Raising The Left From The Dead

LONDON: Victory by the Labour Party in the British election is an historic event, whose implications will spread far beyond Europe. It reminds us that in a democracy no ideology or party can ever take success for granted.

Under Margaret Thatcher, Britain's Conservatives secured a seemingly unbreakable grip on power, dominating political and economic debate. In fact, Conservatives have ruled Britain for 70 out of the last 100 years, almost the same proportion of this century that the Communists ruled Russia. Such was the confidence in the Conservatives' political monopoly that, after the last elections, many commentators doubted whether a Labour government would ever be returned to office. Five years later, the same question is being asked about the tattered, demoralised Conservatives, who seem on the verge of a party split which could condemn them to opposition for decades. Shattering political monopolies is what democracy is all about.

A second lesson from Britain is that politics is not always driven by economics. This election has proved that a booming economy is not enough to assure a government of re-election or even protect it from electoral catastrophe. As the Conservatives' unpopularity plumbed depths never before recorded in the public opinion polls, cynics in Britain said that people might talk from their hearts, but vote from their wallets. They might tell pollsters they were prepared to pay higher taxes for better public services and a more compassionate attitude to the poor. But in the end they would do exactly what they had done in each of the previous four elections - vote for a Party which proclaimed "every man for himself".

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/U6ymhzF;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.


    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?


    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now