Tory Party split

Tory Party split

Birmingham Conservative Party Conference

Birmingham Conservative Party Conference: A Tale of Divisions and Disagreements

The city of Birmingham recently played host to the Conservative Party Conference, where divisions within the party over Brexit were brought sharply into focus. While the government appears united (for now) over the Chequers plan, there is no denying the underlying split within the party. This was evident at a conference rally organized by pro-Brexit website Brexit Central, which saw hundreds of attendees queuing for over an hour to hear from eight prominent Brexiteers. The rally served as a platform for the party’s eurosceptics, aimed at expressing their discontent with the current approach to Brexit.

A Party of Two Factions

The Conservative Party has always been a coalition of two factions – the City and the Country. The City represents big business and finance, embracing global markets and liberal economic policies. On the other hand, the Country faction is made up of country squires and the provincial bourgeoisie, advocating for the preservation of Britain’s traditions and heritage. This alliance, known as “villa conservatism” by Benjamin Disraeli and “property-owning democracy” by Stanley Baldwin, has been disrupted by Brexit. The predominantly Country faction, with its larger support base, is determined to make its voice heard in Birmingham.

The Labour Party’s Illusion of Unity

Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s conference in Liverpool may have given the impression of unity and support for party leader Jeremy Corbyn, but this too is far from the truth. The party is deeply divided over Brexit, much like the Conservative Party. The Labour Party is an alliance between the middle-class intelligentsia and the manual working-class, commonly referred to as the “workers by brain” and the “workers by hand.” Once again, Brexit has exposed the fault lines within this alliance. The manual working class, often labeled as the “workers by hand,” largely voted for Brexit, whereas the “workers by brain” overwhelmingly voted against it. This cultural tension has given rise to accusations of idiocy, bigotry, xenophobia, and racism.

The Unresolved Issues of Corbynism

Contrary to the apparent unity at the Liverpool Conference, the Labour Party remains deeply divided over Corbynism. Labour MPs have repeatedly attempted to remove Corbyn from the leadership, only to be thwarted by his firm control over the party machinery. Many long-standing party members feel that their party has been hijacked. The appearance of unity in Liverpool was in fact the dominance of one faction that has successfully pushed its rivals to the fringes. Blairite MPs either stayed away from the conference or focused on fringe events, further highlighting the internal divides.

The events in Birmingham and Liverpool highlight the challenges faced by both major political parties in the UK. Brexit has shaken traditional alliances and ideological foundations, leaving both the Conservatives and Labour with deep divisions to reconcile. The Conservative Party must find a way to bridge the gap between the City and the Country, while the Labour Party needs to address the divide between the “workers by hand” and the “workers by brain.” Finding common ground will be crucial for both parties if they are to effectively govern and address the pressing issues facing the country.