Brexit & British Party Politics – Francis Turner

Brexit & British Party Politics – Francis Turner

One unexpected outcome to the Brexit vote has been the way that it has exposed gaping fissures inside three major political parties. It hasn’t yet cracked the regional parties, the Liberal Democrats or the Greens but the fissures it has exposed are fascinating and suggest a fundamental realignment of voters to parties in the coming months.

Pre Brexit Status

The 2015 general election should have been a sign that things were in flux. In Scotland the SNP wiped out the Labour and Liberal parties (the Tories had already been more or less wiped out in previous elections). In England and Wales the Labour party lost some seats, but the major casualty were the Liberals. Nationwide (i.e. including Scotland) the liberals fell from 57 seats to 8. More critically in that election the UKIP share of votes cast was over 12% making them the third most popular overall although that failed to translate into seats and in fact they lost one of the two seats they had gained during the previous parliament. UKIP votes appeared to be significant in a number of former Labour seats and the result was that the Conservatives won those seats from the Labour party. As part of the fallout from the general election, the Labour party chose a far left long-term backbencher, Jeremy Corbyn, as its new leader and UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage tried to resign but was convinced to stay, however UKIP has experienced all sort of growing pains and remains a party in flux.

In the local elections and in the elections to the various devolved bodies of Scotland and Wales in May 2016 there were more changes. In the Scottish Parliament, the Conservatives staged a recovery, doubling the number of MSPs and displacing Labour as the second most popular party while the Greens overtook the Liberals to become the fourth largest party. In Wales UKIP went from 0 to seven seats, mostly from the Liberals and Conservatives although their votes came from everywhere. In the local elections UKIP almost doubled its number of councillors, gained mostly at the expense of the conservatives and the Liberals also strengthened.

At the start of June you could see that the Liberal democrats and all other the minor parties except UKIP were solidly in the Remain camp although there was some wavering in the Ulster Unionists. The Labour party had most of its officials and MPs on the Remain side, but there were a handful of MPs who broke for Leave. The Conservatives were split roughly equally between Leave and Remain, with I believe more officials and activists on the Leave side but more MPs on the Remain. UKIP was of course 100% for Leave.

The vote

Although the vote itself was a single national number, counting was broken down by constituency so it is possible to see where MPs had different opinions to their electorate. In (almost?) all cases where there were differences the MPs were on the Remain side while the voters were on the Leave side. In general in the referendum Leave won most of England and Wales and was also ahead in a couple of Northern Ireland constituencies. In Scotland Remain won heavily and Remain also took Northern Ireland, but not as convincingly. Those regional wins were cancelled out by the far greater population of England and Wales which voted to Leave. Turnout was very high, and interestingly, generally higher in areas which voted to leave. An analysis by Matt Singh at Bloomberg suggests that the higher than expected turnout was a result of Leave supporters that don’t often vote actually doing so this time:

[… T]he net impact of the 2.8 million extra votes was entirely to the benefit of the Brexiters.

Many models, like ours, were based on the assumption that turnout was likely to be similar to last year’s general election and on the fact that past increases in turnout, such as during the 1980s, the 2000s and at the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, were relatively evenly split in terms of how the additional voters cast their ballots.

This time, however, turnout increased with an unprecedented skew. The Number Cruncher Politics central projection of 52.7 percent “remain” and 47.3 percent “leave” would have equated to remain gaining 16.2 million votes and “leave” 14.5 million among existing 2015 voters. Using the same samples, but with a likely voter screen that reflects the actual turnout pattern, gives “remain” 16.1 million, “leave” 17.4 million – the exact result.

This suggests that Brexiters won by mobilizing millions of supporters who never normally vote, whereas the “remain” side got almost no net benefit. Any new “remain” voters were offset by others not showing up.

If this level of enthusiasm can be maintained it is likely to have a significant impact in the general election where turnout in some, “safe” seats can be quite low. The question of course is where they will go.

Post vote leadership struggles

Conservatives

The first thing that happened was that the Conservative prime-minister, David Cameron, announced his resignation, and after some to-ing and fro-ing about having a party wide election from the top two candidates as voted on by MPs the top candidate in the MP election ended up PM anyway after her rival announced that she wasn’t going to continue. The last few weeks of wheeling, dealing and back-stabbing inside the party reads like something out of a novel with Boris Johnson, the public leader of the Leave campaign and presumed successor being abruptly disavowed by his fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove, who decided to stand for leader himself after a blistering attack on Mr Johnson’s competence. This act of betrayal was not that popular within the party so, even though his philosophy was popular he struggled in the brief campaign and ended up third behind Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. Gove provided the intellectual thought behind Leave but he in addition to his knifing of Johnson he is disliked in the country as a whole for his attacks on various special interests, particularly teachers.

