The broken-down political machinery of this decaying capitalist system

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23 January 2019

May's "historical debacle" in the Commons, last week, had, in fact, little to do with her divorce deal with the EU, nor indeed with the EU itself.  But it had everything to do with the decrepit state of the political institutions of the British capitalist class.
    Here we have a government which supposedly enjoys the "confidence" of the Commons (judging from the defeat of Labour's "no confidence" motion), but is incapable of getting the very same Commons to endorse its most important policies!  Significantly, May was left with no option but to frantically scrape the bottom of the Westminster barrel, in a desperate attempt to gain the support of individual MPs of all parties - to no avail, as it turned out!
    This is how fractious parliamentary politics have become, with a host of warring factions always on the lookout for opportunities to raise their profiles and boost their career prospects.  There, and only there, lies the cause of the present stalemate and paralysis in Westminster.  In fact, lest we forget, that is what produced the Brexit saga itself, in the first place - and the resulting past 30 months of chaos!

A matter of gross mismanagement

In a recent interview, a former Dutch prime minister revealed that, back in 2016, Cameron had told him that the Brexit referendum was merely a "matter of party management".  For Cameron, it was just meant to be a "clever" trick designed to pull the rug from under the feet of his party's Eurosceptic right-wingers.
    As it turned out, Cameron had no idea of the forces that his own policies had unleashed.  His systematic scape-goating of EU migrants and May's "hostile environment" policy had already helped to give credit and respectability to the kind of anti-migrant dirt that the Leave camp threw around during the referendum campaign.
    At the same time, the deep discontent generated by years of austerity policies led a section of voters to believe that voting Leave against the main Remain-supporting parties, would "punish" them, while bringing some kind of "change", which could not be worse than the status quo.
    As a result, instead of the comfortably large Remain vote that Cameron expected, the poll returned a small Leave majority.  But, by the same token, instead of side-lining the Tory Eurosceptic factions that Cameron was targeting, the referendum gave them a second lease of life by swelling their ranks and credibility.
    This was how Cameron's "party management"  device finally produced Brexit, turning the pro-Leave vote of 37% of all registered voters into the "Will of the People" and forcing Cameron to ingloriously leave the political scene.
    So May then jumped into Cameron's shoes, with her "Brexit means Brexit", but with the real aim of orchestrating a damage-limitation exercise to protect the profits of British companies which would be dangerously threatened by the a brutal departure from the EU.

A question of class

Ever since the summer of 2016, May has been fighting on two fronts.  For public consumption, she made a point of championing a nationalistic stance, accusing the EU's "disrespectful attitude" of being the only real obstacle between Britain and its alleged "bright future" after Brexit.  This was a grossly overblown cover-up, though, to conceal the other front on which she had to fight - against the warring factions of her own party.
    Indeed, at every stage of the Brexit saga, most of the battles May has had to fight, were due to the ambitions of Tory politicians who were more or less overtly bidding for her position, in the name of a "harder Brexit".  In facing these challenges from within her party, May did exactly what Cameron had done before her: she yielded more and more ground to the hysteria of the "hard-Brexiteers", hoping to gain time and some peace and quiet.
    This hasn't worked for May any more than it did for Cameron.  The result is today's stalemate in which the key positions are held by these same "hard-Brexiteers", who would be prepared to cause total mayhem in the economy, if only this could help to make their delusions look more real and help their political ambitions.
    That being said, from May and Hammond to Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg, whether "Remainers", "Soft Brexiteers" or "Hard Brexiteers", all these politicians are at the service of the capitalist class.  But the capitalists have the servants they and their exploitative, chaotic system deserve - ambitious, sel-serving, competitive, unpredictable and reckless.  The dire state of their political institutions today is just a reflection of the dire state of their economic order.