April 20, 2010
The British Obama?
It seems that Britain is about to make the same mistake America made in 2008.
Last week here in England, we had the first of three "leaders debates" between the leaders of the three main political parties in the run-up to the May 6th General Election, and a new sensation is making waves.
The background to the debates is one of cynicism and boredom from the public, thanks to a failed Labour government and the lack of a substantial alternative. The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown is highly unpopular, and the 2010 General Election should be an easy win for the Conservative Party led by David Cameron.
Unfortunately, as Peter Glover explains in a recent article in the American Thinker, Cameron has jettisoned all semblance of conservatism in favour of the cosy centre-left consensus, and, along with a sickly sweet media campaign guided by Obama's Anita Dunn (complete with references to "hope" and "change"), it has been a disaster.
Cameron is derided almost as much as Brown, and the Conservative Party are seen as just more of the same with a different label. Cameron has fudged the easiest election campaign in history, and it now seems likely that while the Conservatives could still gain the most seats, they will not win an overall majority, and the election will result in what is known as a "hung parliament." This means that two of the three main parties will ally together, forming a coalition in order to attain a majority of seats together, with one party leader as prime minister.
An alliance between Labour and the Conservatives is unlikely, so it is now time to speak of the third party -- the Liberal Democrats.
The Liberal Democrats formed in the 1980s as an alliance between the traditional Liberal Party (of the tradition of Asquith and Gladstone) and the left-wing Social Democratic Party. At first, the Liberals dominated the alliance, and the "Lib-Dems" were seen as a centrist party between the left-wing Labour Party and the right-wing Conservative Party. This image of the "moderate center" has stayed with them, despite them having been slowly taken over by the socialist wing of the party. This change passed most by, as the Lib-Dems have never had any significant electoral success, winning but a handful of seats at general elections and a scattering of councils at local elections.
With the possibility of a hung parliament, however, the Liberal Democrats become extremely important, as it will be their seats that will be put together with one of the "Big Two" to form the coalition, whether it be an alliance with Labour or with the Conservatives. While the latter seems unlikely, it is not impossible -- a testament to just how far left Cameron has moved the Conservative Party. Either way, a coalition would give the Liberal Democrats the sort of power they have never seen before.
Because the Liberal Democrats would determine the coalition, they have not been challenged by the two main parties, who both want this third party to side with them. This has set up a situation where the young, unknown Lib-Dem leader -- Nick Clegg -- has not had his party's policies challenged and was able to present himself in last week's debate as the centrist who is something different from the establishment.
Clegg was able to promise the world, and neither Cameron nor Brown dared to challenge him. Clegg claimed that he would increase funding to our health service, make sure our troops had the best equipment and higher wages, put more police on the street, expand the welfare state, make Britain environmentally friendly, increase numbers of doctors and nurses, "fix" immigration and the prison system, provide care for the elderly, cut the national deficit, and cut taxes for all except the very rich. He offered to fix everything, with almost no cost whatsoever. The British Obama, anyone?
In any other debate, Clegg would have been torn to pieces by the other two leaders for the sheer lack of substance to anything he was offering. Instead, Brown and Cameron were falling over one another trying to show how much they agreed with Clegg. Brown's constant repetition of "I agree with Nick" has already become a national catchphrase -- displayed on T-shirts and posters around the country.
With Nick Clegg's claims unchallenged, the public have bought into his offer of a "different type of politics," and Lib-Dem popularity has skyrocketed. Clegg's personal popularity is in the 70% bracket, and a new poll has the perpetual third-place party now incredibly ahead of both Conservative and Labour by at least six points. Although a Lib-Dem majority seems unlikely, if they can keep this momentum going for just a few weeks, then they could be the dominant party in any coalition, which would make Clegg the natural choice for Prime Minister.
The situation becomes even more worrying when one realises that, like Obama, Nick Clegg's Lib-Dems are no centrists. Scratch their unchallenged image of "moderate centrism," and one finds unfettered socialism, making the present left-wing Labour government look positively conservative. Their economic policies[i] are a plethora of mansion taxes, aviation taxes, capital gains taxes, bank taxes, business taxes, etc., as well as regulating banks out of business -- all reminiscent of the rich-hating mentality that brought Britain to its knees in the 1970s. Lib-Dem environmental policy includes rejecting both coal and nuclear power, attacking the aviation industry, and banning or taxing to death anything that isn't environmentally friendly. More tax increases would follow in order to fund the many U.N. and EU projects on "climate change action" they support, and Lib-Dem "green targets" are so high, even by Europeans' standards (who don't think they go far enough for Clegg), that Britain would collapse.
On home affairs, Clegg wants to continue the politicization of the police force, with his number-one priority being hate crimes against the "disabled, homosexual and transgendered" -- because apparently just focusing on "crime" isn't enough. In addition, we would see nonsensical schemes such as "The National Crime Reduction Agency" and "Neighbourhood Justice Panels" introduced, and also the abolishing of short-term prison sentences in favour of "restorative justice."
As for Europe, the Lib-Dems would drag Britain into the Euro currency without a vote, give up even more power to Brussels, and force taxpayers to fund yet more liberal dream projects such as "the global fund for social protection" (paying for other countries' welfare states), funds for green jobs in other countries, subsidies for European farmers, and funding for useless European agencies such as Eurojust.
It is defense where Clegg's Lib-Dems get really scary. Clegg would surrender British sovereignty in favour of an EU-led "European foreign policy", rule out military action against Iran, hold inquiries into "allegations" of torture made against British soldiers, and most shockingly, scrap the Trident nuclear defence, as there is "no need" for a nuclear deterrent according to Mr Clegg. As Nile Gardiner (who aptly describes Clegg as the anti-Churchill) has shown, the Lib-Dems are also strongly anti-American, with Clegg himself calling for us to "release ourselves from that spell of default Atlanticism" that Clegg identifies as having begun in the 1950s. The special Anglo-American relationship nurtured from Churchill to Blair would be cast aside to please the gods of the European Union, in order that Britain can have the honour of bailing out Greece.
With a neutered Conservative Party, a decimated Labour Party, and a bored media, the Cleggite Liberal Democrats could sweep next month's election, with the majority of voters believing they are voting for a moderate party representing something new. Like Obama, it would be only once Nick Clegg is in power that the British public would realize what horrors they have unleashed upon their country.
Adam Shaw is a writer based in Manchester, England and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He specializes in religion and politics and is seeking work in both the U.S. and the U.K.
[i] Their full manifesto can be found here.