Labour elects an unelectable leader.Sep 28, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 03 • By DOMINIC GREEN
The eighties, as the hipsters among us know, are undergoing a revival. The music and fashion of the decade have been disinterred, and its politics too. Where, the pundits of America ask, is our Reagan? Meanwhile in Britain, the Labour party has revived its eighties’ follies by choosing an unelectable leader. Jeremy Corbyn is one of the hardest of the hard left, an ideological relic. His surprising success in Labour’s leadership election represents an unsavory turn in European politics.
If all this sounds as though Tony Blair never happened, then the Labour membership has achieved its first victory. In the early eighties, Thatcher’s shock treatment gave Labour a nervous breakdown. The Trotskyite true believers of Militant subverted local branches. A faction of senior moderates left to form a centrist party of their own, which eventually folded into the Liberal Democrats. And an erudite, shabby bumbler named Michael Foot led the party. The public responded by electing Thatcher for a second time, and then a third.
Slowly, Labour’s leaders accepted that times had changed. Neil Kinnock purged Militant, and then Tony Blair and the Clintonian triangulators of his New Labour faction led the party to the center. The backbench diehards never liked Blair, but could not argue with his electoral success. They became bolder as Blair’s uncharismatic successors, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, failed to retain Blair’s popularity with the voters. Last May, Miliband resigned after Labour’s defeat in the general election. The contest for control of the party began that night: an eighties-style schism between second-generation Blairites and the old, red guard, with Corbyn as the champion of the latter. Last week, in the first round of voting among Labour’s membership, Corbyn won 59.5 percent, defeating three Blairite candidates, and obviating the need for a second round of voting.
Can Corbyn, a veteran of the “loony left,” be the people’s choice too? His supporters, the Old Labour of union bloc votes and Red Flag socialists, hope to capitalize on public discontent with David Cameron’s austerity program. Asked if they have condemned Labour to a repeat of its eighties wilderness years, they cite the success of Syriza, the Greek socialists. This claim of hope is really an admission of failure. Only a fifth of British voters favor Corbyn as their prime minister. And only a Greek-style collapse of the U.K. could propel a British Syriza into Downing Street.
Corbyn would be a joke in a national election, but then so would Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. All three of them are running less for the public’s votes than against their parties’ leadership. They may be peddling quack medicine for a body politic that seems impervious to the usual treatments. But they could not gain an audience if nothing were wrong.
Corbyn’s cure for “grotesque levels of inequality” is far more extreme than anything offered by the likes of Trump and Sanders, and hence even more likely to fail. He proposes to go back to the eighties, by renationalizing the railways and reopening the coal mines. Labourites of yore responded to the challenge of the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons by demanding the unilateral disarmament of Britain’s nuclear weapons. Today, while Iran furtively proliferates, Corbyn advocates unilateral disarmament. His high taxation and even higher spending would make the palsied economy of Enver Hoxha’s Albania look like a Singapore of socialism. But a protest candidate appeals to resentment, not reason. In this, Corbyn is something of an innovator.
Socialists, George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), come in two types. They are either a “youthful snob-Bolshevik” whose politics will mellow when he marries well; in our time, the overeducated and underemployed moralizers of Occupy. Or they are “a prim little man with a white collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings.” Corbyn, the son of an engineer and a teacher, is white collar born and bred. The leader of the Labour party does not lead by example; the closest Corbyn has come to manual labor is shaking hands with a miner. He affects a Greek fisherman’s cap, in the way that President Obama and Hillary Clinton affect a twang and talk about how “folks” aren’t getting a fair shake. He is, inevitably, a teetotal vegetarian.
10:32 AM, Jun 20, 2013 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
On Monday, June 10, former British prime minister Tony Blair released a thoughtful memorandum that was quickly reproduced on websites around the world. Titled “The Trouble Within Islam,” Blair’s reflections were stimulated by the resurgence of Islamist terror in Britain, where a serviceman, Lee Rigby, was brutally murdered on May 22 by two jihadists. Blair’s remarks also seemed to reflect the shock of the Boston bombing of April 15.
8:42 AM, Jul 26, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney met with Tony Blair in London earlier today. Here's a picture:
Romney is in London to kick off his foreign tour with the opening of the Olympic games tomorrow night.
What Tony Blair knows (and Barack Obama doesn’t). Sep 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 02 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
In a campaign speech on July 14, 2007, Senator Barack Obama railed against the Iraq war and President Bush’s obstinate refusal to end it. “We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we’re on the wrong battlefield,” Obama said. In another speech a few weeks later, he said, “The president would have us believe that every bomb in Baghdad is part of al Qaeda’s war against us, not an Iraqi civil war.
