Wrong time, right place

The right-ward march of the west continues unabated:

Sarkozy’s stunning acknowledgment of Le Pen’s legitimacy can only help her cause: In the days after the first round, nearly two-thirds of Sarkozy voters told pollsters they favored an electoral pact with her party in the legislative elections that will follow soon after the presidential campaign. Le Pen herself clearly wants Sarkozy to lose, declaring that she will cast a blank ballot in the second round. She has called the UMP no different from the Socialists, and, indeed, her nationalist stance offers a starker alternative to the two major parties than they do to each other. Can this alternative achieve major party status? Having helped to dissolve the traditional French right while failing to replace it with a coherent or popular ideology of his own, it now appears possible that Nicolas Sarkozy’s principal legacy will be the rise of Marine Le Pen.

Also too:

Voters also showed surprisingly strong support for the right-wing Independence Party, which campaigned on a platform that includes having Britain withdraw from the European Union. The party’s strong showing could amount to a wake-up call for Cameron, seen as a moderate reformer who has attempted to shift the Conservatives closer to the political center. The coalition’s junior partners — the Liberal Democrats — continued a major unwinding of support since their decision to join the Conservatives in government two years ago, with the number of elected local councilors from the party falling to a record low.

Here’s how it works: as austerity decimates European economies, serious Burkeans like Cameron become more and more tempted to go Neo-Nazi lite. They’ll give in eventually.






87 replies
  1. 1
    Steve says:

    I will defer to our British friends, but my impression was that the nationalist parties got clobbered in the British elections today.

  2. 2

    Bad, mad, Boris won though, and that’s all Auntie seems to care about.

    And Nick Clegg’s vanity project got properly pantsed. They did especially dreadfully in Scotland. In one Edinburgh district, the LibDem candidate lost to a guy in a penguin suit.

  3. 3
    litlebritdifrnt says:

    Labour kicked butt today despite what the press want you to believe

  4. 4
    Chris says:

    It’s hard to overemphasize how depressing I find the whole thing.

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    “Neo-Nazi lite”

    Is that like being a little pregnant?

  6. 6
    Valdivia says:

    I highly recommend the David Bell article linked at Washington Monthly. He is very good on French politics and French history in general (and yes I know, TNR, but worth a read)

    DougJ: a play on Dr John or a Hayward reference?

  7. 7
    ItAintEazy says:

    So, where’s this communist socilist Yurp that we’ve been hearing about for years?

  8. 8
    Matoko Borgia-Steeler says:

    I am no friend of Cameron, but what exactly would his “Neo-Nazi lite” identity comprise? He’s been trying to make gay marriage legal in the UK, the Chair of the Tories is a Muslim woman (Sayeeda Warsi) and, in general, for all his faults, Cameron is certainly no worse on immigration than was Tony Blair. He cut a deal with his more right-wing back-benchers to “withdraw” from Europe to some unspecified degree, while foolishly placating them by associating with some of the less reputable far right parties in Europe rather than the usual moderate conservative grouping – but this doesn’t make him any sort of aspiring Neo-Nazi lite politician. Cameron is, indeed, a hellishly bad manager of the British economy (as, it might be added, was Blair) along with the Incredible Shrinking Chancellor Osborne and comes across as an arrogant twerp – but that simply doesn’t make him an aspiring Neo-Nazi lite politician. Why post this sort of weak personal attack that no-one who knows British politics would take seriously? Why not focus on the numerous blunders that Cameron has made and continues to make on the economy?

  9. 9
    amk says:

    bnp, the real rw loony party aka UK teabaggers, lost big time.

    And yeah, Labour kicked ass.

  10. 10
    DougJ, Head of Infidelity says:

    @Valdivia:

    Dr. John.

  11. 11
    Hypnos says:

    BTW the reason right wing extremist parties win is because they are promising to repeal austerity the way the left should be doing if it still knew what it stands for.

    Hitler resurrected the German economy overnight by throwing Bruning’s austerity in the trash.

