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    Re: Perry Anderson Ukania Perpetua? pt 2 Archived Message

    Posted by Keith-264 on October 24, 2020, 1:54 pm, in reply to "Perry Anderson Ukania Perpetua? pt 1"

    30. In 2015, Cameron was returned to office without need of the Liberal Democrats, who were decimated at the polls, and in the wake of Labour’s renewed defeat, Corbyn was elected its leader in the first one-person-one-vote election in the party’s history. Within a year came the referendum, called and lost by Cameron on Britain’s membership of the eu.footnote32 His decision to call one, product of long-standing divisions among the Tories, was designed to silence the Eurosceptic wing of his party, in a careless display of class insouciance that with united establishment support—extending from the City to the tuc, not to speak of all-party backing—victory was assured. But as in France and the Netherlands, a popular rebellion against the whole governing class led to the opposite outcome. Two thirds of the working class voted for Leave, a higher proportion than any stratum—including even the best-off—voting for Remain, on a larger turn-out than seen in years. London, beneficiary of the financial bubble and closer to Paris than Manchester by rail, voted heavily for Remain; the abandoned industrial North, hardest-hit by austerity, heavily for Leave. On the left, opinions had divided. Those in favour of Remain argued that the xenophobia of Brexiteers of the right made the eu a lesser evil, those in favour of Leave that departure would be a blow to the neo-liberal oligarchies on both sides of the Channel: each voting negatively against, rather than for, anything. But what would Brexit actually mean for the European Union, or for Ukania in parting with it? So far, all that was clear was that ‘Blairized Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianized eu’ and ‘critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it’, against which the entire global establishment had inveighed.

    31. More fine-grained analysis made clear the extent to which the Brexit result, though certainly multi-stranded in motivation, was the expression of a regional and social revolt in the North of England: Leave majorities were concentrated in former strongholds of Labour, now reduced to a hinterland of decayed industries and discarded proletarian households.footnote33 There was hostility to immigrants in this part of the country, as elsewhere in Britain. However, that it was not the primary driver of the outcome could be deduced from Labour’s unexpected recovery in the election of 2017, once Corbyn campaigned on a platform amounting to a rejection of the whole neo-liberal order in place since the 1980s. In the face of a high Tory vote, he not only held most of the North, but swept the youth of the country by margins never previously approached by Labour, in what was now a second popular uprising against the entire British establishment. Yet Corbyn’s position remained tenuous in his own party, whose permanent apparatus and parliamentary delegation remained ferociously opposed to him.footnote34 The small team around him lacked any preparation for government in what would be the predictable conditions of an implacable siege by capital and the media. There were no grounds for euphoria.

    32. Looking back, how might the balance-sheet of this record be read? On the credit side, nlr pioneered critical analysis of half a dozen aspects of British political life that continue to shape events, and was on the whole prescient about them. These were: (i) the historical nature of the ruling bloc; (ii) the deep structures of Labourism as a phenomenon specific to Britain, up to the early 1990s; (iii) the distinctive patterns of post-war intellectual culture, and some of the changes in them; (iv) the eversive form of Ukanian economic development, and its effects on class and region across the country; (v) the eruption of peripheral nationalism, above all in Scotland, as a symptom of the decline of the composite, imperial Anglo-British state, and the tensions and risks of racism in a subcutaneous English identity within it; (vi) the fissiparous impact of Europe on British politics, dividing left and right alike.

