I have a question for all you Brits and whatnot out there. As I understand it, the Tories are not that crazy, they’re about like the Blue Dogs if the Blue Dogs had all gone to Eton and drank claret at lunch. Given the “special relationship” between the US and the UK, is there a fear that the insanity of American conservatism will eventually seep into UK conservatism? Or am I wrong that it’s not already crazy?
This article about a “Tory madrasa” got me thinking:
The YBF chief executive, Donal Blaney, who runs the courses on media training and policy, has called for environmental protesters who trespass to be “shot down” by the police and that Britain should have a US-style liberal firearms policy. In an article on his own website, entitled Scrap the NHS, not just targets, he wrote: “Would it not now be better to say that the NHS – in its current incarnation – is finished?”
Blaney has described the YBF as “a Conservative madrasa” that radicalises young Tories. Programmes have included trips to meet neo-conservative groups in the US and to a shooting range in Virginia to fire submachine guns and assault rifles.
Also too, Ross Douthat taunted Tories today for not being sufficiently conservative, before praising David Cameron by comparing him to Nixon and George W. Bush.
all hail the glorious march of Global Reactionism !
lead us backwards into the future, brave and honorable wingknights!
Well, supposedly this kind of insanity-seepage is what we saw when Stephen Harper became PM over in Canada – the “blue” and “red” Tories fighting it out for control of the party’s platform. God knows if eventually that’ll happen over in the UK.
Also, great reference.
American conservatism has already seeped into Canadian, Kiwi (New Zealand) and Australian conservatism. But it isn’t very popular with the electorate and is often played down.
I’d be surprised if the UK isn’t on the same road.
I sort of though the “British National Party” was pretty close to American conservitism
I’m genuinely surprised by this. It sound more like the BNP than Tories.
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
I cannot see Chunky David Brooks’ name without thinking that it’s pronounced Ross du Twat.
Wow,the 2 most corrupt and immoral Presidents in history!
TWO STRIKES, DOUTHAT!
Well, here’s some exploration on that topic from Argumental: Britain Should Be More Like America. I’ll be back with another that I’ve been meaning to bring here.
One thing Britain lacks is the nutty religiosity we have over here in the States.
I am American so can not answer that question but I have read articles about how American style religious fundamentalism has been seeping into Britain.
Got it. Argumental – Barack Obama can only disappoint us.
The angry pasty fat old white guys are going to be the death of us all. Also.
Looking in from the outside [outside of the UK], I get the impression that the Tories at least have the best interests of their constituents at heart – even when they are mistaken.
There are some outlyers – BNP, for one. But on the whole, the Brits seem to be pretty sane.
Flaming idealists, who are willing to risk anything and anybody to live out an idea, are so common in the US that I sometimes think we have a monopoly on them. On other days, I realize the other places produce a lot of those folks, as well. Al Qeada is one example.
Idealists are often romantic and attractive, largely because of the passion they bring to their politics. Are they attractive enough to seduce the normally pragmatic residents of the UK? I don’t know.
@SpotWeld: That is what I was going to say, the BNP basically hates everyone that isn’t lily white and a wingnut, so Bible Spice’s crowd to a t. They have always been there simmering under the surface but never really getting any traction.
I think though that I have figured out why the wingnuts in the US are now so vocal and angry, and I figured it out by watching BBC America and HGTV. (No really).
Years ago I would watch BBCAmerica (or some other channels that carried British shows) and on a show like “Changing Rooms” for example there were lots of bi-racial couples, same sex couples, common-law marriage types etc., etc. When you watched the same type of shows on HGTV the featured couples would almost universally be white, straight, married couples. Period. That was it. Recently however, that picture is changing. More and more on HGTV they are featuring same sex couples, bi-racial couples etc., and they are more and more being considered as the norm. The “straight white marrieds” are being pushed to the outer edges and as a result are feeling alienated in their own country, which is why you get the cries of “I want my country back”.
I know its a wacky theory, but at least its a theory.
If I were a Brit, I would take the lessons of 28 Days Later to heart and quarantine the US.
@Cat Lady: There’s always the hope that the Rapture will come, take them all away and leave us in peace.
it might not be as prevalent, but there’s enough of it. there’s a pretty loud anti-science / creationist faction, for example.