  12. 12
    Jay C says:

    @Steve: @Davis X. Machina:

    Well, to be fair, Boris Johnson, as Mayor of London IS the most-visible face of the elections – most of the “council” seats in this round seem to be local government at it’s probably near-lowest level; but what it looks like is that disgruntled UK voters are still likely to look to Labour as the preferred alternative to unpopular incumbents.

    We’ll see (perhaps soon) if this trend will hold on a national level….

  13. 13
    Jennifer says:

    If the premise is that austerity creates the conditions favoring far-right authoritarians, well, then…I think you have the answer to why the Republicans think austerity is such a good idea.

  14. 14
    jl says:

    Let us now praise honorable men.

  15. 15
    Valdivia says:

    @DougJ, Head of Infidelity:

    I had a hunch it would be :)

  16. 16
    litlebritdifrnt says:

    But this is a National Level council elections are the closest thing the Bits have to State houses. The fact that labour was able to turn over 40+ councils was huge.

  17. 17

    If you really want to commit political suicide, go for austerity in a heavily socialized democracy. The pitchforks and lanterns come out PDQ if you go even a smidgeon too far. Especially the French, who can go critical mass in the blink of an eye, and turn into rage virus protest people.

    Here’s how it works: as austerity decimates European economies, serious Burkeans like Cameron become more and more tempted to go Neo-Nazi lite. They’ll give in eventually.

    This would be the leap for the European model, for more authority to suppress the rabble pissed off at cuts in their bennies.

    There is a balance between the social safety net and promoting enough economic freedom to support that safety net and make the necessary profits to keep it all going. One of too much or the other, ipso facto, you become supply side heavy in trouble like the USA. It seems to be a delicate balance, with some form of totalitarianism waiting in the wings for those who fail to keep that balance.

  18. 18
    litlebritdifrnt says:

    Sorry Brits I am typing on my phone in a motel room

  19. 19
    Keith G says:

    The right-ward march of the west continues unabated

    I am not sure that Sarkozy’s likely demise on Sunday actually supplies a data point that supports your thesis.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Valdivia says:

    @Steeplejack:

    ah. loved that.

  22. 22
    beltane says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I would take the guy in the penguin suit over 2/3 of the clowns without clown suits sitting in Congress.

  23. 23
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Here’s how it works: as austerity decimates European economies, serious Burkeans like Cameron become more and more tempted to go Neo-Nazi lite. They’ll give in eventually.

    And then get bent over in the coming elections because every town in Europe still has a nice memorial dedicated to all the guys who died fighting in the last round of ‘Neo-Nazi lite’.

    Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy, Cameron… the resurgence of the European right has not been exactly Thatcheresque, one might say.

  24. 24
    beltane says:

    @Steve: The BNP lost nearly everything. I really didn’t see any sign of a rightward march in today’s elections.

    IMO the reason Le Pen did so well is that she ran an anti-Euro, anti-austerity, protectionist campaign. The dark side of populism, which people at places like DKos seem to forget, is that it does tend to rely on various scapegoats.

  25. 25
    Cacti says:

    Well, it’s not like Yurp didn’t embrace fascism less than a century ago.

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    Neil wrote it and here he is doing it Live At Massey Hall in 71.

    And Find the Cost of Freedom. The flip side of the single.

    Daylight again, following me to bed
    I think about a hundred years ago, how my fathers bled
    I think I see a valley, covered with bones in blue
    All the brave soldiers that cannot get older been askin’ after you
    Hear the past a callin’, from Ar- -megeddon’s side
    When everyone’s talkin’ and noone is listenin’, how can we decide?

    (Do we) find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground

    Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down
    Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
    Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down
    (Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground)

  27. 27
    jl says:

    @Cacti: All of Yurp? I think two countries might have bullied the rest a little.

  28. 28
    Chris says:

    @jl:

    All of Yurp spawned fascism, yes. Only in a few cases did it actually take power. But that’s all it takes.

  29. 29
    Mino says:

    @beltane: And when is a scapegoat not a scapegoat?

  30. 30
    Mino says:

    I won’t be alive to see it, but I fear greatly that the world will be going into disastrous climate change disruptions with broken economies and all of us at each others throats, internally and externally.