    33. On the debit side, the ideas and arguments of this body of writing had, each of them, significant omissions or limitations. So far as the first of these went, although it conformed in many ways to the journal’s original diagnosis of the metamorphosis the dominant bloc would have to undergo to remain hegemonic, there was a missing element in its analysis of the watershed in Conservative evolution represented by Thatcherism. Focussing on the social shift in the party’s leadership, the economic logic of its direction, and the political engineering of its electoral base, despite a preliminary intimation it neglected the specific ideological grip that Thatcherism acquired over active supporters and ostensible opponents alike, not to speak of passive acceptance. Understanding the forms and mechanisms of this sway was the great achievement of Stuart Hall, in the pages of Marxism Today. So too, though nlr predicted, even before Wilson came to power in 1964, the contradictions that would in time wrench the combination of party and unions that constituted Labourism apart, and tracked these thereafter, it failed to register the extent of the changes in the country’s working class that would become a condition of Blairism. There it was Eric Hobsbawm who saw much earlier and more clearly what was happening, well before New Labour. nlr published both Hall and Hobsbawm, in its imprint and its journal, and critiques of each by others on the Left, without itself engaging them.footnote35

    34. Treatment of the intellectual landscape of the country, however ambitious in intention or pugnacious in detail, was wanting in two respects. From the start, insufficient attention was paid to the importance of liberalism, in its variations—economic, political and social—from Victorian times onwards, as a circumambient ether in the mental world of the established order, as it remains today. The links, or lack of them, between selected intellectuals and high politics was another gap in the journal’s coverage; the importance of these in Thatcher’s rule was overlooked, even though with eminences famously external in origin supplying the theoretical compass of her system, earlier verdicts on the post-war intelligentsia were confirmed. In the same period, the radicalization of macro-economic eversion, delineated starkly enough as a further stage in a long-standing process at national level, set the world-wide arrival of the neo-liberal paradigm—signalled by Mike Davis in 1984footnote36—only in passing rather than with the needed force, in the international regime-change of the time.

    35. If Scotland and Europe were each emergent cruces in the trajectory of Ukania from the late sixties to the present, where the Review (though it had little to say about Ireland after 1969) was analytically well ahead of contemporary registration of them, they also formed areas of its thinking where early insights were never stabilized into an integrated conception, with subsequent interventions subject to oscillation and division. Tom Nairn foresaw, when it was still scarcely visible, the take-off of Scottish nationalism, captured its historical exceptional forms and conditions in a set of portraits that scintillate to this day, and developed out of them one of the commanding general theories of nationalism of all time. But as the title of The Break-Up of Britain, question-mark declined, would indicate, the coming of an independent Scotland was held too certain.Between prevision and consummation there would be so protracted a delay that in the interim, the original connection between nationalism and socialism in this prospect slipped, hopes in the former eclipsing conceptions of the latter, as Francis Mulhern would point out. One result was that coverage of New Labour in the journal tended to decant analysis of its constitutional and its socio-economic records into separate, successive analyses rather than connecting them in a unified field.

    36. In the case of Europe, too, first takes were each in their way clairvoyant. Robin Blackburn’s judgement of 1971 that entry into the eec was ‘bound to shake many of the pillars of bourgeois Britain’, threatening institutional legitimations of the status quo and sowing discord in the ranks of its defenders, would be confirmed in due course with a vengeance. Tom Nairn’s essay of 1972 remains unmatched, half a century later, for depth of historical reflection on the issues posed for the left by the form that European unity had taken with the creation of the Common Market—nothing approaching it having ever appeared on the continent itself, let alone when the same questions were reopened in Britain in and after 2016. The categorical affirmation with which it concluded could not, as the Community later unfolded, remain so unqualified. In 1976, contesting a Norwegian vision that projected the eec as a future super-power, Nairn observed that this it would never be, because, as with the multi-national empires of the pre-1914 era, any such prospect would be undone by the uneven development of capitalism that had everywhere generated nationalism as a breakwater against it. In the eec, however, the strengthening of a cross-border capitalism was bound to aggravate uneven development between its regions, weakening the authority of the old nation-states without putting anything as effective in their place. Thus a ‘purely economic reinforcement of capitalism does not entail a corresponding reinforcement of bourgeois power in the crucial state-ideological sense’—a contradiction the left should seize upon. Looking back, another four years on, ‘The Left against Europe?’ had gone too far, in a stance implying an ultra-Europeanism that disconcertingly, if tangentially, echoed the outward drive of the rulers of the country. Overestimating the genuine but limited possibilities opened up for the left by entry, it had overlooked the extent to which, for the right, ‘“Europe” was a humble predecessor of the monetarist runes of post-1979.’footnote37 As runes became reality after Maastricht, and in one trenchant verdict after another, the journal took systematic stock of the political and economic dynamic of the Union it created, little was left of the prospect of 1972.footnote38
    ii. outcomes

