The Tories’ View of the Rest of Britain: Bantustans to Serve the London Rich?

Norman Tebbit was in the news again last week. Thatcher’s no. 1 cabinet enforcer was angry that people in the provinces were having the audacity to criticise the government’s almost exclusive concentration on the metropolis, leaving the rest of the country, and particularly the north, to languish and die. A few years ago Private Eye likened Tebbit to a pre-human fossil, Boxgrove Man, that had recently been discovered, and hailed as Britain’s oldest man. The Eye showed a picture of a skull of Heidelberg Man, the type of human that gave rise to the Neanderthals in Europe, the Caucasus and Israel, and modern humans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, us, in Africa. The Eye’s satirical headline asked ‘Is this the World’s Oldest Tory?’ It then went on to state that although Chingford Man had a very small brain, it was still capable of getting on a bike and looking for work. It’s an appropriate comment, as Tebbit doesn’t seem to have changed his views on the unemployed since the 1980s, when he advised them to follow his father’s example and ‘get on (their) bike(s) and look for work’. Criticism of the Tories’ favouring of London was simply envy, declared the cadaverous one. Rather than be jealous of the metropolis and its success, people in the rest of the country should support themselves by coming down and working in the capital for two days.

There’s a section of the Tory party that has always favoured leaving Britain’s declining towns to wither and die. A little while ago cabinet documents from Thatcher’s time were released, in which senior Conservatives advised the Leaderene to let Liverpool die, and deprive it of any government help to recover. The other year the art critic and broadcaster, Brian Sewell, interviewed on the subject of class by John Prescott, expressed similar sentiments about the ‘dreadful mill towns in the north’ which should all be demolished.

Tebbit’s comments are, of course, petty, spiteful and unrealistic. People have a perfect right to criticise the Tories’ promotion of the capital and the way it harms their own communities. His idea that you could somehow make enough money to support yourself by working in the capital for a couple of days each week is simply unrealistic. Transport and accommodation costs would simply eat up any money most people had made working there. If they were able to find suitable work in the first place. It’s all rather reminiscent of the time the Tories told people in mid-Wales that they shouldn’t worry about unemployment in their town, as they could get on a bus and be in Cardiff in an hour. This blithely ignored the fact that, thanks to Tory cuts, there were no buses running to Brecon. Furthermore, there were already people from that area forced to work in Cardiff, who already found the journey difficult and barely economic. Added to which was the fact that it was also difficult to find work there. Tebbit had learned nothing from this. I doubt he was even aware of it, and so was able to make his ignorant comments without any awareness of how daft they were.

It does, however, also show how a kind of economic apartheid is emerging in Britain under the Tories. The protestors against the ‘poor doors’ in London, segregated entrances to keep working and lower middle class people apart from the super-rich in their luxury apartments, have noted that this is a kind of apartheid, and drawn parallels with South Africa and its segregation of White and Black. Under apartheid, much of the poor Black population was forced to work away from their homelands as well. There was little or no work available in the Bantustans, the tribal homelands established to confine and isolate the Black peoples from the White population. This was deliberate, and the best land with the greatest resources had been reserved for the Whites. Young men from different tribes were therefore forced to live away from their homes and families in order to find work.

And this, it seems, is the Tory vision for Britain. The poor are to be kept isolated, away from the rich, in poorly served areas, with high unemployment and few resources and opportunities. They will, however, make some kind of meagre living coming to work for their social superiors in the metropolis, on which the Tories will concentrate their resources and policies in order to provide a luxuriously high standard of living for the super-rich, who settled there. No doubt these new, migrant workers will be forced to live in shanty towns just outside the gentrified districts.

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3 Responses to “The Tories’ View of the Rest of Britain: Bantustans to Serve the London Rich?”

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN POLITICAL JOURNAL.

  2. Ulysses Says:

    “And this, it seems, is the Tory vision for Britain. The poor are to be kept isolated, away from the rich, in poorly served areas, with high unemployment and few resources and opportunities. ”

    Uncanny, just two nights ago meself and the other ‘arf were discussing, how since 1979, there appears to have been an attempt the gentrify the South East of England, centering on the City of London, to form some kind of playground for the super rich,
    At the expense of anywhere north of Watford Gap services

    • beastrabban Says:

      Must be a case of great minds thinking alike, Ulysses. Or simply that the Tories’ policies are becoming more obvious to more people.

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