Labour’s Problems Go Deeper Than Starmer

Tracy Brabin Keir Starmer
British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer campaigns with Tracy Brabin, mayoral candidate for West Yorkshire, in Pontefract, England, May 5 (Labour)

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are out in force arguing his successor, Keir Starmer, must surely resign after losing the Hartlepool constituency, a Labour bulwark since 1974, to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Corbyn lost all seven elections (local, national and European) during his five-year leadership and still his supporters refused to accept he might be damaging the party, but Starmer loses one seat and it’s all the proof they need to conclude that he can’t defeat the Conservatives?

Big if true. Read more “Labour’s Problems Go Deeper Than Starmer”

Dutch Left Could Have Worst Election in Decades

Jesse Klaver
Dutch Green party leader Jesse Klaver attends a European Young Leaders conference in Malta, September 14, 2018 (Friends of Europe)

The three largest parties on the Dutch left could post their worst election result in decades.

At best, Labor, the Greens and far-left Socialists will defend their 37 seats in parliament, according to an aggregate of polls. At worst, they would fall to 31 out of 150 seats, down from a recent peak of 65 seats in 2006.

What happened? Read more “Dutch Left Could Have Worst Election in Decades”

Be Wary of the Return of Big Government

Union Station Washington DC
South Front Entrance of Union Station in Washington DC, July 4, 2019 (Unsplash/Caleb Fisher)

Big government is back.

Massive rescue programs have prevented business failures and unemployment on the scale of the Great Depression, even though last year’s economic contraction was nearly as bad. The European Union agreed a €750 billion recovery fund, financed, for the first time, by EU-issued bonds. The money comes on top of national efforts. The United States Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus, worth 10 percent of GDP, in March and added $484 billion in April. An additional $900 billion in relief was included in this year’s budget.

Joe Biden, the incoming American president, wants to spend $2 trillion more over the next four years to transition the United States to a greener economy and create a public health insurance program. Corporate tax would go up from 21 to 28 percent.

In Spain, a socialist government has introduced the biggest budget in Spanish history — partly to cope with the impact of coronavirus, but also to finance digitalization, electric cars, infrastructure, renewable energy and rural development. Taxes on income, sales and wealth are due to increase.

In the United Kingdom, the ruling Conservative Party is building more social housing and it might renationalize rail. Unlike during the last economic crisis, it does not propose to cut spending even though tax revenues are down.

Same in the Netherlands, where all the major parties agree the government needs to do more to reduce pollution and prevent people at the bottom of the social ladder from falling through the cracks.

I’m not opposed to more government per se. I’ve argued the United States should imitate policies in Northern Europe to improve child care, health care and housing.

But let’s be careful not to throw “more government” at every problem. Sometimes government is the problem. Read more “Be Wary of the Return of Big Government”

Democratic Recriminations Argue for Switch to Multiparty System

United States Capitol
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15, 2017 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Democrats in the United States were hoping for more than a simple victory over Donald Trump. Polls had suggested they could win in a landslide.

That didn’t happen. Joe Biden decisively beat the president by more than six million votes, or a margin of 4 points, but Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and failed to take the majority from Republicans in the Senate.

Democrats also lost seats in state houses, giving Republicans control of redistricting in most states; a power they could use to make it even more difficult for Democrats to win a majority of the seats even when they win a majority of the votes. (Districts are withdrawn every ten years following the Census.) Read more “Democratic Recriminations Argue for Switch to Multiparty System”

Why the Left Hasn’t Been More Successful

Frans Timmermans Nicola Zingaretti Pedro Sánchez
Dutch, Italian and Spanish socialist party leaders Frans Timmermans, Nicola Zingaretti and Pedro Sánchez meet in Brussels, March 21, 2019 (PES)

The 2008-09 financial crisis. Climate change. The coronavirus pandemic. Rising inequality in the United States. Stagnant middle wages.

It shouldn’t be difficult for left-wing parties to make the case for bigger government, and yet they are out of power in most Western countries.

