Fourth July UK General Election.

Reply Fri 5 Jul, 2024 03:05 pm
It looks like the most working class cabinet since the war.

Makes a nice change from all the posh public school gits in the Tories'.
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Reply Sat 6 Jul, 2024 02:40 pm
Five Lessons from Britain’s Landslide


Umair Haque wrote:
Britain’s Post-Collapse Political Landslide

A dear friend called me up, excited, yet at the same, hesitant, and almost skeptical. “Look at what just happened in Britain! A landslide! And for once, for sanity’s side.” He was exhilarated. But then he said, almost glum: “But what can Keir Starmer, the new PM, really change?”

And so a long conversation began, that went like this…

My friend missed the larger point, and so I began there.

We’re not used to thinking of dear old Blighty as a far-right country. It’s very, very good at…branding itself…with the smooth polish of a 007 or the rebellious attitude of Britpop or what have you. But the fact is that over the last fourteen years that it’s conservatives were in power—a political eon—it became indistinguishable from one.

How so? Let me quickly run you through a few of the crazier things that Britain did, as it grew seduced by its fanatics and lunatics.

• It tried to send people to…Rwanda…for seeking asylum…by paying it. Eerily close to human trafficking, this broke international law, destabilized the international order, and was so incredibly unpopular that it never got off the ground. Already, it’s the very first thing Keir Starmer’s undone. That should put to rest any ideas that Starmer “can’t do anything,” and we’ll come back to him.
• There was Brexit, of course, modern history’s single biggest act of self-destruction, which proceeded to wreck the economy. Today, British wages are a third to a fourth of America’s, and it’s not exactly in good shape.
• So fixated on “Britain First” levels of fanaticism, it limited immigration so severely that today, there are crippling shortages of everything from doctors to nurses to surgeons to truck drivers, and the economy, already hit badly, is in such sharp decline that it’s literally making history, and I’ll come back to that, too.
• It’s last PM, hypnotized by American libertarian fantasies, tried to create “Freeports,” which are a version of a thing called “charter cities,” or places where actual law doesn’t apply, and corporations literally dictate the rules.

There’s plenty more, from crony capitalism to a literal “hostile” country as policy.

So what did all this do? It failed, incredibly badly.

It didn’t produce a single positive outcome.

That is why there was a landslide. Because today, as a result of the jaw-dropping, morbid, delusional choices, Brits are severely worse off than they were a decade or two ago, economically, socially, culturally. Their society has been savaged in every way.

Now. See what I’m really trying to point out.

Britain teaches us where the far right experiment ends. Self-destruction. It’s as if Britain lost a war, in terms of social outcomes, from incomes to social cohesion to optimism to trust, and it did: against its own lunatics and fanatics.

How to Destroy Your Country, Your Political Party, and the Future

Britain’s conservatives, I explained to my friend, now have a far, far bigger problem than mere unpopularity.

They don’t have any ideas left.

What really just happened?

Britain’s crackpots were given absolute power. They tried every single thing they ever dreamed of, in the outer limits of their wildest dreams. Sending people to Rwanda and paying it off? Breaking off with the EU? Privatizing the NHS and ripping apart the BBC?

They were given license to attempt everything—every single thing—that the extreme British fringe right had ever, let me say it again, dreamed of. Once, these things were just that, lunatic dreams, and suddenly, within a decade and a half, they all—all of them—became reality.

And the British people found out the hard way that all these crackpot dreams were in fact really bad ideas.

So now let’s come back to Starmer, and politics in the larger sense. Fast forward five years, and it’s election time again. By now, you might be able to see the problem. What are the conservatives even going to offer?

Are they going to…Brexit again? But you can only do that once. Are they going to try to deport people to…what’s even worse than Rwanda? That’s already the bottom of the barrel. Are they going to limit immigration even more severely, so that this time there are no doctors and surgeons and nurses allowed, and the waiting lists stretch to a decade?

They are out of ideas. Not in the ideological sense, even, but in the real-world one, the pragmatic one. They tried everything—every single thing—they had ever dreamed of. Today’s Britain is what all that created.

It didn’t work.

That teaches us where the far-right experiments ends.

But it also leaves conservatives now wiped out. Where are they going to get fresh ideas? What are those ideas going to be? You see the scale of the problem. When you attempt every single you ever dreamed of, and it all fails, this badly, on such a shocking scale, where do you go?

Then you become a party without a future, which is where the conservatives are. They’re trying to spin this moment, but their panic beneath the surface is very real. You can’t get more extreme than the last decade and a half of what they just did, short of, I don’t know, going the full Putin or Orban, and I highly doubt the British people are going to choose that, because…

They’ve already learned this lesson, the hard way.

The First Real-World Job Leaders Have Today

So what’s Starmer’s job?

I lived for a long time, funnily enough, in his neighborhood. Camden, which is the punkiest and coolest place on earth to this day, the birthplace of music as you know it, art, literature, and much more. You’d see him wandering around, and in Camden, people know each other. Here’s a pro tip by the way, the best place to shop there is Rock’n’Roll Rescue.

Here’s the funny thing. Camden doesn’t like Starmer. Because like I said, Camden is so left wing it’s practically Bolshevik, and Starmer isn’t that. But…does he have to be? Is that what change is made of?

Here’s Starmer’s real job. The last parliament, meaning the last half decade of politics in Britain, presided over something truly shocking: the sharpest, fastest, deepest fall in living standards in British history. At least since records began. That’s how bad it was, and you see from that, I don’t exaggerate or kid one bit with you.

Starmer’s job is just this: arresting that fall.

