Friday, December 13, 2019

The UK election was a whole cloth rejection of democratic socialism

Yesterday, UK voters handed Tory leader Boris Johnson the biggest Conservative Party electoral victory since the days of "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher. The ultra-liberal/socialists in the Labour Party suffered an obliterating defeat. They lost seats that had been comfortably leftist for generations.

The image below comes courtesy of DecisionDeskHQ, a data-driven website that provides real-time election results and analyses. You may need to tap or click the image to get something readable on a mobile device.

In the UK, blue is the color of Conservatives and red is for Labour. The Scots, Irish and Welsh each have their own identities and sometimes governing coalitions involve them with either Conservative or Labour pluralities. For the British left, the image above is the map of destruction. Majorities like the one claimed by Johnson and his Tories are very unusual and have been historic in their impact. 

Along with the loss of this election, British lefties have lost any hope of starting a global democratic-socialist movement. The UK will leave the European Union with or without a negotiated trade deal now. Gone are socialist hopes of the British leading a global new world order. Gone are all the social justice tropes that focused on intersectionalism, identity politics, and destruction of traditional values such as family, hunting, Judeo-Christian faith, patriotism, etc.  

To say this was a devastating loss by the UK's far left might be understating the impact, if for nothing else than for the fact that the left had big hopes and dreams for the future.

Jonathan Chait is an American liberal who writes for the New York magazine. Unlike most lefty American media types, Chait has the rare gift for telling it like it is.

Go here for all of the excerpts from hopeful U.S. lefties who saw Jeremy Corbyn's movement as a precursor to a similar movement on this side of the pond. Here are a few to whet the appetite.
Many writers, not only on the left, detected parallels between the rise of Corbyn and the movement around Bernie Sanders. The latter is considerably more moderate and pragmatic than the former, and also not laden with the political baggage of Corbyn’s widely derided openness to anti-Semitic allies. And yet many leftists have emphasized the similarities between the two, which are indeed evident. Both built youth-oriented movements led by cadres of radical activists who openly set out to destroy and remake their parties. Both lost in somewhat close fashion, Sanders in 2016 and Corbyn the next year. And fervent supporters of both men treated their narrow defeats as quasi-victories, proof of victory just around the corner.
Arguments of this sort tend to quickly devolve into straw-man attacks. So, in order to show that the view I’m describing is widespread, I am sharing lengthy excerpts from a half-dozen essays written by American leftists in recent years:
“Only Socialism Can Defeat Trumpism,” by Nicole Aschoff and Bhaskar SunkaraThe NationNovember 2016
“The past year has shown that millions of ordinary people are ready for an alternative, one pointed to by the success of Sanders and the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain …

As with the collapsing social democrats in Europe, the Democratic Party’s best bet is to move left and embrace a platform that speaks to the real needs, fears, and aspirations of working people …
For the Democrats, no less than their peers in Europe, where the neoliberalization of social democracy has opened up space for a populist right, the choice on offer might well be either socialism or irrelevance.”
“Jeremy Corbyn’s Success is a Model for American Progressives,” by James Downie, Washington PostJune 2017
“Corbyn’s success provides a model for U.S. progressives in 2018, 2020 and beyond: If you need turnout to win — as liberals in the United States do — you need a bold, uncompromising platform with real solutions …
Why was turnout so high? Because Corbyn was able to generate excitement among Labour voters, especially the young. That’s in no small part because of this year’s Labour manifesto (the British equivalent of a party platform). Unlike other recent versions, mostly incrementalist documents that tweaked what came before, the 2017 edition is the boldest in decades: more money for the National Health Services and other major initiatives, a “jobs first” Brexit and free university tuition, financed by taxing corporations and the wealthiest. The manifesto and the campaign were summed up by their elegantly simple slogan: “For the many, not the few.” …
“Politics has changed,” declared Corbyn Thursday night, “and politics isn’t going back in the box where it was before.” He is right about British politics. If progressives apply the lessons of his success judiciously, U.S. politics will also change — for the better, for the many and not the few.”
“Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and Toward Power,” by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, June 2017
“Last Thursday’s election result in the U.K. is a ringing confirmation that stirring idealism need not be sacrificed at the altar of political pragmatism …
Yes, mainstream center-left parties may have been crushed in recent European elections — think of France or the Netherlands. However, Corbyn — who spent 32 years toiling in obscurity on the backbenches before becoming leader of his party in a shock victory in 2015 — has now a paved a road out of the wilderness …
Here in the United States, meanwhile, the Corbyn-esque Sanders has become the most popular politician in the country and would probably win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by a landslide if the contest were to be held tomorrow. Some polls also suggest he might have defeated Trump last November, too.”
“The American Left Has Found a New Hero,” Paul Blest, The Outline, June 2017
“American left-wingers like myself have found ourselves looking for an escape over the past few weeks in the stratospheric rise of the Labour Party — led by Corbyn, an unabashed socialist — in the polls ahead of this Thursday’s UK election …
As left wing activist Paul Mason told the New Republic last week: “They assumed Corbyn was their secret weapon. It turns out he is our secret weapon …
The reason that Corbyn is surging now, apart from the discovery that May is extremely bad at campaigning, is that he’s got a clear, progressive vision for the future, one that tackles the big question of making a more equitable society at home and around the world. The Labour Party manifesto unabashedly goes the farthest we’ve seen from a major left-of-center party; not just the Sanders-like social democratic parts like pumping more money into the National Health Service and making college free, but in nationalizing essential public services and raising revenues from increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for all of it.”
 Those dreams will have to wait for five more years.


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