The United Kingdom might be on the verge of political upheaval as great as the Trump victory in the United States. Old-school socialist Jeremy Corbyn; the most left-wing Labour leader in generations, is close to moving into 10 Downing Street.
Recent polls indicate that Corbyn would win enough seats in parliament to form a government – if a general election were held right now. For example around 60% of Britons think of Labour as a party that wants to “help ordinary people in life,” Lord Ashcroft Polls found. The same poll found that around 50% of Her Majesty’s subjects think Labour’s “heart is on the right side.”
Around 42% of Britons think Corbyn would make a better Prime Minister than the incumbent Conservative Theresa May, a 26 to 29 September BMG research poll for The Independent found. An even more bothersome figure for Conservatives is that around 45% of British voters think Labour will do what it says. Less than 30% of Britons said the same thing of the Conservatives.
That’s bad news for May because such an election might be close. on 6 October former Conservative Party chairman and backbencher, Grant Shapps claimed he had collected 30 of the 48 signatures from Torie members of parliament needed to force a vote on party leadership, The Independent reported. Such a vote can lead to a general election.
One group that thinks a Corbyn Government is inevitable seems to be British businesspeople. Business leaders were queuing up to meet Labour’s shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell at the party’s conference in Brighton two weeks ago, The New York Times reported.
Corbyn has more in Common with Trump than you might think
Jeremy Corbyn has far more in common with Donald J. Trump than is commonly believed. Like Trump, Corbyn is a fiery troublemaker that loves to bait and taunt the establishment.
Corbyn even directs his ire at some of the targets as Trump including the media. In Briton on 27 September he blasted Britain’s newspapers as “under instruction from their tax-exile owners to destroy the Labour party,” The Guardian reported.
That statement was part of a speech that sounded like a declaration of all-out class warfare. It drew nothing but applause from Corbyn’s followers, pictures of whom are reminiscent of the crowds that came out for Trump last year.
Like Trump, Corbyn understands the rhetoric of class warfare and how to appeal to another powerful emotion: nostalgia. Just as Trump’s campaign harked back to 1950s or 1980s America, so Corbyn stokes nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s British Welfare State. That was a more simple and stable time; when average Britons did not feel threatened by economic changes, immigrants, and political uncertainty.
Trump has something else in common with Corbyn – he’s far to the left of most members of his Republican Party. The Donald is on record as a strong supporter of single-payer healthcare, Social Security (basic income for the elderly and disabled), Medicare (single-payer health insurance for senior citizens), and eminent domain (government seizure of private property for the “common good”). Those positions put the President far closer to Jeremy Corbyn on the ideological spectrum than Barry Goldwater.
How Economic Insecurity created Corbyn and Trump
The Corbyn upswing; like the Trump phenomenon, is driven by economic insecurity. Polls indicate he appeals most to those left out in Britain’s economy; namely younger people, and some pensioners.
There is a key difference that bodes ill for neoliberal political parties such as America’s Republicans. Unlike Trump, Corbyn has strong appeal to young people. Most observers blame younger voters for Prime Minister Theresa May’s poor showing the last election. They now think the same voters will propel Corbyn into Downing Street.
One reason for this is widespread anger among younger Britons about the nation’s housing crisis. An issue that Corbyn has exploited much as Trump capitalized upon trade and factory closings in the United States. Corbyn even spent much of his Labour Party convention speech in Brighton talking about rental control.
A Radical Socialist Agenda
Corbyn’s ascendency marks a major political shift because he is advancing the most radical socialist agenda from a major political party in the English-speaking world in 50 years. Not since U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” of the 1960s, have we seen promises of this level of government activism.
The shadow Prime Minister even attacked the concept of private property itself in Brighton. He effectively refuted 40 years of neoliberal politics with one statement.
“We also need to tax undeveloped land held by developers and have the power to compulsorily purchase,” Corbyn said, “as Ed Miliband said: use it or lose it. Families need homes. No social cleansing. No jacking up rents. No exorbitant ground rents.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg Corbyn has also promised renationalization of utilities and other businesses, free college, rent controls, and higher pay for government employees. His whole platform seems ripped out of Clement Atlee’s strategy for the 1945 General Election, and it is working.
A poll from the Legatum Institute found that 75% of Britons favor the nationalization of utilities, The American Conservative’s Tobie Guise noted. Half of the participants in the same poll favored the nationalization of banks as well.
Is Jeremy Corbyn now the Mainstream?
The polls indicate that Corbyn’s recent boast “we are now the political mainstream” is closer to reality than most conservatives and neoliberals would like to believe.
Some polls indicate that Labour is Britain’s largest political party with 570,000 members. In contrast, the same polls show that the Conservatives might have only 100,000 members – in a nation of 65.64 million people.
This should concern voters and British taxpayers because Corbyn’s policies might lead to an assault on property rights. There’s also the potential cost of the Labour agenda which has been tagged at £312 billion ($408.18 billion). Not surprisingly, Corbyn has not said he how plans to pay for all that.
Is America Next?
Many observers will wonder if Corbyn’s success can be repeated in the United States. The answer to that question is that it is already happening.
Polls have shown that America’s answer to Corbyn U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont); a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” is the most popular politician in the USA. Sanders achieved a 75% approval rating in a June 18 Morning Consult poll, Newsweek reported. In contrast, the same survey gave President Trump a 39% approval rating.
There is also evidence Sanders would have beaten Trump in last year’s presidential election; had he defeated the neoliberal Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, Market Mad House reported. Brian F. Schaffner of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst calculated that around 12% of Trump’s voters were Sanders supporters. Schaffner thinks that Sanders’ voters made the difference for Trump in close states like Michigan and Wisconsin.
Such data was largely ignored by the US media but it was noticed by Democrats in the US Senate. Back in 2013, when Sanders introduced a proposal for single-payer healthcare for all Americans he could not find a single cosponsor.
When Bernie reintroduced the same legislation on 13 September, 2017; he had 16 cosponsors including five potential presidential candidates, Market Mad House noted. Those potential contenders included two well-known centrists; U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota).
It looks as if politics in the United Kingdom are undergoing a paradigm shift to the Left. That shift might soon be repeated in the United States, which indicates that the age of neoliberalism is over. Socialism is back, and it might be the hottest thing in politics.