Saturday, June 13, 2009

England Prepares To Move To The Right Of The USA

The British Labour Party has been a bit anemic for some time now, and it has just been handed a rather nasty defeat in recent Parliamentary elections. In the past, a Tory victory still placed the English government to the left of even a moderate American Democratic administration. Then came the Obama regime, and everything changed.

Poised for a national victory, the Tories (Conservatives) are enjoying mystifying the British mainstream press and confounding the Labour spinmeisters who contend that Labour is doing just fine.

When I was a junior in college, one of my political science instructors introduced a guest lecturer who was a lady Member of Parliament. She was brought in to give a delightful comparative politics lecture on British social and financial realities. She informed us that we needed to know that the British Tories were definitely not like our conservatives--nor even like our moderate Republicans. They fit best into the moderate wing of the American Democratic Party. She was a relatively unknown back bencher at the time. Her name was Margaret Thatcher.

Years later, as Prime Minister, Dame Thatcher got as close to conservative American government as any P.M. in recent memory during her close relationship with President Ronald Reagan. But the English government was still to the left of the Reagan administration on nearly every issue except common defense. Most of us thought that formula would never change. The moderate Clinton Presidency/Republican Congress remained to the right of England, as did the "compassionate conservative" big government Bush II administration. And then came November of 2008.

In what is an historical blink of the eye, the world economy went into a tailspin. America responded by tossing out the Republican administration and rejected their Presidential candidate. The Democratic Party had already been in the ascendancy for the past two years. The people rejected "more of the same" and elected not only a heavily left-influenced Congress, but also the soft-spoken messianic President Obama. The President has turned out to be the closest thing to a pure socialist ever to get within a mile of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In Britain, the opposite was happening. The first signs of a crack in the socialist Labour facade came not in the British Parliament, but with a British member of the European Parliament. He denounced not only Europe's monolithic government bureaucratic control of pretty much everything, but began to speak loudly against the Labour government in England and its leader, Gordon Brown. The discontent with the status quo in England has been the complete opposite of the reaction to the financial crunch in America. England lurched right, while America lurched left. And for the first time since at least the end of World War II, the two passed each other going in opposite directions.

Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Spectator, said this of the English mainstream media and their pet Labourites: "In Westminster this week, I have felt like the boy in the movie The Sixth Sense. You remember the character and his famous line: 'I see dead people' he tells his therapist, Bruce Willis, 'walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead.' How often does the boy see these scary, deluded beings? 'All the time. They're everywhere.'" D'Ancona goes on to say that the press (his own newspaper excluded) and the Labour leaders are like those people who don't know they're dead.

After a crushing defeat, and European-wide ridicule, the Labour Party could only muster less than one-third of their members to call for their leader's resignation. Tony Lloyd, chairman of the parliamentary party, told the BBC "Gordon Brown is the prime minister, he will lead the Labour party into the next general election, and I can state that as a clear fact." The London Times, The Manchester Guardian and the rest of the Labour mainstream press applauded Brown's dive into the trenches. Unlike the Tory leader John Major in 1995, Brown does not intend to step down. But unlike America, where we have to wait for the next election cycle, it may not be his choice. The Brits have a little thing called a vote of no-confidence. That requires a much earlier election than would be the case if there were no potential change of power. The Tories, and it is rumored, certain influential Labourites, are considering bringing a vote of no-confidence before the Parliament as early as the beginning of July.

The Tories are proposing reductions in government spending, divestiture of government ownership of large segments of the business world, and a major overhaul of the national health care system to include major improvements in private medical insurance. And the signs are that the British people are listening favorably. Meanwhile, back in the States, government spending has gone to unimaginable heights, major banks and corporations have essentially been seized by the government or forced into submission, and private medical insurance is about to face a major government takeover.

Queer as a clockwork orange. The Brits to the right of the Yanks. Whoda thunk it? And by the way, when are the Brits going to learn how to spell "labor?"

Rendering of Gordon Brown and Labour Zombies courtesy of the Spectator UK.

18 comments:

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good post, Lawhawk!
Man, you got to hear Lady Thatcher in person? What a great experience that must've been!

It's good to see the Tory victory, and I truly hope the Brits continue to move right, and away from the precipice of socialism and it's destructive effects. Get rid of socialized healthcare mates. Get rid of socialized and pc everything. Take back your country.

Besides, we might need somewhere to go for quality healthcare if we take the plunge into loonyversal healthcarelessness.

Writer X said...

I guess the speeches that President Obama gave to Gordon Brown in the iPod haven't worked out too well for Brown.

Interesting too that the President has been strangely silent on the transitions in England and yet he subtly credits all of the "change" taking place in the Middle East to his scintillating Cairo speech.

Is a vote of "no confidence" the same as impeachment?

StlDan said...