I have not heard that, I shall have to ask my mum about it. For the most part Brits go to Church on high days and holidays and of course most of them are protestants anyway so it doesn’t really count!
Yes, please FSM, and would give the idea of Heaven a whole new meaning.
I’m Belgian. I cast around for some opinions from friends and family, and the consensus opinion is that when Blair hitched his cart to America in the rampup to the Iraq War, and that it’s been evolving or devolving into a dependency relationship. British politics are more muddied than America’s, which are very clear-cut and easy to understand, not to mention well-studied at places like 538. Some Belgian politicians look to the States already, especially the extreme right, and there’s plenty they see to like – a huge anti-tax and even more of an anti-immigrant focus, most recently. The US isn’t just the world’s sole superpower, it’s also a testbed for the future of conservatism. The Tories probably have some distaste for the manipulative populism, but that’s not going to last if they keep being shut out. The left side of the political spectrum doesn’t have that much to draw on, sadly.
As for UK politics, the consensus is that Labour thought the ice cream cart simile was an electoral strategy and that it’s come back to bite them. They’re acceptable but they’d ideally get to sit out a government so they can prune away the deadwood and stake out a position other than “non-Tory”. None of my friends think anyone should vote for the Tories; several of them argue that if they lived outside of England they’d vote for a peculiarist party instead. Everyone seems to agree that Nick Clegg is an excellent choice, and will actually force a course that doesn’t leave the UK looking like the 52nd state. You’d hope that with him as the kingmaker that influence would wane, but I’m not sure it would. I know too little about Australia or NZ to be able to tell.
I would not be surprised if I didn’t get it from one of her columns.
@Litlebritdifrnt: Certainly, the demographic changes are real, and we do seem to have reached a tipping point that the recession only made more noticeable. I really wish the press was paying more attention to the effects of current politics on the under 30 crowd, since this is what will determine if we’re just going through the last throes of an ancien régime facing the inevitable disruptions of political realignment or an actual political retrenchment.
The current Conservative party is to the left of the Democrats.
They had to move back to the center to become electable.
There is not a great deal of difference between Labour and Conservatives at the moment. Both will have to raise taxes and cut spending. The Liberals are able to offer more because they know they are unlikely to have to govern the country and make true on their promises.
Cameron is very liberal in terms of marriage, gays, equal rights. He is a strong supporter of the NHS.
The conservatives do have their own right wing who are rabid and who occasionally rear their heads, but the leadership knows that to give them the keys to the ship would be suicide (as they have discovered over the last 3 elections).
The young britons foundation appears to be pretty irrelevant to the conservative party and don’t forget the source is the Guardian which is well known for its left wing reporting (as the Times,Sun, Telegraph,Mail is for right wing). This is an election period so scare stories will appear in all papers, all hyped. Eric Pickles appears to be Karl Roves long lost brother.
There are a few things that are fundamentally different between the Republicans and the British conservatives:
1) Socially liberal.
2) Conservatives will raise taxes as well as cutting services.
3) The UK has not reached the stage where one side believes the others are traitors. Fundamentally both Conservative and Labour believe their opposition want whats best for the country, just have misguided beliefs.
4) The majority of MPs still want to do whats best for the country, not just enrich themselves and backers.
The press and media in the UK do a pretty good job of holding the politicians to account.
@Napoleon: Love it. Will check out more of her columns. Thanks.
In the UK the nutcases seem to have the presence of mind to be in their own party (the BNP on the right, I dunno about what’s on the left side these days), while in the US they almost all end up in either of the two parties (these days certainly the rightwing extremists are far more troublesome).
Which is curious since the electoral system is very similar.
Well, they do rank their duck houses, moats and second homes rather high on the list of things to support, you must admit.
My biggest concern about the UK is the ongoing “Muslim panic” I read about in the papers and is often expressed by my UK friends, who are quite liberal on other issues.
It seems obvious that while Muslims in the US and Canada are generally well-educated, professionals who migrated under Skilled Worker immigration categories, the UK’s Muslim population seems to be poorer, less educated migrants from the UK’s former colonies.
