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UK Election Shows Progressive Must Have More Than Great Policies, They Need to Win

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/13/uk-election-shows-progressive-must-have-more-great-policies-they-need-win

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UK Election Shows Progressive Must Have More Than Great Policies, They Need to Win

US Election shows that to win progressives must have more money than billionaire’s candidates…

Probably also, that white Europeans don’t want more immigration so they voted for the racists.

I think this is terribly unfair to the Labour leadership, Momentum and the hundreds of thousands of activists who tried to do exactly what the author proposes but got crushed by their impossible positioning on Brexit, which enraged working class people in the north and beyond. Nationalism and redbaiting was weaponized by the billion dollar media and political operations, and the Labour remain camp suffered from incredible hubris. Corbyn did all he could to navigate around this but it was impossible.

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You can talk at people till you’re blue in the face

But if you’re not walking with them, you’ll never be heard

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More voters throughout the UK backed left-leaning remain (those offering another EU referendum) parties than right wing, pro-brexit parties in this election as the below breakdown of voter statistics shows, so the problem is largely with the first past the post voting system, which the USA also has, and which doesn’t accurately reflect the will of the people.

As well as that, the author of this article seems almost oblivious to the fact that this election wasn’t neceassarily about policies, it was more about brexit, which is all anything in the UK has been about for the last three years.


There’s a bit more to this than might meet the eye, at least for those of us watching from the States.

Corbyn’s policies are obviously better, and he was obviously greatly abused by money and power in the media. But a key issue here is Brexit, and Johnson’s advertised position to accomplish it and be done with it is popular.

Should it be? Well, part of the motive among Brits is racism and part is nationalism and part is the usual ballyhoo that gets slung against social programs. But there are more reasonable motives that are strong. The EU came very close to passing the TPP while the US was under Obama. There is a lot that cannot be discerned about what the TPP was, exactly, let alone what it might have become. But we do know that this was a move to limit control over international conglomerates by local populations, governments, or businesses.

Of course, the irony of any of this corporatism being ultimately blamed on Jeremy Corbyn,. one of a very few anticorporatist politicians in English politics, runs deep. You’d think that there was just as much confusion in Britain as in the States. Still, Johnson claimed an intent to Brexit, Corbyn suggested putting it to another referendum.

A lot about the voting population tends to remain mysterious because we tend to lump all of our opposition into a single camp. In practice, though, it should not take agreeing with any group in particular to make a distinction. People who respond against tend to do so in one of two ways that can be integrated, but that very typically are not. Some people try to do so by working towards equality; others try to do so by excluding people and populations, with the idea that they thereby get rid of some aspect of distant control. That is a lot of what happens with people who proclaim against social programs, often the very ones that they take advantage of.

The two responses are not equal nor symmetrical. But they are also both very different than a Boris Johnson, a Donald Trump, a Barack Obama, or a Joe Biden, who respond that the central government should be more intensive, more extensive, more powerful and invasive, less limited, more coercive.

What this means, though, is that politicians alienate politicians not by sliding right and left along a unidimensional line, but by various matters of policy or style or bon mot. Ironically, the problem for Corbyn for a great many voters was not that he was too clearly apart from the powers that maligned him, but that he was not sufficiently distinct from them.


From where I stand it appears that Corbyn was attempting to unite the country on how to handle the brexit question whereas Johnson was trying to intensify the battle and force everyone into sides. When a battle between two sides becomes pitched both sides resent and often attack others who refuse to choose one of the sides, resenting those who refuse to choose a side more intensely than those who choose the other side of the debate. Anyone who attempted to not choose a side in the brexit debate was in for a rough time and shaming. To Corbyn’s credit it appears that he was making progress with this difficult position of not choosing a side and was picking up support, and given a bit more time to promote other issues and cool the brexit debate stirred up by Johnson, possibly as little as a week, the result may well have been considerably different and possibly Britain would have a Labour government elected and Corbyn’s abilities as a statesman recognized.

There is an excess of an element of luck in British and Canadian elections. Skill too, and positioning and timing, but much of it is in essence a roll of the dice and we are supposed to now declare a somewhat capricious result inevitable, legitimate, cast in stone, and shut up for five years with absolutely no recourse to buyer’s remorse unless Johnson should see some reason to roll the dice early. To my mind the current Labour Party far better reflects the will of the majority of the people but the Conservative Party now officially represents them for the next five years.

The center and left parties obtained nearly 53% of the vote. And Labour had an untenable position on Brexit that prolonged this issue as dominating the public policy discourse for too long.

