The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

British General Election Called for May 8th

Oh joy.

Makes sense, however, Prime  Minister May’s Conservative party is up 17 percent over Corbyn’s Labour and she must expect to increase her seat count. In addition, there’s a good chance Corbyn is out, if he doesn’t get a lot more seats than expected. He doesn’t have to win, but he does need to beat expectations. Expectations are low, at least.

Corbyn being out is good for May because standard centrist-Labour leader X will not undo most of what a Conservative government does even if it wins, whereas Corbyn will undo everything and then kick it into reverse.

I, of course, will be hoping Corbyn does well, but it doesn’t look good. Even if he does better than expected, Scotland appears to be a write-off.

I will remind you that an academic study found that 89 percent of all newspaper articles lied about Corbyn’s position. He’s an existential threat to the current establishment, after all.

This is an awkward election overall, as May is positioning it as a referendum on Brexit, but Labour doesn’t oppose Brexit, the SNP is Scottish and the Lib-Dems (who do oppose Brexit) are violently distrusted by anyone with sense after they helped the Conservatives push through some of the worst retrogressive policies in generations.

Should be fun. This is one I actually care about a bit, so I’ll be hoping the polls are off and that Corbyn gets some wind.

(Given how absolutely cruel the Conservatives are, I will judge Britons who vote Conservative harshly–not that there’s any reason for any such Briton to care…nonetheless.)

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Open Thread


How to Think About Thoughts


  1. atcooper

    Not looking good at all. First news in a while to shock me out of callousness.

  2. Oaktown Girl

    Ian – is there anything that rank and file folks outside the U.K can do to help Corbyn?

  3. Toni M

    Coming from London: There is nothing you can do to help Corbyn now. At the moment I believe even if we got a Wikileaks style treasure trove of indisputable facts about Tory cronyism, corruption and ineptitude the English would still overwhelmingly vote for them. There is a large constituency that is pleased with how things are going, no matter how much pain it inflicts on however many people.

  4. Max Osman

    Problem is, Labour is fighting an internal civil war.
    On the left: the party base (overwhelmingly hard left, these days), supporting Jeremy Corbyn (the leader: directly elected by the party rank and file).
    On the right: about 75% of the parliamentary labour party (a mix of Blairite/Brownite types and other New Labour apparatchiks).
    The only reason the party hasn’t already split is because both sides stand to lose; the left would lose many MPs, while the right would lose the national party organization.
    Corbyn may well be campaigning to lose the election, because his electoral calculus is that a lot of right-wing Labour MPs will lose their seats, while he can hold the heartland, thereby strengthening his own hand within the party. Even if he isn’t playing to lose, the internal party divisions will make reaching a consensus manifesto platform almost impossible … even before we consider the problem of Brexit support within Labour (the difficult-to-talk-about working class anti-immigrant voters).

  5. Ian Welsh

    Can Corbyn, as leader, survive a loss, if it’s bad?

    Of course, if he can pass it off to his designated successor, that might be acceptable to him. He’s a man of the cause, as it were.

    (The polling I saw indicated that being “remain” would cost more seats than being for Brexit. A lot of working class, traditionally Labour seats voted Brexit.)

    OakTown Girl: not that I can think of that would matter enough to bother, alas. Have to hope for some sort of meltdown on the Tories part. But avoiding that is why May has straight up said she won’t participate in any debates.

  6. Hugh

    Corbyn came down on the wrong side of Brexit, it doesn’t matter the reasoning, and this lost him a lot of his populist potential. He also ran half a revolution within the Labour party. He really needed to decertify most of the Parliamentary wing of the party and he didn’t. Nor have I seen, and have not heard, of any attempts to mount an outsider grassroots movement to energize and broaden his base. Perhaps I am being unfair but Corbyn strikes me as a very party and program oriented type of person. The electorate is looking for more, even if May and the Conservatives are lying their heads off to them.