It’s hard to tell whether the Muslim population there are truly not interested in assimilating and adopting British values and cultural norms, or whether some kind of informal segregation keeps them in ghettos making it difficult to mainstream. But it seems to be a problem for both sides fraught with a great deal of misunderstanding and mistrust.
It’s also something that can easily be exploited by right-wing factions. The BNP is perhaps the most obvious example, but similar sentiments come from fairly mainstream voices, like in the Church of England.
Every time I am forced to read Chunky Bobo, I am sorely tempted to take revenge by blowing up the admissions office at Harvard. They need to pay for the sin of credentializing this little twerp.
This. My mother is a prime example, she is tolerant of just about anything and everyone and yet she has a complete mistrust of muslims when she sees them in the street (particularly the ladies in their full garb “they could be carrying anything under there” she says). It does not help that we have a very secretive muslim school in town, housed in the former insane asylum strangely enough, it worries her what could be going on behind those high walls and barred windows. I do not think she is alone. It is strange.
Well, Brits have just passed a law that makes DMCA look like it was penned by Richard Stallman. Though to be fair it was Labor that pushed it through, not Tories. Make of it what you will regarding their sanity.
I dunno – ever seen The New Statesman?
True, and there are quite a few mistresses to support!
The point I was trying to make is that I believe the majority of MPs still believe they are working to improve the country as opposed to just personal gain.
Andy @23 has this right. I’m a Brit who’s lived in the US for 6 years and this:
is one of the most glaring differences in the politics of the two countries.
There is very little to compare in conservative politics, the American brand really does flirt with a type of militaristic nationalism that leads me to advise my British political friends to well and truly end that special relationship.
Also see confederate history month.
So your real question is: Will British politics become affected by the bongwater bogeyman caricature of conservativism than DougJ can manage to pull out of his own uncurious ass every morning? So the real answer is: That depends on just how high DougJ is at the given time.
Haha, bringing up drugs in the same sentence where he’s whining about conservatives being caricatured. Very funny.
On fear of Muslims.
It’s the same reaction Brits have had to each and every wave of immigration. Amplified by the wars and terrorism justifiably or not.
It will pass.
Of course it’s fertile ground for the far right, fascist BNP (British National Party) and the isolationist UKIP (UK Independence Party).
before praising David Cameron by comparing him to Nixon and George W. Bush.
Needs copyediting. Try,
before “praising” David Cameron by comparing him to Nixon and George W. Bush.
Ah, that’s better.
Bill E Pilgrim
While I was game at first about attempts at understanding rough counterparts between US and European political parties, I’ve come to the decision that even the caveat-laden attempts at any mapping are more confusing than useful.
Tories really aren’t like Blue Dogs much at all, in so many ways.
Then again, Blue Dogs are– what exactly? They’re certainly not all anti-abortion fanatics like Bart Stupak, even if they’re conservative.
Someone was saying that the difference is purely in that American conservatives are more conservative about “social issues”– but that actually doesn’t hold up much. Check out Ireland’s abortion laws. It’s actually pretty prohibitive elsewhere Europe also.
Take Nicolas Sarkozy. Against the death penalty (Clinton wasn’t anywhere near that far “left” on that issue) and in favor of absolute universal health care. So yes, that’s “liberal” in US terms. Except that he’s an anti-immigrant, right wing hawk, who has harshly criticized Obama for being too peace-mongering. So he’s more right wing than Obama… but he’s left wing?
Mapping will just lead you down a very windy and confusing garden path.
Bender mistakes the “conservatism” of his fantasies with conservatism as is actually practiced.
it’s a mistake most conservatives make, these days, sadly.
@Litlebritdifrnt: Your “wacky theory” is not entirely insane.
I do like the idea of “HGTV causes Teaparty demonstrations”.
Maybe we could put that on a bumper sticker. :-)
I can’t speak for Britain, but in Australia there is a kind of exchange program going on between Republicans in the US and Liberals (in name only) in Oz.
For instance, Frank Luntz has been out here a few times, and the son of the previous (Liberal) PM worked on Bush’s 2004 campaign.
In fact it used to be the case that most of the Republican culture war memes tended to pop up in Oz about 3 months after they appeared in the US. This has been much less noticeable since the Libs lost power.