May campaigned for Remain and Leadsom for Leave, though in the fairly recent past she was a remainer. Either way both claimed that they would implement the result of the referendum. Leadsom ended up crashing and burning on an ill-considered comment about having children making one more interested in the future. However despite that gaffe, which so far as I can tell was more an issue of the coverup being worse than the crime, Leadsom probably still has a future as a senior minister. Prior to this Leadsom was less well known, but this appears to be in large part because she had a major falling out with the Chancellor George Osborne (who campaigned strongly for Remain and might have been PM if Remain had won, but is now completely out of the running for anything senior) that meant that he insisted she be sidelined for a considerable time.

May is interesting. She shows a lot of loyalty to underlings but can be extremely abrasive to those who might have been thought to be allies and to hold grudges against those who aren’t on her side. She also bears the baggage of being home secretary during the period that immigration has run rampant, despite promises to curb it. Despite obvious comparisons with Lady Thatcher, May is not really a Thatcherite politically being all in favor of some kind of “compassionate conservatism” if not quite that of David Cameron. In addition she seems to be all in favour of using the state to spy on everyone and control what they are doing.

Her cabinet choices have been fascinating. Boris Johnson (as knifed by Gove) has been made Foreign Minister which is interesting since Johnson has made any number of incendiary comments about foreign governments and rulers in his various journalistic endeavors. Most recently he provided an amusing limerick about the Turkish president:

There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

In addition to Johnson, May has appointed “Leave” camaigners as minister for International Trade (Lima Fox) and for Brexit (David Davis) which suggests that she won’t be seeking to fudge the Brexit negotiations so that Britain doesn’t actually leave. Apart from that she’s done a reasonable job of balancing the various Tory factions in her ministerial appointments (though unsurprisingly most senior posts have gone to her allies) and the party as a whole seems mostly content with the outcome. All in all it seems like the Tories are likely to remain the party in power because the Brexit reaction has been handled swiftly, decisively and without an excess of rancour.

Labour

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The Labour party has taken the Brexit vote hard. While a handful of Labour MPs campaigned for Leave the rank and file membership was heavily on the Remain side and the leadership also campaigned for Remain. However the leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his second in command – shadow-chancellor John McDonnell – have historically been fervent Leavers and their lacklustre campaigning for Remain looks to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as the majority of Labour MPs are concerned. As a result the Labour party will also have a leadership contest fairly soon, although Corbyn is not going to go willingly, despite losing a vote of no confidence by Labour MPs. The Labour party is also facing a big anti-semitism problem, something that Mr Corbyn has not handled well, in part because he’s got a considerable history of associating with unsavoury anti-semites himself, and this is certainly another factor in the campaigns to overthrow him.

Corbyn’s election was pretty controversial anyway. He’s been on the far left of the party for ever and his election was due to a lot of newly joined party members voting for him despite the fact that the MPs and party establishment mostly hate him. His subsequent performance as leader of the opposition has been uninspiring to put it mildly. His debating skills are probably worse than Obama’s and hence at Prime Minister’s Question time he gets the stuffing beaten out of him by David Cameron on a weekly basis (Cameron OTOH was probably one of the better debaters in recent years so we’ll see how he stands up to Mrs May). And when that is combined with the anti-semitism and the poor election results it isn’t surprising that people want him out.

The question for the future is whether the Labour party can unify itself. A lot of Labour activists seem keen on Corbyn and his Bernie Sander’s like policies. On the other hand most MPs are much less radical and the traditional working class support for Labour seems to be even more conservative (with a small c) than the MPs and certainly did not back Remain. This does not seem to have sunk into the various leadership contenders and activists. The activists are still backing Corbyn and in fact have been extremely unpleasant to MPs and party members that they consider to be disloyal. Moreover the corbynites seem unclear on the concept of governing, let alone that of winning national elections. It seems they’d prefer to pose, lose and organize protests rather than actually run things. This may be a first for a political party (or faction of one) and it doesn’t bode well.

UKIP

UKIP’s charismatic leader Nigel Farage has also announced his resignation. Mind you he did this before and was convinced to stay but this time it seems that he really means it. Farage has been the driving force in UKIP for almost all of its two decades of existence and hence the change of leadership is likely to be critical to the continued success of the party. Having said that, Farage has been seen as quite divisive within the party so his resignation may well turn out to be a net positive. Now that the party has achieved its original goal of getting the UK to leave the EU the question is whether it can survive, and indeed whether it should. All that will depend on its political policies going forward.

