LoV and Tory Leadership

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Jul 9 23:45:43 MDT 1995

LoV and Tory Leadership,

Further information of an unprecedented nature has come to light
about how the factions of the Tory Party have attempted to stabilise
their contradictions. The post of deputy prime minister, which Heseltine
according to press and tv this Sunday insists was offered to him by
Major, not demanded, includes the chairing of 10 Cabinet committees, which
is where most of the work of the British Cabinet is done. [This used
to be an official secret]. The only precedent for a deputy pm with
real power was Clement Atlee, the Labour Party leader who went on to
win the 1945 election. While Churchill ran the war, in many ways Atlee
was co-ordinating the framework of the post '45 welfare state.

The point is that if Heseltine is merely taking the post for personal
vainglory it will not work because it will only excite excessive envy.
The post points again to the existence of a major objectively based
economic strategy, around corporate capital especially within the context
of the European market.  In interviews today
Heseltine emphasised his role in leading the competitiveness agenda.
That is, leading the British accumulation of capital.

It is because he is more pro-European than those he outmanouvred that
his main point about Europe was couched in the form of an attack on the
Labour Party leader who is 30% ahead in the polls, for being "prepared
to surrender our essential economic interests to the French and the
Germans". A marxist analysis however helps us to read between the lines.

The only other analogy to this extraordinary arrangement between Major
and Heseltine seems to me to be the Japanese Liberal Democrat party where
factional alliances are taken for granted.

To what degree has the LoV been useful in interpreting the events of the
last fortnight? I accept the criticisms of Howie, Jerry and Jim D that
I went over the top a bit. I think the problem was that I said these
events had "everything" to do with the LoV. I agreed with the points Jim
went on to make and I have clarified other points with Howie and Jerry.

Now clearly the LoV could not predict in any precise way what was going
to happen. It did however give meaning to the broad pattern of results,
and I think it was no accident that before this remarkable cabinet
outcome, it was possible to argue that on a materialist analysis
Heseltine's position had more going for it long term.

None of this is to imply in a reductionist way
that complex political and psychological processes did not also occur.
Heseltine is subtle enough to say

"My judgement on whether that [the deputy premiership] was something I
could do, or should is based entirely on whether I think my relationship
with the Prime Minister can make that relationship possible. Because
without his support, it isn't a job. With his support, its a wonderful

I feel that the *relative* determinacy of dynamics arising from the
LoV on British Conservative party politics has been demonstrated.

Obviously I accept that some people may not have been convinced.

Chris Burford, London.

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