That said, with a few notable examples the Libs are not yet crazed wingnuts. Although I think they are currently observing the strategy of the Party of No with great interest.
DougJ – So you’re a Bowie fan too?
@toujoursdan: “muslim panic”
You are saying that the consequences of colonialism are causing problems in the homeland?
The British right has always had its own proprietary brand of crazy, and would look askance at the idea of another country’s insanity permeating our borders unless it was floated on a tranche of money. (Of course, the same applies to New Labour, which is what the Tories would aspire to be if New Labour hadn’t got there first and hogged the centre-right ground.)
What’s crazy enough for you? Daniel Hannan touring the American right-wing media to repeately slate the NHS during the HCR debacle, or Nigel Farage venting his immoderate spleen at EU President von Rompuy, both severely embarrassing Cameron in the process, but both evidently mainstream enough to have come through the party’s selection process? And that’s them taking part in civilized debates.
Scratch Cameron’s shadow cabinet and there are loons or would-be ex-loons galore.
If they don’t measure up to American wingnuts, then I’m sorry, but you set the bar so high. Yours are much more entertaining and imaginative.
Bill E Pilgrim
I think Wingnut pundits and theorists should be required to spend years in a place that actually puts their “smallest government possible” principles into practice already, before they can be allowed to try and go influence a place that they want to convert to their philosophy.
In other words, before you can go advise anyone in the UK, you have to spend a few years in Somalia.
Cameron’s running as a compassionate conservative and the party is encouraging an extremist right reactionary membership and party leadership and infrastructure.
If only we had a precedent for this…
It will pass – Agreed with one caveat.
Most other waves of immigration have merged into and integrated with the mainstream British society within a couple of generations.
As yet, I have not seen much evidence of this with Muslims of Pakistani descent. Because of this, and because there are small groups of very vocal Muslims who seem to take pride in pissing people off, Muslims are treated with suspicion. The attacks in the UK by Muslim extremists have not helped either.
If that’s all it’s about let’s give them their own channel.
The Tories are to the left of our Democrats but they are still raving right wingers by European standards. They are very subtly and quietly playing on anti-Pakistani and anti-Muslim sentiment to try to whip up their base.
The good news is that there seems to be a consensus between the parties that the “special relationship” is dead. So it’s likely that no matter which party wins, it wont be encouraging U.S. military adventurism abroad.
@J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford: I tend to go with “douche-hat” myself.
@Wilson Heath: If I were a Brit, I’d take the lesson from Aliens instead.
@russell: They have their own channel. Fox News.
All I can say is that my father was a true Thatcher Tory, but since moving to the states is all out in love with Caribou Barbie. I don’t think he’d fit with the standard Conservative party back home anymore, but there’s a place for him and his type back there.
Myself, I think the Tories work right now to balance the ills of the Labour Party, the whole police state, surveillance state in London is scary. Having a sane party pushing back on that is needed. In the long run I’d rather have Labour in charge, but they need Cameron right now to shake things up. At least he seems pro-Environment, won’t screw up NHS and has a good chance at dismantling a bit of the nannie state that doesn’t belong.
Well, if you’re referring to the Digital Economy bill, it only got rammed through without the proper full debate due to initial collusion between Labour and the Tories. The fact that Tories supported the bill, but let Labour own the result by abstaining on the 3rd reading vote, just shows that Senate Democrats aren’t alone in being easy marks.
I think the Republican party is more like the BNP than like the Tories.
You asked if there is a danger of wingut “seepage” from the US to the UK? I have two words for you: Nile Gardiner.
At least half of all Republicans in the U.S. Senate do not believe in anthropogenic global warming. 30% of the 2008 Republican candidates for president publicly claimed not to believe in evolution. “Alchemists and creationists . . . anti-science and hair tonic,” as Ta-Nehisi put it.
I don’t think there is any mainstream analogue in British government (or in any other developed nation, so far as I know). This is an important detail, I think.
I must have missed that period when George W. Bush was paying lip service to socialized medicine and to fighting anthropogenic global warming. Though I suppose El Cid’s probably right about the comparison with “compassionate conservatism” used as a cynical ploy to woo voters to empower a right-wing agenda.
Which puts them squarely in line with the populations of the UK, Germany, Australia, the US, etc.
