John Major’s decision to resign as Tory leader and stand for re-election, challenging his critics to “sack me or back me”, is desperate rather than brave. Major probably faced a leadership election in the autumn anyway: this way he goes out to meet his enemies in an aura of resolution and leader-like purposefulness.
Major is gambling and he may lose. If Major is re-elected, he will be strengthened and the party will look more effective. If he loses, then some Clarke, or, maybe, Heseltine, will replace him, and the Tory party will have changed its mask. It will then perhaps have a better chance in the next General Election.
Not much better, probably. The Tory party is still likely to lose the next general election. And the ruling class? Whoever wins, they will not lose the general election!
Through their press and their TV and their academic pundits, they have spent the last 15 years pummelling and chiselling and remoulding the Labour Party so that it puts the ruling class need for a safe replacement for the Tories. They have provided for everything, foreseen everything, cinched everything up. Everything they can tie up or tie down has been seen to. They can’t, however, see to everything.
Yet they know that there are still things they cannot tie down. They know that the morale and combativity of the working class — what it will endure patiently or with gritted teeth, and what it will fight against as it fought so often in the past — is a complex thing, that is made and remade by circumstances and events. They know that a Labour victory, even under this Labour leadership, will begin, perhaps slowly at first, after the initial elation to change the state of working class morale and combativity.
When Labour wins workers will feel encouraged. They will begin to press for concessions from “their” Labour Party. If they do not get them they will begin to fight for them.
That is why, with John Major or without him, and no matter what Understudy Blair says or does, the ruling class will go on backing the Tory party. It is why workers should continue, despite Blair and the rest of them, to fight to return a Labour government at the next general election.