UKIP’s policies – beyond the obvious one of leaving the EU – have not been very fixed. In 2010 UKIP were very much a libertarian leaning party. De-regulation, free markets and the like were a big part of their manifesto. In last year’s election these points were generally still there but the emphasis had changed to immigration and other more populist issues. UKIP, as a party with no more than 20 years of history, has also attracted members who aren’t the smooth identikit professional politicians of the major parties. In a number of cases this has resulted in them being publicly embarrassed by having statements they make publicised and mocked. The fact that the UK media generally, and the BBC in particular, have loathed UKIP has not helped them.

Before it’s big break out UKIP was the home of disaffected Tories. There was a strong correlation between Euroskepticism and loyalty to the Thatcherite traditions so many of the original UKIP supporters tended towards small government positions. However as the party has grown it has attracted others who are not of that tradition. Given that the Tories are in power and implementing Brexit, it seems likely that some (most?) Euroskeptic Tories will return to the Conservative fold leaving UKIP with the rest of the malcontents. Since UKIP is a new party, with few well known faces, it’s hard to judge who will likely end up leader and this has been exacerbated by the fact that a number of apparent front-runners have unilaterally declared that they won’t run while others appear to be being ruled out for various technical reasons. However the Guido Fawkes blog suggests that the likely front runner is another MEP – Steven Woolfe (and I know next to nothing about him)

Putting it together

There seem are multiple political strands in England and Wales and neither UKIP, Labour nor the Conservatives are currently monolithically one particular strand. This means that the alignments between voters and parties could change significantly as parties vie for particular groups of voters.

It seems likely that the Labour party is going to move into solid SJW/guardianista territory with all the sneering condescension to the great unwashed that that implies. Individual Labour MPs may manage to maintain their local base in working class areas but the party as a whole is going to move away from its historic roots as the overwhelming new activists are of the new sneering classes not the traditional working ones. This change of roles makes the Liberals even more irrelevant as they will be nearly indistinguishable from this sort of Labour party and hence probably means that the Liberals are finally killed off. Although they’ve failed to die a few times before in the last century so they may still manage to hang on. It may also mean that the Green party folks rejoin the Labour party since there will be no real difference between their platforms except one of emphasis on which innumerate policy is more important.

So where do the working class go? The Scottish ones have joined the SNP. The Welsh ones may join Plaid Cymru, but there’s no clear refuge in England as they probably aren’t going to go Tory. At the same time UKIP is busy trying to find a new rationale and a distinctive political voice. It seems likely to me that UKIP will continue to dump its more Thatcherite policies and become a more working class based party that absorbs the voters that the Labour party has abandoned.

We have about four years until the next scheduled election and an unscheduled one will only occur if the Tories split which I think is unlikely. The Tory MPs aren’t stupid and can do sums as well as anyone so they have to realize that the longer they can avoid an election the longer they have to cement a successful Brexit, hence I predict that the tories are going to rally around May until or unless the Brexit process goes titsup.com. This means that UKIP has about four years to entice the working class labour voters over to their corner. That’s plenty of time for the Labour party to make it’s new SJW focus clear.

The only problem is that the small government crowd are almost certainly going to lose their party as UKIP is almost certainly not going to keep the libertarian policies it had, and the chances are really high that the Tories won’t roll far in that direction either.

93 responses to “Brexit & British Party Politics – Francis Turner

  1. Thanks for the perspective of UK politics. Since here in America we have only the ‘Unity Party’, the policies and differences in the UK are fascinating.
    With the Brexit vote, I am encouraged that we might turn the U.S.A. around from the train wreck the EU is having.

    • Until a few years ago the UK seemed to be stuck in the same two party state that the US appears to be in. In particular the difference between Blairite Labour and Cameronian Tory was hard to parse (and the Lib dems were almost the same except more pro EU). I’m pretty sure that the Brexit referendum as a manifesto commitment was done partly so that the Tories could differentiate themeslves from both Labour and the Lib Dems, though the attraction of not losing Tory Euroskeptics to UKIP was certainly the main driver.

      The fact that we had vestigal other parties with enough organization and experience that a third party vote wasn’t an obvious total waste helped but the fact that UKIP failed to get many MPs at the last election is suggestive that people weren’t (yet) willing to trust a brand new party for critical positions. However the US parties don’t seem to be as flexible. Possibly because all the good politicians have been either Democrat or Republican for so long that there’s no tradition of anything else being successful.

      • In the American system most of the fighting goes on within the two major parties. Witness the Dems battles between the ideological Sanders faction against the pragmatic Clintonites. (Note: these are comparative terms; both are highly ideological and their difference is whether they want to get there “right now” versus “next month.”)

        Or look at the various subsidiaries under the GOP banner: the Cruzians vs the Bushies vs the Trumpskyite wing, with more additional factions than I care to list. The battles in the American system are over the reins of the party, tend to be more localized until they break out in presidential primary battles. Previously these divisions were essentially regional, as local candidates in both parties fought to occupy their locale’s center, but advances in fundraising, gerrymandation and internet communication have permitted greater polarization in local campaigns, making the center much more diffuse.