Stop trying to push your religion on us, man!
I think this points to one huge difference.
The BBC, a public broadcaster funded by television licences, is by far the heavyweight player in the media scene in the UK. The private stations are all on the fringes.
It’s just the opposite in the U.S. There isn’t even a public cable news channel here like BBC World/BBC 24, CBC News Network, TVNZ 7 in New Zealand, France24 or ABC News in Australia.
The U.S. is unique in the western world for having such a small public television footprint and I think that makes a huge different in how news is presented.
I can tell you something about conservatives in Germany. They are imitating and admiring american conservatives in all matters economic: deregulation, wage cutting, income tax cutting. Somewhat hemmed in though by the fact that the CDU still officially has a union wing. Also they are still committed to balance the budget, so that tax cuttery finds its limits.
The differences are considerable though:
The FDP is no much interested in religion at all, being led now by an open gay anyway. Sometimes they even make gestures about dissolving our state church system.
The CDU on the other hand is a christian party. But its social conservatism has mellowed with the waning social conservatism of society. More important, it is a catholic and in second line a lutheran party. The very different protestantism that fuels much of the religious right in the US is quite alien.
Once upon time the german right was very militaristic, nationalistic and happy to call others anti-german traitors. Then certain unpleasant events happened.
So the aggressive nationalism used by the GOP is simply not used and would backfire anyway.
c) The state
The anti-government rhetoric of the american right is feebly imitated by our smaller right-wing party. The major right-wing party though is a big-government conservative party. As long the power of the state is used for proper, i. e. conservative ends there is no problem at all. That has of course a lot to do with the voters: Seniors, farmers and so on who like certain sort of state expenses.
d) the media
And then, and I think that is almost the central point, our media is different . It does tend to be center-right, especially on economic matters. But all the crazy things the republicans can say in the US would be punishes swiftly. Obviously a analog to all the confederate nostalgia is simply impossible. If some conservative back bencher says something nutty, the media will attack him and within days the leadership will discipline him. You could never say something like “San Francisco values”, because the chance is great that the next day the conservative major of “SanFrancisco” will call you and berate your for undermining the electoral chances of your party.
So, not much infection risk here.
I can’t speak for the UK, but as a Canadian I know that I see that fear expressed almost constantly. You practically can’t turn around without someone accusing Stephen Harper of playing ‘American-style politics’. Which is sheer lunacy:
Harper is an ass, his government is corrupt, and the sooner he’s out of office the better, and it IS true that he plays closer to the Republican playbook than any other mainstream Canadian politician…but that’s a bit like saying that the Zebra is the Equine closest related to humans or something. The political climate in Canada just doesn’t allow for the sort of blind ideology and mass smear campaigns that the American conservative movement revels in.
Since someone mentioned the BBC, of course we have a public radio and television system too. Modeled on the BBC in part. I think.
@Bender: I wasn’t speaking of the general beliefs of the population; I was speaking of a mainstream (read: politically influential) analogue in any governmental representation. There is no legislative body in the developed world that has as high a representation of AGW “skeptics” as the U.S.A. (this may be an interesting point for discussion of truly representative government, now that I think about it). I would also be interested if you had any links for polling in Germany and the U.K.; I’d be surprised if it was anywhere near the U.S. polling numbers on the question of climate change.
Interesting that you didn’t take issue with the question of evolution, tho’. A plurality of Americans believe that humans were created in our current form within the last ten thousand years: should they be equally represented in government?
The Tories have already had their crazy period, and the problem for them is that the voting public, despite the best efforts from Cameron, is not convinced that it is truly over or that they are just hiding it. From the early 1990s to the mid-2000s the core issue and the purity test for the Tories was Euroscepticism (i.e. anti European Union), and leadership races were lost and won on whether the prospective leader was Euroscpetic enough. Cameron has managed to bring those internal quarrels under control, helped by the fact that the most rabid Eurosceptics have departed to the UK Independence Party, a party which ironically did quite well in the European elections, but is without any chance in the nationals.
But the British public is still wondering whether Cameron managed to commit the crazy Eurosceptic uncle to the asylum or whether he is just hiding him in the attic. And occassionally, as litlebritdiff pointed out above, they hear strange noises above their heads when they visit the Cameron mansion.