    What bearing does the record of past nlr writing on Britain have on the present? Perhaps never before has what would be a distinctive problematic of the journal been so vividly concentrated in a single conjuncture as that of the past few years. To all appearances, what Britain has been witnessing are: (i) a sudden recomposition of the dominant political stratum; (ii) a decomposition of the traditional Labourist pendant to it; (iii) the explosive dénouement of long-standing conflicts over Europe; (iv) widespread intimations in the media, not so much of competitive decline, but of suicidal self-harm and proximate socio-economic disaster; (v) clamorous dismay in the intelligentsia; (vi) mounting pressure for secession in Scotland. In other words, closely intertwined, simultaneous crises of class, state and nation. Though on the surface, continuity between the original problematic of the Review and current circumstances may look striking enough, the analytic relevance in concreto of past findings cannot be assumed. They have to be tested against the novel particulars of the situation.

    There is a preliminary question. The original nlr approach was totalizing: taking the principal structures and features of British society as an integrated complex which it was the object of analysis to capture, in keeping with the injunctions of Lukács and Gramsci. How far does this aim still make sense, in a period where nation-states, permeated or overborne in every direction by transnational market and media forces (not to speak of geo-political pressures) external to them, have ceased to be—even approximately—closed totalities? In the 1980s, something like a parallel enquiry got under way in the journal on the United States, a much larger and more complicated society, in the work of Mike Davis. Prompted by nlr’s approach to Britain, a country observed by him first-hand at the time, this body of writing on America—encompassing not only the working class, the middle class and the exploiting class, but the national and imperial, economic and electoral, cultural and political, demographic and ecological scenery of the United States—would in time expand far beyond what had been attempted in the uk, and in doing so, to the encompassing world beyond America itself.footnote39 Has anything like this, however much more limited in scope, been generated in another country since? Yet, whether or not they continue to form totalities as bounded as formerly, the societies over which nation-states preside unquestionably still represent determinate strategic horizons of political action for those who live within them, and for practical purposes remain in that sense as germane as ever.

    Inter-connected with this question is another, bearing no less directly on the problematic of the journal set out in the sixties, one already raised before mid-point in the subsequent years. How far did ‘decline’, as an organizing framework for analysis of developments in Britain, lose its purchase on them once ‘globalization’ arrived, in the shape of a common deceleration of growth and acceleration of financialization across the advanced capitalist world, with the liberation of capital markets, extension of supply chains and generalization of neo-liberal regimes that set in during the eighties?footnote40 Could it be said, in Sartre’s terminology, that a double detotalization—of both unit and path of analysis—has since overtaken the particular line of enquiry pursued by the journal?footnote41 The answer can only lie in the actual record of the economy, viewed comparatively, and of the agency of the state that has presided over it. The journal’s propositions were not confined to these, but in seeing how far they retain contemporary relevance, the economy is a starting-point.
    1. Decline

    The deterioration in the country’s position which first attracted widespread debate in the sixties was always relative to that of its peers, never absolute, as growth lifted living standards over the next half century. Between the fall of the Attlee and the fall of the Callaghan governments, there could be little doubt of Britain’s loss of competitive ranking, as the table below of performance in what would become the g7 states makes clear. Across three decades, Britain regularly came bottom of the group:
    Article figure NLR125-Anderson-table1

    This was the pattern that Thatcher’s regime set out to break with a completely new orientation, which in due course, it boasted, had led to an economic renaissance of the country; a term reiterated by New Labour when it came to power, claiming to have abolished the business cycle and be setting an example to Europe in the dynamism of Britain’s market economy. Historically, how well do these claims stand up?

