Making Waves commentary for June 28: The British Election:
If you find British politics confusing, you’re not alone. To a man (and a woman) the pundits thought Brits would vote to remain in the European Union. They didn’t.
Then they predicted Labour would crash and burn in the recent election and the Conservatives would soar to a super-majority, perfectly positioning Prime Minister Theresa May to negotiate a good deal for the UK as it exits the European Union.
Well ... Labour surged, the Conservatives eked out a minority, and Theresa May may lose her job. So how did a white-bearded, pot-bellied democratic socialist like Jeremy Corbyn do it?
Just as Bernie Sanders enthralled a new generation of voters in the US, millennials came out in droves to listen to Jeremy Corbyn rage against the machine – that unholy alliance between big money and big government. And to hear him assert there’s another way, a way that allows people to hope that serious social and economic change is still possible.
Corbyn’s contrast with the entitled and tone-deaf Theresa May (the Hillary Clinton of British politics) was stark enough to get some Conservatives to swing their vote to Labour.
Meanwhile here’s what the UK pundits were missing: It’s the message, not the medium: Corbyn’s appearance belied his cross-generational appeal. The precarious economy Trumps (pun intended) everything. Millennials are voting now. And they’re vote for less inequality, more transparency, and they think free trade is costing us all, way too much.
The Who sang it, way back in 1966 at the beginning of another revolution, The Kids Are Alright.
The young might have voted to remain in the EU. That doesn’t mean they would vote for May’s Conservatives. I think that, rightly, they saw the two votes as being different – Brexit was on a union with Europe (which I’m sure they were comfortable with, having grown up inside the EU and travelling and working in its sphere). The UK election was domestic and, as in the USA (and Canada) was about the unfairness of its economy. So no irony for me.
I’m not sure why you would assume democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, Jack Layton (if he were still here) or the blessed Tommy Douglas, would be incompetent leaders. I’m worried that you think Macron is the great hope for liberal democracies. He was the least unattractive of the two left in the last round, the alternative being Marine LePen. The tepid response (42% of French voters) to the Parliamentary election recently signal, especially from the young, a big ‘meh’.
I think, Trent, it’s time to admit that liberal democracy is not delivering what citizens need. The answer to that is not right wing zealots like LePen or UKIP (as recent elections show), but socially and economically aware democratic socialists like Melenchon and Corbyn. The kids are right.