I’ve had a lot of british indian friends in England and I’ve visited them in the 90s and I gotta say those people are fucking insane. I have never seen such a restrictive society. We are talking both Indian muslims and hindus. Basically, these people left India in 1960s or so, froze the cultural norms at that time and extended it to the next generations. So essentially these kids were living two lives. English and their restrictive indian upbringing. (true in the U.S. and Canada too..)
When a girl wants to talk to a boy, she has to do a two way handshake of having a girl call her, and then the girl gives the phone to the guy in order for the two to talk. Meanwhile, there is a sexual revolution going on in India and it’s turning more liberal socially for women. But you’d never know it in England. (and to a lesser extend the U.S. and possibly Canada) It is the worst with gujaratis and punjabis. (I think they are the primary folks who migrated to Canada and England during the big 1960-70s immigration boom)
So yeah, they do fight being inclusive into British society which is a lot more liberal than they are used to. What they don’t know is that they’ve already lost by making a decision to come to Western society. In two to three generations you will be absorbed. The only thing you can do is manage the change and extract the important values you want to pass on to your children. But this is part of their bittnerness. I have no sympathy. You made a decision to leave your cultural center for a better life. You have it, and it is at a cost of your cultural values. Too fucking bad.
Luckily my parents are progressives and didn’t try to enforce “indian values” on me. They allowed me to explore them on my own and trusted my decisions. But for a lot of other people, indian values were a constraint they didn’t understand only that it was inflicted on them. Once tehy left their parent’s home they rejected indian values with a vengeance, especially the girls.
All this talk of seepage has got me wondering: whatever happened to Olestra?
AGW in Germany: According to this,
only 10% of Germans think our government is doing to much to combat climate change.
So the upper level of climate change inactivists in Germany seems to be 10%.
Probably zero in parliament.
Maybe it’s because the Indians I’ve known in the US were mostly in grad school, but I’ve never seen evidence of the restrictions on boy-girl communications you talk about.
What I have seen is a willingness of otherwise modern Indians to embrace traditional marriage and courting to the extent of having the aunties help find them a mate (Or, for those who met in more Americanized circumstances, to go back home and have a traditional ceremony) And it seems, in some strange way, to work in the sense of these “arranged” marriages often being very deeply loving ones. One explanation I once read from a young Indian was that he trusted the elder female relatives to know him well enough to know what kind of a girl he would fall in love with.
Edit: From the rest of your comment, I gather that you are Indian so you could justifiably say I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about as an outsider.
I was just reacting to your words about “in the US too”. I just have never gotten that impression from Indians in the US.
So what you are saying is that Oz is turning into Kansas? (rimshot)
well given Farage isn’t a member of the tory party and hasn’t been since 1992, I suspect Cameron isn’t very embarrassed about him at all.
He’s a UKIP MEP.
As for Hannan and his views on the NHS , Cameron remarked that hannan’s views were ‘eccentric’ so he obviously doesn’t take the views of a minor MEP very seriously (in which he’s like most people). And given hannan has been an MEP since before Cameron even became an MP then Cameron probably doesn’t really care very much.
As noted above, given this story comes from the Guardian, i’d take it with a pinch of salt.
“Cameron is very liberal in terms of marriage, gays, equal rights. He is a strong supporter of the NHS.”
It’s important to make the distinction between what he says he is and what he actually is, just as with George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” that turned into rampaging militaristic lunacy. Cameron will say anything to get elected just like any politician. But the Tories are still the Tories; you have only to look back at their last period of rule to see what that was all about – union-breaking, restrictions on civil liberties, scapegoating – the usual material of the right.
I always distrust politicians who claim to have crossed over; even when they act on those claims, they usually completely screw it up. Blair’s rightist gesture was Iraq; Bush’s leftist gesture was Medicare Part D. Stick to what you know, that’s what I suggest.
Most American liberals and leftists would align with the Lib Dems, I think, although likely they would vote strategically with Labour in many seats to keep the Tories out. Labour’s commitment to civil liberties is weak and their foreign policy more aggressive & interventionist than US liberals would like. (For instance, remember that in the debate over the replacement for the current Trident nuclear missile submarines, the submarines will be built in the North and serviced in Scotland, which are mostly Labour areas; defense spending has a strong constituency.)