    The most authoritative case for the success of Thatcherism is made by Nicholas Crafts, for whom its three great achievements were to break the obstructive power of the unions, to lower tariffs, and by deregulating markets and privatizing public monopolies, to unleash competition. In doing so, Crafts argues, it reaped the benefits of information and communications technology (ict), a general purpose advance to which the more decentralized economic system it created would prove better adapted than its dirigiste predecessor had been to mass production Fordism in the post-war period, even if it essentially presided over technological diffusion rather than innovation. Thatcher’s overhaul of the economy was incomplete, since it left the separation between ownership and management of enterprises, a long-standing bane in Britain, untouched. But the balance-sheet was unquestionably positive. The country no longer lagged behind France and Germany, as it had before.footnote42

    What of productivity in these years? If overall gains were not much above the European average, in manufacturing there was a marked improvement, rising by 4.7 per cent a year between 1979 and 1989, while profits had jumped 44 per cent by the end of the decade. But, as Andrew Glyn showed, over half of the productivity gains came from shedding labour, while investment in manufacturing underwent a spectacular reversal, as its profits were diverted into financial and business services, where investment leapt 320 per cent during years when investment in manufacturing inched forward barely 13 per cent.footnote43 By 1991, manufacturing output had risen just 6 per cent, compared with an oecd average of 35 per cent, crawling across the whole period from 1973 to 2007 at an annual average of no more than 0.4 per cent.footnote44 Overall, between 1979 and 1990, gdp grew 2.3 per cent a year, below the 3 per cent rate from 1949 to 1973.footnote45 Investment in r & d was not only well below competitors, but actually fell in the last thirty years of the century.footnote46

    With Thatcher’s arrival in power, the imposition of a sharp deflation to switch the country across to a new economic regime led to a severe initial recession in 1980–81, and continuing high rates of unemployment thereafter. But the shock was cushioned by revenues from North Sea oil and proceeds from the sale of public assets, allowing the government to exit the recession without fiscal expansion, on the contrary lowering taxes on income and cutting expenditure.footnote47 The magnet of deregulation attracting a major influx of overseas capital: foreign ownership of local assets quadrupled, supporting the balance of payments, while household borrowing doubled, sustaining consumption.footnote48 With these ingredients in place, a finance-and-debt fuelled boom lasted for nearly a decade, before a second and deeper recession struck in 1990–91, requiring recourse to a devaluation of sterling for recovery, without alteration of the underlying model. Investment remained stuck at the bottom of the g7 through the nineties.footnote49

    New Labour inherited this model and preserved it with minimal alterations—essentially side-payments to its electorate in the form of increased social expenditures, covered by further financialization of the economy. The Blair–Brown governments saw a continuing contraction of industry; lighter regulation of banking; yet greater inflows of overseas capital—foreign ownership of equities quadrupling again; a still more distended property bubble; and higher levels of household debt. By now the balance of payments was deteriorating, along with a further deepening of the regional divide between London/South-East and the North. After 2004, a steep rise in immigration from the eu helped sustain Ukania’s low-skill/low-wage model of growth by sparing firms training costs. In the same years inequality escalated anew, to a Gini coefficient of 0.36, ‘its highest level since comparable time series began in 1961’.footnote50 Summing up New Labour’s record, a survey of 2007 observed that it had relied on a consumption binge to drive demand, whose hangover had yet to come, and ‘washed its hands of rising inequality’, with a policy-set that simply ‘refined and developed the Thatcherism that preceded it.’footnote51