    What a clusterfuck awaits us if we don’t get our shit in order.

  31. 31
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I’m sure the right-wing Independence Party is awful for a whole host of reasons, but I wouldn’t be too keen on staying in the European Union right now either. The UK’s refusal to join the Euro could have saved their economy if they weren’t so goddamn stupid as to institute austerity anyway. I’d get tired of being treated like Germany’s urinal if I were a citizen of one of the EU’s many have-nots.

  32. 32
    Steeplejack says:

    @Raven:

    Live at Massey Hall, 1971 is an incredible album. One of my favorites by Young.

  33. 33
    magurakurin says:

    @Cacti: That’s an interesting take on World War II and one that needs to place Moscow in Asia as well. There is no disputing the fact that fascism emerged in Europe and took hold in Germany, Italy, Spain and some other smaller footholds like Croatia, but it seems a bit much to claim that Europe embraced it. There are mountains and mountains of dead French, English and Russian soldiers that suggest otherwise. Certainly that brand of right wing politics still flourishes in Europe and in the United States(plenty of folks would have been happy to be on Germany’s side in the war) but still…

  34. 34
    Cacti says:

    @magurakurin:

    That’s an interesting take on World War II and one that needs to place Moscow

    Interesting that you should bring up Moscow. They seemed okey-dokey with the Nazis right up until the point where Hitler thought Russia would look good on a German map. Even making agreements with them on how to divide up Poland between them.

  35. 35
    Steve says:

    @beltane: Isn’t the UKIP also a nationalist party? I heard they did not do well.

  36. 36
    scott says:

    Am I the only one who found irritating and undeservedly flattering his reference to Cameron as “Burkean?” A political opportunist and reasonably personable upper class guy, sure, but don’t get carried away, all right?

  37. 37
    scott says:

    Am I the only one who found irritating and undeservedly flattering his reference to Cameron as “Burkean?” A political opportunist and reasonably personable upper class guy, sure, but don’t get carried away, all right?

  38. 38
  39. 39

    @scott: As used here “Burkean” is a term of art, roughly equivalent to ‘asshole’.

  40. 40

    At some point, the Europeans will vote for whomever promises to punish the bankers. That’s their history.

    Can’t say I’ll feel much pity for them.

  41. 41
    Calouste says:

    You can stop reading that Washington Compost quote halfway through the first sentence. No one calls them the Independence Party. It’s either UK Independence Party or UKIP. And if you can’t even get the name of the thing right, it’s not surprising you screw up on what it does as well. UKIP added a massive 0 (zero) council seats to the massive 9 (nine) they already held. Out of a total of 4857 that were at stake. The Greens won more seats than UKIP held. Whenever there is anything at stake, most UKIP voters vote Tory. The only elections where UKIP has any impact are funnily enought the ones for the European Parliament.

  42. 42
    Steeplejack says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    I’ll have to check that out.

    Another great Massey Hall concert, if you like folk: Gordon Lightfoot, Sunday Concert.

  43. 43
    PeakVT says:

    The right-ward march of the west continues unabated:

    This might be snark I’m not getting, but I think the UK and (soon) France are moving to the left somewhat.

    A couple of days ago I looked at the latest national elections across Europe and the only trend I saw was voters booting the incumbents regardless of whether they were left or right. The upcoming Greek elections will probably have no clear winner, but what are now the two main parties will be big losers.

  44. 44
    Calouste says:

    @Steve:

    UKIP is not considered a nationalist party in the UK. That monicker is limited to the SNP(Scottish National Party) Plaid Cymru, the Welsh party, Sin Fein the IRA-associated Northern Irish Party, and a couple of really minor parties like the Scottish Socialists. Although confusingly, when people talk about ‘the Nationalists’, they mean Sin Fein/IRA.

    The SNP, who have been running a fairly successful Scottish government for the last five year, won 57 councillors up to 424 and are still the party with most councillors in Scotland.

