THE CONSERVATIVE Party, which a few months ago seemed certain to win the coming general election, has lately been riven by internal turmoil as rival capitalists fight among each other.
One major area of contention within the party is public spending. A couple of months ago Tory leader David Cameron was boldly promising swingeing cuts all round to address the huge Government debt that Gordon Brown has undertaken to bail out the banks.
The Tories, if they had been true to their laissez-faire philosophy, would have let the banks collapse. But their economic experts were well aware that doing this would have led to a complete collapse of the system, an unprecedented depression, political instability, possibly war and even revolution.
On the whole the Tory grandees were rather glad that Brown in Britain and President Obama in the United States acted as they did to prop up the banks.
Cameron, inexperienced, naïve and a firm Thatcherite, might have acted differently and this worries them — because the economy is far from out of the woods yet and there is still an awful lot of toxic debt still swashing about in the world’s banking systems.
The crisis could easily return and the Tory grandees have no confidence in Cameron’s ability to cope. Indeed his stated policy of swingeing cuts would almost certainly trigger a return to crisis.
So recently we have seen Cameron back-pedalling and promising to delay the worst of the cuts for a year — or until whenever the economy is in a bit better shape.
Cameron has reduced his target for early cuts to just £1 billion in the first year — a mere cosmetic measure but one which will hurt the working class all the same — when the deficit is £178 billion.
This has disappointed the backwoods Thatcherites who were looking forward to a mass slaughter of public sector jobs and benefit cuts and led to cries from the Tory back benches that that all is confusion and no one seems to be in charge. Veteran backbencher Nicholas Soames MP voiced concerns that the party was losing its footing.
Other Tory headaches include controversy over a promised return to tax relief for married couples; a pledge to introduce 45,000 hospital single rooms that has had to be abandoned and confusion over a council tax freeze.
Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox has angered armed forces chiefs with a plan to cut the defence budget by bringing troops stationed in Germany back to Britain. They pointed out that he had not thought this through and the needs to construct accommodation for these troops and their families would in fact raise the budget considerably.
And the elusive Lord Ashcroft is still refusing to let on about whether or not he pays taxes in Britain. The multimillionaire bankrolls the Tories and has done for years. But he owns property around the world and especially in Belize, which is almost his personal fiefdom.
There are rules to prevent parliamentary political parties receiving very large sums from donors who do not live or pay taxes in Britain. Ashcroft has been getting round this by setting up a company in Britain, Bearwood, which gives millions to the Tory party — its only client is another company, BCB Holdings, also owned by Ashton, based in Belize.
Then last week the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, Hector Sants quit his job, and Lord Turner who chairs the FSA is reported to be wobbling, over Shadow Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to “neuter” the FSA and merge it with the Bank of England.
It seems some parts of the ruling class are worried that the Tories will take a wrecking ball to the few regulatory structures that are holding the banking system together.
Tory poll ratings have been steadily falling and according to some polls it is now just seven points ahead of Labour. This would not give the Tories an overall majority.
It seems the ruling class is losing confidence in the ability of its own political party to cope with the current economic storm.