Two articles in the Guardian today highlight the nature of the Tory Party and whether it is breaking from its past. One argued the Tories have abandoned its conservatism of the nation's traditions while the other points to the increase in funding for the party from the City.
Historically the Tories defended the traditions that it felt to be necessary for national and global rule eg the BBC's World Service. The rise of the City donors has made the party more than ever a tool of finance capital, a vast international powerful class. If the tradition becomes a break upon the needs of finance to accumulate and plays little role in maintaining power then the tradition will go.
The real conservatives
First up is Jonathan Freedland's paean to old-style Conservatism and its desire to conserve, The Conservatives were the designated defenders of tradition. Until now. It highlights the zeal with which the current crop of Conservatives are overthrowing certain institutions, arrangements and values such as the Forestry Commission, BBC World Service and libraries and wonders whether this clashed with other notions of the party.
The three examples of Tory targets from Freedland's article are all examples of 20th century state planning. I presume the cabinet would argue that they would be much better in charitable or private sector hands – making a profit for their owners. This has certainly been the argument since the 1980s (Thatcher tried selling of the Forestry Commission) and before WWII.
So at a political level the return of state institutions to the private sector fits well with the Conservatives historically.
The conservative part – the defence of institutions and values – still exists in certain traditions that prop up social order such as the monarchy, private property and the class system. Unlike the Thatcher cabinets, this one is firmly in the grip of Eton and Oxbridge.
The key is the balance between the two: the Conservatives neo-liberalism and their conservatism.
Who funds the Tories?
The Guardian's front page has the story that half of the Tories funding last year came from the City of London.
This reflects the Tories becoming openly the party of international finance capital – more so than other Conservative parties on the continent such as the Christian Democrats. Other sections of capital may hang on to its shirt tails for the ride but the dominant interests are those of the City, which is increasingly controlled by international capital.
International capital has no time for the UK's "soft power" of World Service broadcasts in many different languages, nor state ownership getting in the way of profitable resources such as trees or even paying money for libraries. It doesn't even need the UK's imperial pretensions: so we have aircraft carriers without aircraft, surely a sign of complete imperial delusion.
It may be one reason why the Orange Book Lib Dems, the neo-liberals – are so supportive of the coalition. Once you get rid of the EU-phobia and outdated imperial traditions, what is there that separated the Cleggs and Cables from the Camerons and Osbornes?
International capital needs a friendly government to provide the optimum environment in the City for finance and a decent city and surrounding areas to work in. The rest – north, midlands, west – are so much baggage to be plundered for a scrap of profit.
The sell-offs are really a continuation of neo-liberal polices since the 1980s given added intensity by the crisis and the shifts in the relation between UK and foreign owned capital. You can throw in Murdoch and News International and few other multinationals aswell. The whole hackgate scandal as more to do with the relationship between News International execs, the police, craven MPs and government than journalistic ethics.
So the two articles are differing parts of a unity: the City pays for its party to provide money making opportunities using the crisis as the catalyst.
(I haven't read Klein's Shock Therapy but I believe this was part of her argument).