        • I was watching a video by Rebel Media last night that described 14 different groups on the right. He may have been reaching a bit at times, but it was still entertaining.

          • I’d definitely quibble with some of that (What’s my problem with Ann Coulter? The fact that everything she says is laced with acid.), especially the neocons and the alt-right, particularly Derbyshire.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        It very much appears that Trump will lose the election to Clinton. Which process may discredit the Republican Party enough that we will see alternatives.

        Certainly this week’s events are not entirely foreseeable, and will have an impact.

        • I find it hard to believe that any election could further discredit the Republican Party, but a Trump victory strikes me as more likely to accomplish such discrediting than a Trump defeat.

          But then, I remember Nixon, I remember the post-Watergate disaster of the ’74 mid-term electiion. I also remember Reagan’s run against Carter, an election he was destined to lose … until they actually counted the votes and Carter threw in the towel while voting was still open on the Left Coast.

          Do not take too seriously the MSM reportage, given that it assumes Hillary, a woman whose record is one of uninterrupted disaster, is qualified to be president while Trump is not — without ever discussing just what makes a person qualified. Just as the MSM accepts a priori the Left’s principles and arguments, requiring the Right first rebut those premises and then offer alternatives that comply with those premises, the MSM forever obsesses over discord on the Right while discretely obscuring that on the Left. In what sane world are Conservatives, who insist on evaluating people as individuals, racist while Progressives, who are incapable of looking at anybody as an individual rather than representing some arbitrary class, opponents of racism?

          This election is undecided until the People speak, in spite of how the punditocracy votes.

          • For a simple “Compare & Contrast” example of MSM bias, look no further than their treatment of Cindy Sheehan versus that of Pat Smith, whose son Sean died in Benghazi and who spoke at last night’s Republican National Convention.

            http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438042/sudden-short-lived-objection-political-speeches-grieving-mothers

            But a political activist complaining about MSM Leftward tilt is like an engineer complaining about gravity.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            My thinking is simple, and has nothing to do with mainstream media, and mostly nothing with what the polls have said since 5/3.

            We’ve known for years that Hillary would be running. The Democrats have had time to tell themselves what they need to hear to get themselves to vote for her and volunteer.

            As best as I can tell, conservative Republican activists have not prepared themselves for this, and will not be able to make up the gap in lying to themselves.

            Between that and the Trump campaign cutting corners on organizing, I expect the Democrats to have the better organized turnout.

            The convention still has some uncertainty, but I think the major uncertainty remaining in the campaign involves health complications and the possibility of a ‘three cities’.

            • It is a one person race, the question is will the disgust the conservatives have for Hillary be enough to put Trump ahead? While conservatives may not be enthusiastic for Trump, neither are coal miners or blacks for Clinton (at least in the sense blacks are less enthusiastic than they were for Obama).

              • My suspicion is this will be a preference cascade election. BIG article in the online Washington Post today about how two-thirds of voters “don’t think Trump is qualified” to be president, while sixty-plus percent think Hillary is, even though they trust her about as far as they can piss into a thirty-mph wind.

                Donald Trump is not qualified to be president. And the American people know it.
                New polls show that this is the real story lurking beneath the idea that both are disliked.

                Poppycock. What the polls show is that Americans are not yet persuaded whether Trump is qualified to be president — which is the whole point of a convention such as this. Back in 1979 and ’80, as many of us recall, the judgement that Ronald Reagan wasn’t qualified to be president were widespread and conventional wisdom — but once he acted in such way as to convince the American People that the pundits were wrong and he was qualified, Jimmy Carter became the embodiment of Dead Man Walking. Which is why the Democrats and the MSM (But I repeat myself) will obsessively pound their “But he doesn’t know the territory” drum between now and election day.

                History doesn’t repeat, exactly, and Trump is certainly no Reagan, but if he persuades the public that yes, he is qualified to be president, then I think Scott Adams is right: Landslide Trump.

                Whether or not that is a good thing is an entirely separate question.

                • As for being qualified to be president: Trump is over 34 and was born in the United States. To quote John Adams (dramatized), “If there’s any other requirement, I haven’t heard it.”

                  Of course, a near majority of the Democrat Party though Bernie Sanders qualified to be president.

                  • One further observation.

                    I agree that Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president, as qualified as that other former Secretary of State, James Buchanan, Jr.