    Punctually, as with Thatcher, after a decade of Blair–Brown government, the economy was in deep recession again. The financial collapse of 2008, Craft confesses, came as a ‘rude shock’ to New Labour, as to admirers of its steady continuance of Thatcher’s policies. Since 2004 productivity growth had already been declining, ict gains had faded, and in 2007 the crash of Northern Rock, a year before Lehman went under in New York, set off the first bank run since the 1860s. Unlike in 1992, this time there was no political recovery for the regime in place, evicted at the polls in 2010. Looking back at the crisis, from the inner circle around Brown came the plangent query: why so? Lamenting that ‘we were neither aware of the pace and scale in change in the financial sector, nor did we comprehend its potential risks’—while not accepting any special responsibility for the outcome, since ‘almost nobody understood exactly what was going on in the markets, or the degree to which moral hazard really was affecting risk-taking. Like so many, the government largely bought into an idea of the financial sector as being the ultimate in efficient, calculating market rationality’—the answer, in its simplicity, supplied the apposite obituary on New Labour: ‘Things went wrong because everyone was fooled by the bubble and it was hard to know what else to do, especially when faced with the prospect that other countries would outgrow us if we just stood still.’footnote52 The bankruptcy of 2008 was not just economic.

    Quadrupling the public debt to 150 per cent of gdp, the cost of the ensuing bail-outs left the ideological runway clear for the Conservative austerity regime that followed, whose targets were accepted by Labour. Ten years after the onset of the crisis, what is the upshot? An economy in which the stock value of real estate has multiplied 100-fold since the early 1970s, from $60 billion to over $6 trillion, attracts nearly 80 per cent of bank loans, as against a mere 5 per cent to businesses, and now accounts for a larger percentage of gdp than the entire manufacturing sector.footnote53 Between 2000 and 2017, an accumulated balance of payments deficit of £1 trillion. In the same period, a monetary base that expanded 15 times over to support asset-price values, and consumption running at over 80 per cent of gdp.footnote54 Between 1997 and 2012, an average amount of training per worker that fell by roughly a half.footnote55 Between 2007 and 2016, a labour-productivity standstill without historical precedent, at a miserable 0.09 per cent a year, costing an unexampled output shortfall estimated at close to 20 per cent of the pre-financial crisis trend. As for growth, over the same period per capita increase in gdp was just 0.19 a year.footnote56 So far as renaissance went, Britain was back at square one.
    2. Ruling Bloc

    From 1874 to 1997, Conservatives—holding power either alone or in coalition—dominated government, an ascendancy which no other party in Europe has ever remotely matched. For the better part of that time, some ninety years, the upper-class character of the elite that led the party remained substantially unchanged. A single index suffices to capture it. In 1950, a quarter of its members of parliament were Old Etonians, coming from a single school of 1,100 pupils, out of a population of some 50 million. Five years later, when Eden formed his government, 10 out of 18 ministers in his Cabinet came from Eton; when Macmillan took over, the number was 8 out of 18; when Home became Premier, 11 out of 24. Macmillan selected Home as his successor after consulting an inner group of just 9 colleagues—8 of them Etonians. The pick was denounced as a coup by a less favoured minister, indignant at the imposition on the party by this ‘magic circle’ of a belted earl of no particular abilities;footnote57 and when the Conservatives lost the ensuing election, choice of leadership was transferred to the parliamentary party as a whole. This would come to be seen as the real end of the ancien régime in Britain, when a hereditary governing class ceded leadership of the party to lower strata in the ruling bloc over which it had so long presided.footnote58 The turn of the petite bourgeoisie had arrived. Heath and Thatcher, the next Conservative prime ministers—offspring of a builder and a grocer—set about modernizing the country, as they saw it.

