The latest revelations about the Prime Minister have lifted the lid, again, on the sordid and sleazy world of the elite. At the same time, the airing of such dirty laundry in public is yet another demonstration of the crisis of the Establishment, which is rapidly losing all moral authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the masses, following one scandal after another.
The latest revelations from Lord Ashcroft’s biography of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have once again lifted the lid on the sordid and sleazy world of the rich and the elite. At the same time, the airing of such dirty laundry in public is yet another demonstration of the crisis of the Establishment, which is rapidly losing all moral authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the masses following one scandal after another.
Living on a different planet
Britons woke on Monday morning to a flurry of headlines on news websites and social media regarding the now infamous #PigGate story. The details have since been splashed across the pages of every news outlet over the past week, to the glee of pun-loving editors, bloggers, and an army of Twitter users.
To summarise: during his time as a student at Oxford University, the Tory PM is alleged to have been involved in a bizarre initiation ceremony for an elite drinking society called the Piers Gaveston, in which the Eton-educated politician inserted his genitals into the mouth of a dead pig. Further allegations have also emerged from the Ashcroft-authored biography, “Call Me Dave”, including accusations that David Cameron and his wife Samantha, during their time at 10 Downing Street, have attended parties where cocaine was taken in plain view by guests in their presence.
The most surprising aspect of these latest revelations, however, is how little ordinary people are surprised by them. Other than a stream of puns, pranks, and jokes, the reaction in general has been one of “what did you expect?” Coming on the back of years of scandal within the Establishment, these latest allegations are seen as a mere drop in the ocean, and are in fact considered relatively harmless compared to the fraud and corruption of the MPs’ expenses scandal or the heineous child abuse crimes of former politicians that have been recently unearthed.
Notably, despite little actual evidence to back up any of the claims, they are nevertheless assumed by the public to be true, as they chime with the aloof, opulent, and extravagant image that most have of the ruling class. Indeed, the vast majority already know and presume that this out-of-touch elite minority live on a completely different planet from the rest of us, inhabiting a world in which expensive vices and morally-dubious rituals are the norm. People have come to expect such behaviour from the rich elite that rule the country.
All that is solid melts into air
Nevertheless, the story is blow to Cameron and the Tory government, coming at a time when the reputation of the Establishment is already at an all-time low. The ruling class and the bourgeois state rely upon centuries of tradition, routine, and prejudice in order to maintain the status quo. They must be seen as having a certain moral authority and prestige in the eyes of the masses, if they are to be able to defend a system that is full of so much inequality, contradiction, and rank hypocrisy. But now, after years of seemingly endless scandal, the Establishment’s authority and legitimacy is gradually being worn away, revealing the cracks within our capitalist class society.
From the phone hacking at News of the World to the shocking stories surrounding Jimmy Saville and the BBC; from the emergence of the truth about the Hillsborough disaster to the MPs expenses fiasco involving a swathe of professional politicians: all of these scandals – and many more – have revealed the corrupt and morally bankrupt world of the ruling class, leading to a questioning of the system amongst ordinary people that was not there before.
In the words of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”
The Corbyn political earthquake
These allegations could not have come at a worse time for the Prime Minister, who has until now had the full force of the media on his side in trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected Labour leader. Since his leadership election victory on the 12th September, Corbyn has been attacked from all possible angles by the Tories, the right-wing media, and the Blairites within his own party. The new Labour leader’s own morality and judgement have been constantly called into question, as the politicians and press hysterically attack him, amongst other things, for not “loving his country”.
In normal times, the ruling class could bank on such smears and mud-slinging to do the job of discrediting any challengers, and the mainstream media would always – reliably and obediently – do the dirty work of the capitalist class and their political representatives. But we no longer live in ordinary times. The vast bulk of Westminster politicians have demonstrated through years of slavish worship at the altar of the banks and big business who they really aim to represent. Meanwhile, the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn at the head of the anti-austerity movement – a veritable political earthequake – has shaken the foundations of British society, and has finally provided a voice to all those who for years have suffered in silence. This, in turn, has given workers and youth the confidence to question the rhetoric of the ruling class and the torrent of lies and distortions that streams forth from their mouthpieces in the media.