  45. 45
    Brachiator says:

    @DougJ, Head of Infidelity:

    Here’s how it works: as austerity decimates European economies, serious Burkeans like Cameron become more and more tempted to go Neo-Nazi lite. They’ll give in eventually.

    Poster Steve nailed it in the first post. Labour has come back big time in the UK elections. The irony is that Cameron clings to power in part because the Lib Dems are so happy to be in the government, even if they are totally impotent. And so, the British equivalent of the progressive movement is complicit in the continuation of an austerity government.

    Meanwhile, some American liberals stupidly insist that a parliamentary system is the answer to all our problems.

    In France, voters appear to be acting independently, and this is always the problem for those focused narrowly on ideology. Sarkosy failed to deliver, and this is giving the right some room to move. However, if Hollande wins, I look for him to look for ways to exclude right wing extremists, no matter how much they want to play at being kingmaker. By the way, the current issue of the Economist is almost hysterical in its whining about Mr Hollande’s sozhul ist opus.

    Finally, no one has any idea about how Scots independence might make the old distinctions between Tory and Labour totally meaningless. Similarly, ancient nationalist claims might make people feal nostalgic for the “good old days” when right wing extremism seem to be the Big Bad haunting the West.

  46. 46
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Here’s how it works: as austerity decimates European economies, serious Burkeans like Cameron become more and more tempted to go Neo-Nazi lite. They’ll give in eventually.

    True :(

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I will be very surprised if Hollande does not win tomorrow. Sarko’s bid for Le Pen voter should sink him. Of course, I also think that the ACA will survive at the Supreme Court so what the fuck do I know.

  48. 48
    Djur says:

    @Brachiator: Since when are the LibDems the UK equivalent to the US progressive movement? Surely that would be Labour. The LibDems are neoliberals verging on libertarians.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Djur: Exactly, Lib-Dems are nothing like liberal Democrats in the US.

  50. 50
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    >>Since when are the LibDems the UK
    equivalent to the US progressive movement?
    Surely that would be Labour. The LibDems are
    neoliberals verging on libertarians.<<

    True under Clegg but that's a pretty recent development. Historically (WWI up to a few years ago) the dominant strain of Liberal was pretty Keynesian – Keynes himself after all was a Liberal. They've always been kind of anti-union snobs though, even when they were drafting the plans for socialized medicine.

  51. 51
    Origuy says:

    I posted this earlier but the thread had drifted away:

    15 orangutans that look like London mayor Boris Johnson.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Origuy: Poor apes.

  53. 53
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    >>Exactly, Lib-Dems are nothing like liberal
    Democrats in the US.<<

    Actually, even setting aside Clegg's reign of terror, they kind of are. On the level of nationally elected officials, it's pretty much spot on. That's why we're in the mess we're in.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: IIRC National Health in the UK was a post-War Labour thing. Yes, the Liberals were upper middle class, left of center party, but for a while now they have being libertarian-curious at a minimum – Labour’s move towards Third Way-ism left them little room for anything else.

  55. 55
    mainmati says:

    I work in a firm that has mostly people with multiple nationalities/citizenships (nature of the biz). One of my friends is Franco-American. She can vote absentee by having someone registered in a commune or ville “carry” her vote. The Carrier can only carry one vote but I thought that was an especially personal way of absentee voting. I assume France has other more impersonal ways of doing this too (like we do, through the Embassy, by mail, etc.).

  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mainmati: I know some French people who will be going from Madison to the French Consulate in Chicago to vote tomorrow.

  57. 57
    mainmati says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: The Liberals got squished by the Tory – Labour dichotomy post WWII pretty much except at the local level and in certain regions until the 1980s. But they remain the exemplar for why a similar third party movement wouldn’t work for pretty much the same reasons in the USA, i.e. the behemoths would move to co-opt/squash it.

    If multiparty (PR) democracy was allowed in the USA as opposed to first past the post you would see a huge number of mostly right=wing regional and issue-based parties arise because right-wingers don’t believe in the legitimacy of the federal Government so the Dems would usually win national elections.

  58. 58
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    (“IIRC National Health in the UK
    was a post-War Labour thing.”)

