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Doctor Bew and the malice of Davos

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Way back in February, lost in the panic of the emerging threat from the Wuhan virus, the PM issued a written statement to Parliament setting out the terms of a comprehensive Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Four months on, the merger of DfID into the FCO to form the FCDO from September was announced – just the first of the many changes to come. Undertaking the review, the PM announced, “a cross-Whitehall team in the Cabinet Secretariat, and a small taskforce in No10, will report to me and the National Security Council”.

Snippets of news are also leaking that Mark Sedwill is deeply unhappy and may not last out the year wearing his triple crown of Cabinet Secretary, Head of the Civil Service and, since 2017, National Security Advisor. I strongly suspect it is the hubris of the last of those jobs that has been most greatly provoked.  For last year Boris brought in to the Number 10 policy unit Professor John Bew of Kings – and Bew is leading the PM’s team. To get a flavour of John Bew’s world view, I recommend the list of papers he has authored or co-authored, listed on his Policy Exchange home page. In particular, his paper on a post-Brexit NATO is as sound as granite. It comprehensively smashes many of the fatuous pabulums peddled by EUphiles in Whitehall and Parliament, and by supporters of PESCO and the UN -

- There is a false narrative about NATO that presents it as being less important than, or even contrary to, British involvement in the United Nations.

- Another false narrative that risks undermining NATO is the idea that it is the European Union that has kept Europe at peace for more than half a century.

- For most of NATO’s existence, with the exception of a brief period in the 1980s, there has been a broad consensus on the frontbenches of the major British political parties as to the Alliance’s vital importance to UK interests and European security.

- There is no viable successor to NATO as the guarantor of European security or the foundation stone of transatlantic unity.

In re-affirming the primacy of internationalist rather than supranational solutions to security threats, Bew will risk the malice of the Davos globalists as well as the fifth-column inside SW1.

John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy in the War Studies department at King’s – an outpost of academic probity and scholarship that has so far managed to resist the contagious madness that is sweeping through academia. The department has also given us David Betz and MLR Smith, both very much alive to the concept of State Capture, and co-authors of a paper for the Bruges Group in January 2019 -

For thinkers like Adam Smith the rule of law was intended to maintain balance and ensure the integrity and fairness of the market to prevent monopolistic behaviour. In a not dissimilar manner, the role of parliament in a mature democracy like Britain was to balance out competing interests and claims to power, which included giving a voice to the lower orders. For such a system to flourish it required parliamentarians to be somewhat representative of the people who elected them. Thus, they functioned as the will of the people in parliament, whom through dialogue and debate would mediate and resolve issues in a manner that broadly accorded with the expressed wishes of the electorate.

With the rise of the new political classes, a different political dynamic is emerging. Drawn from similar backgrounds (often middle-class, university educated, with little prior career experience outside politics itself), members of parliament increasingly sound alike, think alike and act alike. The evolution of a monochrome political establishment is producing a radical disconnect, which the Brexit denouement is throwing into stark relief. What we appear to be witnessing is the corrupt mutation of the notion of the representation of the people in parliament, into the substitution of the will of the people by the interests of the political class. We are entering the realms, no less, of state capture. What happens when sectional interests capture the political institutions of the state?

This is a question we will get to, but first it is worth reiterating that in many senses this has been a long time coming, and to emphasise, in the British case has little or nothing intrinsically to do with Brexit.

Unwinding more than forty-years of ‘the long march through the institutions’ would tax the most capable of governments even in normal times. That those who have marched into the heart of the State are not in this instance Gramsci’s communists but a privileged and elite minority who have lost touch with an electorate that gave the Party an 80 seat majority last year makes it much harder. The burdens of the Wuhan virus makes the task almost but not quite a Sisyphean burden.

I am unequivocally ready to give everything I can to support the government’s internal struggles. The so-called Culture War is a sideshow, a big frothy flatus that will burst and fade as the economic crisis descends. We cannot divert our attention from the fight that matters -  reclaiming the State.


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