“well given Farage isn’t a member of the tory party and hasn’t been since 1992, I suspect Cameron isn’t very embarrassed about him at all.”
Mea culpa on Farage. I recalled his name from the Thatcher days, when he was in fact a Tory, and hadn’t updated my wingnutbase.
“As for Hannan and his views on the NHS , Cameron remarked that hannan’s views were ‘eccentric’ so he obviously doesn’t take the views of a minor MEP very seriously (in which he’s like most people). And given hannan has been an MEP since before Cameron even became an MP then Cameron probably doesn’t really care very much.”
He’s a sensation among a number of the Tory blogs in particular.
After much lobbying from them of Party Chair Eric Pickles, Hannan was invited to address the 2009 Conservative Party Spring Conference.
Yeah, sounds pretty marginal to me.
UK based dual-national here with a few quick points.
Basically, most of the right wing craziness Britain has imported from the US in the last decade or so has ended up in the fringe parties/movements like UKIP or the increasingly vocal (but electorally meaningless) evangelicals. There’s certainly a risk that it will spread to the Conservatives, or even other parties, given that the UK tends to adopt US political trends with a 5-10 year delay (it certainly happened with Clinton and Blair, Reagan and Thatcher/Major). But at the same time, disdain for Bush is so widespread in this country, and the religous dynamic is so different, that some of the US stuff just wouldn’t translate to any of the major parties. Also, as several posts have mentioned above, while the opposition in Britain reflexively opposes the government, there isn’t usually the same bright line on policy (ie no tax increases ever, abortion, etc). The “executive’s” ability to shape and bring legislation means that you don’t often get the same legislative posturing – basically the government tables legislation it knows will pass (with a few exceptions every year). Finally, while there is certainly an urban/rural divide, it’s nowhere near as culturally polarised as it is in the US.
Hey, I’m British. Born in the UK of Indian parents who migrated here when Uganda fell apart in the 1970s. The political landscape in the UK is fascinating at the moment, more so than it has been at any other point in my lifetime.
To really understand the politics you have to understand the parties themselves. Traditionally, the Tories have been the party of the rich, the landed aristocracy, the rural middle-classes and had its heartland in the south of England. Labour has been the party of the working classes, the urban middle-classes and was based in the North of England, Wales and Scotland.
In terms of their philosophies, the Conservatives stood for projecting British power overseas, a domestically small government and supporting Britain’s global role in finance. Labour were a democratic socialist party, they saw the working poor in other countries as allies,disliked foreign wars, wanted state control of the “commanding heights” of the economy, and maintained redistributive tax codes. Importantly they also passed important civil rights legislation in the 60s and 70s. However, it is important to note that the distance between the parties has never been massive. In the 50s and 60s as the NHS (bless it to high heaven) and the rest of the welfare state was being built both parties were broadly in support. However in the 70s things started to turn sour. Britain’s acrimonious industrial relations and a lack of Government foresight meant that Britain’s vast manufacturing industry was going down the pan. There was strife, strikes and joblessness. Labour tried and failed to deal with the problem, and in the end Margaret Thatcher was voted in in 1979.
At first she just stood on an anti-union and cutting the deficit platform. However, it was at this time that a wave hit from across the Atlantic: the free markets doctrine of Milton Friedman. The Tories enthusiastically embraced it. They unleashed the City of London, making it the moat deregulated major banking centre in the world, sold off state assets in the utilities and sold off social housing. They introduced market reforms in the NHS and attempted to bring in school vouchers (they would have liked to do more but public support was too high for some institutions).
This continued until 1997, by which point Britain was a radically different place. More self-assured but more selfish, in possession of a booming south around London, built on banking but a depressed north suffering from a rapid decline in manufacturing. It was at this time that another wave hit from the West, thaw of third-way “blue-dog” democratic policy and the art of triangulation. Mark Penn helped Tony Blair perfect these techniques and Labour swept into power in 1997 against a Tory government that seemed increasingly mired in sleaze, doctrinaire, and responsible for the decline in British schools and hospitals. In government Labour made a pact with the devil, in essence they agreed to ease the regulation on Britain’s large financial sector in return for tax revenue that they used to rebuild Britain’s schools, hospitals and transport infrastructure, after almost two decades of Tory cuts. This cozy deal exploded in 2008, as did the public’s confidence in both main parties.