                    James Buchanan, Jr. (/bjuːˈkænən/; April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States (1857–61), serving immediately prior to the American Civil War. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives and later the Senate, then served as Minister to Russia under President Andrew Jackson. He was named Secretary of State under President James K. Polk, and is to date the last former Secretary of State to serve as President of the United States. After Buchanan turned down an offer to sit on the Supreme Court, President Franklin Pierce appointed him Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in which capacity he helped draft the Ostend Manifesto.
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Buchanan

                    Well, considering nobody seriously suggested Hillary for the Supreme Court, perhaps not quite as qualified.

                    • Legally Trump is qualified, Hillary is more questionable, but even though she is well known to have committed felonies, she has never been convicted, therefore she is also legally qualified.

                      In my personal opinion neither is qualified, but I don’t make the rules.

                    • bearcat: my understanding is that being a felon does not disqualify someone from being President. The Founding Fathers lived in a time when many ‘crimes’ were political instead of rule of law. It is one of the safety valves; however, it foolishly assumes that 50% of the population is too intelligent to vote for a non-political-crime President.

                    • Had she not received a free pass from the FBI and Justice Department, several of the crimes that Director Comey declared her guilty of, in addition to fines and jail time, come with the added punishment that if convicted the guilty party is permanently barred from ever holding public office.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      ‘Trump’ is really a deep cover Russian agent of influence, so does not count as a naturally born citizen. 🙂

                    • My mistake, for some reason I have always believed that a felony conviction barred one from the Presidency (while not barring one from serving in either the Congress or the Senate) but that isn’t true.

                    • Face it, if the Constitution had a restrictiion on convicted felons the Democrats would try to argue their way around it. Remember their argument during the Clinton impeachment proceedings about Billy Jeff being guilty of crimes and misdemeanors, but they weren’t High crimes and misdemeanors?

                      Hillary was never convicted of a felony, she plead guilty! Besides, that isn’t a felony felony!

                    • Donald Campbell:

                      Actually, the Founding Fathers assumed that THE ELECTORS wouldn’t be foolish enough to vote for a criminal as president. The Founding Fathers didn’t think that the general population ought to have any direct say in the presidential election.

                    • The Dems have already test-driven this campaign, in Louisiana 1991. That’s why they’re trying to frame Trump as the Candidate of Hate, so they can reuse their winning campaign slogan: Vote For The Crook: It’s Important.

                      Remember, the Democrat Party took a federal judge whose impeachment for bribery and perjury passed the House by a vote of 413-3 and, in “[t]he Senate, in two hours of roll calls, … convicted Hastings of eight of the 11 articles. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcee_Hastings] and not only accepted him into the House of Representatives, and made him a senior Democratic whip,

                      Democrats only object to criminality by Republicans (apparently, they consider being Republican a hate crime.)

                  • We’ve got an amazing language with some very words that fix the problem:

                    Clinton and Trump are eligible for the presidency; this bypasses the “recognized as being able to perform the job” issue.

            • Honestly, I don’t see how Trump has a chance in hell to win, except that he’s running against his good friend Hillary who is just as hated by the American people. It doesn’t appear that either party actually likes it’s own candidate, and neither do the independents.

          • > Reagan’s run against Carter, an
            > election he was destined to lose

            That was the first time I voted, and I sat up late watching the election returns. By early evening all three national networks had announced that Carter had something like 65% of the vote, and were calling on Reagan to “do the right thing” and resign rather than making the poor election workers stay and count all the votes.

            Somehow, Reagan managed to get 489 electoral votes vs. Carter’s 49. Somehow the same newsmen didn’t have much to say about being caught in an outright lie…

            • I remember that. It was my second presidential election, and I remember them trying their best to throw it to Carter.

          • But then, I remember Nixon, I remember the post-Watergate disaster of the ’74 mid-term electiion.

            And I always point out that the directly traceable results of the fallout from that blown “third rate burglary” and the ensuing coverup (Nixon should have just hung the Plumbers out to swing in the wind – that’s what they were for) were the “re-education” camps after South Vietnam was abandoned and fell, and the killing fields of Cambodia a bit later.

            Consequences propagate.

            • The Other Sean

              A quick “I’m really sorry fellas, and I’ll pardon you at the end of my term.” to the “plumbers” and a nice line of BS would likely have kept Nixon in office for a bit longer. I’m not sure it would have made a major difference with respect to Vietnam – the Democrats in Congress likely still would have screwed over our allies.

              • The radical antiwar D side had the power to shut off the funding and prohibit (!) delivery of supplies and USAF air support only because of the 1974 midterm results. Without that shift the R side and the non-faithless Dems could have constrained Teddy and the fewer radical antiwar congresscritters with procedural delays and such.

                Heck, if Nixon had not been so politically wounded back in the spring of 1973 he could have made his veto of the War Powers Act stick, and then still in office as president in 1975 he could have just told the military to go deliver stuff and drop bombs as C in C. He basically did that in spite of his dire political injuries to deliver military supplies to the Israelis during the Yom Kippur War in November 1973.

