Boris cannot be allowed to take control unopposed - we must demand a general election, argues Chris Nineham
It looks next to certain Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister. He would have to lose MPs votes not to be in the final two and he is clear favourite amongst the membership who decide between them. The surprise scale of his first round victory which saw Johnson getting 114 MPs votes, more than his three closest rivals taken together, shows what a vile institution the Conservative parliamentary party is. MPs queued up to vote for a boorish, openly racist and sexist bigot, a proven lier, a total incompetent in the offices he has held, and a man who switched sides on the Brexit issue which he is now insisting is a matter of principle.
Most of the 114 no doubt share his backward views, others overcame hesitations at the thought of possible future favours or in the bizarre belief that Johnson has the common touch needed to challenge Nigel Farage and beat Corbyn in a future election.
If Johnson ends up winner it will accelerate the polarisation of British politics. Prepare for a competition between Johnson and Farage for the position of top right-wing populist. But while desperate Tories clearly want to believe that Johnson's stint as Mayor shows he has star appeal the left should be more measured. Johnson stands for a set of policies that are deeply unpopular in this country from privatisation to tax cuts for the rich and more foreign wars. His attitudes to women and minorities may play well in the Tory shires and to a hard racist minority but seem outdated and offensive to most people, and his record shows that he is a liability in office and in the media. It is in fact a damning comment on the state of the main party of British capitalism that such a man is regarded as the Tories saviour.
Whoever wins it is a scandal that the next Prime Minister is going to be selected by the 160,000 almost entirely white mostly male mainly ageing members of the middle and upper classes that make up the 21st century Tory Party. They mainly live outside big cities, their paper of choice is the Telegraph and more than half of them support the death penalty. Their numbers have been growing slightly recently but only it appears because of entryism from the UKIP members and the far right .
We need to be demanding a general election the moment the leadership race is done. And we need to prepare to mobilise the maximum numbers against the new Tory leadership. We must not allow the media's obsession with Brexit to obscure the fact that a Johnson led government would make Theresa May's regime appear inhibited on social and economic questions. We will need to be back in the streets against austerity, in defence of the NHS and to protect the most vulnerable in society but our overriding aim must be to force a new election and bring in a Corbyn government. With Johnson in charge, waiting till 2022 will not be an option.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
More articles from this author
- Anti-capitalism reborn – why Genoa still matters
- 'Our motto is: strength in unity': how Hovis workers won
- Afghanistan: the humiliating end of the US’s longest war
- Wins on the bins: an organiser on the secrets of successful struggle - video
- Talking peace, making war: the dangers of Biden’s Iran gambit
- Culture under capitalism: Why art is alienated – The Dialectics of Art review
- Britain's war machine: imperial fantasies and the tilt to China