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November 10, 2014


Icarus Green

Its called paying lip service. They might SAY they're for austerity but cut corporate and individual taxes. They might SAY they want to control immigration but actually do relatively nothing beyond hopeless posturing and letting net immigration go up 39%. They might SAY they want out of the EU, but Cameron himself has said he'd campaign to stay in it if a referendum happened.

Once you realise modern centre right politics is about throwing Mcdonalds red meat to the idiot base while still pursuing a 100% corporate goon agenda then you know all you need to know about politics.

gastro george

It's also worth mentioning that the Tories are probably more interested in the finance sector than big business as a whole.

Icarus Green

By the way, good to see your measured response to 'Sanj' in the IC. And there I was thinking my fund selection was balls to the wall. Well, good ol Sanj makes me look like Julie Andrews. The only thing he didn't put in there was a UCIS investment in Cambodian oak.

Has to be a joke submission. Has to be.


The attitude to Europe seems to depend on the business. The Tories' strong support for the Common Market in the days of Heath was probably due to the strong support from manufacturing industry 40+ years ago: there isn't so much of that now. Today's finance sector appears to have some worries about how EU regulation will affect their business practices. And Rupert Murdoch is a strong influence and he has worries about how EU regulation will affect his business practices.

That said, the turnaround in the position of the Tories over Europe in the last 40 years is remarkable. From Heath's assertions that Europe was good for business to Fabricant's assertions that it is bad for business (and Redwood's warning to business to keep quiet about Europe) is a bizarre turnaround.


There's also the difference between say petty bourgeosie and big corporations and the merely psycopathic. Some of the corporations are aware that they need a better workforce/ the EU/ childcare for their workers otherwise there won't be enough consumers to go around.

Or you could put it another way- some businessmen are actually more rationally self interested than others, and the former are currently making a noise, the latter strand is currently more in power in the tory party.

Dave Timoney

The Tory party has long been a fractious alliance between varieties of capital, from free-traders vs empire-preferencers in the 19th century to today's three-way divide between big capital (pro-EU), small capital (anti-EU) and finance capital (keen to arbitrage between in and out).

Murdoch's position doesn't reflect a fear of EU regulation but a recognition that, in Europe's polyglot environment, media will remain essentially national so EU harmonisation is of little value to him.

His contempt for the BBC is driven less by their non-existent lefty bias and more that they are the only organisation capable of being a serious competitor in the global anglophone market.


For latter day Tories their raison d'être is a Small State: just shy of an anarchic political-economy seems to be the end goal. This is business friendly. This is what the business community regularly argues for. Okay it would be a shame if the rift between Tory UKIP and Tory Conservative results in an EU exit, but come-on, our current leader’s style has such power. It’s so liked that this just won’t happen. He has a plan on which business can depend. And anyway, UKIP might be right: a small Great British state embracing true macho realism in international relations, setting private animal spirits free from the confines of their global banks to course around the real economy at a velocity that brings jobs and prosperity for all. Simple, everything is simple for everyone when you see the beauty of a small state.


Why is 'business' here being presented as some kind of monolithic bloc? Different 'businesses' have different, often opposed interests surely?


"Why is 'business' here being presented as some kind of monolithic bloc?"

Presumably because in the past it has usually been presented that way (and the Conservative Party has been presented as the representative of "business" as a whole with a strong alliance with the CBI). That has possibly changed and it is interesting to speculate why.

You don't hear as much about the CBI as you used to 30 - 40 years ago, which is possibly because of changes in the nature of business.


The Tory party seems irrational about a number of issues like UKIP. The EU being one area.

This must partly be the result of the fact that the Party is ageing as an organisation and increasingly seems to be like a cult with the leadership having to appease a shrinking and unrepresentative demographic. Both of members and voters. Tory support in polls is substantially down on where it was under thatcher and major and they have failed to win an election since 1992. The Liberals are keeping this cult in power despite it being less representative of National opinion than ever before. May be the position of the Liberal party should get your marxist analysis? They seem less consistent than the tory party.

Heath had a clear view about why the EU was a good thing. It prevented war in Europe by promoting cooperation between states, it promoted liberal democracy by the same method and it was a counter weight to the Soviet block and system. The last point the end of the USSR reduces the case for the EU on the right and makes nationalist appeals more attractive.

Heath and moderate conservatives would still support the EU for reasons 1 and 2; but the tory party has swung rightward and democracy and peace are not uppermost in the mind of the demographic. But the rise of a extreme nationalist Russia can be argued to be a new number 3, as a reason to continue the alliance of democracy. Or the continuation of the old logic.

Heath would say he was right and the choice is between EU meetings to sort out problems or Russian tanks and subversion as in Ukraine to settle the issues. The French and Germans used to settle their disputes by the same methods and the EU was created to avoid that unsatisfactory method and the resulting human misery.


Off course as simon wren lewis says, refusing to follow mainstream macro economic ideas means both tory and labour are enemies of business and workers for that matter.

The insistence on pedalling austerity cuts as a panacea is another example of a cult like tendency among the political ruling class.


The Conservative Party has indeed always been a fractious alliance, but it was supposedly held together by grey, middle-aged men in suits who ensured that it won elections. The link with the CBI was important and the CBI was an important institution; business appeared to speak with one voice. Since the end of the Thatcher era the fissures have been out in the open.

As Keith says, some of this may be due to the end of the USSR. There is an article in the New Statesman by Simon Heffer, which says that the fall of Berlin Wall was bad for the Right. The main theme appears to be that the Right was organised around opposition to the Soviet Bloc and its ideas and has had a hard time adjusting to the consequences of its fall. It hasn't been the "end of history". "The Right, which advocated globalisation as part of the inevitable march of capitalism, has shown itself incapable of dealing with its realities."


It is also harder to blame the trade unions for everything (and by extension the Labour Party). For some, Europe is a convenient whipping boy that takes the place of the soviet bloc or trade unions. And on the whole Europe is a symptom of other divisions in the Conservative Party.

Chris Wilson

Isn't it a mistake to assume that 'business' has a single interest. A key distinction is between manufacturing and services on one side, and the rent-seeking financiers of the City on the other. Tory policies may not serve the interests of 'British Business' but they do serve the interests of globalised finance services. They want low tax and don't care about the benefits of the welfare state for capitalism. They want deregulation and don't care about the benefits of regulation for consumers. The Tories servce the 1% or the 0.1% and they don't care about businesses in the UK.


The CBI are only calling for an increase in government-provided childcare and a cut in NI payments for employees earning below £10,500. They are not calling on employers to provide better childcare and, presumably, if employees are not making NI payments then nor will their employers. The CBI very specifically state that they are against "intervening in pay or attacking the UK's flexible labour market". I don't really know what they mean by that, but I'll have a guess that they don't want pay rises, more rights for employees or an end to zero-hours contracts. So have business leaders suddenly developed a social conscience, or are the CBI actually just advocating cost-cutting exercises for employers?

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