                But by 1975 Ford was too scared of congress to stand up for the South Vietnamese and challenge the War Powers Act, and so the NVAs Soviet-style heavy armored attack, which the US was trained and equipped to stop, rolled right over the ARVN Army we had set up and trained to fight guerillas and was allowed by Teddy and Co. to succeed.

                No, Watergate and Teddy are directly traceable as proximate root causes of all those Vietnames who were reeducated to death, or drowned trying to escape, and of all the Cambodian city folks worked to death in the killing fields.

                • There is a rather reasonable theory that Watergate was the doing of the Kennedys. [See: The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot That Brought Nixon Down, by Geoff Shepard] which would make Teddy Kennedy the world’s greatest serial killer. Starting with a single woman (July 18, 1969) to a presidency to however many million died in SE Asia to, thanks to his immigration and education policies, America.

                  Mighty impressive achievement, but there still may be time to save his final victim.

                  • If so it must have stung just that much more when Teddy lost the nomination to Jimmeh in 1976, then fell apart in his 1980 presidential run.

                    No wonder he went so solidly to booze and flooze in the 1980s.

  2. Good article Francis. I’ve come to much the same conclusions myself. It’s a little pedantic of me to say that you should refer to “Liberal Democrats” not “Liberals”, since the current party was the result of a merger between the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. Of course the SDP was formed by MPs fleeing Labour the last time it was taken over by the far left. It’s not impossible that something similar could happen this time, especially as it seems that Mr Corbyn is likely to win any leadership election.

    Also, I’d argue that Labour succumbed to SJW takeover when Blair took over.

    • I think I called them Liberal Democrats initially and then got bored with typing the extra. Fortunately we are not talking about Japan where there is a Liberal Democratic Party and a Democratic Party (although not – yet – a Liberal party 🙂 )

      I think Blair started the removal of Labour from its working class roots, but Blair wasn’t (isn’t) an SJW loon, ditto Brown. They were statist, elitist scum certainly, but not anti-semitic, or madly focused on “diversity” or similar bat-shit crazy stuff. In US terms they’re the Bill Clinton/Joe Biden kind of Democrat as opposed to the Berne Sanders types we have in Corbyn and his crowd

      • That’s a good point. Where I was coming from with the SJW takeover in the Blair years was that was the point at which the party’s desire to represent “minorities” and fight against “isms” replaced its desire to represent the “working class”.

  3. Thank you for this! It was a really fascinating read.

    • What PK said. Yes, thank you very much.

    • Margaret Ball

      What PK said. I still wouldn’t claim to understand UK politics, but am slightly less bewildered now. Also, thanks for the phrase “the sneering classes.” It should be just as useful here as in the UK.

      • So we have the chatterers, the sneerers, who else?

        • There are the toadlickers, but I wonder whether they constitute a class.

          • Ooh, ooh! The pandering class.

            Sigh – the filking is trying but will not ignite …

            I want to put it to the tune of Brian Wilson’s Barbara Ann:
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer (take my vote)
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer
            You’ve got me rockin’ and a-rollin’
            Rockin’ and a-reelin’
            Panderer
            Pa pa pa pa Panderer

            But I’m equally tempted to adapt Dion, except only the chorus really seems amenable:
            They call me the panderer
            Yeah, the panderer
            I roam around, around, around, around

  4. It always takes me awhile to reorient myself to Brit political parties and their general alignments and platforms, and even then I get it wrong. Makes for a confusing read – a problem on my end.

    Sort of like reading about the machinations behind Johnson’s ouster – just couldn’t fully get my head around that.

    Thanks for the insights!

  5. When I saw Boris Johnson as Foreign Minister I hurried out to get more popcorn. 🙂 And IMHO Corbyn can’t go far enough fast enough, but I have a very low tolerance for his kind of willful ignoring of antisemitism.

    The edges of German politics seem to be shifting and reforming a bit like some of the British moves, although not the main parties (at least, not that I can find. I have some suspicions . . .) Interestingly, Pegida, the “anti-immigrant” movement which is more anti-uncontrolled-and-unwilling-to-assimilate-immigrant than what the media claims, is talking about forming a formal political party along the lines of Alternative for Germany (AfD). This may be a bluff to keep the German government from declaring Pegida a hate group and banning it, or it could be a serious call for a new party. I suspect it is tied in to the ongoing east-west split, since Pegida is based in Dresden and AfD is more western with closer ties to the CDU and financial centers.

    • Boris as Foreign Minister is actually pretty inspired – despite his previous digs at pretty much everyone. From what we have seen he really would not have been a good PM and he’s certainly not the sort of person you want for nitty picky details. But he’s ideal for generating enthusiasm and glad handing foreigners and the like.