Ruy Teixeira, who argued in 2002 that demographic changes would give Democrats in the United States an “emerging majority”, and who later criticized those same Democrats for forgetting about working-class white voters, believes there are five reasons the left has been unable to build durable mass support.

His perspective is American, but the European left has committed some of the same what he calls five “deadly sins”. Read more “Why the Left Hasn’t Been More Successful”

How Alike Are Corbyn and Sanders?

Britain’s Labour Party suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1935 in December, because it chose to be led by a far-left extremist.

Center-left Democrats in the United States worry their party is about to make the same mistake. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist from Vermont, won the most votes in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and now places first in national polls. (Although he has yet to get more than 26 percent support.)

James Carville, the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, warned Democrats this week: “if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it’s going to be the end of days.”

Andrew Sullivan, a British-born conservative commentator, believes a Republican campaign against Sanders would be brutal:

He’s a man … who sided with a Marxist-Leninist party that supported Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis in 1979. He loved the monstrous dictator Fidel Castro and took his 1988 honeymoon in the Soviet Union, no less, where he openly and publicly criticized his own country and praised many aspects of the Soviet system.

On the other hand, Sullivan points out Corbyn had a net favorability rating of -40. Sanders is only at -3. Most polls show him beating Donald Trump with between 2 and 8 points.

Corbyn and Sanders are not the same — but they are not completely dissimilar either. There are differences in policy, but worrying similarities in strategy. Read more “How Alike Are Corbyn and Sanders?”

Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

Few British voters outside the Conservative Party trust Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a one-time liberal who opportunistically embraced the reactionary cause of Brexit to advance his own political career and who shamefully besmirched Parliament to get his preferred version of Brexit through.

And still he is projected to win the election in December with support for the Conservatives trending toward 45 percent. Labour, the second largest party, is at 25-30 percent in the polls.

The reason is Jeremy Corbyn. He has pulled Labour so far to the left that middle-income voters no longer trust it.

Corbyn’s net approval rating is the lowest of any opposition leader since counting began in 1977. Just 16 percent of British voters have faith in him. Read more “Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again”

Leftists Denounce “Coup” Against Vote-Rigging Autocrat in Bolivia

Let’s take a break from the right-wing apologists of a would-be autocrat in the United States to check in with the left-wing apologists of an actual autocrat in Bolivia.

In the face of mass protests, the Bolivarian military has forced the left-wing populist Evo Morales to step down.

Morales served an unconstitutional third term as president from 2014 to 2019. He called and lost a referendum in 2016 on whether he should stand for a fourth term, but the Supreme Court canceled that result, arguing that “American imperialism” had influenced the outcome.

In his latest bid for reelection, observers from the Organization of American States found clear manipulations, including a 24-hour freeze in the vote count, before which Morales was losing and after which he suddenly won.

You wouldn’t know it from reading British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders or New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading light of the American new left, who have all denounced Morales’ removal as a “coup” and are calling for “free and fair elections” — no matter that’s the very thing Morales wouldn’t allow. Read more “Leftists Denounce “Coup” Against Vote-Rigging Autocrat in Bolivia”

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”

The American Right Needs to Stop Crying Wolf

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

American conservatives who worry that the Democratic Party is becoming “socialist” should take a look across the Atlantic. In Britain, Labour has re-embraced actual statism and it is nevertheless polling neck and neck with the ruling Conservatives at 40 percent.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls for nationalizing industries and lifting regulatory restrictions on trade unions. He blames NATO for the Cold War, supports unilateral nuclear disarmament and sympathizes with seemingly every anti-Western cause, be it republican terrorism in Northern Ireland or Hamas and Hezbollah in the Holy Land.

The so-called socialism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York candidate for Congress, and Bernie Sanders looks mild by comparison.

Universal health care? Debt-free college? More progressive taxation? That’s not even left-wing in Europe, it’s mainstream. Read more “The American Right Needs to Stop Crying Wolf”