Phillip Blond: “Das sozialdemokratische Modell ist tot” | Die Presse (£)
Phillip Blond: “The social democrat model is dead”
The mastermind of British Conservatism pleads for “red Toryism”, to remove the excesses of neo-liberalism and create more security.
Die Presse: Many say the election has no clear topic. What is the focus of the 8th of June?
Phillip Blond: Elections are never about nothing. This election is, in the face of Brexit – the most important moment in our history since 1945, about uniting and designing a new model of capitalism and social care. It is decisive that the Government does not forget its social responsibilities, like Cameron did. Brexit has to become the vehicle to develop a new societal model.
Die Presse: Will the size of her majority influence Prime Minister Theresa May toward a hard or a soft Brexit?
Phillip Blond: She wants a soft Brexit, and this election should support her position. No supporters of a hard Brexit were put up for Election. May wants to ensure that she is not beholden to the right wing of her party, but rather that she can freely negotiate with the EU.
Die Presse: May promises employees more rights, is courting the losers of austerity and wants to cap energy prices. Is she a “red Tory” that is borrowing from the Left?
Phillip Blond: What we are experiencing is the resurgence of “red Toryism”. May has taken over all ideological concepts. She follows a “red Tory agenda” and will experience a landslide victory because of this. This is the future way for all centre-right parties.
Die Presse: What is this “red Tory agenda”?
Phillip Blond: It’s about securing the economically wounded. We have to get rid of the type of liberalism that has pervaded the left and right in the last decades, which has created economic as well as cultural uncertainty. Therein also lies a lesson for countries like Austria: the social democrat model is dead, because it failed to create social justice and to secure the cultural identity of the nations.
Die Presse: The Conservaties dropped “red Toryism” ten years ago, when they came into Government. Why should people believe in it today?
Phillip Blond: They already believe in it. May has destroyed the extremists on the right and is winning allies on the left. The concept is a union of societal preservation – of family, community and nation – and a new economic offer to the working population.
Die Presse: Historically the economic wing tends to persevere with the Tories. Are you worried about this?
Phillip Blond: That may well be, as neo-liberalism has benefited them. They were able to not pay people and do what they pleased. But this model of business is also dead.
Die Presse: Critics say that the promises of the Tories will lead to more red tape and cripple the economy.
Phillip Blond: We are against bureacratisation and over-regulation. We seek to change the culture of business and work. We are against the rule of the state as much as the rule of an oligopoly. We need an honour code for the economy, not additional regulation, and we need massive investment in training and the improvement of quality.
Die Presse: The Conservatives have previously followed austerity. Do the means for all promises made exist?
Phillip Blond: Of course they do. Austerity went too far, and we can free up some amounts for investment. We need to move away from productivity-reducing social benefits and instead change them into expenses that are transformative to the recipient, rather than cementing their position.
Die Presse: What are your three priorities for investment?
Phillip Blond: First, according to the OECD, today the differences within countries is bigger than between countries in western industrial nations. We have countries that range between first world and third world economies within their borders. We therefore need a radical devolution with bespoke solutions. Second, we need to invest into lifelong learning and training. We stand on the cusp of extreme technological and cultural changes and need to ensure that people gain new skills to remain employable. Finally, women that temporarily stay at home to raise their children pay an enormous price for their career. We need to find a way to keep them up to date and re-enter their career effectively.
Die Presse: With policies like these, what is Labour left to do?
Phillip Blond: Labour looks left behind. The Left has been dismantled around the world, as it faces the challenges of the present, which can be tackled through tax policies, through the prism of class warfare. The Left is inseparable from a model of governance that is perceived by the population as a system that rewards those who don’t contribute. It does not recognise where society is now. It’s about creating a popular system of participatory capitalism where everyone holds shares, where all are owners and where all benefit from growth.
Die Presse: Who will be the opposition if Labour is beaten savagely in the election?
Phillip Blond: The new trenches will be dug between patriots and globalists. A growing number of people will change sides and join the patriots, because a growing number of people will stop profiting from globalisation, which concentrates more power and money in less hands.
Die Presse: But globalisation is inevitable.
Phillip Blond: Not this kind of globalisation. The liberal kind has not given the ordinary people security, they have not profited and their incomes have leveled off or decreased in the past 20 years. The middle class is increasingly experiencing the same. We need a “red Tory” answer, which provides societal security.
Die Presse: You are aware of the situation in Austria. Is Sebastian Kurz a “red Tory”?
Phillip Blond: If he isn’t one already, he should convert quickly.