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. Read the rest of this entry »
Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred
Tom Rogan writes: As enlightened arbiters of human interest and morality, socialists get angry when they don’t get their way. This unpleasant truth has been on very public display in Europe this week.
First, France. On Monday, infuriated by Air France’s necessary reforms to reduce costs and improve productivity, hundreds of airline employees attacked two of the company’s executives. Video of the incident shows the executives throwing themselves over a fence to escape.
While the French government has condemned the violence, it is not an isolated incident. Just a few weeks ago, Parisian taxi drivers waged a violent uprising against competition — smashing Uber cars and assaulting drivers. The cabbies couldn’t bear the possibility of passengers choosing lower fares, and they got their way. Uber is now banned in France.
Then there’s the United Kingdom. This week, Britain’s Conservative Party held its annual conference in Manchester. But while the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats held their 2015 conferences without incident, things were different for the Tories. It began Sunday, when a group of young conservatives became surrounded by a baying mob. That incident ended with the mob hitting the conservatives with flagpoles and an egg.
“While this week’s events in Britain and France are sorry tales, the leftist fury flows naturally from socialist ideology. After all, where capitalism empowers individuals to use their skills for common advantage, socialism encourages people to believe society is the state and that we’re all subjects to it.”
Then on Monday, a journalist from that well-known conservative outlet, The Huffington Post, was spat upon. Every day of the conference, attendees lining up outside have been subjected to swearing and intimidation. Yet as much as those incidents are shocking in and of themselves, they speak to a deeper truth. Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred.
“As a result, while capitalism provides for broadly shared human prosperity, socialism provides only for the subsidy of human suffering.”
In France, the alliance between labor unions and government has fostered a climate of special-interest privilege and lawlessness. (Sadly, this attitude is seeping into U.S. politics as well.) French labor unions are stretching the bounds of legality as far as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Noah Rothman writes: Call it “Jeremy Corbyn syndrome.” This distressing malady has manifested most acutely in British liberals, but it is an epidemic spreading throughout the transatlantic left. It is a disorder characterized by a pathological refusal to acknowledge or accept the admonition of the public and a petulant, uncompromising response to rebuke. The symptoms of this self-destructive condition are beginning to be observed in a new host: American Democrats.
“The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status.”
The scale of its losses in the quinquennial U.K. general elections earlier this year shocked Labour. The voters soundly rejected a modest center-left agenda promoted by former Labour leader Ed Miliband. Instead, the British delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron the first outright Tory majority government since 1992. Miliband resigned in disgrace and sent his party scrambling to redefine itself. And redefine itself it did, as a far-left institution unreflective of the British liberal minority. Labour’s defeat sent a cantankerous and previously marginalized subgroup of liberals into a fit of pique that yielded the ascension of the irresponsible parlor-socialist Jeremy Corbyn to leadership. He has set about trying to rehabilitate some of Britain’s most irresponsible figures and ideas.
Corbyn’s unabashed embrace of radical points of view palatable only to the minority of the minority is telling. A juvenile peevishness has overtaken the influential British left, and they are determined not to sway with the will of the electorate but to stand athwart it – even if that means many more years in the wilderness.
“But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims.”
The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status. But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims. Read the rest of this entry »
Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.
“Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court ‘are often influenced by their own political views.’ Just 24% say they ‘generally put their political views aside. when deciding cases.”
Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, finds that most of the increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court has come among Republicans.
“Most Americans (54%) say that the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% say it is too powerful.”
Just 33% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the court, while 61% have an unfavorable view. Since March, the share of Republicans viewing the court favorably has fallen 17 percentage points (from 50% to 33%), while the share with an unfavorable impression has jumped 21 percentage points (from 40% to 61%). Republicans’ views of the Supreme Court are now more negative than at any point in the past three decades.
“Only about one-in-ten (7%) thinks the court has too little power”
In contrast, Democrats’ views of the Supreme Court have become more positive since March, though the change has not been as dramatic. Currently, 62% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the court, up from 54% four months ago.
There also has been a major shift in how Americans, especially those at either end of the ideological spectrum, view the Supreme Court’s ideology. The share of the public saying the current Supreme Court is liberal has doubled since March, driven by changing attitudes among Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans.