    Passed by Labour, original proposal by Liberal peer Lord Beveridge.

    (“Yes, the Liberals
    were upper middle class, left of center party, but
    for a while now they have being libertarian-
    curious at a minimum – Labour’s move towards
    Third Way-ism left them little room for anything
    else”.)

    I don't want to go out on a limb defending the Lib Dems. The 'Orange Book' crowd in charge now are total market fundamentalists. And they've ALWAYS been shits about workers. But…historically they aren't a libertarian party. No real core ideology at all other than we're not out and out bastards like the Tories or vulgar communists like Labour. Honestly, most LibDem MPs are fairly non-ideological simpletons who got elected in weird rural seats by promising to complain louder about local hospital funding than the two main parties' candidates. They let Clegg run amok bc he's ace at fundraising and all of a sudden he's got them fancy cars and meeting invites.

  59. 59
    Xenos says:

    Marine LePen got about 18% of the vote when Sarkozy looked viable. Now he does not, she wants to withhold support for him so… so… profit? So her right wing splinter party will take over the conservative movement?

    Business and banking elites will not move to join her, nobody is longing for reactionary Catholic clerics to straighten out society, and the military does not long, desperately, to protect and expand the empire. You can not develop a serious fascist movement in such an environment. All you can do is create a 27%er coalition of the foolish and reckless, and that is all LePen will end up with.

    Were it not for the military industrial complex and petro-fascists, all that would remain of the GOP is our own 27%ers, too.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: Had I been British with my background in the early 80s, the SDP would have appealed to me. I have, however, a loyal streak that would probably have kept me within Labour, much like Roy Hattersley chose to do.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xenos: Le Pen’s father got his political start as head of security for Poujade. She is part of a really shitty strain of right wing assholism in France. She is the heir of the people condemned Dreyfus and the people who supported, rather than tolerated, Petain and Vichy.

  62. 62
    handsmile says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: (#49)

    As the Liberal Democrats were established as an official British political party less than 25 years ago, the whole enterprise is a “pretty recent development.” Under its initial party leaders Ashdown and Kennedy, it maintained a commitment to the social democratic principles of its founding ideology. However, by the mid-2000s with Menzies Campbell and now Clegg, the party has shifted to representing the “politics of the radical centre,” as Clegg himself remarked.

    The LibDem leaders disgraceful acquiescence to Tory polices on national health, education, public housing and other social services may soon result in the party’s becoming what Thatcher once called its emblem, “as dead as John Cleese’s parrot.”

    ETA; Just now saw your comment #57 and this statement seems about right in summarizing Nick Clegg’s vision of Liberal Democrats: “we’re not out and out bastards like the Tories or vulgar communists like Labour.” Fancy cars will only take one so far it seems.

  63. 63
    Xenos says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I did not know the Le Pen’s were linked to the anti-dreyfusards, although that is not very surprising. Still, without industrial and military support (see, contra, teabaggers), she can not break out of the 27%er mode. She hopes to have a permanent, lucrative position as the leader of one quarter of a decent-sized country, which is not a bad gig, especially if you never have the burden of actually running things.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xenos: I try not to be too judgmental about the politic of countries of which I am not a citizen, but I have an affinity for France and truly hope that bad things happen to the Le Pens and all their associates.

  65. 65

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    True, all that. Their forebears turned in innocent Jews for political gain back in the day. And none of them paid any price for it whatsoever.

    Shame that no one in the French MSM has the guts to point this out to their faces.

  66. 66
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    @handsmile: Yeah, I was including the pre-merger Liberals in that potted history which was a bit sloppy but oh well.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor: Like the US MSM pointed out the Bush-Nazi connections?

  68. 68

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Heh. Point well taken.

    No arguments here.

  69. 69

    I’ve got friends who uses to refer, pre-Clegg, to the Liberals as the SNP — the Somerset Nationalist Party.

  70. 70
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Pretty sure Le Pen senior was in OAS as well. Mass right-wing terrorist group that brought down France’s entire constitutional order and led to a military coup IN F’ING 1958. Funny how no one ever talks about that.

