Britain’s Health Care Debate Is Broken

London, England at night, February 14, 2012
London, England at night, February 14, 2012 (Warren Chrismas)

When it was revealed last week that the British government had not ruled out giving American pharmaceutical companies more generous patent rights under a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United States, the opposition Labour Party was up in arms, accusing the ruling Conservatives of putting the National Health Service (NHS) “up for sale”.

The Conservatives rushed to deny it.

“The NHS is not on the table,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “We are absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatization,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The episode was emblematic of the British health care debate: Labour mischaracterizes any proposed change as a step toward privatization while the Conservatives, rather than make the case for choice and competition, try to convince voters they care about the NHS even more. Read more

Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again

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)

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 worst of any opposition leader since counting began in 1977. Just 16 percent of British voters have confidence in him. Read more

Corbyn Could Learn Something About Coalition Politics from Spain

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6 (Labour)

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out forming a coalition after the election in December, daring smaller parties to back him or risk another Conservative government.

“We’re not doing deals with anybody,” Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

Asked specifically about the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) demand for an independence referendum, Corbyn said:

The SNP will have a choice: do they want to put Boris Johnson back in with all the austerity economics that they claim to be against or are they going to say, well, a Labour government is going to deliver for Scotland.

This is the same mistake Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez made after the election in April and the reason we had another election here in Spain last week. Read more

Stakes Are High in British Election, But Outcome Is Up in the Air

The Houses of Parliament in London, England, February 19, 2013
The Houses of Parliament in London, England, February 19, 2013 (Martin Robson)

In a month, Britain will have its third election in four years. Once more the reason is Brexit, or rather the lack of Brexit.

I’ve argued before that Britain’s departure from the EU is accelerating a breakdown of the two-party system. The upcoming election is like a kaleidoscope. Every time you shake it, a new pattern appears.

Yet the stakes are simple enough. For the Conservatives, all that matters is winning a majority. The other parties merely have to stop this from happening to claim victory.

Already we can say the new Parliament will be more partisan and less experienced. Sixty lawmakers with 750 years of combined legislative experience are not seeking reelection. Many blame the coarse political discourse of recent years. Read more

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