It’s not enough to be anti-Tory

Howard Green writes on how the term ‘Tory’ has been pacified from its original provocative meaning, arguing that individuals amongst the left should go further than simply being anti-Tory

An often overused and heavily repeated quote by almost any institution or individual in our society belongs to Angela Davis: “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” The quote is often repeated however without the first part recognising that we do in fact live in a racist society. The quote stands however, even if repeated by those who are neither anti-racist or even ‘non-racist’.

Although the continual collaboration of racism and capitalism is apparent to a number of people in this country, difficulty arises when confronting the many faceless perpetrators of this economic system. The term ‘Tory’ is a distinct feature of the United Kingdom’s political culture. The word itself was originally used by the Irish population against the factions who were resisting the rule of Oliver Cromwell. However, the term is now simply synonymous with the Conservative Party and their following.

However at this point, the term is used far more frequently as offence than a colloquial recognition of the history of the Conservative tradition in the UK. Despite these playing into the hands of the Conservatives, amongst young people, the term is typically used without historical recognition when berating the actions of an individual (i.e. Shopping at Waitrose or a high end supermarket is ‘Tory’). This does imply a deep class-antagonism that still resonates in the term today, however it’s misuse and misconception only prolongs the struggle against them.

Unlike the factual conviction of terms like ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’, the use of the term ‘Tory’ so lightly amongst the British populace is confusing and unproductive. The class dynamics amongst capitalism of the working-class, middle-class and upper-class are slightly more blurred, but mostly for cultural and contextual issues.

The UK has witnessed many radical and impactful rises of youth subcultures and class-changing dynamics, and however this may seem a credit to the grip that the Conservatives have on society, there has not yet been a disruption to their rule.

The dilemma of this is that of the media in this country. As is apparent, the media hold a great grip on this nation. More so on what they do not point out, rather than what they do. Papers who claim to be progressive such as the Guardian offer relentless over-coverage of protest movements in countries in which Britain has an investment in or is of a non-capitalist variety. The protests in support of the faux Uyghur movement demonstrate this, as despite China’s honesty over the issue of the treatment of the Uyghur population, the media continue to whip up paranoia and more potently a sense of “it could be worse”.

In fact, in this country it is already pretty bad for many. But escaping this mindset also means escaping the perpetuated politics of our institutions who maintain that class does not have a bearing on politics.

As the term ‘Tory’ has become an insult to particular types of culture that can be extended to upper-class behaviours, the partisan association has therefore wilted and therefore could be used willingly against anyone who stands in the way of socialism. The Starmer’s Labour Party will cooperate with the Conservatives not only when seen fit but also having cross-party friendships/relations. As they are typically painted as opposite sides of the political spectrum, their collaboration shows that they are two sides of the same coin.

To revisit the initial point, it is not enough to be non-racist, and it is also not enough to be non-Tory, whatever that may mean to you. In fact we must be anti-Tory, and this means to not engage with the many collaborators of the Conservatives. Join the YCL!

Howard Green, is a member of the YCL’s East of England branch

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