The big news today is that, after a week of fervent speculation, the Tory government is attempting to calm public reaction to the economic upheaval triggered by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’. Commentators cross the political spectrum have accused him of crashing the economy, and opinion polls show an unprecedented drop in public support for the Conservatives, and a steep rise for the Labour Party under Keir Starmer. In response the Government have let it be known that it will not attempt (just now) to remove the 45% top rate for personal income tax. So, is this an indication at last that there is a credible alternative to right-wing governments pursuing ever greater levels of inequality? Maybe not.

The argument among the political class and commentariat was never about whether or not there would be Government cuts and more austerity but rather when, and which faction of the Party of Order would be carrying them out. The over-eager free-market and supply-side ultras in the Conservative party have annoyed big capital with their shock doctrine tactics. If they don’t quickly return to a sensible strategy of ‘sound’ money the establishment will continue to big up their newly made over rivals in the Party of Order. Step forward Sir Keir! Not only has he completely crushed what passed as ‘the Left’ in the Labour Party since he became leader, he has now demonstrated this to the people that count (media bosses and bankers) by staging a public humiliation for the left at the party conference (God Save The King!). Starmer has now managed what Tony Blair failed to do: to purge the party completely of its social democratic heritage and remodel it completely on the US Democratic Party. This is why the party leadership is unconcerned by (even welcoming) the drastic slump in membership and disaffiliation of unions (when the big donations from business and the rich start rolling in the party won’t need to be constrained and embarrassed by the members). The Labour Party’s soft conservatism will now become the official ‘left’ and anything left of that will be dismissed as extremism. Like the Democratic Party, Labour’s leadership can now safely employ any kind of superficially radical rhetoric (“green new deal”) without anyone that matters (the UK equivalent of ‘Wall Street’) getting spooked. They know it’s simply a PR/branding exercise. The problem this creates (which the Democratic Party has refused to learn) is that if you have undermined the left and only offer business as usual to those unhappy with being left behind, where do people take their anger with more austerity, debt and precarity? A strong leader who offers to drain the swamp of establishment corruption and make Britain great again? Whatever happens in Westminster, I suspect things are going to get worse and nastier.