Whose interests do the Tory party serve? The knee-jerk leftie answer has long been: big business. But I wonder if this is true.
As Simon points out, leaving the EU would not be in the interests of business. And even if this isn't what the Tory leadership intends, the mere fact that it is creating uncertainty about the possibility of exit is itself bad for business; uncertainty depresses investment and share prices.
This isn't the only way in which the Tories harm business interests. So too do immigration controls (note: it is possible for some policies to harm the interests of both capital and labour).
And it's quite possible that even austerity is not in the interests of non-financial business*. Granted, in the 80s public spending cuts helped weaken workers' bargaining power which in turn helped raise profit margins. At a time of wage-led growth, though, such cuts simply depress aggregate demand and therefore profitability; official data (pdf) show that non-financial profit rates haven't risen much at all since 2010**.
Now, you might reply that this merely shows that Tories are the party not of big business but of economically illiterate little Englanders - hence its vulnerability to Ukip.
Even this, though, isn't wholly clear. Austerity has clobbered a lot of traditional Tory voters - older, wealthier people who have suffered from low returns on their savings.
This makes me wonder whether our (OK my) longstanding prejudice is actually true. Maybe the Tories are not any longer the party of big vested interests in general***.
Of course, this does not automatically invalidate the Marxian claim that the state favours big business. Many anti-capitalist policies such as a basic income, steeply progressive taxes and worker ownership are filtered out of practical politics by ideology, the need for "credibility" or alleged infeasibility. But as we're seeing, this filter doesn't block other anti-business policies. It seems to be only intelligent anti-capitalist policies the Tories are opposed to: they are quite happy with stupid ones.
* It's certainly helped finance, because QE has raised asset prices and because low interest rates help to keep "hoovering up pennies" strategies profitable.But the City might well lose from leaving the EU so this doesn't establish the Tories as the party of finance.
** In fact, official data might overstate the health of profits. They are based on measuring capital at replacement rather than historic cost. Because capital goods prices have fallen, this understates the capital stock and so overstates profit rates.