British Parties Do Just Well Enough in Local Elections

British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

In local elections on Thursday, both of Britain’s major parties did just well enough to keep criticism about their leaders at bay without doing well enough to silence it altogether. Read more

American Media Divide Generations, Labour Attempts to Divide Conservatives

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016 (PES)

Just when Britain’s Conservatives were getting their act together — twenty months after the country voted for Brexit — Labour has thrown a wrench in the works.

Sebastian Payne writes in the Financial Times that by supporting a continued customs union with the EU, Labour is testing the loyalty of those Conservatives for whom a Canadian-style trade agreement falls short.

Labour has consistently stood back and allowed the Conservatives to set out a position and then nudged or fudged its own policy to somewhere slightly softer, but without alienating its own “leavers”. Mr Corbyn is still an unreformed left-wing, quiet supporter of Brexit, but this is about beating the government.

Conservatives who opposed Brexit will also be disappointed by the reality of a “Canada plus” deal. The EU has consistently warned that there can be no cherry-picking. The United Kingdom must be either in or out. Read more

Corbyn’s Spy Career, Catalan Language War

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

The Sun reports that, as a freshman parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn was targeted for recruitment by the Czech secret police in 1986 and met at least three times with an intelligence officer posing as a diplomat.

Corbyn says he never knowingly consorted with an East Bloc agent, but John Schindler, an intelligence expert, points out that only one year before the Labour politician was approached, Britain had expelled 25 Soviet “diplomats” who were really KGB officers “and the high-profile case got nonstop coverage in the British media.”

For Corbyn not to have considered the possibility he might be meeting with a spy would have been incredibly naive.

Moreover, Czech human rights abuses under communism were well-known even at the time. What was Corbyn thinking?

Corbyn, I’m sure, will argue it’s important to hear both sides. That’s what he said when he was asked to defend inviting Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to London in 2009. Except he never invited or met with Israeli representatives, just as he didn’t seek meetings with American officials during the Cold War.

Corbyn has a long history of instinctively siding with enemies of his country and the West, from Irish republican terrorists to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chávez to Muammar Gaddafi. Michael J. Totten wrote a good overview in The Atlantic last year. That’s what makes the Czech spy story, despite coming from the notoriously sensationalist The Sun, so believable. Read more

Does the British Election Mean Anything for America?

British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27
British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

As always, yes and no.

Yes, because the ideology of austerity-driven neoliberalism, that which is championed by Theresa May’s suddenly flailing government, is a major component of the ruling Republican Party in the United States. It’s what Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, believes in: cuts to public services to benefit the private market.

Yes, because Brexit, the alt-right-driven anti-immigrant, anti-globalization geopolitical self-harm project is propelled by the same forces that elected the current head of the Republican Party, Donald Trump.

But also no. Read more

Election Divides Kingdom as Parties Consolidate Their Base

The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England
The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England (Unsplash/Matt Milton)

There is still a lot to digest from last week’s British election. The promised Conservative landslide never materialized. Labour gained seats, including in affluent constituencies like Kensington that it won for the first time, but it also fell short of a majority. Theresa May remains in power but has been weakened. She must rely on the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland for a majority, which threatens to upset the delicate balance of power in Ulster.

We can nevertheless say two things with certainty:

  1. The trends spotted in last year’s Brexit vote are accelerating.
  2. The new poles in British politics are consolidating and that leaves the center wide open. Read more

May to Stay in Power with Support of Northern Ireland Unionists

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American secretary of defense, James Mattis, at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American secretary of defense, James Mattis, at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11 (DoD/Jette Carr)
  • Britain’s ruling Conservatives have lost their majority in Parliament, going down from 329 to 318 seats.
  • But they should be able to govern with support from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which has ten seats. Read more

What Britain’s General Election Result Means

Statue of former British prime minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, in Parliament Square, London, England, May 30, 2005
Statue of former British prime minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, in Parliament Square, London, England, May 30, 2005 (JR P)

Britain’s ruling Conservatives are projected to lose control of Parliament. The exit poll for Thursday’s election shows them falling from 330 to 314 seats. Twelve more are needed for a majority.

Assuming the exit poll isn’t too far off, what does this mean for Britain’s next government, its major political parties and the process of divorcing the United Kingdom from the EU? Read more