Good read Lawhawk, I am not smart enough to figure out how to respond with a green font, Madam Thatcher? Damn! The recent events in the old country have given me some glimmer of hope for America. I had assumed England was lost, if the socialist leaning Anglos can veer back to the right, then America can not be far behind. I would think we would make the correction much sooner, as well.

StanH said...

It’s good to see “change” come to the Brits, however modest. Very cool a speech from Lady Thatcher, a truly remarkable woman. I believe in this country what we experienced is the classic American case of, “throw the bums out.” How Barry is running this country is not how he ran, remember he was going to be a centrist, (same applies to the Blue Dog Democrats) liar-liar pants on fire. This country is inherently conservative and that’s why, Barry, Bawney, Harry, and Nance are in such a hurry. Go Britain we’re next. Good read again Lawhawk.

JG said...

"If a woman like Eva Peron with no ideals can get that far, think how far I can go with the ideals that I have." ~ Margaret Thatcher

One of my favorites.

I've always said I could never live in Europe, even in Britain, which I love, but if what you are predicting comes true, it may not be such a bad move after all.

No, wait, I don't really mean that. After all, if the Brits can turn their country around, we can do it in half the time!

AndrewPrice said...

Nice article Lawhawk. I love Thatcher! She and Reagan are my two favorite politicians ever. I am extremely jealous that you got to see her in person.

I watched some of the election results on European Squawk Box the other night and it was funny to see the journalists struggling to figure out "what this could possibly mean"? In country after country, the left got crushed -- not just beaten, but crushed. How could that be? "These are bad ecomomic times, people want socialism in bad times, right?"

And then I saw the other day that the Republicans are now 5 points ahead on the question of who can run the economy better (and they don't even have a plan).

Maybe reality is making a comeback?

LawHawkSF said...

USS Ben: At least now the RINOs have a place to retire.

WriterX: A no-confidence vote has a similar ultimate effect--removal of the head of government. But it's quite different from impeachment. There is no need for any allegation of serious wrongdoing, simply that a majority of Parliament has decided that for any of a multiplicity of reasons, this particular person no longer has the confidence of the Parliament in his or her leadership. Historically, it meant Parliament no longer had confidence that this Minister could properly serve the monarch. Unlike the independent President, the Prime Minister (in theory) is simply the monarch's most important leader in Parliament.

LawHawkSF said...

StlDan: The only thing certain in politics is uncertainty. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, things go in some strange direction. There was no way Dewey could lose to Truman. There was no way the popular Bill Clinton was going to lose Congress just two years into his first term. There was no way the American people would elect an empty suit President of the United States in 2008.

StanH: The last Presidential election was the triumph of something new over something old. The American people are quickly realizing that change is not always the best thing, and that hopes can quickly be dashed. "Stay the course" is not always the best idea, but steer the ship toward the rocks isn't such a hot idea either.

JG: Margaret Thatcher was a delight, but being young and naive, I thought "a woman with a voice like that is going nowhere in British national politics." I thought she sounded like a bad imitation of Eleanor Roosevelt." Boy, was I wrong.

Andrew: The mainstream press on both sides of the pond gets mystified by the obvious. It's like their confusion over why we are putting so many people in prison when the crime rate is down.

Captain Soapbox said...

Thatcher and Reagan made a hell of a team, two of the best politicians in my lifetime that's for sure, and definitely both on my All Time list as well.

I find it fairly ironic the the Europeans are waking up, right as America seems to be falling asleep. I mean when the Russians tell you that you're a little too socialist for your own good, well that's pretty bad. It's even worse when the President of France says an American President is sort of a sissy, and comparatively, he is.

What a world.

LawHawkSF said...

Captain: Among the few things left for Obama to do to destroy our economy and increase European wealth are raising trade barriers while protecting overpriced union products, and cutting off access to all our abundant natural resources (including energy resources such as coal and offshore oil)in order to save the polar bears. The two former socialist republics of the Soviet Union and China will continue to build up their capital while energy flows freely everywhere except the backward United States.

Captain Soapbox said...

Lawhawk that's the rub of it though isn't it? I mean Obama will go out of his way to say that Iran has a "right to peaceful nuclear power" and yet America doesn't? Or that Iran and Venezuela are just trying to "do right by their people" by exploiting their natural resources and yet we can't here? It's mindbogglingly stupid in my opinion.

I also heard yesterday that the tax credits for trading in your old car for a new "greener" car will only apply to US cars. Hey nothing like a trade war in the middle of a recession eh? Why don't they go to the Library of Congress, pull out the Hawley-Smoot Act, get their sharpies out and change some of the names around while they're at it?

LawHawkSF said...

Captain: We have to atone for all those years of raping mother earth, stealing from the poor, and living too well. It's only fair that while we are sitting around in our sackcloth and ashes, the good people (who are by definition not American or European) are out there living it up.

As I can see you are aware, the Smoot-Hawley tariff was either the single biggest cause of the Depression, or at least the largest catalyst for pushing the world into depression. But Obama knows he can't be a Franklin Roosevelt without a Great Depression. Frankly, I think "FDR" sounds a lot better than "B-HO." And at least FDR didn't create the Great Depression, he merely exploited it.