    The Lefebvrists (tradititionalist splitters from the Catholic church) are also big Le Pen supporters. And these are the guys that Ratzi is bending over backwards to bring back into the fold.

  71. 71
    handsmile says:

    @Xenos (#63)

    With no heir apparent to UMP leadership if, as expected, Sarkozy loses on Sunday (and surely Francois Fillon will slink away soon after), there is certain to be considerable intra-party power struggles and fracturing.

    France’s national legislative elections next month will provide a more coherent appraisal of the strength and breadth of support for the Front National. In securing 19% of the vote in the first round of the presidential contest, the party/LePen surpassed all electoral forecasts.

    At the party’s May Day rally, during which LePen declared that she would not support Sarko, she exhorted the faithful to turn their efforts towards a massive showing in the June elections. It seems to me that disaffected and nervous members of UMP’s more extreme right factions as well as other neo-Gaullists would find it advantageous to seek accommodation with Marine LePen. That could result in a fraction rather larger than 27%.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: I don’t personally know of a Le Pen-OAS connection, but I sure as hell would not be surprised by it. The French right would encompass both and Le Pen could easily have been in each.

    ETA: Like I said, I try not to get involved in other country’s elections, but I fucking cannot stand than Le Pens. Shit head, right wing assholes with no redeeming qualities – both of them. Fuckers.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @Keith G:

    I am not sure that Sarkozy’s likely demise on Sunday actually supplies a data point that supports your thesis.

    We’re not concerned with Sarkozy winning this weekend (he likely will not as you said), more with what happens to the right side of the aisle after that.

    For the last fifty years the French right wing has looked like the Republican Party circa 1960 – a dominant center right supported by moderate voters and elites, and a fringe far right supported by bigots and ideologues. As we know, that ended in the U.S. with a major shift away from the moderates, and basically the death of the American center right. And we’re worried about the same thing happening in France.

    Granted, that might not end badly. For thirty years after World War Two you had a similar setup on the other side of the aisle, where the far left regularly won more votes than the center left, but was incapable of taking over the government because they scared all the moderates away. Gods willing, that’s what’ll happen here. It will depend on whether the Socialists can provide a successful alternative to neoliberalism, and on how successful the far right is at co-opting the center right (or vice-versa).

  74. 74
    Brachiator says:

    @Djur:

    @Since when are the LibDems the UK equivalent to the US progressive movement? Surely that would be Labour. The LibDems are neoliberals verging on libertarians.

    Sorry, the Lib Dems campaigned as though they were to the left of Labour, who should have been their natural allies. But then they saw a chance to be part of the government in a coalition with the Conservatives, and kicked Labour to the curb.

    Ironically, this coalition has gained them nothing. They have no real power and have lost the respect of most of those who voted for them in the last elections. They have consistently fallen in the polls, and Clegg is gleefully mocked by British comedians (check out the BBC Friday comedy shows).

    And although Labour has done well in the most recent elections, their leadership is devoid of workable ideas, and are doing well mainly because Cameron is intent on totally crashing the economy with his austerity program.

  75. 75
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: I, for one, hope the right side of the aisle in France learns something from this. And I hope it is that the FN is toxic. Ultimately, it is not my problem, yet I do care.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: They may have campaigned as though they were left of Labour, but it was a bit of bullshit.

  77. 77
    Calouste says:

    @Chris:

    Funny about that. In the Netherlands the center-right is disappearing as well. It used to be the Christian Democrats who had a plurality until the 60s, and were the largest party and provided the Prime Minister most of the time since, even as recent as 4 years ago. Now they are polling at about 7%.

  78. 78
    Brachiator says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    They may have campaigned as though they were left of Labour, but it was a bit of bullshit.

    Certainly fooled the British.

    More seriously, anyone who says that the Lib Dems were closer to being libertarians are just making shit up.

    Voters also showed surprisingly strong support for the right-wing Independence Party, which campaigned on a platform that includes having Britain withdraw from the European Union. The party’s strong showing could amount to a wake-up call for Cameron, seen as a moderate reformer who has attempted to shift the Conservatives closer to the political center.

