"The Tories are redefining the parameters of mainstream politics – the far right is being let in through the backdoor. Yet too often Labour is choosing to sit these battles out, or worse – pander to them."— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) May 9, 2021
Me in @ObserverUK today. https://t.co/go9xAJEXtM
Making the distinction between mainstream conservatism and far-right extremism was once obvious, but these days the lines between the two have become increasingly blurred. Foreign Editor David Pratt examines the potential threat this poses in Europe https://t.co/1Iocnflbln— The Herald (@heraldscotland) May 9, 2021
In three headlines from the UK, we can see the future of both conservatism and the Republican Party and woke progressivism and the Democrats in the United States.
“Anti-fascist campaigners have been celebrating a dismal performance by far-right candidates in elections around the UK, from Scotland to council polls in England.
Their disastrous showing was also attributed to what the organisation Hope Not Hate described as Boris Johnson’s “hyping of a cultural war” and the attraction of former far-right voters to a populist agenda that included strong anti-immigration messaging.
The far-right group For Britain got fewer than 50 votes in 25 of the 47 council wards for which results were available on Friday afternoon. More than 100 votes were secured in only 10 of the wards contested by the party, which has attracted former British National party members, and argues that “Islamic doctrine and freedom are entirely incompatible”.
Nick Lowles, the CEO of Hope Not Hate, said the results showed how politically irrelevant the British far right has become in recent years. …
“With [Boris Johnson’s] pro-Brexit and rightwing populist agenda, which includes strong anti-immigration messaging and deliberate manipulation and hyping of a cultural war, there is currently very little political space for traditional far-right parties obsessed with racial nationalism and Islamophobia,” he said. …”
The UK elections were a disaster for the “far right.”
In much the same way, the 1896, 1900 and 1908 elections were a disaster for the Populist Party in the United States, which quickly faded. That’s because William Jennings Bryan and the populists simply took over the Democratic Party, overthrew the establishment and imposed their own agenda. What is the point of UKIP now that Boris Johnson has absorbed the grievance and pushed BREXIT through? Did UKIP and the BNP really fail or did they raise issues which the political establishment preferred to ignore but which working class voters insisted on raising like protest parties have always done?
Owen Jones is blaming the post-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party’s lack of vision. If Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee in 2020 instead of Joe Biden, the Democrats might have gone the way of Labour. The demise of the “Center Left” and the rise of “far right” are the same phenomena. White working class voters are being alienated by cosmopolitan, socially liberal PMCs who support political correctness and mass immigration in all Western countries and have drifted Right.
The Right was a conservative-libertarian coalition in the Reagan and Thatcher era. In the Trump and Johnson era, it is evolving into a populist-conservative coalition, which is necessarily more moderate on economics and more conservative on social issues and thus less attractive to PMCs.
“Blind panic. That’s the generous way to describe the expression etched on the face of Hartlepool’s Labour candidate when I visited the constituency and asked him the most basic question of all: what was his party’s vision for the country? He spluttered, rejected the premise of the question, and threw in platitudes about attracting the best businesses to this County Durham port town by improving child literacy. …
Today, we saw the fruits of a truly fascinating experiment: what happens when a political party fights an election campaign without a vision or a coherent message against a government that has both in spades. And truly, it was a bitter result. …”
In the United States, the Democrats had to run a then 77-year-old senile Joe Biden who only narrowly beat Trump in the middle of the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu because their younger bench would have lost. Pete Buttigieg is the future of the Democratic Party.
“Labour’s humiliation in Hartlepool is a powerful reminder of a simple point: there is no guarantee that a political party will live for ever. Reduced to its lowest number of seats since 1935, plagued by infighting and now losing one cherished heartland after another, the strange death of the Labour Party is unfolding before our eyes.
Do not let anybody tell you that Hartlepool does not matter, that it is “only” a by-election in the middle of a pandemic. The last time a Conservative was elected in this area, Cliff Richard topped the charts with Living Doll, Ben-Hur was in the cinema, Winston Churchill was still alive and Tony Blair was six. ….
Yet leadership is only a small part of the story. Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn before him, is the latest victim of a much deeper realignment of British politics, which is also unfolding across many Western democracies. Hartlepool is merely the latest episode in a much longer story in the restructuring of politics that is leaving Labour on the wrong side of change, staring into the abyss. …
Today, Labour’s disconnection from the wider country is being amplified by a new fault line separating “cosmopolitans” and “traditionalists”, which has little to do with class and much more to do with people’s age, level of education and also their geography: it is values that are now doing the heavy lifting.
Cosmopolitans are the young, university-educated, middle-class Londoners and university-towners who think that Brexit is disastrous, support rising diversity, are passionate advocates for Black Lives Matter and other worthy causes and lean toward feeling ashamed, rather than proud, of Britain’s history. Traditionalists are older, working-class, lack degrees, live in small towns and industrial heartlands and want to see a far more robust defence of the nation, its history and culture.
This rift is giving rise to things that we have simply never seen before in British politics. …
The much larger group of left-leaning traditionalists in the Labour tent, people who lean left on the economy but right on culture, were pushed aside. New Labour walked into the casino of British politics and pushed all of its chips behind middle-class graduates. It paid off in the short-term but set the stage for the revolts of the past decade: populism, Brexit, Johnson, Hartlepool. All of them were driven primarily by workers, non-graduates and hacked-off traditionalists. …”
I’ve heard that lament before!
“But while this strategy might be viable in 20 years, it would be a fatal mistake today. There are nowhere near enough of these seats to compensate for Labour’s losses in northern England. The reality is that Labour is stacking votes in places where it does not need them, such as London, while losing votes where it desperately does, such as Hartlepool. …”
Thomas Frank predicted this. It would happen here too.
Labour has become the party of highly educated, affluent, London-based PMCs who have cosmopolitan, modernist and antiracist values. It is people who hate their own country. Sound familiar?
Who will the Republicans nominate in 2024? How rapidly will the GOP adjust to their new coalition after looking at the precedent set by Boris Johnson and the Tories who have absorbed the “far right” and nationalist, populist and traditionalist themes to divide and conquer the Labour Party? In light of next week’s explusion of Liz Cheney from her Republican leadership post and the overall lack of a Republican “civil war” or “autopsy,” the answer appears to be sooner rather than later.
Note: Ron DeSantis has recently been reprogrammed. We’re starting to see the political self interest of aspiring Republican politicians align with an overall “far right” worldview and set of issues. There will be plenty of Republican pols auditioning to be Boris Johnson in 2024.