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May 21, 2017



The only direction I can glean from May is that of the anti-collective, the social care bill and brexit being prime examples. There is still unfinished business with the unions re funding and how many workers rights survive the Great Repeal bill remains to be seen.

She is also preserving the status quo with the City before all else. Apart from that I'm as baffled as you are.

Dave Timoney

On the material interests vs preferences point, perhaps Mayism is about preserving existing gains rather than further enrichment, hence the focus on symbolism rather than practical policy. Much of the language of "fairness" and looking after the interests of "ordinary" people in the manifesto reeks of ressentiment. Perhaps the Mayite is an instinctive anti-capitalist (anti-EU) who was bought off by fictitious capital in the form of property. In other words, a lukewarm Thatcherite for whom the past is now more significant than the future.

Home ownership has been in decline for well over a decade now and a sense of loss has been pervasive in political discourse since 2000: a loss of probity (Iraq), a loss of standards (expenses), a loss of loyalty (Labour "deserters"), a loss of opportunity (social mobility) etc. This culminated in the festishisation of control in last year's referendum. The sensitivity over the "dementia tax" is surely not simply about the state expropriating property wealth but about the threat of impending loss. The Tory party is not merely decadent and conflicted in its class interests, it is shackled to a generation that faces electoral decline.

Ben Philliskirk

The post-referendum era was always likely to be one of political retrenchment for the Tories, particularly when you consider that the vast majority of Tory voters and media barons chose to leave, while most of their leading politicians and business supporters favoured remain.

Thus they have effectively gone for a strategy of opportunism, rallying behind the flag and 'hard' Brexit at a time when nationalism and identity have assumed an unusually salient position. Thus where Thatcher focused on the 'enemy within', with May it is 'them against us', whether that be the EU, foreigners or immigrants. As such, a more traditionally conservative position and a mantra of 'national unity' are holding the Tories' cracks together, helped considerably by the anti-Corbyn McCarthyism of the right-wing and liberal media.

Dennis Smith

Your last paragraph edges towards the nub of the problem but I don’t think it quite gets there. Neither the preference/interest binary or the identity/class binary hits the target. Class in any serious sense requires class consciousness and therefore a class identity. Old-style Marxists used to agonise about class consciousness but (for my money) both their sociology and their ontology were too simplistic to offer any satisfactory conclusion.

It could be argued that class in the class-consciousness sense was a temporary historical phenomenon linked to a particular phase of industrialisation based on mass, unionised, Fordist heavy industry, a phase that ran in the UK from the mid-19th century to the third quarter of the 20th or slightly later: Thatcher was its nemesis. That phase is now past, and so is class in its classic sense. As Wolfgang Streeck says, Fordist production has given way to an emphasis on status differentiation, with material goods becoming less important than virtual ones. My status and my identity depend on how I am perceived by others. This fragmentation of traditional class identities helps to explain how voters can float weightlessly from Labour to UKIP, and maybe back again.

This problem with class consciousness is linked to the issue of false consciousness: can people be radically mistaken about their own interests? How can people hope to identify their ‘real’ interests in a post-materialist world?

Ben Philliskirk

"This fragmentation of traditional class identities helps to explain how voters can float weightlessly from Labour to UKIP, and maybe back again."

Politics over the last 10 years has been more marked by voters 'floating weightlessly' from Tories to UKIP and back. Most commentators seem to forget that the Tories have always had the mass of petty-bourgeois voters and a substantial chunk of the working-class, otherwise they would never have been elected. Alf Garnett switched to voting UKIP, but now he's going to vote Tory instead.

A more useful political question for the 'experts' to answer would be why so many Lib Dems have gone to the Tories since 2010.


Doesn't the lack of Mayites simply reflect our centres discombobulation. And indeed, while many smile at May becoming a team, might this not reflect a determination to protect – given risks of possible nasty outcomes – a Conservative brand? If May succeeds and gains a free hand... well: time, space, and authority enough in a 'freer' England to work on presenting, as always, same old same old. Only perhaps this time round preferences could include full-on eugenics, who knows...

Peter K.

Why did German business interests and ostensibly conservative rightwingers back Hitler and the Nazis?

