Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Do The Results Of The U.K. Election Tell Us About Our Own Politics?


Writing for Bloomberg about the Conservatives' disastrous snap election in the U.K. Thursday, Tim Ross noted that "For some Conservative lawmakers, who saw their 20-point poll lead over Labour evaporate, May is now little more than a caretaker, holding the fort while a wounded party puts itself back together and finds another leader for whenever the next election comes. That vote, they say, could come within months, if the minority government-- propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland-- falls apart."

How did the Conservatives projected landslide turn into a rout? On May 10 the media leaked Labour's manifesto-- Corbyn’s entire program to crank up spending and raise taxes-- and the "press tore it to pieces." Unfortunately for the Conservatives, Corbyn's "plans for pumping money into schools and nationalizing rail transport captured the public imagination after years of grinding austerity." [I want to just note here that the DCCC still insists that congressional candidates avoid contentious issues, not put up issues pages on their websites, and, worst of all, try to run as Republican-lite candidates. It's why they have seen a decade of catastrophic failure and they are determined to do it again-- and, worse yet, teach it to their poxy candidates and campaign staffers at the new DCCC U, an operation that will bake even more endemic failure into the Democratic cake for another generation. Back to the U.K.]
May’s Tories, meantime, were drafting their own manifesto under the leadership of her co-chief of staff, Nick Timothy, and Cabinet Office Minister Ben Gummer. It was these two men who got the blame for the Conservatives’ controversial policy, announced on May 18, that would have required seniors needing help with daily care to pay out of pocket until they ran down their assets, including housing, to the value of 100,000 pounds ($127,000).

The outcry was immediate against what came to be known as the dementia tax. After just four days, a rattled prime minister ditched the policy, pledged to cap the total amount that anyone will be forced to pay for care in old age.
Are the Democrats at least learning that cutting health care benefits is a terrible electoral strategy? The Republicans certainly aren't-- which is why Paul Ryan's own seat in southeast Wisconsin is now considered to be in serious jeopardy as progressive forces help put together an electoral team for iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce that is likely to be the closest thing to a presidential campaign in the 2018 cycle. Expect more news on this by midweek.

An OpEd by author Rachel Shabi in the NY Times this weekend reminded her readers that progressives in the U.K. "want the party to win not for the sake of winning, but in order to bring Labour’s economic and social agenda to Britain, to measurably improve people’s lives."
Part of this extraordinary success was a result of the party’s campaign. Fun, energetic, innovative and inspiring, it created its own momentum, with organic support mushrooming out of the most unlikely places, flooding social media with viral memes and messages: Rappers and D.J.s, soccer players, economists and television personalities alike climbed aboard the Corbyn project. Momentum, a grass-roots organization of Corbyn supporters, activated the party’s estimated 500,000 members-- many of whom had joined because Mr. Corbyn was elected as leader-- into canvassing efforts across the country, including, crucially, in up-for-grabs districts. Supporters were further encouraged by the sight of Labour candidates demolishing long-hated Conservatives on television, appearances that were swiftly turned into video clips and raced around the internet.

But the main mobilizer of support was the party’s politics. For decades, Labour has been resolutely centrist, essentially offering a slightly kinder version of neoliberal consensus politics. Those on the left had long said that this was what had caused the party’s slow decline, a hemorrhaging of support from its traditional working-class voters. With Mr. Corbyn at its helm, the party tacked firmly to the left, proposing to tax the few for the benefit of the many and offering major national investment projects, funding for the welfare state, the scrapping of university tuition fees and the re-nationalization of rail and energy companies.

It was a hopeful vision for a fairer society, offered at a time when the country is experiencing wage stagnation and spiraling living costs, with many buckling under because of the economic crash of 2008 and the Conservative Party’s savage austerity cuts that followed. Given the chance for the first time in decades to vote for something else, something better, a surprising number of voters took it. Young people, in particular, seized this offer: With youth turnout unusually high at 72 percent, it’s clear that Labour brought them to the ballot box in droves.
But leave it to HuffPo's Zach Carter, as we mentioned last night, to explicitly-- and with exquisite perception-- tie the great results for Labour to the morass in U.S. Democratic politics where, he wrote, "Democrats must choose between being the party of the Good Aristocrats and the party that fights Authoritarians. He noted that "the centrist, finance-friendly approach of George W. Bush [and Bill Clinton] ally Tony Blair had been upended, and Labour was returning to the populist thinking that defined it for most of the 20th century. But Corbyn’s victory is about much more than the internal dynamics of The Left. It is a critical event for anti-authoritarian politics more generally, one with implications that span the globe, and that carry a particular resonance in the United States in the age of Donald Trump."

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At 7:54 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Two thoughts on the U.K. Elections.
1. Never hire Jim Messina to your campaign team ever. 2. Theresa May overplayed her hand by doing the Elections now instead of 2019 & it cost the conservatives big time oops.

At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since about the time of Watergate, I have noticed that the UK precedes the US by about two years in certain political trends. 1978 - Maggie Thatcher. 1980 - Ronald Reagan. 1990 - John Major. 1992 - Bill Clinton. 1997 - Tony Blair. 2000 - Dubya. My correlation is in the effect each PM had on the UK as our presidents had on the US, not necessarily that the politics were in alignment. Each shifted the flow of the national political stream in a significant way.

In Bernie's case, he is ahead of Corbyn in the sense that his campaign was last year and Corbyn's just concluded. This may be an artefact of our regular elections versus the variable timing of the UK's.

Either way, the political trends of our respective nations generally parallel closely, and I read the latest electoral results as the citizenry being fed up with the corporatism of the aforementioned "leaders". Real leaders can attract large numbers of the populace (even Trump in his own way). I've not seen voting numbers from the UK, but Bernie pulled many hundreds of thousands out to actually vote instead of staying home. It looks like Corbyn did the same.

All we in the US have to do now is not fall for the DNC "resistance" attempt to lead us astray.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is: how did "progressive" Corbyn get to the position roughly equivalent to that of HRC, that is, within ONE election from the top spot.

In the 2016 Dem primaries, we saw how the DNC, and its super-stupid delegates, buried Sanders, the "progressive," refreshing foil to the tired, dis-inspiring drudgery of entitled Hillary think.

Apparently Corbyn has evaded or overcome the equivalent, presumably not in a primary election, but within the UK framework.

John Puma

At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They tell us that the UK voters are smarter than us voters, but only by a little. And a little earlier as 7:59 observed (maybe).

But that would require a brand new left party (since the democraps are a right party) to win the house (at least) in 2018. So... forget the earlier part.

Also, it looks like a numerically relevant government will probably be formed by May and a particularly misanthropic Northern Ireland contingent. So, no real damage done.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No real harm done, 7:42? The IRA has been relatively quiet since 2001. this "deal" which May is making with DUP is going to let them know that the peaceful politics they tended to observe more than not is ended. They haven't completely disarmed, and can quickly get more if needed. It will again be The Troubles just as soon as DUP abuses their political power.

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The previous message was to 9:42. I should better proofread my comments before posting.
- 7:46

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed my facetious tone. clearly.


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