THE drive towards an authoritarian state continued at the weekend as the Tories announced legislation to prevent elected local authorities from pursuing ethical investment policies.
The more you think about it, the more outrageous this is. Far from the picture painted by Communities and Local Government Minister Greg Clark and Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock, this has nothing to do with preventing “militant”authorities from “undermining our international security” — whatever that is.
In fact, this legislation will force local authorities to invest in the arms trade and in production in illegal settlements in Palestine, as long as these investments secure a decent rate of return — which no doubt they do.
One can imagine that the Prime Minister has no problem with this given his past actions in relation to boycott campaigns.
David Cameron’s first political job included an all-expenses-paid trip to apartheid South Africa, courtesy of a lobbying firm set up by an ex-member of the South African security services.
This firm was established with the specific aim of undermining the boycott of South Africa and supporting apartheid.
This was shortly after Cameron’s political idol Thatcher had referred to the ANC as “a typical terrorist organisation” and senior Tories were calling for Nelson Mandela to be shot.
Well the Tories are nothing if not consistent, so no-one will be particularly surprised at their aggressive support for the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine and the British arms industry that props up this and many other criminal regimes while providing a fast buck for Cameron’s buddies.
The move also reflects the growing role played by the state — both legislature and executive — in directly intervening in the economy on the side of big business.
This intervention increasingly represents naked class interests.
In this sense, this latest assault on democracy fits perfectly with the Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament.
Neither democratically elected local representatives nor democratically elected trade union representatives will be allowed to interfere with the profits of big business.
Where they attempt to do so, the full force of the law will be used to restrain them.
Of course, this is not always necessary. As the recent moves by the National Housing Federation show, sometimes the threat of primary legislation can be used to force organisations like housing associations to “voluntarily” accept the extension of policies such as right to buy.
Rarely has it been more obvious that “the state, even in the most democratic republic and not only in a monarchy, is simply a machine for the suppression of one class by another.”
The question then becomes: how do we, as a movement, respond?
When it becomes clear that the state no longer represents those who supposedly elect it, it becomes a fundamental duty to fight that state.
Some of that fight will take place within the electoral field, as the Labour Party, under its new leadership, challenges the dominance of neoliberal hegemony — on housing, on education, on transport and energy — and offers concrete alternatives to a newly engaged electorate.
Some of that fight will take place in the streets, as the magnificent response to the Tories has showed in Manchester yesterday.
Some of that fight will take place in workplaces and communities as working people band together to protect themselves against the Tory onslaught, in some cases falling foul of our authoritarian laws in the process.
We, as working people, must steel ourselves for this fight.