Posts Tagged ‘‘The Tory MP’’

The Left Book Club: The Tory MP

November 29, 2015

Looking through one of the second-hand bookshops in Cheltenham a few weeks ago, I found a set of books in their ‘politics’ section published by the Left Book Club in the 30s and 40s. Amongst them were titles like ‘Production for the People’ and ‘Empire, Your Empire’. This last was definitely in favour of the British Empire, in contrast to the views of some Labour MPs, such as one Benn, who believed that Africans should be given back their countries as quickly as possible. This particular volume wanted Britain to retain her Empire, but for its administration to be made more humane, with the welfare of its peoples given much higher priority. It was critical of the way many countries suffered from starvation and malnutrition under the-then present administrations.

The book that particularly caught my eye was a sociological study of the social origins and class allegiances of Conservative members of parliament. It was called simply, The Tory MP. Essentially it told you at great length, and it great detail, what you probably know already: that Tory MPs come from the aristocracy and business classes and represent those classes against the poor and working class. There’s is a very pithy quote at the front from Benjamin Disraeli, one of the great founders of the modern Tory party in the 19th century, to the Marxist Socialist, Hyndeman. Hyndeman had told Disraeli that Socialism, or at least, his Socialist party, stood for the workers and was trying to get the best for them. Disraeli told him bluntly that the upper and middle classes would resist this with all the strength they had until the workers were utterly routed.

So much for Disraelian ‘one nation’ Toryism.

Cameron has been telling everyone he’s a ‘one nation’ Tory to try and present his party of blood-thirsty bigots, public school bullies and general bourgeois thugs and cut-throats as somehow being ‘caring Conservatives’, when all the evidence overwhelmingly points to the opposite. They have an absolute indifference to the poverty they’ve created. In fact, they positively seem to revel in the misery of the poor, the unemployed and the working class. Their ‘caring’ extends only to the rich and powerful.

The book extensively documents the aristocratic and business links of the Tory MPs of its time – which members came from which aristocratic families, whose family owned what business, and so on. And, almost needless to say, the same people, or type of people, dominated the civil service and colonial administration. As well as the armed forces. I didn’t buy it, as it was extremely dated. I am, however, tempted to splash out on it, as even if it was published eighty years or so ago, my guess is that little has changed over the last three-quarters of a century. My guess is that the same families are still firmly in power in the ranks of the Tory party, and pretty much the same firms, even if they have changed, merged and amalgamated with others in the intervening decades.

I think there actually should be rather more research like this. In the 1980s there was a lot of talk about ending class conflict, largely because of Thatcher’s victory and her immense popularity with certain sections of the working class. The result of that was Blairite ‘New Labour’, that stated, in Peter Mandelson’s words, that they were immensely relaxed about being rich. New Labour came to power by adopting the Tories policies and trying to appeal to middle class voters. In doing so, they abandoned and marginalised their traditional base, and opened the way for ATOS, UNUM and the other corporations to begin their campaign of fear against the long term sick and disabled. There many working class people at the time, who swallowed Thatcher’s line about being working class, because her father owned a shop, despite the fact that she personally hated the working class with a vengeance.

Whatever Cameron says, the Tories have never represented the working class, and books like The Tory MP, and Owen Davies’ book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, show it.