The Left is Collapsing EverywherePosted: April 23, 2017 | |
This weakness should give conservatives no pleasure.
Dan Hannan writes: Here’s a startling fact: There have been eight leaders of the British Labour Party in the past 40 years. Seven of them failed to win a single general election. The exception, Tony Blair, was a Labour politician only in the most technical sense. Leftists saw him as a disguised conservative, a cuckoo in the nest. To this day, Labour activists use “Blairite” as the worst of insults, viler even than “Tory.”
Let’s widen the camera shot a little. All over Europe, traditional parties of the Center-Left have been losing badly. As I write, opinion polls show the French Socialists in fourth place, the Dutch Labour Party in seventh. Greece’s PASOK, the leading party since the early 1980s, is now polling at 7 percent. Spain’s PSOE, which had a comfortable majority as recently as 10 years ago, has been displaced by the more radical Podemos. Social Democrats in former communist countries, such as Poland and Hungary, have, if anything, fared even worse.
What is going on? The immediate explanation is clear enough. The established parties of the Center-Left backed the merger of Europe’s currencies in the 1990s. As the euro brought poverty to the south and tax increases to the north, voters turned against the politicians whose fingerprints were on the murder weapon.
In most cases, those parties then made things worse by backing the 2008 bank bailouts, convincing many of their former supporters that they were on the side of wealthy financiers rather than of working people.
But a collapse on such a scale doesn’t happen overnight. The parties aligned to the Party of European Socialists – the main Center-Left bloc in Europe – dominated Europe in the 1990s and, as late as 2004, were still more likely to be in office than not. Now, according to the latest opinion survey, their support is below 20 percent in the EU as a whole. True, there are one or two holdouts. Socialists have managed to win elections in Sweden and – mystifyingly given how badly it suffered from the euro racket – Portugal. But something is going on that is deeper than the recent downturn.
That something has to do with changes in how we live and work. The parties of the mainstream Left were, in most cases, closely tied to labor unions. Membership of those unions, especially those representing private sector workers, is falling in every industrialized country. That fall reflects a shift from mass industrialization to self-employment. As technology accelerates, we are likelier to become portmanteau workers, specialists who constantly renew our expertise.
I’m not sure my kids will ever have “a job” as we understood the concept in the 20th century … (read more)
Dan Hannan is a British Conservative MEP.