I followed the BBC live television coverage of the United Kingdom’s election results for several hours on Thursday night. (Thank you, C-SPAN.) Throughout the West, Jews had taken a deeper-than-usual interest in those elections because, for the first time since the Holocaust, a major political party in Western Europe was running an unbridled Jew-hater, Jeremy Corbyn, at the top of its ticket. Therefore, I stayed up to watch the results for several reasons:
As I turned to the BBC to watch the results, concerned about what would become of the UK’s Jews, I soon realized that I inadvertently had stumbled right into a moment of downright history. It was like watching the election night returns in 1994 when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since Daniel and Rebecca Boone fought for Kentucky, or the blessed night of November 8, 2016, when what’s-her-name cried on ABC and Rachel Maddow lost half her smirk on MSNBC as a glass ceiling shattered on Hillary’s yoga mats while Donald J. Trump was declared America’s 45th president. It apparently was an earthquake of an election.
While not one word was spoken about Corbyn’s Jew-hatred through the four hours of BBC election-night TV coverage that I watched — which itself was particularly revealing about prospects for British Jewry’s long-term future there — the reportage and analysis sounded increasingly like an adumbration of the forthcoming November 2020 American presidential elections. Connect the dots:
1. The country is going through a major crisis in health care. They adopted national socialized medicine years ago, and aspects of the system are collapsing. It got to the point that some four-year-old boy was hospitalized but was left to lie on a hallway floor because they lack enough beds. So the father had to cover the child with a blanket. There are demands for increased federal funding of the financially collapsing system, but the government just does not have all the money needed.
2. Corbyn turned the liberal-left Labour Party to advocate an outright extreme socialist platform, akin to the Elizabeth Warren–Bernie Sanders–Green New Deal mindset here. The leftward shift became so pronounced that Brits call it “Corbynism” and “The Corbyn Project.” Along the way, he threw out of Labour dozens of established Labour politicians who refused to go as far left as he, and he replaced them with cronies and sycophants, leaving Labour further left than in recent memory. He promised free care for the elderly, free college and university tuition, lowering the voting age to 16, free broadband, free bus travel for people under 25, a net zero-carbon economy in 10 years, nationalizing key industries, and reducing the work week to 32 hours — and he said he would pay for all of it by “taxing billionaires.” People got increasingly concerned about who really would pay for all the new government handouts, if not by their taxes rising. In the words of former Labour voters explaining to the BBC why they chose to vote for Boris Johnson and others: “I didn’t leave [the Labour Party] — the party left me.” As a result, Labour had its worst election result since 1935.
3. The people of the UK, except for those of Scotland, want to get the heck out of the EU as fast as can be. But Parliament was dithering. The previous Conservatives like David Cameron and Theresa May (whom Veep Daddy Joe Biden often calls “Margaret Thatcher”) turned out to be low-energy conservatives, reminiscent of John Boehner–Paul Ryan leadership, conservatives who were so busy treading softly and lightly that they never got Britain out of the EU. Meanwhile, Labour aimed at blocking Brexit without admitting that they were acting as a Resistance, essentially paying lip service to some aspects of Brexit while saying that they were voting against proposals submitted by the prime minister because they just wanted to make “improvements” on the Brexit plan so as to take the teeth out of it and thereby keep Britain tighter with the EU than the Brexit voters demanded.
4. The voting public decided that they had gotten sick and tired of month after month after month of a do-nothing Parliament that, for all its talk, still had not implemented the Brexit that the public voted for. The sense was: get it done already.
5. Labour had moved so far to the left under Corbyn that they actually ended up losing historic constituencies like “the impenetrable red wall” of blue-collar workers such as coal, steel, and manufacturing constituencies that had gone Labour for more than a century. (Note that the British media appropriately identify the Left with the colo[u]r red and the conservatives with blue.) Analysts repeatedly have noted that Labour took its traditional working-class support base “for granted.” That is, even though their very name suggests that they are the party of the working class, those laborers actually jumped over to the conservatives to vote for Boris Johnson because (i) they hate Corbyn, (ii) they don’t trust socialism, (iii) they want to get the heck out of the EU, and (iv) they love that Boris Johnson, unlike the conservative leadership who preceded him and the other conservatives from the party’s Establishment who are embedded all around him, declared that he has no patience to wait and instead risked losing all power by calling for new elections so that he can get it done now.
6. Many of those who voted conservative had not voted for years, and many others never before in their lives had voted anything but Labour, but they so despised the Labour candidate for prime minister that they decided to vote for Johnson. British people really deeply hate Jeremy Corbyn; he is broadly despised. A Corbyn critic who expected to lose her Labour seat in Stoke North openly blamed Corbyn: “His personal actions have delivered this result for my constituents and for swathes of the country overnight.” Another Labour candidate elsewhere said the campaign was brutal especially because of the “monumental unpopularity” of Corbyn. Several Labour MKs who lost their seats — one after 22 years in Parliament — did not hold back their fury and frustration in their BBC TV interviews as they blamed Corbyn forthrightly for their defeats.
As a result of the above, and more and other things, here are some of the most striking results:
So many of these factors at play in the British vote parallel American electoral realities. The Democrats of John Kennedy, Daniel Moynihan, and Henry Jackson days are long gone. The party has gone off the deep end, and many Independents explain that they never left the party — the party left them. The Democrat Congress has wasted the nation’s year, failing to do the “People’s Business” but instead dallying over an impeachment that is dead on arrival. The public is disgusted. Many voters who have their concerns about aspects of President Trump’s personality and who may feel comfortable criticizing him in polls will be voting for him and down the Republican line in November because the Democrat alternative will be unfathomable and intolerable. The ethnic Catholic blue-collar working class of the Rust Belt states of the Midwest, often perceived as comprising a Democrat “impenetrable blue wall,” have returned to the Republicans as they did during the years of the Reagan coalition. The same has happened in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Iowa. If Americans value freedom as Brits do, the Dems are chopped meat in November. But thanks to the Trump economy, there should be many fine bartender job openings available for their brightest stars to return to.