Corbyn Has Completely Failed as Opposition Leader

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in the House of Commons in London, March 16, 2016
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in the House of Commons in London, March 16, 2016 (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Boris Johnson had his worst day in the House of Commons yet on Wednesday. Britain’s Supreme Court had just ruled his suspension of Parliament illegal, in effect accusing the prime minister of lying to the country and the queen. He was taking questions on everything from his shambolic Brexit strategy to his shameful rhetoric, using words like “surrender” and “betrayal” to describe the policy of his opponents.

If there was ever a moment for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to rise to the occasion.

Instead, he reliably underwhelmed. In the same breath as he accused Johnson of steering the United Kingdom toward a disastrous no-deal exit from the EU, he blamed the ruling Conservatives for not bailing out tour operator Thomas Cook. Apparently under his government, no business would be allowed to fail. Read more “Corbyn Has Completely Failed as Opposition Leader”

Local Elections Highlight Political Fragmentation in United Kingdom

View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge
View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge (Shutterstock)

The outcome of local elections in the United Kingdom last week painted a stark picture for the country’s two major political parties.

The ruling Conservatives were expecting to lose around 800 of their 5,521 seats. They ended up losing 1,330 and with it control of 44 councils.

Labour, who were expecting gains, ended up losing 84 seats and control of six councils.

The clear winners were the Liberal Democrats, who more than doubled their seats, from 658 to 1,351, with 19 percent support. The Greens also won.

It is tempting to write up the result to those parties’ pro-EU message, but there is actually more at play. Read more “Local Elections Highlight Political Fragmentation in United Kingdom”

Jeremy Corbyn Is Not the British Bernie Sanders

American leftists who are tempted to sympathize with the British Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn — don’t. He is not an overseas version of Bernie Sanders.

Both men were political outsiders for much of their careers until they unexpectedly rose to the tops of their respective parties. Both appeal to voters who are disillusioned with old politics. Both argue for a break with the neoliberal-tainted “Third Way” in social democracy.

But that is where the similarities end. Read more “Jeremy Corbyn Is Not the British Bernie Sanders”

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 “American Media Divide Generations, Labour Attempts to Divide Conservatives”

Corbyn’s Spy Career, Catalan Language War

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting 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 “Corbyn’s Spy Career, Catalan Language War”

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.

No, because the United States has a monotonous two-party system. (Britain essentially does too, but the Liberal Democrats can and have emerged as a powerful enough force to tip the balance, as they did in 2010.)

No, because the United States can’t call snap elections and so the mood today is certainly not going to be the mood of fall 2018.

No as well, because America does not face a credible secessionist threat, as the United Kingdom does in Scotland, nor is the United States able to do anything close to the self-harm of Brexit.

With that said, there’s a few lessons worth looking into. Read more “Does the British Election Mean Anything for America?”

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 “Election Divides Kingdom as Parties Consolidate Their Base”

May to Stay in Power with Support of Northern Ireland Unionists

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11 (DoD/Jette Carr)