    In the Commons, change was slower in the body of the party. By 1970, the 79 Etonians of 1950 had dropped to 59, and in 1979 to 51. But the numbers who had been privately educated, and who had gone to Oxbridge scarcely altered: 75 per cent and 49 per cent in 1964, 74 per cent and 48 per cent in 1974, 73 per cent and 43 per cent in 1979.footnote59 At Cabinet level, over half of Heath’s ministers were from elite schools; 4 from Eton, 2 from Harrow, 2 from Winchester, 1 apiece from Westminster and Wellington. In Thatcher’s first Cabinet, the proportion was even higher: 15 out of 21, including 6 from Eton and 3 from Winchester. But by the time of her last Cabinet, déclassement of ministers had set in: 7 out of 21. Further drops came under Major: 5 out of 25 in his first Cabinet, falling further in his chaotic second term.

    In the wilderness of opposition that followed, under a triptych of duds—Hague from a comprehensive, Duncan-Smith from a secondary modern, Howard from a grammar school—the process continued. By 2005, the contingent from Eton in the Commons was down to a mere 15. By then a further rule-change had given membership of the party in the country final say in electing a new leader, from the two candidates with most support in its parliamentary delegation. This time, the result was a reversion to type: another Old Etonian at the helm, flanked by an intimate from St Paul’s, and a return to power in 2010—Cameron at Number 10, Osborne Number 11, Downing Street. When Cameron resigned in 2016, there was a brief interregnum under May—better-born than Thatcher or Major, from the Anglican middle class—before a second product of Eton was catapulted to power, flanked by a head-boy from Winchester—Johnson at Number 10, Sunak at Number 11, Downing St.

    How significant is this reappearance at the head of Conservative government of leaders from the top drawer of the traditional class system? Does it signal the persistence of an underlying dna of the party for which, in altered circumstances, patrician confidence still counts for a lot in political success? Or might it be no more than a contingent blip in the transition to a more fully plebeianized formation, not just petit-bourgeois, but multi-ethnic in composition? At Cabinet level, Johnson’s ministry of 2020 is 69 per cent privately educated, where May’s of 2016 was 30 per cent, a conspicuous difference. But at Parliamentary level, the percentage of Conservative mps who were privately educated, 73 per cent in 1979 and still 60 per cent in 2005, had fallen to 41 per cent by 2019, while those coming from Oxbridge, 51 per cent in 1997, were down to 27 per cent.footnote60 In other words, socially speaking, over the past decade leaders and cadres have moved in opposite directions. Membership of the party, 130,000 under Cameron, is currently up to 191,000, but two-fifths of these are over 65, and the same proportion essentially passive.footnote61

    If this is now a structure out of balance, far removed from the post-war era when the apex of the party in government and its support in parliament were cut from the same cloth, sustained by the deference of a mass membership a million strong in the country, oligarchic education can still act as a stabilizer of it in reserve. Looking back, after 1964 all of the males picked from the lower middle class for leadership of the party were failures: Heath a fiasco, Major a mediocrity who split the party, Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard scarcely recallable. Thatcher was the sociological exception, a woman who by force of character and conviction changed the country. After the wash-outs who followed, Cameron brought the party back to life with a shot of born-to-rule confidence. Sure he could carry a referendum he had little need to call, his undoing was an excess of it. Johnson seized power with a bolder, more flamboyant demonstration of the same insouciance, the first politician in his party ever to pull off a capture of it in open revolt against its orthodoxy of the time, succeeding where Churchill’s father and then Chamberlain’s had failed. How far the will-to-rule may take him remains to be seen.

    Sociologically, continuity of background in elite private schools does not mean the formation they offer their charges persists unaltered. In the conclusion to their summum British Imperialism 1688–2015, Peter Cain and Tony Hopkins write of two basic changes in the constitution of the country’s traditional rulers. Culturally, their training is no longer the same. In public schools, character-building remains central, but there is now a ‘progressive privatization of character. The new definition emphasizes such qualities as “ambition, self-confidence and bloody-mindedness”. It omits the notions of duty, self-sacrifice and public services that were taught to English gentlemen in the days of imperial glory. The new elite is being shaped by a much more individualistic creed than were its forebears because it is being prepared for entry into an increasingly cosmopolitan, supra-national world, where traditional gentlemanly values are no longer central.’footnote62 Economically, as finance and industry in the uk pass ever more widely into foreign hands—banks, utilities, airports, steel, auto, retail, football clubs, appliances—the links between capital, ever more global, and class, still politically local, have weakened. The City, no longer dominated by investment banks of native stamp, has lost the position it once held in the governing firmament. Business at large enjoys less direct purchase in the counsels of party and state than in the past.

