Elections, Neo-liberalism, Politics, Populism

Three Lessons From The UK Elections

Dec 16 2019

By Tyler Durden* –Zero Hedge

Authored by Daniel Lacalle via DLacalle.com

The results of the UK elections have shown something that I have commented on several occasions: The widely spread narrative that British citizens had regretted having voted for Brexit was simply incorrect.

We already had the evidence in the European elections, where the Brexit Party won with 31.6% of the votes, but the general elections have been even clearer. The Conservative Party won by an absolute majority (more than 360 seats and 43.6% of the votes).

The failure of Labour’s radicalism led by Jeremy Corbyn has been spectacular, and his interventionist messages, reminiscent of the terrible Harold Wilson period, added to his vague stance on Brexit and how to finance his promises of “everything free at any cost” have led the party to its worst results since 1935 and losing key seats in constituencies that always voted Labour since 1945.

Up to 18 Labour historical footholds passed to a conservative majority including Blyth, Darlington, Workington, Great Grimsby or Bassetlaw. In Wales, the Conservative party snatched six seats from the socialists. The transfer of Labour votes to conservatives exceeded 4.7%, according to the Press Association. The interventionist and extremist proposals of Jeremy Corbyn have caused them to lose votes even in pro-Remain districts (-6.4% according to the BBC).

Months of attempts to whitewash the image of Jeremy Corbyn by parts of the media have not been able to eliminate his history of extremism and interventionism, his refusal to apologize for cases of anti-Semitism and his incompetence in explaining the economic program. Corbyn led a traditionally moderate and social-democratic formation to the most retrograde and interventionist proposals of its recent history.

Johnson won by absolute majority with a much more moderate, positive and pro-growth message, but, above all, unquestionable in terms of delivering Brexit.

Johnson has not only reached a much wider spectrum of voters but Corbyn has annihilated his options with Labour’s own more moderate voters by radicalizing his message in a country where any citizen over 45 remembers the economic disasters of socialism.

The UK elections should be an opportunity for everyone to learn several lessons.

The first lesson is that the silent majority is the target in an election, not the loud minority. As in the United States and European Parliament elections, the consensus narrative about what was happening was clearly influenced by a terrible confirmation bias among most mainstream commentators. Some media in the UK have reported more about what they wanted to happen more than what really happened.

The second lesson is that extremist socialism is not an alternative. While Johnson focused his campaign on adding supporters, Corbyn set out to return to the past and try to revive the policies that led to poverty, constant devaluations, supply cuts, and misery.

The third was falling into the error of believing that sound economic policies do not matter. That the “majority” opinion is what some media or some commentators say. Even worse, to believe that the will of the people is represented bt a few anonymous accounts on social networks. Bots are not votes.

The opportunity of these elections is enormous. The European Union can strengthen its project and implement the agreement signed with the Johnson government in a beneficial way for all member states. It is a pity that the United Kingdom does not want to continue in the European Union, but we have to look to the future. For the UK, it is clearly an opportunity to strengthen the economy focusing on job creation and attraction of capital.

The United Kingdom will implement growth policies and competitive taxation. This is not just good for UK citizens. It is a much-needed reminder for the European Union to abandon its most interventionist temptations and focus on being competitive, attractive and productive.

The European Union faces significant economic, demographic and technological challenges. The UK can develop its competitiveness and investment appeal and, by doing so, the European Union can benefit. The United Kingdom is not a threat. It’s an example. A partner for all member states and a reminder of which policies work and how socialism and interventionism are never the answer.

Johnson is not a danger. He is the prime minister of an allied country and partner that will continue to be so. The danger to the European Union is not Johnson, it is interventionist temptation. Let’s fight it.

Copyright ©2009-2019 ZeroHedge.com/ABC Media, LTD

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(*) Zero Hedge in-house content is posted under the pseudonym “Tyler Durden”, however, the founder and main editor was identified as Daniel IvandjiiskiBulgarian born, U.S.–based, former investment banker and capital markets trader, and currently financial blogger, who founded the website Zero Hedge in January 2009, and remains its main publisher and editor.

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Related:

The Guardian view on Labour’s defeat: an existential crisis with no easy solution

The party’s traditional coalition of voters has collapsed. A comeback is only possible if it develops a new, more subtle politics of place

After the Labour party’s disastrous election defeat in 1983, at the hands of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives, Tony Benn famously found a silver lining in the almost unbroken cloud of gloom. Writing in this newspaper, Mr Benn noted that though Labour had been routed, winning only 27.6% of the vote, millions of people had nevertheless voted for an authentically socialist manifesto. This time round, after Labour’s worst performance at a general election since 1935, there is no dodging the scale of the catastrophe. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, rightly admitted that last Thursday’s poll was a “disaster”.

This was a defeat like no other that Labour has suffered in its 119-year history. The party haemorrhaged seats in the Midlands and north, which have been the bedrocks of its traditional support. The morning after the election, Michael Gove (inaccurately) boasted that, for the first time, the Durham Miners’ Gala and the Notting Hill carnival would both take place in constituencies held by Conservatives. That was a gleeful swipe at Labour’s very sense of itself as an institution, founded in 1900, to represent the interests of the working class in the coalfields and factory towns that drove the industrial revolution.

But Labour’s problems extend beyond places like Workington and Bishop Auckland. The party’s first leader in parliament, in 1906, was Keir Hardie, a Scottish trade unionist, reflecting its power base north of the border. But Scotland, where Labour won just 18.5% of the vote and has only one MP, is now largely hostile territory. The Scots may, during the next decade, leave the union. In England, Labour’s support seems to be reconfiguring in the same way as that of other social democratic parties in Europe, becoming confined mostly to the big cities and university towns. The coalition between middle-class professionals, often working in the public sector, and traditional working-class communities fell apart last Thursday. Without it, the party has no route to power. The challenges that face Labour are therefore existential in nature; there is no easy or obvious quick fix.

Brexit undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Labour’s humiliation. The attempt to appeal to both remain and leave voters with a convoluted and equivocal policy turned out to be doomed, though Mr McDonnell is surely right to say that the composition of its support placed it on “the horns of a dilemma” that was all but impossible to resolve. It was not all about Brexit, though. The evidence that Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity as a leader was a significant factor in last Thursday’s humiliation is incontestable. He was perceived by many to belong to a strand of the left which had little sympathy with a sense of patriotism that runs deep in leave-voting constituencies. For many Tories in remain-voting constituencies, such as Cheltenham and Guildford, fear of a Corbyn-led government appeared to trump the desire to stay in the EU.

Labour must now take the necessary time to reflect on an epochal setback. A rush to premature conclusions should be avoided at all costs. Some of the party’s policies, such as taking the railways into public ownership, were popular and should not become discredited by association with this defeat.

As a starting point, Labour clearly needs to radically reset its relationship with the towns and rural regions of England and Wales (Scotland, for the moment, seems unlikely to be the part of any solution). To do this will require, first of all, a recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. The needs, concerns and priorities of Spennymoor in County Durham are not the same as those of the university town of Canterbury. A more subtle politics of place, in which the revival and deepening of local democracy is championed, will help Labour begin to reconnect in the years to come. In a way, this is where the party came in, in the twilight years of the 19th century. It emerged then as a civilising force for community, solidarity and self-help, run by and for the industrial working classes. The same yearning for communal renewal characterises post-industrial Britain. This was once, in every sense, Labour’s natural terrain. It can be so again.

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