WillORNG said...

'The Blessed' Margaret may have been correct up to the corporatist 70s but the sharp left turn of the Labour party electing more or less Communist Michael Foot and leading to the moderate Social Democrats to form an eponymous party dividing the left for much of the 80s gave Thatcher breathing space under our first past the post system.

These days I think the Tories and zaNuLiebore are rightwing authoritarians like your Republicrats...as Vidal used to say you have two rightwing parties!

There does seem to be some degree of convergence between continental Europe and US these days.

As for Healthcare, US public spending is the same as ours on the NHS at 8% of GDP, ours is just relatively more equally spent across the whole population rather than focuse on the aged, poor and uninsured in a&e's.

Checkout www.politicalcompass.org

particularly the US election page and EU governments...

http://www.politicalcompass.org/euchart

The chart tracking moves from 1972 to now is fascinating too.

LawHawkSF said...

WillORNG: Thanks for your comment. I can't entirely disagree with you by any means. Our stand is that we don't want the government spending anything on our health care. Our private insurance plans provide good to excellent health care, and the only reform we are looking for is freeing up the market to cross state lines, a problem you don't have in England.

Restriction of competition is an intrusion on our basic constitutional rights. As for the cost per patient, you are too generous in your description of our government spending. Our government plans spend far more per patient than yours, and still manage to provide poor to terrible service. As a well-known Senator from New York once commented: "America doesn't have a health care crisis, it has a health care delivery crisis."

Our wish is to free up competition, allow pooling of individual and small business groups, and free up the market to provide that excellent care nationwide without federal government interference with the right to contract. That way the uninsured (there really is no such thing) can opt to remain "uninsured" and rely on the public benefits already available to them or rearrange their lives to set aside some of their income for a health plan created for the low-income groups.

Gore Vidal said a great many things, most of them pure nonsense. His vision of America, like that of his cousin Al Gore, is egalitarian foolishness combined with governmental elitism. A strange brew, indeed.

WillORNG said...

I think there's plenty of room to reform healthcare and education for that matter, in the UK, the problem isn't with state funding of these things, the problem is with state provision...if it can be called such.

Singapore spends something like 3% on a mixed basic safety net with pretty amazing health outcomes. They manage to contain costs but provide choice for health 'consumers' too.

LawHawkSF said...

WillOrng: It sound like you're describing the same thing as Senator Moynihan (health care versus health care delivery). In the U.S., those of us of conservative bent have little problem with government involvement (regulation is a perfectly valid constitutional exercise). And that power could be used to promote private-sector investment and pooling of resources across state lines (a problem that differs from England's because of the constitutional sovereignty of the states).

So far, our federal involvement has been to restrict private sector insurance from crossing state lines by invoking "anti-trust" laws. We're willing to work with the government, but we're never willing to surrender to the government. We consider direct involvement of the national government in the provision and control of health care to be a path to health care doom. They should be helping, not hindering insurance pools across state lines, and staying out of the medical business.

But as you say, there are options aplenty, and if the national government had not failed so miserably and so consistently in controlling health care costs under Medicare, we might be more amenable to a public option. But there is absolutely nothing historically to give us any reason to believe that the national government will ever get control of "cost overruns." Medicare has been seventy times more expensive, and yet less efficient, than we were originally promised. We would be fools to believe they will do any better at running a system which includes everyone rather than just those over age 65.

WillORNG said...

And Health Insurance has controoled costs?

What about this?

"Lack of health insurance has caused 45,000 preventable deaths of US citizens in the last year (the equivalent death-toll of over ten “9/11s”), according to The American Journal of Medicine. The Journal also stated that “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”

LawHawkSF said...

WillORNG: Look, I appreciate that you like public plans. I don't. We're never going to agree on this, and this post is nearly five months old. Frankly, I'm tired of dealing with it since we've done at least a half dozen updates since.

If you had read any of our posts about health care since June, you would know we addressed these issues. The American Journal of Medicine has been flacking for the "free" medical care options for years. It's a great statistic that bears no relationship to reality. Who says they were preventable? The same people who prepared the "study." And more people will die in a month from automobile accidents than were murdered on 9-11. So what does that have to do with the price of eggs in Vietnam?

We've already stated that we know there are serious problems to be fixed. But socialist incompetence and destruction of a formerly vibrant economy are not among the ways of doing it. If you read my comment above, much of the blame falls on the interference of the federal government with private insurance. The federal government has a role in setting standards, providing incentives to the insurance companies for the otherwise uninsurable, enforcing laws that prevent denial of coverage, and getting the hell out of the way. I wouldn't trust it to be the health care provider for my cat. And better bankrupt than dead. At least if you're only bankrupt, you can start over.

I have to move on to other things, so this will be my last response.

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