      I’m absolutely positive that a large part of the reason why the great and the good in the rest of Europe acted with so much horror is the similar feelings in their own countries. I think the demonization is indicative of the fear the elites feel for if the plebs get actual representation.

      Personally I believe the UK has dodged a huge bullet here. France to pick a country completely not at random is in for an interesting time – in the sense of the Chinese curse that is.

      • I agree that Boris as Foreign Secretary may well be an inspired choice. He’s clever and internationalist, but unlike most of his critics, understands that the job of Foreign Secretary is _not_ to be nice to foreigners, but to assertively represent Britain’s interests abroad.

    • The existence if the EU has allowed European politicians to largely fly above their polities, making regulations without regard to national politics — national political leaders were mostly having to deal with getting their countries to swallow the Brussels porridge and able to hide the messy sausage-making from the public.

      With the result being a political leadership horribly out of touch with the temper of their peoples, as observable in almost all EU polities expressing opposition to EU immigration policies at the >45% level, and into the 70% zone in several. When politicians see their role as herding the sheeple into the abattoir rather than leading them in forming a consensus, be assured blood will flow — often not the blood leadership anticipated.

      • Since Obama’s father is Kenyan, I don’t get why referring to him as “part Kenyan” or “half Kenyan” is in any way problematic or politically incorrect, but people on both sides of the Atlantic seem to think it is.

        • Yeah I don’t understand that either. His description of Mrs Clinton as Lady Macbeth and a sadistic nurse is pretty insulting. Although IMHO it is also entirely reasonable and the sort of thing I call her if I had his way with words

        • Heck, mentioning his white half is supposedly insulting, so apparently noticing him at all is an insult. But he won’t go away if we just ignore him, so I don’t really have a problem with anyone insulting him.

  6. Like America, Britain’s political parties had long been in an unnatural stasis due to the Cold War which imposed its imperatives over all other policy questions. Unlike America, Britain’s tradition of a role for minority parties may prove felicitous in a new coalescing of political impulses.

    Thanks for this well-written overview.

  7. Very nice article. And yes, the story of Boris Johnson was neat. Especially the thought of how badly that goes down in Ankara. The bad guys thought they could stifle criticism in Germany… but England is a different matter.

  8. In this line, this excerpt of Scott Baio’s (yeah, yeah — I know) speech at last night Convention merits recognition:

    Aren’t we blessed to have such brave heroes protecting us like Retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles . . . who just this morning received the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam?

    I want to thank Mr. Trump for asking me to be here tonight. I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to talk about a man I trust with the lives of my family and the health of our country . . . America . . . the greatest country God created.

    America is an easy place to get to. But — for you first time voters — it’s important to know what it means to be an American.

    It doesn’t mean getting free stuff.

    It means sacrificing, winning, losing, failing, succeeding. Sometimes doing things you don’t want to do, including the hard work . . . in order to get where you want to be. That’s what it means to be an American.

    But our country is in a bad spot right now. You can feel it . . . and you can see it everywhere. There’s no stability, nothing seems right. All the things that we hold dear . . . are being attacked every day.

    We cannot go down this road anymore. We need to stop!! We need Donald Trump to fix this.

    HT: Jim Geraghty

    I don’t buy the conclusion — “We need Donald Trump to fix* this.” — but it seems undeniable that Hillary Clinton will fix** it.

    *See 1 & 2, below
    **See 3 & 4, below

    Fix:
    1: to make (something) whole or able to work properly again : to repair (something)

    2: to deal with or correct (a problem)

    3: to attach (something) in such a way that it will not move : to connect or join (things) physically

    4: to make permanent

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I think there is still room to fight the Democrats at the state and local level with Hillary as President. Hillary has no credibility as anything but a supporter of Big Pederasty. With her as President, federally funded schools cannot disavow pederasty and making students into easier victims. This simplifies things to shutting down the schools, and eliminating the teacher’s unions. I think that is a fight we can win, where the general election this cycle is not.

      • julieapascal

        I really can’t see Trump experiencing a complacent congress or a complacent population. Maybe the populist base he’s pulling on will go “Yay! He’s on our side! Time to relax while America becomes Great Again!” but certainly all of those people who pay attention to politics between times will not be expecting him to take over so they can relax.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          If my views on Trump are nuts, I’m having trouble thinking of something that could convince me of that before the election proving me wrong. I think Trump would stab any reform efforts in the back, and that the RNC would support him. I think he may be indistinguishable from Hillary on selling us out to the Russians.

          • I think he may be indistinguishable from Hillary on selling us out to the Russians.

            If true, it becomes a non-element in the decision matrix.