  7. The problem is that the people who might put a lot of energy into a left-wing populist campaign are nevertheless passionately anti-Brexit (rightly or wrongly), and the sense that Corbyn is sitting between two stools, as it were, robs him, as Hugh says, of his populist potential. Then there’s the whole anti-war thing…

  8. Tom

    Corbyn has only himself to blame for his predicament. Its not enough to pander to your party, you got to be able to sell your views to the swing voters.

    FDR was a master at it, and he got shit done and crushed internal opposition within his party, especially from the Dixiecrats who were a perennial pain in his ass who he had to constantly arm twist and slap in line.

    Corbyn is no FDR and he is unable to take his case to the public. Labor is better off finding a new leader who is willing to brawl and energize the people. If they can’t ass themselves to rise to the occasion, then to hell with them. When the whole British system crashes because a minority can thwart the will of the majority by parliamentary tricks to avoid reforms, the resulting civil war will fix the problem. Its where India is currently heading, having adopted the Westminister System without the culture behind it. Britain will follow along soon as well.

  9. Fox Blew

    Just because the polls say Corbyn is already sunk, should we remember that they said the same thing about both Brexit and Trump? I admit that both of those events are quite different from parliamentary elections (most ridings will have more choices then just Conservative or Labour, for example). I would like to know if anyone believes the upcoming French presidential election will have a significant impact on the UK’s?

  10. Hugh

    I wonder what the impact of the French election will have on Brexit. France and the UK wanting more distance from a German-dominated Europe is very different from just the UK wanting out.

  11. This is not the last stop. People need to be abused out of conservativism.

    We just gotten started.

  12. Rob Lopez

    This was a trap for Corbyn and he walked right into it. Thanks to the Fixed Term Act, he had an opportunity to nip this in the bud and destroy Theresa May’s strategy. He simply had to say no. Instead he took up his sword and said he relished the chance. His party’s not ready. He has only just started to lay out his policies before the country, and it would have taken a while to make his case, especially as he’s not the darling of the press. This election will only be about Brexit, though, and he doesn’t have a strong case there. He thinks with his heart, not his head, and for this reason people think he’s a blunderer. He should have been more patient, but instead he’s convinced he can see the sunlit uplands, and that everyone in the country is with him. They’re not. As a Brit, I can tell you that the Conservatives are not, among the non-ideological majority, seen as heartlessly cruel and beyond the pale. That’s just propaganda. People saw a boom in the 90’s and a bust after 2007, and the policies of both Labour and Conservative governments, when actually implemented, don’t feel that different from each other. The Tories are seen as bureaucrats, as were New Labour before them. Corbyn comes across as a dreamer who can’t actually organise. His dreams might seem good, but if people don’t believe he can pull them off, then it’s the same as having no dreams at all. Corbyn should have waited and spent more time convincing the country – he’s blown it now.

  13. Ian Welsh

    The Tories policies, among other things, include taking wheelchairs away from cripples. I wish I were exaggerating. The slew of their other policies indicate cruelty and that a plurality of Brits don’t see it that way doesn’t change the fact, any more than 72% of Americans think that Iraq was behind 9/11 made that true.

    I agree that Corbyn should have vetoed the election, and I also wrote, when he was first elected leader, that he was sunk if he didn’t go for mandatory re-selection, because the Blairites would never stop, and they didn’t. Labour was actually ahead of the Cons before the last leadership fight.

    That there is no grassroots movement is simply incorrect, there is one, it hasn’t gotten enough traction, but it exists. Corbyn brought vast numbers of new members in the Labour party and energized a ton of activists, including new ones.

    Corbyn may well be Brits last chance to have a decent future, and they are pissing it away. I find it harder and harder to be sympathetic, and as with Americans (and Canadians and Australians) must remind myself that a substantial minority are not selfish, stupid, shortsighted and cruel.

    Beatings will continue until an electoral majority understand that you cannot have the status quo and a good life.