Because of the Communists.

Arthur Murray

Replying to Ben Philliskirk:

"...the vast majority of Tory voters...chose to leave"

Lord Ashcroft’s post-EU referendum poll gives these figures for people who voted for the following parties in the 2015 general election:

UKIP: 96% for leave, 4% for remain

Conservatives: 58% for leave, 42% for remain

Labour: 37% for leave, 63% for remain

SNP: 36% for leave, 64% for remain

Lib Dem: 30% for leave, 70% for remain

Green: 25% for leave, 75% for remain

gastro george

"This fragmentation of traditional class identities helps to explain how voters can float weightlessly from Labour to UKIP, and maybe back again."

Didn't recent analysis show that only 10% of the UKIP vote in 2015 came from Labour. More went from the Lib Dems, FFS. So much for certain media narratives.

Dennis Smith

Sorry if my statement about voters floating from Labour to UKIP and back has misled people. My point was that, in terms of traditional class analysis, there is nothing unexpected about voters transferring to and fro between UKIP and the Tories. When we start seeing straight transfers between UKIP and Labour, this suggests there is something wrong with our classification, particularly as regards class. Some 'working-class' voters clearly identify more closely with UKIP populism than with 'middle-class' Labour liberalism.

To put the same point another way, UKIP does not fit neatly on any single right-left scale. Many of its policies suggest nostalgia for the 1950s, including many features of the social democratic welfare state.

gastro george

"When we start seeing straight transfers between UKIP and Labour, this suggests there is something wrong with our classification, particularly as regards class."

But, historically, there have always been numbers of "working class" fash. I just wonder if your classification is either over-simplifying or if you're over-analysing.

Dennis Smith

"But, historically, there have always been numbers of "working class" fash. I just wonder if your classification is either over-simplifying or if you're over-analysing."

I'm probably over-analysing. I'm certainly not proposing any classification of my own: I'm just arguing that most traditional ideas about class (including Marxist ones) are inadequate. Your point that there are always have been numbers of "working class fash" tends to support my argument: class identity and class interests are poor predictors of political behaviour and allegiance.


I have posted this before:


"That, in turn, brought some of the most politically potent nonmaterial issues — race, identity, and nationalism — to the forefront of Western voters’ mind. How comfortable were they, really, with multicultural, multifaith societies?

The traditional social democratic message didn’t really speak to these cultural anxieties. But the right’s did."

Cultural vs Economics
Corbyn cannot bring himself to say he will restrict immigration etc.

A pattern will emerge as Mayism which emphasise's with popular fears, but take no practical measures. She has recently boarded the Inter-generational fairness issue, but policy will be another matter.

Far from strong Mayism, is join any passing band wagon, without doing anything!

The Dementia Tax just demonstrates her ineptness! A Lottery where your inheritance is subjects to the type of terminal diseases, rather than a collective state insurance aka inheritance tax.

And Brexit means Brexit emphasises the decision has been made, but beyond that is vacuous like May herself.

The rich don't need the Tories to further enrich them they can do that for themselves while impoverishing society through globalisation.

No strength just platitudes and the stability of the grave.

Who benefits from Mayism; no-one as she is just a place holder...

Are we overdue the next financial crisis?
Who will crash the car this time?

New Labour abandoned economics, and the left pursued identity politics.

Without economics (Blairites) or culture (Corbynites) the Labour party components will sink together or individually.


May is awful: bad as a person and incompetent as well as malicious like Ian duncan smith. The big puzzle is why is this numptie PM? The answer is that one group of right wing politicos ruined camerons and osborne's plans for a remain vote. But it was obvious that all the other candidates to lead the far right tory party were useless people like BOJO and gove. May is the accidental PM who never supported Brexit who will deliver it because it is easier to appease the right wing racist nationalist nut job segment than try to fight them. May stands for reaction, that is mayism. And the failure of austerity now means huge tax increases, cuts and a dementia tax on the old to avoid any tax pain for the wealthy. Politics has become a black farce. Children, dementia sufferers, and foxes all the enemy within.


I think her personal feelings are for her richer sponsors.