The result is that, unlike in the past, the mud no longer sticks. Far from weakening Corbyn’s authority, the attacks against him have demonstrated clearly to people who – and what – these politicians and the press really represent. The more Corbyn is lambasted for not singing “God Save the Queen”, the more ordinary people question why we still have the Monarchy – an unelected, parasitic head of state – at all. As Cameron and his rich Tory chums criticise the Labour leader for not defending the Queen and Country, those who have faced years of austerity rightly ask why there is not more attention being paid to the questions of jobs, houses, and public services.
Splits at the top
The fact that these latest allegations have emerged at all is yet another demonstration of the ever-deepinging crisis of the Establishment, which stumbles from one scandal to the next. Most of the Tory cabinet are likely to have a file thicker than the Bible, full of past crimes and misdemeanours that could be used against them if they were ever to fall out of favour. Of course, such stories rarely see the light of day, since these figures are reliable representatives of their class, and are unlikely to ever break ranks
Indeed, when such scandals involving top figures do emerge – such as the recent revelations regarding child abuse decades ago by top politicians, allegedly including former Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath – they are almost always about those who have since passed away. By casting the light over deceased representatives of the ruling class, and occasionally forcing certain individuals to fall on their sword, the Establishment distracts from its present crisis, papers over the cracks, and manages to temporarily maintain its stability in order to survive another day.
Now, however, this stability cannot be so easily maintained. Splits and cracks within the Establishment are emerging, as demonstrated by the source of these allegations against the Prime Minister: none other than Lord Ashcroft, the millionaire former donor to the Tory Party.
In fact, the complete back story is nothing but a series of scandal, from the fact that the Ashcroft – a former deputy chairman and treasurer for the Tory Party – was rewarded for his generous donations to the Tories with a peerage by former leader William Hague; to the fact that this millionaire Lord – the 74th richest man in Britain – was at the same time a tax-dodging non-domicile; to the fact that David Cameron – as Tory leader – knew about all of the above before it was publically revealed in 2010.
As a result of these scandals, Cameron deemed Lord Ashcroft to be too toxic for a top job in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Ashcroft, snubbed and embarrassed, developed an anger towards the Prime Minister, with his newly co-authored Cameron biography widely being seen as an act of revenge against his former colleague. Hence the emergence of these allegations against the current occupant of Number 10.
The system is broken
As the crisis of capitalism deepens and the ruling class are forced to go to ever greater lengths to maintain economic equilibrium through austerity and cuts, so the political and social equilibrium will be more and more disrupted and destroyed. Ever greater splits will emerge at the top of society, within the upper-echelons of the Establishment and the State, as the ruling class becomes increasingly divided over the question of how to protect their system against the threat of a radicalised – and growing – mass movement.
The emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as a reference point for all the accumulated anger and discontent in society has greatly accelerated this process of fragmentation. The Tories, full of arrogance, hubris, and complacency following their achievement of winning a majority in the general election, have gone on an all-out offensive against workers, the youth, and the poor. But every action provokes an equal and opposite reaction.
The presence of Corbyn at the head of front bench provides something that the working class has not had for years – a genuine political opposition in parliament to the Tories and their austerity programme. And it is the presence of this political opposition – with a Labour Party leader who workers finally feel represents their interests, unlike the City-worshipping Blairite leaderships of the past – that will embolden workers to take mass, militant action against the attacks on their conditions and living standards.
The task now is for the labour movement to go on the offensive; to defend Corbyn against the attacks from the Tories, the press, and the Blairites; and to fight back with a bold socialist programme. Only in this way can we put an end to austerity, an end to capitalism, and an end to the rotten, corrupt, and morally bankrupt Establishment that defends this broken system.