The former prime minister's memoir. 2:00 PM, Sep 10, 2010 • By MICHAEL WEISS
Old wounds shall be worried anew; stale arguments shall be leavened once more.
Tony Blair’s record-shattering memoir, A Journey, which has been marketed for its salacity of disclosures about Gordon Brown (emotionally unintelligent, blackmailing), the Queen (lunch-maker and dish-washer), and Princess Diana (dangerously emotional, manipulative) was published on a day when its author wasn’t even in England but the Labour party was in the midst of deciding its next leader.
Appeasing the media has reduced the Tory strategy to the twin pillars of inoffensiveness and not being Labour. Mar 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 26 • By ANDREW STUTTAFORD
Decoding Gephardt, doubting Blair, doing drugs, and more.12:00 AM, Aug 4, 2003 • By
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
William Kristol is a smart guy, but he appears to be making a silly mistake in Gephardt's 16 Words. Like other conservatives he is missing important nuances in the speech of a sophisticated thinker.
Tony Blair comes to Washington and brings down the house. 12:00 AM, Jul 21, 2003 • By LARRY MILLER
A LOT OF PERFORMERS disagree with me on this, but I hate it when audiences whoop to show their pleasure. Before the taping of an HBO special years ago, the producer walked out to whip the audience into a frenzy, which he thought was a good thing for a comedy show. "Are you going to get crazy tonight?!" he screamed. Each time they responded, he said it wasn't crazy enough, and that they had to get wilder and wilder, and actually had them practice howling. I watched from the wings, and when he walked off, he winked at me and said, "Ready?" And I told him not to start just yet.
From the July 28, 2003 issue: Anatomy of a scandal that wasn't.Jul 28, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 44 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
KARL ROVE is a genius. No--Rove probably gets more credit than he deserves for political smarts, and the president gets too little, so let's rephrase that: George W. Bush is a genius.
Almost two weeks ago, the president ordered his White House staff to bollix up its explanation of that now-infamous 16-word "uranium from Africa" sentence in his State of the Union address.
From the July 28, 2003 issue: The Bush administration's mistake on uranium in Africa came in handling the July flap, not the January speech.Jul 28, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 44 • By FRED BARNES
IT WAS JULY 7, the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend, and chaos reigned at the White House. President Bush and his senior staff were frantically preparing to leave later in the day for a five-day trip to Africa. Ari Fleischer, beginning his final week as White House press secretary, answered reporters' questions in the morning in the West Wing briefing room. He was pressed about a 16-word sentence in Bush's State of the Union speech on January 28 that had cited efforts by Saddam Hussein to buy uranium in Africa for his nuclear weapons program. Fleischer botched the response.
Tony Blair deserves better from American than a medal.Jul 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 43 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
AS TONY BLAIR heads for America to collect his Congressional Gold Medal this week, he must be thinking, "With America for a friend, I surely don't need any enemies." He gambled that his new friend, George W. Bush, would see loyalty as a two-way street. So far, he is losing his bet.
Britain's prime minister knew that he was taking an enormous political risk when he decided to join Washington in attacking Iraq. The left of his own Labour party was opposed to the war: Many in that faction did not see Saddam Hussein as a threat, others felt that action without U.N.
From the June 5, 2003 Los Angeles Times: Why would they lie, knowing postwar weapons searches were inevitable?12:00 AM, Jun 6, 2003 • By MAX BOOT
OPPONENTS of the war in Iraq must be chagrined to see pretty much all of their arguments discredited by events. The invasion did not cause greater regional unrest; instead it led to a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. There have been no massive refugee flows or other humanitarian disasters. U.S. troops did not encounter a Stalingrad on the Euphrates. And so on.
Not able to forgive George W. Bush and Tony Blair for being right, the naysayers are now emphasizing what looks to be their strongest argument: the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction.
ADVANCE EDITORIAL from the April 21, 2003 issue: The postwar temptations that President Bush must resist.Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By FRED BARNES
THE UNITED NATIONS is a temptation that's easy to resist. It won't enforce its own resolutions. Libya, a police state, chairs its human rights commission. It provides an arena where France, with its unearned Security Council veto, has enough leverage to pursue a campaign to restrain the power--and good works--of the United States. So when British prime minister Tony Blair, at the Belfast summit last week, pressed for a major role for the U.N.
The scenes in Baghdad flow from understandings realized at the American founding.1:00 PM, Apr 9, 2003 • By DAVID BROOKS
I WISH MICHAEL KELLY were alive to see this day. He would have known how to savor it. I wish Ronald Reagan could be aware of the scenes being played out in Baghdad. He would know that the liberationist sentiment he rekindled in the American heart didn't die out with the liberation of eastern and central Europe.
With his optimism, Reagan revived the progressive spirit that courses through our founding Declaration, that all human beings are created equal and all are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.