Yves here. Your humble blogger is unable to comment on the UK’s new right-wing candidates, the National Conservatives. However, I am bothered by the use of the term “nationalist” as a pejorative, because globalization has not worked so well in terms of creating secure jobs and increasing real incomes for average workers. The piece also disturbingly portrays opposition to open borders as fascist, while countries portrayed as firmly in the liberal camp, such as Australia and Canada, have strict limits on immigration. This article links nationalism to failure to tackle climate change, but one man’s nationalism is not so far removed from another’s relocation.
So shorter: Please add insightful comments on whether the national conservatives are much worse than the familiar black beast conservatives.
By Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at the Department of Peace Studies and International Relations at the University of Bradford and an honorary member of the Joint Service Command and Staff College. He is the international security correspondent for openDemocracy. He is on Twitter at: @ProfPRogers. Originally posted on openDemocracy
The National Conservative Movement (“NatCon”) has lately moved away from the casual reception mention in the mainstream press to a much wider national stage. That’s partly thanks to the happy coincidence of his three-day conference in London this week, immediately after appalling local election results for Rishi Sunak and his Conservative government.
Despite a vaunted commitment to free speech, attempts were made to steer left-leaning media away from the meeting in ban openDemocracy, Byline Times and Novara Media. These failed when openDemocracy managed to enter the conference – free, ticketless, using little more than a plum accent – to convey some of its wackiest elements.
The more serious aspects of the meeting included an all-too-obvious attempt by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to make a bid for the Tory leadership if Rishi Sunak loses the next general election.
But the main focus of the conference was to promote the NatCons’ far-right vision of a strongly nationalist variant of neoliberal conservatism, including a Christian dimension that comes close to giving the movement an evangelical sense of mission.
In its attitude towards migratory pressures and its central position on the central role of the state, the movement comes uncomfortably close to a fascist perspective. He believes it is, in his own words, “confronted with a rising China abroad and a powerful new Marxism at home”. In response, he posits what he calls “an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to race-based political theories.”
A previous column discussed the possibility that the movement will come into its own as growing migratory pressures highlight the issue of migration/asylum. However, others would argue that alongside the NatCons, a bigger political trend in the UK is the rise of a more inclusive and inherently cooperative centre-left perspective.
This is the argument of the Progressive Policy Institute, based in the United States, Project on the revival of the center left, a “conversation with centre-left parties in Europe and around the world”. Its objective is “to exchange ideas, strategies and tactics to make centre-left parties more competitive and improve their performance in government”.
It’s certainly different from the NatCon approach, though many left-wing analysts would see it as centrist, if not right-wing, in its perspective. This can be seen in the PPI’s positive attitude towards Keir Starmer’s Labor Party in the UK, where, he says, the party’s prospects are “brightening after 13 years in government exile. Over the past two years, party leader Keir Starmer has methodically exorcised the dogmatic socialism that has taken hold of Labor under Jeremy Corbyn.
The Institute Renewal Project is led by Claire Ainsley, who until recently served as Executive Director of Policy for Starmer. Recently writing in The Guardianshe cited Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party in Australia and the German Social Democrats as examples of progressive thinking, and argued in the UK context that the Labor Party under Starmer is able to secure a parliamentary majority by “reconstituting the historic coalition between today’s working-class voters and liberal-leaning middle-class voters”.
Whether realistic or not, centrism is a clear trend in British politics, and contrary to the far-right approach of the NatCons. This raises the question of whether either of these approaches can dominate national political discourse in the years to come.
It takes into account two global trends that will affect them. One is global economic marginalization and the other is climate degradation. Taking the two together, it is obvious that we are going to see a massive increase in migration pressure. As millions are pushed to the environmental and economic margins, the push to find safer homes in wealthier states will become a desperate and likely dominant political force.
Just this week, the World Meteorological Organization reported a two-thirds chance that global warming will exceed a 1.5°C riseto pre-industrial levels by 2027, a much faster rate of heating than expected.
Timely flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy has killed 13 people and left thousands homeless. In an ironic twist, they also led to the cancellation of the Italian F1 Grand Prix at that petrol Mecca, the Imola circuit.
Back in Britain, with Ed Miliband pushing hard for a green transition, Labor is on the right track on this issue alone, but the NatCons are far from close and don’t even see it as important. Even Labour, however, lacks the leadership quality to prioritize climate breakdown as the overriding and immediate global challenge, bar none.
Many people will say that Starmer’s Labor party is not progressive enough to face the current challenges, but many others will accept his policies and his chances of being elected in 2024 are high. To that extent, it’s likely to be Labour, not the Tories and certainly not the NatCons, who will come to power in the next couple of years.
In the longer term, however, the huge risk is that of a move to the far right in Britain, as the worsening climate has a serious impact and a ‘close the castle door’ attitude comes to dominate. politics, not only in Britain, but throughout the North. . Countering this would require a far greater degree of political change than anything currently in prospect, at least in Britain. A starting point could have been the Labor Party manifesto of 2017, including tax reform, public ownership of key public services, support for labor rights and effective regulation of financial institutions, but that died – even if his ideas stubbornly refuse to be buried.
We now have the prospect of a centrist Labor party under Starmer in power 18 months from now, with a far-right opposition Braverman facing him. This scenario would mean that several million people would be represented neither by government nor by opposition, a recipe for discontent and uncertainty just when a truly reformist government would be most needed.