Let me put that in plainer English. Stopping the decline, which has reached the point of implosion. If he can do that? He’s done his job, or at least the first part of it.

The next part of his job, over the coming years, is trying to reverse that decline, and lift living standards—slowly, one baby step at a time, and that’ll be incredibly difficult, painful, and hard. Because Britain’s now a country without a) friends b) trading partners c) an adequate labor force d) enough investment e) confidence from the global community. So that part of the job is going to incredibly challenging.

And maybe it’s not even a job for this term in office. Just stopping the dramatic, historic decline: the sharpest, fastest, deepest fall in living standards, ever. Starmer and Labour’s first task is just to…stop that. As if to say: this is it, the trough, and we’re going no lower than this, enough is enough, now we’ve hit rock bottom.

From there, Starmer’s team can—if they’re smart, wise, and tough—begin the next phase, which is lifting living standards.

This is the first job that leaders have today, period. From CEOs to other heads of state, because this is the biggest macro trend laying waste to our world and future.

How to Give a Broken Country a Future Again

Now, I won’t say much about how that happens, because the answers are as obvious as they are unpopular.

How do you…stop a country from hitting rock bottom…one which doesn’t have enough doctors, nurses, surgeons, truck drivers, trading partners, friends? It’s pretty obvious, no? You have to…get some more of all those. And that means smarter approaches to everything from immigration to investment to trade.

The problem is that those are all still unpopular.

So Starmer faces a tough set of choices now. The far right wing hypnotic seduction, its spell, is lifting. But slowly. The British people are wise and decent enough to have understood that all this was incredibly bad for them, finally, and that’s a testament to them, because in this day and age, few nations have yet reached that point.

And yet what has to be done next is still pretty unpopular, so Starmer’s going to have to be a leader now. Being a leader means making unpopular choices. When I decided to warn Americans about collapse a decade ago, I knew it’d cost me a great deal, but I did it because I thought it mattered. Similarly, Starmer’s going to have to now either lead, or…watch Britain continue to fall apart, and in this context, that means teaching people what must be done next. If, at least, they want decent lives again.

Starmer’s been incredibly canny so far. How did he win? By not saying much. He didn’t say “we’re going to open up immigration, and invest again, and make friends with the world again.” He didn’t do it because he knew it was so unpopular, still, that even if people were fed up with the extreme right, it’d cost him the election. So he just…didn’t say much, except promising “change,” over and over again.

Smart strategy. It won him a landslide.

But now his challenge is this. The British people are fed up, and they’ve learned what doesn’t work, which is the crackpot ideas of the far right—but are they ready to accept what does? That’s something very much like the far more liberal place that Britain once used to be, and these days, as we all know, the only thing more unpopular than liberalism is Taylor Swift’s worst enemy. I mean liberalism there not in the sense of neoliberalism, but something more like what Gordon Brown once promised Brits—a sort of lightweight social democracy, kind, gentle, open, supportive, just, and equal.

It’ll take leadership—real courage, bravery, strength, unwavering commitment—to get Britain to a place like that, a place where things could work again. That’s the place that comes after Rock Bottom, and we could call that place: Possibility.

Five Lessons From Britain’s Landslide (for Sanity and Progress)

So what’s the lesson here? There are five, and they each matter, so let me spell them out.

The sad story of contemporary Britain’s self-destruction, and its consequent landslide of despair, teaches us this:

1. There is a Rock Bottom, after a society falls under the spell of the extreme crackpot right.
2. But that Rock Bottom is a really, really bad place, and it takes a long time to hit. It took Britain fifteen years—that’s almost four American Presidential terms—to get there, a political eon. And by now, Britain’s in a shockingly bad place, remember the sharpest, fastest fall in living standards in history.
3. In other words, Rock Bottom is self-destruction as a functioning society, which Britain isn’t right now, and Labour, promisingly, isn’t mincing words about that.
4. Nations can learn that the folly of turning extreme right doesn’t work, but the price to be paid is incredibly steep. The promising future that Britain once had is gone for good, and it’ll be a generational task making it a functional society again.
5. After hitting Rock Bottom, still, even then, nations must be led back to a place of Possibility, and that’s the next task, and that’s even harder than just a a landslide that’s a cry of frustration, rage, and despair, which is what Starmer got, and his strategy for that should be appreciated too: don’t mince words, tell people how bad it really is, and then promise real change.

That’s a lot. And if it sounds pessimistic, believe me, it’s not.

We should learn from the world around us. Britain’s a warning, but it’s also sort of a beacon of hope now, in a way. Until now, we haven’t learned where or if this surge of folly, nations turning extreme right, really ends, because barely any have turned away, and regained their senses. America’s on the verge of re-electing Trump, after all, and fanaticism’s sweeping even Western Europe. Britain teaches us a very great deal right now, and perhaps we should appreciate and applaud the British for coming back to their senses, and teaching the world it can be done.

Learning. Note how Starmer’s approach—say how bad and broken it is out loud, don’t be afraid about it, point out the failures and dangers and how things are going from bad to worse, how society’s not functioning anymore, and then promise real change—is the exact opposite of the Democrats’ approach in America.

They’re not learning, and that’s why they’re currently losing.

The rest of us? We should be. Starmer is far from a Perfect Candidate for my friends in Camden, who called me up, too, groaning and complaining.

And you know what I told them? Guys, get a grip. Hello, take a look at the world. The first thing our side, meaning just democracy and sanity, needs to learn how to do again? The most basic one of all, which isn’t promising the sun and moon to people desperately trapped in an abyss as deep as Dante’s inferno. It’s just this, first.


the issue
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