What Britain’s General Election Result Means

London England
View of the Houses of Parliament from Whitehall in London, England (Shutterstock/Alan Copson)

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 “What Britain’s General Election Result Means”

Conservatives Lose Majority in British Election

  • Britain’s ruling Conservatives have lost their majority in parliamentary elections, but they remain the largest party with 317 out of 650 seats.
  • They can probably stay in power with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which has ten seats.
  • Labour won 40 percent support nationwide and 261 seats, up 29. Read more “Conservatives Lose Majority in British Election”

Both Conservatives and Labour Have Left the Center Wide Open

British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

Before Labour started to catch up with her in the polls, it seemed Theresa May could have it both ways.

The Financial Times argued that her “Global Britain” vision, of free trade and friendship with the rest of the world, was at odds with cutting immigration to an arbitrary tens of thousands and pushing for a “hard” Brexit.

Yet voters seemed to like it. One poll had the Conservatives at nearly 50 percent support. Labour was down to 25 percent as recently as four weeks ago.

The Financial Times warned, though (as did I), that there were policy gaps “in what used to be known as the center ground.” Liberal cosmopolitanism did not have an active voice. Read more “Both Conservatives and Labour Have Left the Center Wide Open”

Reasons to Doubt Labour’s Poll Surge Will Last

Robert Fico Bohuslav Sobotka Sergei Stanishev Sigmar Gabriel Jeremy Corbyn
Social democratic leaders Robert Fico, Bohuslav Sobotka, Sergei Stanishev, Sigmar Gabriel and Jeremy Corbyn meet in Prague, December 2, 2016 (PES)

Britain’s Labour Party has narrowed the gap with the ruling Conservatives in the polls, going up from an average of 25 percent support when Prime Minister Theresa May called an election last month to nearly 35 percent.

Support for May’s Conservatives hasn’t come down from 45 percent. They are still expected to prevail, but with a smaller majority than seemed likely a few weeks ago.

Labour’s surge has come at the expense of the Greens and Liberal Democrats, who are both polling in the single digits. Read more “Reasons to Doubt Labour’s Poll Surge Will Last”

Local Elections Test British Parties’ Prospects for June

Theresa May Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom and Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark answer questions from reporters in Copenhagen, October 10, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Tom Evans)

Today’s local elections in the United Kingdom should be a good indicator of the national mood going into the general election in June.

The areas holding elections on Thursday are the “shire counties” of England and all counties of Scotland and Wales.

These areas are mostly rural or semi-rural and have a tendency to be either Conservative bastions, particularly in England, or have no single party in control. Read more “Local Elections Test British Parties’ Prospects for June”

By-Elections Vindicate May, Give Little Comfort to Corbyn

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)

In an ordinary election cycle, last week’s by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland might not have generated headlines. Labour has held solid majorities in both constituencies for years.

But there hasn’t been an ordinary election cycle since Britain voted to leave the European Union this summer. Read more “By-Elections Vindicate May, Give Little Comfort to Corbyn”

Owen Smith Is Useless, But Labour’s Whole Center Is to Blame

I don’t disagree with a word in Dan Hodges’ latest column about the Labour leadership contest. Owen Smith, the Welshman who has challenged Jeremy Corbyn, is running a shambolic campaign, veering to the far left on issues of health care and security when his record suggests he is more of a centrist.

But what about the rest of the party?

Why didn’t any of the genuine social democrats, who could lead a serious, pro-European opposition to a right-wing government that is committed to taking Britain out of the European Union, enter the contest? Read more “Owen Smith Is Useless, But Labour’s Whole Center Is to Blame”

Parties Can’t Wait Out the Insurgency

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Mainstream Labour politicians in the United Kingdom and sensible Republicans in the United States have adopted the same strategy to cope with the attempted hostile takeovers of their parties: wait out the insurgency and hope that things return to normal after what can only be a crushing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, respectively.

There is of course little the far-left Corbyn and the right-wing nationalist Trump have in common, except that they are each remarking their parties in their own image.

And therein lies the danger for non-Corbyn Labour and the anti-Trump Republicans: the longer these men serve as their leaders, the less control they have over their destiny. Read more “Parties Can’t Wait Out the Insurgency”

Why Aren’t Serious Labour Candidates Standing Up?

Chuka Umunna, member of the British Parliament for Streatham, makes a speech, March 30, 2015
Chuka Umunna, member of the British Parliament for Streatham, makes a speech, March 30, 2015 (Labour)

Now that Angela Eagle has dropped out of the Labour leadership contest, it is up to little-known Owen Smith to topple Jeremy Corbyn and rehabilitate Britain’s second party in the eyes of centrist voters.

Both — defeating Corbyn, restoring Labour’s electability — are daunting tasks. Smith has the support of most of his parliamentary colleagues, but Corbyn commands the loyalty of left-wing activists and most trade unions. There is a good chance the leftwinger will prevail even if the whole of moderate Labour throws its support behind Smith.

It’s perhaps little wonder then that ambitious Labourites are sitting this one out. To challenge Corbyn and lose might be career-ending.

But if the stakes really are as high as they say — there have been warnings that Corbyn’s far-left policies and divisive leadership style could “destroy” Labour — how brave is it of them to put this fight for the soul of the party entirely on the shoulders of Owen Smith? Read more “Why Aren’t Serious Labour Candidates Standing Up?”

Labour Party Split Looks More and More Likely

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives for a meeting with other European socialist leaders in Brussels, December 17, 2015
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives for a meeting with other European socialist leaders in Brussels, December 17, 2015 (PES)

A formal split in Britain’s Labour Party has become more likely after its executive committee decided on Wednesday that Jeremy Corbyn would automatically stand for the leadership, despite lacking support from lawmakers, and Owen Smith launched a leadership bid of his own.

The parliamentarian from Wales, who resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet last month along with dozens of other frontbenchers, will need the support of 51 of his colleagues to be eligible.

Angela Eagle, a lawmaker from the soft left of the party, already appears to have the support needed to challenge Corbyn.

The risk is that Eagle and Smith will split the anti-Corbyn vote when unseating Corbyn is a tall order to begin with. Read more “Labour Party Split Looks More and More Likely”