  14. Mallam

    Rob put it perfectly. Corbyn isn’t organizing at all. He just comes across as a dreamer, aloof, not a leader. And to even entertain the idea of being anti-immigrant? You will never get to UKIP or Tory right on immigration. Yet I don’t even fully understand where he stands here. Lots of waffling. The rightists of the Labour Party are even worse, and the media sucks, but that’s to be expected of any left wing movement. Media will always hate you, right wingers and certain liberals in your coalition will backstab you. But have a damn plan of action. Corbyn has none. I don’t think it’s his policies that are killing him, though, it’s him personally. Where are the Corbynists in the wings, being trained? If there’s a criticism I’ll entertain about Bernie Sanders it’s that he hasn’t trained or mentored anyone to take his place or assist in his movement. Makes it seem ego than movement.

  15. Btw the impression I’m getting from the couple of French people I’ve talked to is that they’re seriously considering voting for Mélenchon because he’s not-LePen not-Macron, and Hamon is too associated with Hollande (being the Socialist candidate).

    But Mélenchon has the shape of being a politician that Corbyn does not, somehow.

  16. Corbyn is 1nsane, imagine living in a country with a president, not a queen – outrageous!

  17. vidimi

    i think the election is in june. may is just the surname of the caretaker PM who called it.

  18. Herman

    The same thing happened to Bernie Sanders when the media was attacking him for being “crazy” and an enemy of the world’s poor because he doesn’t believe that you have to pauperize the American working class in order to lift poor people in the developing world out of poverty. There was also the attempt to characterize Bernie’s supporters as white male “bros” who only cared about weed and free college. Most of these attacks were coming from the liberal prestige media like the New York Times (including Paul Krugman) and Washington Post and not the conservatives who stuck to their usual lame tirades about Bernie being a “commie.”

    Left-populists should call a spade a spade and attack the center-left for being in bed with corporations and fighting to protect the prestige and status of the professional-managerial class. They should also take a page from the right-populists and start using strong terms like “globalist” to describe the elites but of course not resorting to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The political class is now almost entirely filled with hucksters and liars and it is time to take the gloves off and be honest about it.

  19. Nealser

    The headline says May 8th. Isn’t the UK election on June 8th?

  20. Jonathan Nightingale

    Really? May 8? Even your own link (slst the top of the article) speaks of June 8… Careful editing is now a historical artifact tsk… tsk… A wet noodle lash.


  21. James Wheeler

    The biggest problem for Corbyn is his stance on immigration.

    Working class and pro-Brexit voters voted to exit the European Union so that a future UK government could control immigration into the UK. Why?

    Because huge numbers of EU workers have increased competition for low-skilled jobs against native British workers and this has been a big factor (although not the only one) in leading to stagnating and/or declining wages for lower skilled workers.

    Corbyn refuses to stand for strict controls on immigration and because of that large chunks of the lower skilled electorate have defected to the Tories.

    Until you Ian and others recognize this fact Corbyn and any successor will never get elected.

    Of course, Corbyn’s stance during the Brexit referendum didn’t help but the open-door policy on immigration is a political killer.

  22. Charlie Dozen

    Corbyn couldn’t veto the election; the fixed-term act is essentially of no consequence. If the 2/3 threshold isn’t reached, then a majority wanting to call new elections can either have the house of commons declare its lack of confidence in the government or, alternately, simply repeal the fixed-term act.

  23. I would like to take a moment to hail Ian Welsh for the amount of thought and determination he has given us. Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville will be waiting for you.

  24. ProNewerDeal

    H3llary Clinton, 2016: “Single Payer will never, ever happen!”

    2017-Apr: 99 (51%) of the 193 House Ds now support/co Rep Conyers’ HR676 MedicareForAll Act.

    A poll was just released showing 60% of USians support MedicareForAll Sanders has promised to introduce a similar bill in the Senate. If nothing else, this serves as a great litmus test. The anti House & Sen Ds will get primary challenged in 2018 by JusticeDemocrats

  25. jawbone

    To help future searches for this post, please change the title to the actual UK election date of June 8.

  26. Tom

    Voting has started in France.

    CHP is still trying to get the referendum overturned in Turkey but has been denied by YSK and the Supreme Court will deny the appeal as well. YSK is the final word on elections.


    The people will be the final arbiter and for good or ill, their choice will be made today in France.

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