The disappointments of both Tory and Labour parties is presenting a golden opportunity for the Liberal Democrats who had a breakthrough moment last week during the first even leaders’ debate. To understand the Lib Dems, you have to understand how they are different from the other two parties. They opposed the Iraq war, the others both supported it. They opposed greater surveillance, the others both supported it. They have a different view of the state to the others, whereas the Tories want a small state, and Labour have always had the highly redistributive state the Lib Dems seem to favour a more enabling state. The key difference is that the Lib Dems are far less authoritarian than either of the other main parties, there seem to be riding a progressive wave (in the US meaning is the word). With the parties attracting a third of the vote each, it has the potential to break open our archaic first past the post system. If the Lib Dems get a third of the vote but only a fifth of the seats, I don’t the current system can survive. Good!
Due to your primary system, your politics adjusts itself through presidential races, new parties emerge and then take a place in one of your two big tents. For example, the Confederate Party has taken a leading role in the Republicans, and the Progressive wing is in charge of the White House. Ours adjustable through the rise of a new party, but this tie round it may actually revolutionize our system.
(@ cain, although I can recognise the picture you paint, I think you’re being somewhat harsh. You have to realise that the idea of American-ness has been in constant flux for the last 200 years with constant waves of immigration. The UK is different, maybe 90% of the population are descended from the time of the Norman invasion in 1066 and mass immigration was unseen before the 1950s. This makes the British experience for immigrants very different from the American: Britishness is difficult to pick up. My parents were strict, “no drinking, no parties, no girlfriends, we’d like you to marry an Indian girl” but I did what all right thinking people do, rebelled at university. Time has mellowed my parents and now their mantra is, “do what you think is good son, we’ve only ever wanted you to be happy.” They’ve travelled further in their opinions than I ever would have expected, as have many others, so it is not remotely fair to tar all with the same brush. On the general issue of race relations, the UK is doing well. The UK’s free health care, very good schooling across the country and cheap university system enable rapid social mobility – for example I was lucky enough to be able to go from a state school to Oxford University and incur a minimum of debt. This meant that I could choose a career for its ability to give back to society and not to repay Ivy League debt. Furthermore fascism is alien to the dna of the UK, the BNP are never going to get more than 10% of the vote, we tend to throw rocks at people wearing silly uniforms. In this respect I am mightily proud of the grace and good-sense of the British people)
This was incredibly helpful. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I rely on Andrew Sullivan, but he’s been a Cameron suck up, and I think I really like this Clegg person who appears out of nowhere and shakes things up. Things need to be shaken up!
Americans ARE trying to export culture war stuff like Abortion to Britain. I don’t think it’s had much traction yet but I really believe that reflexively people are conservative–because it’s tradition and not thinking and that is always attractive to humans.
@toujoursdan: Being a Kiwi, I’d say that American conservatism hasn’t really seeped in to the “National Party” that much.
Yes, they are in power, but share that power with the Maori Party. There is the further-right ACT Party, but they are more Libertarian than anything. They also introduced a new 3 strikes policy for criminal re-offenders
There was a religious based party a few of years ago, Destiny Party, which was based on the Destiny church. However, they only polled a incredibly low amount in the election. Something like 0.62% which equates to less then 15,000 votes.
i think a lot of people are a little too sanguine about the tories. their worst instincts are miles under wraps, because the UK isn’t as dysfunctional as the US, in terms of the influence of big money, militarism and big religion. so they couldn’t win while exposing who they really are.
but those instincts are very real and visceral. there’s nothing the tory grass roots, and particularly the tory elite, would like better than to go back to the 80s when they were eviscerating unions, killing argentinians, and selling off any public assets they could get away with.
cameron cloaks it all with waffle about the ‘big society’ -ie the state, as usual, is the problem but the solution isn’t explicitly naked capitalism but localism. garbage, and given the sniff of an opportunity, they’d go back to full throttle thatcherism in a trice.
they’re neocons without the religion, and currently without the arrogance to think they can pull it off.