The recent change to re-introduce a cap on the total individual contribution to late life social care does nothing for her poorer pensioner voting base, any cap (yet to be decided) probably taking their total savings and a part of their home anyway.

But it is a very big deal for middle-rich pensioners that will easily keep their homes, and probably part of their savings if the cap is set low enough.

It is definitely not a progressive policy, although "cap" sounds fair.

She must consider that higher wealth individuals and their children are the "Mayists" and need to be pandered.

She is very likely correct in this thinking at least.

Frances Coppola

Being completely cynical, I would say that May is driven by one ambition only, and that is to be in power. She will serve and promote whoever she thinks will help her to gain power and retain it. So she is wooing conflicting interests with vague promises, hoping that she can somehow manage to persuade enough of them to support her. The interests who won't be wooed she aims to crush.

Do people realise that the Tory party is no longer a single party? It is too deeply divided and there are insufficient shared values. Really, it is an unstable coalition.

So what May is doing is coalition politics. Principles be damned, it is keeping everyone happy that matters. Talk of "Mayism" misses this essential point. She doesn't support a particular interest group because to do so would fragment the fragile coalition she is trying to keep together.

derrida derider

"It’s not clear that the Tories can remain popular in the long-term if they’re not offering a way of enriching some client base."

True, but Ms May is - rightly for her party - focusing on the short term. She has an election to win and there's a large working class group that the Brexit referendum revealed is attracted to nationalist socialism (I'm being careful with that phrase). And the devil of it is that the worse the economy is the larger is that group.

Of course this rhetoric will change after the election in ways that support that longer run enrichment of her clients.

gastro george

"True, but Ms May is - rightly for her party - focusing on the short term."

Cannot be said too often. The Tories are *always* short term. For example, Gideon's "long term economic policy" was only ever a short term sound bite, or as long as he could convincingly (to the gullible) let it ride.


The long term is merely a concatenation of short terms. Thinking of one's house or job one might reasonably entertain long term ideas. You can balance the long/short term. But for a democratic politician the long term usually means trouble, so don't go there. Just keep feeding pap to those who look like voters.

Democracy is a broad concept that can embrace a good deal of authoritarianism. I think the constraints of Brexit and Globalisation will bring out the authoritarian in Mrs May. In the end we will take a leaf out of the China's book and rename the Palace of Westminster the Great Hall of the People.

As for Mrs May, I agree with Frances C.


via Guido Fawkes:


"Caricatured by her political opponents as a stony-faced neo-Thatcherite, Mrs. May is nothing of the sort. There are plenty of her own members of Parliament who are troubled by the direction in which she is heading — another reason she is seeking a solid House of Commons majority that will enable her to govern as she pleases. Though her campaign slogan is “strong and stable leadership,” what she promises is nothing less than a root-and-branch transformation of Conservative ideology. Buckle up."

No need to Buckle up...except for the screeching U-turns and ignorant legislation, it is true Theresa May is not Thatcher, this is Zombie Blairism raised from the dead, Yvette Cooper et al must be happy.

How are the school breakfasts (7p each) anything but the nasty party in kitten heels and all for money lost down the back of the settee in Government terms.

And Technical Capability are the work of a mediocre mind, characteristic of Theresa May.


"It's technically clueless, top-down paternalism."


"So much for the debate over the theoretical downside of undisclosed vulnerabilities. (It also inadvertently provided the perfect argument against encryption backdoors.) The real world has provided all the case study that's needed."


Encryption means privacy for all or none.
Wannacrypt exploited a Technical Capability of the NSA which escaped into the wild (See techdirt above).

Mayism: dangerously incompetent, Blairism.


"UKIP: 96% for leave, 4% for remain". LOL.


As Frances Coppola points out, May is trying to hold together the fragile coalition that is the Conservative Party and its support. That involves delivering Brexit, because the Daily Mail demands it even though it will be very damaging to the UK economy and to some parts of the support-base of the Conservative Party. At the same time May will be trying to avoid too much of the damage falling on key Conservative Party interests, and trying to avoid a situations where the reckless promises made by Conservative Party Brexiteers are held up for public inspection.

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