Theresa May says the election is about Brexit. Leading EU opinion says it will make no difference. I happen to think the EU negotiators are right: May has all she now says she wants on Brexit, so the election is about something more than that.
What, then, is that ‘something’? That is the question that needs to be asked. I think the answer is apparent. It is about advancing the neoliberal cause. Brexit may not have been May’s choice, but advancing the interests of a few in society is always at the core of Conservatism, and whatever the circumstances that is what Conservative’s do best. And that is what May will do now. Brexit provides an opportunity to do that. She wants to take it.
And she needs to do so. As I have argued, a UK economic downturn looks likely, and soon. Massive problems also exist in the NHS, education, the justice system, social care, housing, energy, earnings and elsewhere, all of which are going to become increasingly apparent over the next few years with backlashes likely on most that Tories will wish to ignore.
Give her five years with a big majority and May thinks she can ride out these storms. She may only be a single term prime minister: the possibility of political realignment in what may be a reduced UK by 2022 is already becoming apparent. But that does not worry her, I suspect. Like all neoliberals her one goal is to push back the state and increase inequality. And that is what she has the chance to do.
The so-called Great Repeal Bill, with its Henry VIII clauses that willdeny accountability, will reduce employee and environmental rights, harm the protection for those with disabilities (as if that could still be imagined), diminish universal rights to health care, harm security in old age, damagingly bias markets in favour of big business and foreign owned companies, remove legal protections, probably claw back against LGBT rights, undermine social stability and encourage the break up of the Union. But none if this will matter to May. She will have fostered the self interest of the few, increased their access to the state as a means for appropriating its common wealth for private gain and will have put in place mechanisms that will be contractually hard for successors to unwind. That is the goal.
And that is what this election is about. Under the smokescreen of Brexit Theresa May is pursuing class warfare against most of us. And with a mass propaganda machine behind her she is getting away with it, aided and abetted by an official opposition that is seemingly dedicated to trivia. This us the general election of 2017. And it’s not pretty.