          • FIFY:

            “I think he may be indistinguishable from Hillary on selling us out to the Russians.

            The only difference between Trump and Hillary is who they’re pandering to at the moment.

            • There is one other difference: Hillary has never shown any inclination to pander to me.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I get angrier when I think somebody is pitching obvious lies to me.

              • The main difference I see, is when it all goes to hell they won’t claim Hillary is a conservative/libertarian/republican. Not that they won’t blame it on them if she is President, they just will have to go through a couple extra convolutions to do so.

    • Oops — this should have been posted to yesterday’s discussion.

    • So, does the phrase “the fix is in” use definition #4?

    • The Other Sean

      Somebody should’ve fixed Hillary’s parents.

  9. Christopher M. Chupik

    The real question is: will they actually go through with it, or will they try to weasel out of doing what the voters want? I’m leaning towards the latter.

    • I think that it may take longer than people hope but I don’t think there’ll be too much weaseling. If there is expect UKIP to win a blocking minority (at least) at the next election.

  10. I appreciate the article, but an explanation of the parties for us ignorant Americans would be helpful.

    I doubt very much the average American knows what SNP or UKIP stands for, much less what their platform is. As a matter of fact, while I know the UKIP’s platform was basically, get the UK out of the EU, I don’t know what the acronym UKIP stands for, I have always just seen it written that way.

    • UK Independence Party and Scottish Nationalist Party.
      I believe ‘Liberal’ is bat-quango crazy like the Bern, Labor is really Socialist/Communist, Greens are Communist and Conservatives/Tories are about like our Democrats. Nothing at all similar to Reagan voters, but the Chamberpot of Commerce GOP probably fits the more Conservative element.
      Now, after the first sentence, take everything I said with a grain of salt. I’m American and I find these subtle distinctions between Socialists to be difficult.

      • I agree. One socialist is much like another

      • The differences between the Greens, Labour and Liberal (Democrat) are indeed like the differences between different brands of ketchup. All are red, some are more watered down, others more organic, but they’re all red.

        The Tories are fairly similar to Romney/Bush Republicans. One thing I didn’t realize is that under Cameron they cut the number of government employees by 500,000 and that wasn’t done by privatizing them, it was done by firing the idle buggers

        • That’s not a bad start, really. Not bad at all.

        • “…it was done by firing the idle buggers.” Now that is a good example.

        • Probably the key difference between the Conservative Party and Romney / Bush Republicans is religion. Religion is rarely an issue in British politics. Paul Ryan would fit quite easily into the Conservative Party, Mike Huckabee wouldn’t.

          • So who do religious Brits vote for? Especially religious, patriotic Brits?

            • All parties – there’s no real link between religion and any of the party manifestos. Patriotic christians would be more likely to vote Conservative. Less patriotic (and more pro-European Union) christians would be more likely to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat. My mother-in-law is a christian who voted for the far-left Green Party at the last election. The rise in anti-semitism on the left makes Jews probably more likely to vote Conservative now, but you’ll still find Jews on the left of British politics. And you’ll see muslims and hindus in both the major parties.

              Northern Ireland (which has its own parties separate from the rest of the UK) is different – catholics vote for the left-wing SDLP or the terrorist Sinn Fein (the IRA’s political wing) while protestants vote for one of the unionist parties. (Unionist in this context means in favour of staying in the UK, as opposed to being in favour of Northern Ireland leaving the UK and joining the Republic of Ireland.)

              • “The rise in anti-semitism on the left makes Jews probably more likely to vote Conservative now, but you’ll still find Jews on the left of British politics”

                You’ll find Jews on the Left in American politics also (the majority of them) and that boggles my mind. It’s like they want to be persecuted or something.

                • Many secular Jews substitute Socialism for Judaism.

                  • Yeah, well, waiting for the Messiah wears thin after a couple millennia, so when somebody yells you that “You are the ones you’ve been waiting for” you can understand the attraction.

    • Even after goggling UK Political parties, I am confused.

      • The Other Sean

        Were you using tinted steampunk goggles with shiny metal bits covering parts of the lenses? Those’ll tend to make things confusing. 😛

  11. kenashimame

    c4c

  12. His debating skills are probably worse than Obama’s and hence at Prime Minister’s Question time he gets the stuffing beaten out of him by David Cameron on a weekly basis (Cameron OTOH was probably one of the better debaters in recent years so we’ll see how he stands up to Mrs May).

    I think this is fairly convincingly answered. Corbyn remains a hapless target for the Prime Minister to mock mercilessly

    “He refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity, and potentially unscrupulous bosses. I suspect that there are many members of the opposition benches who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss. A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers; a boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload; and maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career. Remind him of anybody?”