Overall, 39% of the public views the court as middle-of-the-road, 36% as liberal and 18% as conservative. The share saying the court is liberal has increased from 26% to 36% over the past few months and stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 2007. There has been a ten-point decline in the number saying the court is conservative (18% today, 28% in March), while the share saying it is middle-of-the-road is little changed (39% now, 38% then).
Opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided
Currently, 68% of conservative Republicans say the current Supreme Court is liberal – up 20 points since March and by far the highest percentage since 2007. About a quarter of conservative Republicans (24%) say the court has a middle-of-the-road approach and 5% see it as conservative.
Liberal Democrats now generally view the current Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; in March, most saw the court as conservative. Currently, 49% of liberal Democrats say it is middle-of-the-road (up from 31% in March). Three-in-ten (30%) say it is conservative, down from 56% in March. And 17% say the court is liberal, about double the share who said this in March (8%).
Perceptions of the court’s ideology have changed less among those closer to the middle of the ideological spectrum. Moderate and liberal Republicans’ continue to be divided: 42% see the Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; 40% say it is liberal and 13% say it is conservative. A plurality of conservative and moderate Democrats (43%) continue to say it is middle-of-the-road.
The change in independents’ views of the Supreme Court’s ideology mirrors the shift among the public: 41% say it is middle-of-the-road, little changed from 38% in March; 36% see it as liberal (up 11 points) and 18% say it is conservative (down 10 points). The share of Republican-leaning independents who say the court is liberal has risen from 38% to 54%. Just 23% of independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the same, up a modest seven percentage points since March.
Little Change in Views of Same-Sex Marriage, Affordable Care Act. In contrast to opinions about the Supreme Court, views on two issues that were the subject of its high-profile rulings – same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law – have shown little change. Currently, 54% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 39% are opposed. In May, before the Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57% favored and 39% opposed same-sex marriage. The public is divided over the 2010 health care law: 48% approve of the law and 49% disapprove. In February, 45% approved of the health care law and 53% disapproved.
Few Think Supreme Court Justices Set Aside Their Political Views. Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court “are often influenced by their own political views.” Just 24% say they “generally put their political views aside” when deciding cases. The belief that justices are swayed by their own political views spans partisan and demographic groups. The survey also finds that a majority of the public (56%) says the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding cases; 39% say they should not be influenced by public opinion.
Supreme Court Not Viewed as ‘Too Powerful.’ A majority (54%) says the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% think it has too much power; 7% say it has too little power. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (33%) to view the court as too powerful.
Supreme Court Favorability
Partisanship, ideology and religious affiliation are all factors in views of the Supreme Court. In addition, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law have starkly different opinions about the Supreme Court.
By a 63% to 28% margin, those who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. By almost an identical margin (63% to 30%), those who oppose same-sex marriage have an unfavorable impression of the court. The association between views of the court and opinions on same-sex marriage is far stronger than in the past.
Opinions of the court among those who approve and disapprove of the 2010 health care law are similarly divided (61% of those who approve of the law have a favorable opinion of the court, compared with just 33% of those who disapprove). Supporters and opponents of the law were less divided last year, but were similarly split following the court’s 2012 term, in which it ruled the law was constitutional.
Since March, the plunge in the Supreme Court’s favorability among Republicans has largely come among conservatives. Just 27% of conservative Republicans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court. Four months ago, nearly half (48%) did so. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, there has been a smaller, nine-point decline in positive views of the court (45% now, 54% then). Read the rest of this entry »
Prime Minister David Cameron’s party projected to win 316 seats; 239 for Labour
LONDON— Jenny Gross reports: Exit polls showed a surprising swing of support to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party in the U.K.’s tightly-contested election Thursday, suggesting that the Tories could continue to lead the government.
The exit polls forecast that the Conservatives would win 316 seats in the U.K. Parliament, suggesting a far stronger showing than months of pre-election surveys that showed them in a dead heat with the main opposition Labour Party. However, the exit polls indicated the Conservatives would be short of an effective majority of the 650-seat House of Commons.