Monday, June 22, 2015

Business as usual (1963)

Editorial from the November 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the last few months, the Tory Party has been rent by internal squabbles and has staggered from one crisis to another, culminating in the Profumo affair. No longer the arrogantly confident party who won the 1959 election, it was perhaps inevitable that they (or at least some of them) would thrown some pretty hefty brickbats at Mr. Macmillan, and make strong demands for his resignation. Nevertheless, it did seem that he had weathered the immediate storm and would survive long enough at least to lead the Conservatives at the next general election.

His sudden illness on the eve of the Tory conference changed all that. Within a matter of hours it was know that his resignation was imminent, and almost as quickly the flimsy facade of unity was whipped away and the undignified scramble between the contenders for his position was there for all to see. According to most pressmen present, the conference was gripped with near-hysteria when it was known that the leadership was vacant. Four candidates were in the lists straight away—Butler, Hailsham, Home and Maudling—and touting for support began. Undignified indeed: as bad in that respect as the Labour Party ever was.

Now that the fight is over and Douglas Home has emerged as the Tories' new leader, we may expect frantic efforts to paper over the cracks and present a single face to the electorate, in much the same way that their Labour rivals have done since Wilson took over. When the next election comes it will at least be interesting to see which of them is the more successful in keeping the cracks covered.

And while comparing the two parties, it has been said that the Tory method of choosing a leader is less democratic than Labour's. Be that as it may the thing which matters to both organisations is that the new man will be a sure vote catcher at the next poll, one who can convince working class voters that his party can solve their problems for them. He is the one who will get the rank-and-file support, never mind for the time being the method of appointing him. Here it is that the new Tory leader will not differ very much from his predecessor. Like Macmillan he will tell us that his party will cure our social ills. And just like Macmillan they will fail to do so.

Does it really matter, then , who gas got the Conservative leadership laurel now? There was certainly plenty of furore and speculation both in and out of the Tory Party at the time, and we were constantly reminded of this man's qualities as against that man's faults. But we seem to remember that "bright boys" have held the reins in the past, and the ills of capitalism have still been there when they were gone. So we will answer our own question. No, it doesn't really matter very much. For the Capitalist Class it will be business as usual. For the Working class exploitation as usual.

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