KARL MARX was less than optimistic about the prospects for a socialist revolution in the UK. “The English have all the material requisites for a revolution,” he wrote, “What they lack is the spirit of generalisation and revolutionary ardour.” The last 34 years of Marx’s life were spent in Victorian and Dickensian London where he saw those “material requisites” up close: the deprivation and inequality in one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world; the infant mortality and disease in its poorest neighbourhoods; the paltry wages paid by magnates whom the industrial revolution made rich. And all of it underpinned by a political and social system designed to ensure that those optics would never change.

If the old German philosopher had lived a while longer he might have been encouraged by the stirrings of revolution on Red Clydeside before it was quashed by mild shows of strength by the crown’s uniformed forces. It was aided and abetted by a terrified merchant class keen to hang on to the profits of the Caribbean slave trade and by churchmen who feared Godless communism more than their divinely-appointed inequality.

The “revolutionary ardour” required by Marx for a successful re-calibration of society simply didn’t run as deeply as it did in France, North America and tsarist Russia. Marx may also have come to marvel at how a protective nexus of relationships and connections maintains the ancient balance of power in the UK whenever it looks like being threatened. Our fecund royal family sits in the middle of this, dutifully producing babies and anniversaries at regular intervals to help sell the myth of national unity. Occasionally, we involve our armed forces in one-sided wars against third world nations to re-inforce the idea of military greatness and dewy-eyed patriotism. Then we permit the indolent sons of Windsor to wear their toytown uniforms and award them chocolate medals to preserve the idea of us all being in it together.

Assorted newspaper barons whose interests are also best served by ancient agreements are on call every hour of every day to do the bidding of their old Bullingdon chums.

Those early successes of the Labour Party in welfare reform and workers’ rights were allowed to proceed up to a point and no further. The trick here was to ensure that sufficient numbers of moderates would always operate at the highest levels of the people’s party to curtail any more drastic tilts at inequality.

You’ll have seen many of them at the forefront of the campaign to undermine Jeremy Corbyn from within. They act as sirens whenever things look like getting out of hand below decks.

Even so, you lived in hope that the ruling architects of this grand design would one day over-reach themselves and that the rest of us would lose the blinkers and see all the blandishments for what they truly are. You hoped perhaps that a critical mass of social factors might one day fuse and bring about cataclysmic change: the widening gap between the super-rich and the acutely-deprived; the hostile environment for immigrants; the punitive DWP sanctions; the food-banks and the in-work poverty; the cheerful gluttony of the royals for more property and wealth.

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Surely, you thought, there would come a time when the majority would say “Enough!” and, with an authentic Socialist leader, bring about a modern revolution? It’s an eternally sobering thought that for a Conservative Government to gain power and stay there it requires the support of working class and disadvantaged people: there simply aren’t enough of the traditional ruling class to do it on their own. Thus, the lies and the deceptions have to be extravagantly planned and strategically applied.

The National: Boris Johnson Commons statement

You certainly didn’t think that the revolution, if it was ever to occur would come from above. Yet, this is what we are experiencing right now. Some have called Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament a mere right-wing coup but this diminishes it and fails to acknowledge the extent of what is really going on here.

The annexation of power and all the levers of the British state by Johnson and Dominic Cummings, a man for whom Britain is a mere cadaver for social experimentation, has been breath-taking and sinister. A lot of planning went into this and the potential consequences will endure for generations. The genius of it lay in identifying a wrinkle in our cultural fabric, a fleeting moment when fear and suspicion of “others” could be weaponised to bring about a final and lasting victory for the 1% who view power and money as theirs and theirs alone. Brexit, with or without a deal is not the real prize for these people; far from it. This is merely a bridge to something much more vital to their interests.

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There is a reason why Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage and Michael Gove and Johnson seem insouciant about the prospect of food, fuel and medicine shortages and the threat of civil breakdown on Britain’s streets. They have the personal means to ride this out and now control the levers of state to deploy crown forces and the police in any way they deem necessary to quell unrest. This is what you might call a revolution in reverse in which you deliberately create the conditions for one before suppressing it by any means necessary for the common good.

If they can suspend parliament to ram through Brexit the rest becomes easy. Thus, they will have rid themselves of liberal European tinkering in their version of “human rights” and demonstrated the required “strength” and “purpose” to deal with it.

They’ve already stitched up the EU as the existential enemy whose intransigence and duplicitous foreign ways were the real cause of the impending chaos and in due course, as Margaret Thatcher did with the miners in 1984, they will find an enemy within. They’ve already begun the 2am knocks on their own MPs.

Any Scottish nationalists who genuinely believe that this quality of ruthlessness will ever permit a Section 30 order are deluding themselves. Nicola Sturgeon wasn’t scare-mongering when she spoke of her fear that this lot wouldn’t hesitate to suspend Holyrood if they felt like it.

She must also know that they would stop at nothing to prevent independence even if we vote for it. Scotland is facing a serious threat to its way of life here which will make all the alarums and excursions of the first referendum look like a church fete. A failure to debate the implications of this at the SNP’s annual conference will constitute a failure of leadership.