    This is also flat out nonsense. I have not seen or read anywhere that Cameron is seen as a moderate reformer. I am not even certain as to what “the political center” means in the context of British politics.

  79. 79
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Brachiator: In fact, Cameron removed the Tory EU parl members from the general centre right caucus and shifted them into the ultra-nationalist caucus along with anti-EU, anti-immigrant and neo-nazi parties.

    I’d like to add that someone (and I cannot for the life of me remember who, but I think it was on the news quiz on BBC) referred to the Lib Dems as the party for people ‘who like the idea of social justice, but feel uncomfortable being around poor people’

  80. 80
    Lupin says:

    With Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, getting almost 20% of the vote in the first round of our presidential elections (the second & final round is tomorrow), there’s been a fair amount written in the blogosphere about the rise of the far right in France and in Europe.

    Unfortunately a lot of it is often terribly wrong. Leaving aside the xenophobic portion of her platform, which is kind of the cement of her party, Ms Le Pen’s program is wildly to the left of what the Democrats propose in the US. A goodly third of the Front National voters are disgruntled ex-communists who don’t like the more “tolerant/multicultural” approach of the French Left, but wish to keep all the economic benefits of a strong State-supported/regulated economy.

    The reason I mention this is because the traditional political divides are getting mixed up. In France, for instance, if you poll people on the economics, the divide would be around 70% in favor of what you might call “socialism” versus 30% what we call “liberal” but you might call capitalist/free trade/etc.

    On the other hand, the issue of the integration of foreigners creates a very different divide which splits both our left and our right along different lines, more according to age, ethnics, and social class.

    I could go on, but it’s a lot more complicated than what you describe.

  81. 81
    valdemar says:

    The BBC has a detailed breakdown for the locals here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/spec.....ngland.stm

    Key point – UKIP, who are basically racists who can afford to join a golf club, did poorly. The Greens (for whom I hold no brief and didn’t vote for) did much better and their support rose while UKIP’s did not. So this media coverage of their supposed rise is bullshit. It would be more honest to say ‘the rise of the Greens means British voters care more about environmental issues’. That might even be true…

    All in all it was a typical mid-term council election result, with one important exception – for the first time
    the Liberal Democrats are in government. Normally they benefit from the mid-term dip, not least because they are notoriously good local campaigners. But this time they got hammered and the one major opposition party in England, Labour, did even better than ‘normal’.

  82. 82
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    (“Sorry, the Lib Dems campaigned as though they
    were to the left of Labour, who should have been
    their natural allies.”)

    On war and social issues, that is true. On spending, it is not.

  83. 83
    Chris says:

    @Lupin:

    I think the political spectrum is definitely skewed more towards big government in France, and much of Europe, as opposed to the United States, which can lead to confusion when we’re comparing the two.

    Heck, economically speaking, Adolf Hitler was to the left of the Democrats in the U.S.

    As far as their voter base goes, I’d say they’re following in the footsteps of the original fascist movements – recruiting heavily among former conservatives, liberals and socialists alike, pretty much anyone disgruntled by the existing ideologies’ failures and susceptible to identity based politics (whether based on race or nation).

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: We clearly disagree.

  85. 85
    uptown says:

    Don’t let anybody tell you that the British elections were about low turnout among the coalition partners. I Looked at the numbers for the district elected London Council members. Even where the Conservatives held their seats they lost huge numbers of voters to Labour compared to the last election. The LD were decimated. Boris may have eaked out a win, but he didn’t have the coattails to help anybody else.

  86. 86
    Singular says:

    @Brachiator:
    Believe me, Cameron IS seen as a moderate reformer. His supreme achievement is fooling people into trusting the tories with the NHS, mainly due to his unstinting praise over the long treatment of his son Ivan.

    This is while enacting abominations like the recent health bill, stealth privatisation of the NHS. I just can’t understand how anyone who has benefitted from our “socialised healthcare” could look at the American model and think “We should be more like that”. Or be so venal & corrupt that they would throw the health of a nation under a bus just to swell party coffers…

  87. 87
    translations says:

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