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Hyper-modern Thatcherism versus full throated socialism

  • United Kingdom
  • Real estate

02-10-2019

As originally published in React News

Head of London Real Estate Bruce Dear comments on the UK's Brexit divisions

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, is brick-face blunt about it: “things are going to break”. For him, the Brexit Vote was the people’s demand to revolutionise Westminster politics and the senior civil service. He sees our governmental system as a backward-looking, self-satisfied blob – “SW1”.

Cummings wants to replace it with an agile Silicon Valley style of government, steeped in science, AI and the latest management delivery theory. In short, he believes you cannot create a digitised future whilst sitting in a political and administrative steam-engine.

So all of last week’s frenzied events were ultimately aimed at completely changing the way the UK is governed. The suspension of Parliament, the expulsions, the calls for a General Election and even the delivery of greasy slices of “Jeremy Fried Chicken” to Lobby journalists, they all had that end in mind. Yes, this was mayhem - but the PM’s advisers believe they “are better at mayhem than Remainers”.

But what Cummings sees as the old Westminster world did not go quietly into the prorogation night. Chaos cut both ways. Before you could say “SW1”, a nauseous police officer fainted behind Mr. Johnson and a ginormous ginger bull upended a prime-ministerial protection officer.

However, we should look beyond these mildly embarrassing twists, because Johnson is as focussed as Cummings. He has told the 1922 Committee that “a [political] blood-letting” is necessary to secure a new, long-term settlement. He is trying to build a “Brexitory” Party that will hoover up the Brexit Party and “drive Corbyn into the sea” at the next General Election.

The “Cummingsite” revolution would then be completed by the creation of a digitised, data-driven, delivery-focussed, de-regulated, entrepreneurial and low-tax UK - Thatcherism with a super-computer.

Will Johnson succeed? No one can be sure - history has so many possible rabbits in its hat and the ferocious pressing of his Parliamentary opponents, the EU and multi-faceted forensic legal challenges are taking a withering toll. But if he can make it to a General Election, either with a Brexit deal done, running on a No Deal ticket, or even with a (perhaps informal) Brexit Party pact in the bag, he will probably win it. He is 14 points clear of Labour in the polls. Despite that, it could still be close.

After 2017, Corbyn cannot be written off, though he is currently sporting plague-poor personal popularity ratings. Labour’s inequality and fairness agenda still resonates with voters, even if Corbyn may not so much. Without the bulwark of Ruth Davidson, the SNP is likely to surge in Scotland and the Lib Dems will be a potent threat all across Remainia.

The UK’s Brexit divisions run deep and are likely to take at least a decade to heal. In this riven landscape, our two main parties offer competing revolutionary visions: hyper-modern Thatcherism versus full-throated, transformative socialism. But they are doing it in a four party system, with the Brexit Party to their right and the Lib Dems in the middle of them.

Political volatility has become the New Normal. Be ready for mispricing, currency plays, insolvency and inward investment opportunities. The quiet times of the Nineties and early Noughties are another country now. The next few years will feel more like the 1980s, but on hyper-digital fast forward.