Cameron, the coalition in Wales, and party funding

[Sunday, again]

Is David Cameron the Neil Kinnock of the Tory party?

I’m not so sure. With Labour, it was relatively easy to oust the entryists and thus undermine the left, but as for the Tories… the party activists can always defect to UKIP or (for the more extreme) the BNP.

Cameron has used all the right tactics, followed the example of the New Labour project to the letter – but to no avail. Why is this? Well, you can fool people once, but not twice. Two Blairs within the space of a decade would be bad enough, but Cameron came onto the scene as a pretender to Blair’s throne, the heir to Blair as opposed to the dreaded Brown.

The belief that Brown represents something of Old Labour might not be as deadly as the Tories expect. Obviously, he is an uglier version of Blair and definitely not a socialist, but the expectation of difference has yet to wear off. There is a downward spiral in terms of voter turnout and it may be the votes lost rather than the votes won that are key to deciding which party rules at Westminster.

We learn from Peter Hain, miffed at Welsh Labour’s coalition deal with Plaid Cymru, that Gordon Brown was opposed to “regional” party in Wales getting into bed with the nationalists. This was not exactly a secret, and Hain has broken the rules by being so explicit, but it is a good thing that he has flapped his gums…

It’s worth noting that the opposition to the deal came from Westminster. Welsh Labour MPs, Lord Kinnock, and Prime Minister Brown were against it. The party in Wales were for the most part in favour (given the alternative was opposition) and the unions were particularly eager to see the two centre-left parties share power.

Mr Brown will now focus on preventing Plaid Cymru and Conservative policies breaking-up the United Kingdom, Mr Hain said.

“We’ll be stepping up our campaign over the coming months to defend the union against Tory separatist tendencies or nationalist tendencies.

“I think it would be healthy if Plaid Cymru focused on being a Welsh party rather than a separatist party. That’s really an old failed agenda – it will never succeed.”

Mr Hain fears Tory leader David Cameron’s pledge to stop Welsh and Scottish MPs voting on English-only legislation endangers the future of the union.

He said, “I think he’s playing with fire and it threatens the constitutional unity of the United Kingdom.

“You’ve got this unholy alliance between the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru under this crazy new Tory policy to lead us down a separatist road.”

His preferred solution is devolution within England and robust select committees to represent the country’s regions.

“I myself have been a long-standing believer in regional government for England, with regions of England having very similar powers to the Welsh Assembly,” he said.

So Hain does not support an English parliament to represent the nation of England politically and like the rest of New Labour he is against breaking up the United Kingdom, but in favour of breaking up England.

The question is: would Cameron be willing to sacrifice the Union to win power? I doubt it – “Tory separatism” doesn’t hold that much strength within the party, and certainly there will be no re-brand of the party in England to have parity with the Welsh and Scottish Conservatives.

Cameron may use the issue of “English votes on English matters” as part of an appeal to disillusioned (or never-illusioned) Tory MPs, but it ends there – the Tories are the officially the Conservative and Unionist Party. Supporting a measure of devolution for England might secure victory for the Tories at Westminster, but this does not make Cameron a “Tory separatist”.

Since he took power there have been rumours that Brown would call a snap election to capitalise on the “honeymoon period” that new Prime Ministers apparently get. But the problem thought to face him was how to pay for an election. Would he be able to raise the millions needed to run a general election campaign after all of the scandals over party funding?

Well, there has been no reticence amongst capitalists in funding his leadership campaign (and he had no contender, recall) and since there will be no criminal prosecutions over the cash for honours scandal (despite obvious wrong-doing) the rich benefactors of New Labour will not mind coughing up for a continuation of Brown’s rule.

As the World Socialist Web Site observed, with help from the FT:

Brown’s accession to leadership “has spurred a rush of donations to Labour coffers with four businessmen, including leading private equity figures, contributing more than half a million pounds to the party in recent weeks.”

The four leading businessmen donating up to £250,000 each in recent weeks are Sir Ronald Cohen, “the doyen of British private equity,” venture capitalist Nigel Doughty, former Goldman Sachs partner Jon Aisbitt, and Peter Coates, the internet gambling tycoon.

And this was well before the conclusion of the cash for honours investigation…

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2 Responses to “Cameron, the coalition in Wales, and party funding”

  1. K2 Says:

    It’s certainly hard to see Charlie how an English parliament will ever come about. Any theories? I think you are right the situation is not exactly the same for Cameron as it was for the builders of new labour. Just how popular he is is pretty hard to gauge. I know many folk on the CEP blogs would disagree but I think a lurch to the right for the Tories will finish them. In reality EVoEM is the only realistic prospect of pushing this agenda unless Peter Hain is completely wrong about the ‘old failed agenda’ of the Welsh which of course is more than possible. In fact Peter Hain being wrong is highly likely as New labour have been over the whole devolution project. These are interesting times. We are witnessing an unholy power struggle for the survival of the former leviathan that was the British state.

  2. charliemarks Says:

    I think that, as things look now, it is a question of when not if Scotland and Wales exit the union there will be no other route but for the Westminster parliament to become the English parliament.

    This is subject to change however, and the attitude towards the political elite will inform developments. I cannot see any of the major parties coming out for an English parliament because it would further entrench the feeling that the UK is made up of independent nations.

    By the way, people I talk to about this issue often get confused — for some there is no difference between Britian and England, as nations and countries they are seemingly interchangeable until one thinks of Wales, Scotland, etc. Doubtless, the awareness of English national consciousness will grow, but for the time being I expect that progress will occur in Wales and Scotland before England…


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