets meant that the majority of newspapers follow a pro-Tory, pro-Right agenda. There is billions of pounds sloshing around the UK media industry and the vast majority comes from a tiny few billionaires who care about the issues of billionaires. They can be relied on hype the culture war issues and ignore both Tory corruption and incompetence – provided the Tory party gives them what they want on issues like taxation and regulation. This has been the political landscape for decades. What this current Tory party has done is further tilt the scales in their favour. One way has been by appointing the Tory party donor to run the BBC, who can then be relied on to ensure that they turn a blind eye to issues like Johnson’s affair that lead to a huge misuse of public money. But wait! There’s more; next they plan appoint the former editor of the Daily Mail to run Ofcom, the media regulator who’s job is to ensure that all media plays by the rules. Why does this matter? Because we’re about to see the launch of not one but two right-wing UK news channel; GB News and UK News. The current rules for ‘impartiality’ make it harder to create a ‘Fox News’ type thing here, but with the regulator on your side, it becomes easier to do just that.
However, the support of the media is not quite enough to ensure one party rule. As we saw with things like the Cummings Affair, sometimes the sheer hypocrisy of Tory rule breaks out and when it does the country reacts in revulsion. So you need to ensure there’s no viable alternative to your rule. For this you need money.
Dark money is the hard-to-trace money that gets dumped into a range of political operations that impacts on the voter, but is hidden from plain view. For example in the run-up to the 2019 election over £700,000 was spent poisoning the public against the Labour leader and his policies; not by the Tory party itself but by a range of shadowy organisations you’ve never heard of who then vanish once the election is done. This gives the Tory agenda the advantage of a huge boost by the demonisation of its opponents without it counting in the official declaration of spending, which is regulated for a political party. What we’ll see in the next election is that lots of the individuals and companies connected to the Tory party, who’ve had huge PPE contracts, will have an interest in ensuring that the corruption evident here is not exposed by a new government doing an investigation into their contracts; so they’ll donate money to the Tories and spend on dark money campaigns. That way the Tory party can, with slight-of-hand, recycle tax-payer money into dark money propaganda and you’ll never even know it’s happened.
However even with all this, they may still lose the vote of people because their lives, under Brexit and with a corrupt and incompetence administration in power, have not got any better. For that they need voter suppression.
The Tory party is a party of minority rule and they know it. There are more voters for progressive parties then for right-wing parties. However the first-past-the-post system we have here, combined with the vote on the left being split between Labour, Lib Dem, Greens, SNP etc means the maths of voting favours the Tory party even when the number of voters does not. Plus demographic shifts in the population is moving away from the older, white voters that form the core of the culture war. So the Tory party needs to put things further in their favour; so they plan to introduce Voter ID and change the constituency boundaries. There is almost zero voter fraud in the UK, but the Tories have seen how effective this tactic has been in the US, so they want to import it here. Needing ID disadvantages BAME and younger voters without impacting on older, white voters. It won’t make a huge difference – a couple of percent of voters overall, but in a handful of seats, that’s enough to ensure that the Tories win. A progressive alliance would help here, but there seems little chance our bickering opposition parties would unite.
Finally changes to the constituency boundaries will hand the Tories a few more seats in parliament, just to make sure that they keep one party rule. So what of the rest of us in the dystopian one party state?
Make Voting the Only Dissent
Where does the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, of #KillTheBill fame fit into this? In part as part of the culture war, as noted above to signal to their base that they are ‘protecting’ their ‘values’ and in part to eviscerate street protest as a form of opposition. Because, once you disenfranchise people with all the tools outlined above, there will be anger; after all they are using the system to cement rule by a minority over the majority; the very opposite of what democracy is supposed to be. Cities like Bristol, with a progressive majorority, will feel like occupied zones as the people, shut out of the media, disenfranchised at the polls and subject to the whims of the billionaires; have little left but the street. So the Tory plan seems to be to criminalise this avenue of dissent, to push the narrative that voting alone is the way to show your political opposition, knowing that this avenue is all sown up already.
Enjoy your ‘democratic’ future!
What can we do? Full Spectrum Resistance; on the streets, with your vote, with what media you use. They may have the power, but we’ve got the numbers; use every tool at your disposal to topple this undemocratic one party state!