The Real Lesson Dems Need To Learn From UK Election: It Was A Disaster For Centrists

Will Democrats offer a vision to voters for change and a credible shot at handily beating Trump?

By Kate Aronoff
The Guardian (12/15/19)

Britain’s Conservative party won big last on Thursday, and its Labour party –under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn – lost handily, giving Boris Johnson’s Tories their biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher.

Not long after exit poll results came in, pundits across the pond started making bold claims: if Corbyn – what with his leftwing manifesto and socialist politics – could lose so badly against Johnson, surely this spells doom for any allied efforts in the United States, namely the primary candidacies of Bernie Sanders and (to a lesser extent) Elizabeth Warren. Hand either of them the Democratic party’s nomination, they warn, and deliver the country to Trump for another four disastrous years.

This is, to borrow a phrase from our comrades in the UK, bollocks.

There’s plenty of reflection to be done in the coming weeks, months and probably years about why Labour failed to get a victory or even a hung parliament this election – much of it unflattering of Labour and with plenty of lessons for the electoral left stateside.

But what all the finger-wagging about Corbyn and Sanders ignores is that the kind of tepid politics these pundits espouse had an awful night too. The centrist Liberal Democrats – who campaigned harder against Jeremy Corbyn than Boris Johnson – failed to deliver a surge in seats. Its leader, Jo Swinson, lost her own seat after her performance in the general election devolved rapidly. The Lib Dems presented themselves similarly to establishment Democrats across the pond: a respectable third way between the Conservatives and Labour, and effectively a single-issue party committed to staying in the EU by any means necessary. Last spring Nancy Pelosi met with members of Change UK, a collection of Labour MPs who quit the party over opposition to its leftward shift. Two of the three MPs she met with lost their seats last night. The other spent this election season urging marginals – think swing districts, in US-speak – to vote for Johnson.

Dem record of failure

Let’s also not forget these politicians’ and pundits’ recent record in the US. Democrats lost over 1,000 seats under Obama and handed a rash of state legislatures over to Republican trifectas, neglecting the kind of decentralized, grassroots organizing that fueled his campaign to victory. They lost miserably in 2016 mounting a wildly unpopular candidate committed to maintaining the status quo. And none of them have faced any consequences, continuing to lead the party into what may well be an abyss. Their counterparts elsewhere are losing ground to the far right, or ceding on points like migration. The left may have lost, but the center is hollowing out.

As they were in 2017, Labour’s policies remain highly popular across party affiliation. Six in 10 people support Labour’s policy of free broadband for all, and 64% support renationalizing the country’s railways. A full 56% back …

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Don’t Let The Smears That Sank Corbyn Tank Bernie Sanders

A smear that goes unchallenged can eventually gain traction.

By Asa Winstanley
Electronic Intifada (12/13/19)

The Labour Party suffered a devastating defeat on Thursday.

Jeremy Corbyn immediately announced he would not lead the party into another election.

With this defeat, the UK – and the world – have lost perhaps the best opportunity in a generation to send a resounding message through the ballot box against neoliberal austerity and endless war.

But Labour’s worst performance since 1983 carries an important lesson for the grassroots left-wing campaign in the United States to elect Bernie Sanders as president: You must defeat false anti-Semitism smears at all costs.

Do not indulge, entertain or appease them.

Forcefully reject the lie that the left that supports equality and freedom for Palestinians and opposes US imperialism is anti-Semitic. Do not buckle, do not bend. Reject the smears. Denounce the smearers. It’s the right thing to do in principle and it’s the only way to win.

The main issue that dominated the UK’s election campaign was the European Union.

Brexit-supporting working class seats in the North punished Labour for endorsing a second referendum. The party was blamed for blocking the result of the 2016 vote, which endorsed leaving the EU.

But aside from Brexit, the only other issue that dominated was “Labour anti-Semitism.”

As I have reported for more than four years, Corbyn’s new Labour Party has been subjected to an unprecedented smear campaign.

Yes, of course, in a mass movement of half a million people, there will inevitably be a few with reactionary views.

But the idea that Corbyn’s Labour Party had any unique problem with anti-Semitism was always a deliberate smear campaign. There is simply no evidence for this.

It was a lie manufactured to smash the left and the Palestine solidarity movement. …

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