For the past few decades it seemed like hardcore socialism was a thing of the past in the United Kingdom.
The Conservative and Labour parties had both accepted a liberal consensus that markets were good, and that aggressive redistributive policies and nationalization of industries was bad for everyone.
Yet a shocking election result on June 8 has made the green and pleasant land see red again.
It’s true that the Conservatives won the most seats in the election, but their slim majority was erased. They will now serve as a minority government and rely on the Democratic Unionist Party – a Northern Irish political party with a reputation for corruption, thuggery, and a social conservatism that would make Republicans in the Deep South blanch.
U.K. elections have to happen at least every five years, but unstable governments can collapse at any time. So despite the results of this election, another could be not far down the road. In fact, given Prime Minister Theresa May’s embattled condition, another early election could be in the cards in just a couple years.
With the Conservative image now severely tarnished, and Labour riding high, it is no longer impossible to imagine that the current Labour leadership could form the next government and that is a problem.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, spent many years isolated to the left-wing lunatic fringe of the Labour Party. Yet his late blooming has left many aghast, even within his own party.
Elected leader after the 2015 election, on the back of protest votes, Corbyn has been viewed by the majority of his own parliamentary party as a usurper. Yet his deft work building up grassroots supporters within the party kept him in charge. The election this month was supposed to be his death-knell; with him and his host of socialist crazies sent packing by Middle England. That, of course, did not go as planned.
Instead, Labour increased its seat total, which is astounding considering a month before the election many polls showed them losing more than 50 seats. Corbyn has, of course, taken this as validation for his brand of politics, and his critics within the party have been silenced.
The danger is now very real that Corbyn and his allies could actually govern the country one day. In a matter of months, the Overton Window has shifted further than it has in years. Marxism is back on the menu.
John McDonnell, Corbyn’s top deputy and the likely finance chief in a Corbyn government, has openly admitted he is a Marxist. Corbyn and his friends have long lambasted capitalism, in all its forms.
Should they come to power, it could mean a radical reversal of Britain’s progress since the 1970s.
Almost everything about British politics today has a 70s feel to it. The Conservatives are committed to a big government right-wing policy while Labour has aggressively embraced its socialist roots. Corbyn wants to re-nationalize industries and re-empower labor unions, just as a start. He is also vigorously anti free-trade.
Now Corbyn is validated to continue to deliver on that agenda should he come to power; and now the MPs who still believe in Tony Blair’s “New Labour” approach, one that accepted that free markets are a prerequisite for a prosperous economy, have little political capital.
Corbyn was supposed to be discredited. Instead, he is the most popular leader in the country.
He can look forward to years of political turmoil in the government with a high level of dysfunction in the Conservative Party as it sorts itself out and tries to govern and negotiate Brexit. His day may yet come when he actually becomes Prime Minister. That however, would mark a disaster for the U.K. and for the community of market-friendly nations.
Theresa May’s brand of conservatism is far from libertarian or liberal, that is true. But given the now very real and terrifying alternative, any lover of personal freedom should shudder at the thought of it.
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