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Eight Lessons US Progressives Can Learn From the UK Labour Party


Eight Lessons US Progressives Can Learn From the UK Labour Party

Chuck Collins

In March, progressive activists in the United Kingdom had reason to feel deeply discouraged. Nine months earlier, a majority had voted for Brexit, setting in motion plans to pull the U.K. out of the European Union. Then Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May decided to call a "snap election" with the goal of consolidating Tory power in Parliament in the face of weak opposition. The Labour Party, led by progressive Jeremy Corbyn, was polling at a miserable 24 percent and facing the possibility of further marginalization.


The slime who run the Democratic Party in the USA will do ANYTHING to block such reason from interfering with their neoliberal corporate selling-out.

The Clintonite “leadership” of the DLC sees this kind of thinking as their greatest threat, not as an opportunity.


I think lessons learned from the UK have limited value for a number of reasons. The US has a two-party system. Race plays a much bigger role in US politics. Most US progressives could be considered as members of a minority wing of the Democratic Party. The Republican Party seems to be much further to the right than the Conservative Party in the UK. At the moment progressives and others are busy fighting against a president who appears to be an authoritarian. The US plays a much bigger role in the world than the UK, particularly when it comes to the military. Socialism is less popular in the US with the differences in the healthcare systems being a prime example. While there may be something to learn from the UK trying to understand the situation in the US is most critical.


I thought that you were satisfied with Chuck Schumer’s recent change-of-heart assessment: that voters don’t know what your party stands for?

Because I know what they stand for: making their corporate donors happy.


I think Schumer was trying to walk a fine line between advocating progressive policies without saying anything that would require raising taxes. As usual he was being pragmatic. That is the opposite of Bernie Sanders who says things regardless of how much it would raise taxes. I think ever since Mondale said he was going to raise taxes in an acceptance speech, and then got clobbered by Reagan who said he would not raise taxes, the pragmatic Democrats have been very careful about what they say.


So pragmatic that they’re base no longer shows up. But above all, stay the course.


That is a problem with being pragmatic. You can’t have it both ways. No matter which way you go there is a trade off. Even now I think the Democrats are still affected by the election in 1972 when McGovern won only one state and in 1984 when Mondale only won a single state, Landslide losses are probably the losses that affect people the most. Both of those candidates were quite progressive. JImmy Carter was able to defeat the Republican’s southern strategy by being a governor from a southern state. The next Democrat to win was also a governor from a southern state, Bill Clinton, but he had to overcome not only the southern strategy but also Reaganism. That is the history that the Democrats have to consider. And they have to figure out where are we today. We thought we were in a post-racial period but clearly we are not. We were hit by the 2008 financial collapse and that still is having an effect. I think right now the Democrats are probing for answers. They realize they cannot stick with Clintonism but are not sure in what direction to go. Sshumer’s effort may be a trial balloon to see how the Better Deal plays.


The Mondale loss resonates so much that the Ds have operated primarily based on the fear of Reagan’s ghost ever since. Their constant drift rightward has cost them their base and now, political relevance.

But the donors keep ponying up, so who cares, really?

Personally, I doubt I’ll ever vote for one of them again.


I think you are correct about the concern over Reaganism. It was Reagan who said the government is the problem. Bill Clinton tried to deal with that by saying the age of big government is over. This is probably why Sanders is rejected by most of the DNC. When Sanders starts talking about proposals for big government they must shudder.


We are still living in the Reagan shadow, sadly. But I also don’t think it’s fair to say Democrats are drifting ever rightward. If that were the case, we’d have Manchin giving bipartisan cover to Trump like we saw certain “moderates” do in the past.


Or we’d see 13 Democrats giving cover to their overlords in Big Pharma. Oh, wait. We did see that.

Just curious, KC: Were you impressed with your party’s roll out of their Better Deal this week?


I’ve posted on that BS article multiple times, including the full instructions to the Chair that was Bernie’s “amendment.” It did not do what progressives think it did and would’ve been a train wreck if taken up by Republicans in conference. I’m embarrassed you even posted that. The need to find “sellouts” and be victims is a strong one in progressive circles.


What about the actual question I asked?


Impressed? I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.

On the Pharma deal, that was crap, but with guys like Baucus as Finance committee chair, I recognize it’s what happens when you’re trying to get a bill passed via red-state Democratic chairs who witnessed what happened to Clinton in 1992 in real time. The last thing they wanted was more Harry and Louise type commercials on television. Cutting a deal was how the administration and its congressional allies saw fit to avoid that problem. It sucked though.


Democrats have been drifting to the right ever since the DLC took over. If you haven’t noticed you’re not paying attention. For example, look at the domestic policies and achievements of Richard Nixon:

He may have been a drunk and a crook and an ass, but he was a left wing liberal by today’s standards. Pay attention to the ninth paragraph in the link.


I don’t know how to respond to that. I could mention 1984, when that year’s version of Bernie Sanders, running on what we’d call today a neoliberal platform, nearly knocked off the traditional labor-backed establishment candidate on the back of the youth vote in a way closer primary than what we saw in 2016, but I won’t bother. I’ve done it before, usually to crickets in response.


Not many paid attention. Pretty much sums up the democrats these days.


Seven of the Eight bullet points in the article are just good political organizing, that anyone can do. Contrast, for example, Obama’s command of his Blackberry and Facebook, against Trump’s command of Twitter. Plus the sale of ‘Make America Great Again’ hats. (Cool concept, but ‘great’ at what?)

Point no. 2, “Focus on reducing inequality”, has some substitutes that others besides progressives can use. Reagan campaigned on “Getting Government Off Your Back”. Other free market types have promoted on “Increased Opportunity.” Given a choice between equal division of what’s left in a jobs desert, or a rebirth of jobs, most workers will choose jobs. Then there is Trump, who campaigned on “Make America Great Again”, and ventured into black and lower class neighborhoods to campaign on better job opportunities, more convincingly than HRC had done.

This article is totally about appealing to voters and getting their vote. It continues nothing about Labour/Corbyn’s published platform, or the policies that he would likely pursue/enact if he came to power. People ought to care about that.

Include here a comment on someone else’s post.

This highlights a problem in America. A large fraction of the public wants government benefits, but doesn’t want to pay for them. If pressed they say that someone else, such as the rich, must pay for them. And kleptocratic demogogues like the Clintons play to, pander, to such sentiments. Our Founding Fathers, such as Ben Franklin, would remark that such people are risking their right to self-government, and possibly don’t deserve to have it anymore. Economist Frédéric Bastiat, wrote at the time of the French Revolution of 1848 about masses of people seeking benefits at other people’s expense. He called it ‘reciprocal plundering.’
… BTW, government benefits and paying for them is a budgeting issue, and sometimes the people decide that they don’t want the benefit. That was what happened to the first Medicare drug benefit 30 years ago. It was enacted, and when seniors discovered that they would have to pay for it there was such pushback that it was quickly repealed. 2nd BTW: It was evident at the time that the senior’s lobby, the AARP, was seeking a benefit to be paid for by someone else.


I thought this article was spot on as a current analysis. Not what you would get from most UK media. Nice to have a US perspective, and encouraging for those in UK and USA who have had enough of neoliberal economics