What? No one here is going to blame Corbyn? He lost 4 elections in a row, ending with the biggest debacle since 1935. He was inconsistent, out of step with his constituency, slightly antisemitic, and he bears almost as much responsibility as Cameron for screwing up the referendum. I mean, what is there to regret? His ineptitude caused at least as much damage to his country as Hillary did to the US. Screw him. Hopefully Labour will find a better leader and more astute politician, and will bounce back in 5 years.

The recent UK election was a second vote on BREXIT, nothing more. Boris will get BREXIT done but if he wants his party to stay in power, he will have to show that he is a man of the people. Leaving the EU could be the best thing that has happened to the UK in a very long time. Whether or not it proves to be so depends on the motivation and effectiveness of Boris’ government following the withdrawal. It also depends on the unity of his party.

@ “He was inconsistent, out of step with his constituency, slightly antisemitic …”

It’s hard for me to see how progressives will recover if they are not willing to call B.S. on Israel’s interference in the UK election with its spurious “anti-semitism” campaign against Corbyn. From where I stand, it looks like the Israeli election interference was the major cause of Corbyn’s defeat, aided by the Brexit issue. See https://electronicintifada.net/content/dont-let-smears-sank-corbyn-tank-bernie-sanders/29141


See the comment thread on this NYT opinion piece on the British election vs. the US case.

Again - Cohen’s opinion is not the thing - but some of the responses and arguments on the “Reader Favorites” piece of the discussion thread are worth reading:


Blare and Clinton–think about it. Corbyn and Sanders just don’t get it. If you lie down with a skunk you wake up smelling like one. Labor and the DNC are the enemies of progressive change.

Come on! Recognize the anti-Semite for who he is. Even his own MPs denounce him.

Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, east London, said she felt “anger because this is an election we should have won”. She added that, under Mr Corbyn’s leadership - during which Labour has faced criticism for its handling of anti-Semitism allegations among its membership - voters had come to see it “as a nasty party”.

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Labour was in an impossible situation, yes, to get behind remain he would have alienated Labour Leave voters into switching to Tory or Brexit Party (which is exactly what happened,) to get behind leave, he would have alienated remain voters (of which there were more in the Labour ranks) who would have switched to voting Liberal Democrat and some did anyway so not an easy one to play. Yet it was generally, to my eyes, a bad strategy and he played it wrong from the outset even prior to the brexit referendum. He sat on the fence in a wishy washy sort of way, reminiscent of the Biblical quote about being either ‘strongly for me or against me or I will spew you from my mouth,’ or something like that. To say he could bring folks together, nice thought but I think you underestimate the depth of feeling, the anger, the polarisation, here regarding brexit. The country is massively divided and will be for a generation or more. It’s Farage’s legacy, hatred, anger and division, a country tearing itself apart. It won’t stop when we leave the EU, it will drag on forever.

Luck or miscalculation? He, his advisers, and the Liberals too, showed extremely poor judgment in going ahead with this election when the Tories were already well ahead in the polls, instead of holding out for a proper referendum with Johnson on the ropes, getting weaker every parliamentary session, such poor, poor judgement. I could foresee what has just happening way back, so when they did agree, my heart sank when I heard that news, as I put in a comment here on CD from back then. With Brexit on the Line, Corbyn Vows 'Ambitious and Radical Campaign' as Labour Backs General Election

It didn’t take Einstein to work it out but apparently Corbyn and co , nor the Lib Dems, could see it.

How is that, then? Name me one single benefit of Britain leaving the EU? Just one.

Corporations control the exit polling, who is counting the votes??? Can any election result be trusted!!! These people are beyond evil and will stoop to anything to continue their control!!


Sadly, no, I don’t think modern elections can be trusted. If the results seem extraordinary, they are probably rigged.

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Here are three

The UK gets control of her boarders. If the prediction of the scientists are any where near correct we can expect a refugee problem in the near future that will make the present refugee problem that Europe is contending with look pale in comparison.
The UK gets back control of her Economic Exclusion Zone. Here fisheries could produce far more that it does if managed sustainably. The devil is in the detail. As with all the benefits, it very much depends on the smarts of the governments in power after BREXIT is done.
The UK gets back control of her external trade agreements. Again, whether this will benefit the UK very much depends on the smarts of the UK governments but it could be very advantageous.
She gets back control of her agriculture policy. It could be very good or very bad
She gets out of a very corrupt organization which has to be a good thing too.
I’m not saying that the UK will be better off our of the EU but the potential is there.

Your three reasons are delusional and show a lack of understanding of the subjects.

