“It could have been much worse.” That’s the line many of my British friends are putting forward about the cuts to the British defense budget announced by the new Tory government this past week. And they’re right.
Hamas are resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land. They have won an election. I have told this to U.S. officials ... I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organization. I think the same today. They are defending their land.
Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government has agreed to investigate torture allegations made by former Guantanamo detainees. The inquiry is expected to last one year. And, according to Cameron, it will look into claims that British officials knew of “improper treatment of detainees held by other countries in counterterrorism operations overseas, or were aware of improper treatment of detainees in operations in which the UK was involved.”
Conservatives came in first in Thursday’s election in Great Britain, but it’s their failure to win a majority that Republicans should examine for the lessons it teaches. If the GOP listens, they’ll improve their chance of winning control of Congress in the congressional midterm election on November 2.
At the moment, it is reasonable to assume that the price of Britain's political system would appear to be some sort of governing coalition of the Tories and Liberal Democrats. This might take the form of a formal blue/yellow alliance, with LibDems in a Tory cabinet; or it might mean LibDem support for the Tories on certain votes (the next budget, for example) and abstention on certain issues. In any event, Gordon Brown and Labour have been unquestionably rejected, and any arrangement between Brown and the LibDem leader Nick Clegg to keep the Conservative leader David Cameron out of No 10 Downing Street would lack legitimacy, and lead to a strong rebuke at the next general election--probably in a year.
I've been looking at the polls and playing around with the ways in which different national percentages can translate into seats in the House of Commons--and for what it's worth (not much!), I think the Tories have a very good chance to win a clear majority (perhaps 25 seats) in the Commons today in the UK.
On Wednesday morning, it looked as though Gordon Brown might have stalled Cleggmania, inching back into second place in some polls. But then he met Gillian Duffy.
Duffy, a senior citizen and lifelong Labour supporter, bumped into Brown as the prime minister was leaving a meet-and-greet in the town of Rochdale. Duffy told him she was almost ashamed to say she was a Labour voter, and while she would vote for Brown, she had concerns about the national debt, taxes, and immigration. The exchange ended amicably, with Duffy wishing Brown good luck as he climbed into his car. But the prime minister forgot he was wired for sound and lashed out at his aides for allowing Duffy to speak with him. Brown branded the exchange a disaster and called Duffy a "bigoted woman" as his car was leaving the scene.
The closer Britain gets to election day, the more uncertain things become. One uncertainty, however, seems to have been cleared up - Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are out of contention.
The first debate resulted in Nick Clegg and the third place Liberal Democrats surging into close competition with David Cameron's Conservatives for first place. And while Cameron got a bit of a boost in the second debate, Clegg was able to maintain his rising status. As for Brown, he's now seeing some of Labour's lowest poll ratings ever, and he seems to be losing any chance of winning the most seats despite finishing third in the popular vote.
On the heels of the first televised election debate in British history, the country seems to have become totally enamored with Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat party. While the LibDems traditionally languish in a distant third behind the Labour and Conservative parties, Clegg's spectacular debate performance ignited a surge that has pushed his party past Labour and into a statistical tie with David Cameron's Conservatives (some polls show a slim Conservative lead, others a slim LibDem lead).
One of the reasons all of this is relevant is that the basic arguments and outlook of the Tea Parties are simply and profoundly different from the outlook of the New Left. The Tea Partiers are not in any meaningful sense Rousseauians. They certainly don't reject original sin in any serious way. And I suspect if you asked many of them they would say that the American people deserve their share of blame for the financial mess we're in. They do believe, I would bet, that America is a basically decent nation that has drifted into a kind of soft-despotism or Nanny-statism. But that vision isn't Rousseauian, it's De Tocquevillian.