    The upshot remains ambiguous. If the possessing class can be distinguished as a formation at once ‘in’ and ‘for’ itself, the ruling bloc as such is objectively larger and richer—gorged on asset prices—than ever before, modernized in the sense of increasingly ‘diverse’ (noblesse d’écran; brown-skinned duchesses; abolition of male primogeniture in the House of Windsor; an honours system still attracting, like flies to molasses, former feminist firebrands and onetime Marxist professors). But if it’s no longer ‘for itself’ in a coherent sense, this has been the product of a step process, played out across successive generations, in which Britain has experienced neither political rupture nor military occupation, rather a series of relatively painless abdications of sovereignty, but still bolstered by tattered prestige and eventually growing wealth. In effect, slow and well-cushioned regression to drone status: 1914–18, loss of world leadership; 1947–62, loss of empire and in 1956 of international sovereignty; in the 1980s, conversion of the City into a service centre for overseas banks, dissolving recognizably national wealth into more diffuse global holdings; in the 1990s, demotion of regional status with the reunification of Germany; in the new century, of global status with the rise of China.

    Yet between the wars it was Keynes, for all his talk of the euthanasia of the rentier, who continued to view the City not just as vital to jump-starting the global economy (no other centre could offer its unique blend of investment capital, commercial finance, insurance and other services) but also to securing Britain’s leadership as a great power alongside the us, with an international currency independent of it. Half a century later, the aim of the Big Bang of 1986 was not so different. In its battle with New York, Tokyo and other financial rivals, what mattered to Britain was the size and liquidity of the markets and deals done in the City, not who owned the firms betting in them. The City’s economic weight and class character may have changed a lot, but even in a subordinate capacity, is it any less a geo-political prize for the British state than before? Faute de mieux, and with few other chips to play—arm and high-tech firms in defence or pharmaceuticals are on the chopping block too—access to the City and its loosely regulated markets and services will no doubt continue to be a bargaining counter in future trade deals.

    The social trajectory of the Tories since the break of the sixties is one half of the story. The other, intersecting it, is the political schism that opened up in the party over Europe, once Thatcher’s neo-liberal settlement was accomplished. Under Heath, the Conservatives pushed through entry into the Common Market in the belief that Europe could act as a substitute for Empire. Supplying the nation with an alternative platform for its natural role on the global stage, it would ‘make Great Britain Greater’, Heath explained. Thatcher did not dissent, viewing the European Economic Community—as it still described itself—as a construct whose purpose was to unleash free movement of the factors of production across the continent, which British principles of deregulation would extend and perfect. That was an objective she would be proud of achieving with the Single European Act of 1987, devised by Lord Cockcroft, her emissary in Brussels. A rude awakening lay in store for her. European integration had from the outset, in the time of Monnet and Schuman, always been a political project whose evolving economic arrangements were means rather than ends, serving the goal of an ‘ever closer union’ of Europe, and regularly bending them to it. That meant: not a Greater Britain, as conceived in the Conservative imagination, but a lesser one, chained by the juridical ball and fetter of Luxemburg and Brussels. On belatedly discovering this, Thatcher recoiled, precipitating her overthrow in the Commons at the hands of colleagues who were not prepared to reject the next steps towards European unity as she wished to do. Two years later, Major signed the Treaty of Maastricht formally creating the European Union, with a clause allowing Britain to choose whether or not to join its future single currency.

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