By ‘boarders’ I presume you meant ‘borders.’ The UK is already in control of its borders for non-EU citizens and even had much control in relation to EU immigration being able to utilise EU rules that would have given it more influence over this matter yet its successive governments chose, unlike other EU countries like France, Germany etc, not to exercise these powers. For example the UK was under no obligation from the EU to take in immigrants from Eastern European countries for several years after they joined and was the only country in the EU (alongside Sweden) who chose to waiver this rule resulting in a large influx. Britain’s choice and that’s what they chose. Anyone who voted to leave the EU to decrease immigration is deluded, all that will happen is immigrants from within the EU will be replaced by those from outside the EU, this has already begun happening. The UK has been in the West Indies for example trying to recruit new nurses to replace the EU ones leaving the NHS because of brexit. Moreover, in Theresa May’s preliminary post-brexit trade talks with India circa 2016, the foremost demand of the Indians for any future deal was that the UK relaxes its visa regulation to allow and influx of migrants from India into the UK. That pattern will most certainly be repeated in other trade deals with other countries. As for the hoards of migrants you fear in the wake of climate change etc, the UK is best working cooperatively with the EU to mitigate this and will suffer more going alone. France has already hinted that, post-brexit, it will no longer police those migrants trying to get into the UK in camps around Calias, etc but will just let them all through and let the UK deal with the problem on UK soil as the UK will no longer be in the EU so France will have no responsiblity to look after them, no need to cooperate or police them. So you can expect these refugees you fear so much to be turning up on the south coast of England commensurately, not having the cooperative EU buffer of France to assist anymore…

Fisheries represent about 0.1% of the UK’s economy overall, 0.1%!! insignificant, yet you seem willing to sacrifice the UK car industry, its areospace industry, its scientitic sector, its services industry, and basically huge chunks of the other 99.9% of the economy for this tiny sector and see it as being some sort of big gain! You fell into the trap of the Neo-liberal brexiters using this as an emotive issue (providing you don’t look at the above facts too closely) ‘those bloody French stealing our fish!’ to stir up morons into supporting brexit and it seems, with you, it worked. Yet the UK won’t get control anyhow, any future deal with the EU, which is necessary for UK economic survival, will most certainly involve EU having access to such fishing areas and the UK will be in much weaker position for such negotiations and will very probably end up with a worse deal than the one they have now. Ditto for farming, the UK farming industry is greatly subsidised by the EU, the UK tax payer will now have to pick up that tab (us remainers being expected to bail out the idiots who voted for the mess in the first place, personally I’d let them go bust, they made their bed let them lie in it, why should my taxes support them.) Moreover, UK farmers will now face, via future trade deals, competition from more de-regulated farming sectors like the USA where animal rights, environmental protections are not a priority and evil factory farming is in widespread use, and probably tons of UK farmers will go bust unable to compete. Again you live in cloud cuckoo land, thinking no deeper than soundbite level.

Nope, what the UK does is swap it for other new trade agreements where its similarly cedes control often because that is the nature of all such agreements. All the talk presently is of switching to WTO rules post-brexit, yet WTO rules are just that, fucking RULES, made by people outside the UK usually the dominant player being the USA, so UK has ceded its sovereignty already from day one, to WTO RULES, the very system that protesters in Seattle rioted against a decade or more ago (forget the date) for these rules undermine local democracy in favour of corporations, that’s what they’re desgned to do and there’s even talk of WTO having an elected parliament to try and offset these critcisms of how WTO undermines democracy, so it will resemble a much worse, far worse, version of the EU trade rules. Also, the UK already had 70+ trade deals negotiated as part of the EU as a cooperative powerful bloc, one with much more clout (and higher standards) to negotiate, and the UK will now have to, taking years, years, re-neogtiate all such deals from a much weaker position not having its EU allies to give its negotiating teams this cooperative power and will surely, surely get shat on from the likes of the USA and others.

If you look at the world tables measuring corruption the EU is one of the least corrupt regions on earth, so you’re wrong about that. The UK is far more corrupt on its own, especially on the pro-brexit side or do you think Boris Johnson is a paragon of truthful virtue? The whole brexit campaign was corrupt, rotten, backed by dodgy money and in breach of electral rules on several occasions, and there are numerous accounts of all kinds of deceitful chicanery.

So basically, in a nutshell, your arguments are deluded pie in the sky, so I ask you again, tell me ONE single advantage, just one, from the UK leaving the EU? So far you have failed to do so, instead, you’ve repeated the bullshit propaganda of the leave campaign designed to latch on emotively to the shallow minds of halfwits who can’t think deeply enough to see through them.