The Politics of Re-invention

I’m much more interested in the election after the event than I was before it.

And to me it seems a comprehensive defeat of the “progressive” Left. The Labour party is now in turmoil, and is going to have to re-invent itself. The Lib Dems have more or less ceased to exist. Only the SNP might be regarded as having been successful.

But I think that even they managed to blow it. Because a lot of people believe that when Nicola Sturgeon said she’d make Ed Miliband Prime Minister, and keep the Conservatives out of power with her 50 – 60 Scottish MPs, she spooked the English into voting more heavily Conservative than they might otherwise have done. If she’d kept quiet, and waited until  after the election to make the offer, we might have Ed Miliband as PM right now.

The result is that instead of the SNP being the kingmakers in the UK election, with enormous influence over everything thereafter, it now has no influence at all. It’s just another opposition party.

Aside from that, I’ve been thinking that maybe the UK electorate swings regularly between Left and Right. Over the past 65 years, we had Conservatives in power from about 1951 to 1964, and then Labour from 1964 to 1979, and then Conservatives from 1979 to 1997, and then Labour from 1997 to 2010. And arguably a “progressive”  coalition from 2010-2015 (There was a Conservative government from 1970 to 1974, but it was a completely unexpected victory with a small minority. Labour had been expected to win the 1970 election.)

So, very roughly, Conservatives swap power with Labour every 15-17 years. It may be that people get sick of one lot, and call in the other lot, in a process of reaction against what they’ve just endured. By the time Thatcher was ousted, I was glad to see the back of her. And I was just as glad to see that back of Labour in 2010.

On each occasion, the ousted party has to re-invent itself. The 1950s Conservatives were aristocratic or patrician. 1960s Labour was union-dominated. And then 1980s Conservatives (Thatcher) were newly re-invented as business and enterprise-oriented. And then in 1997, New (-ly re-invented) Labour under Tony Blair brought in a new non-union-driven Labour government. Now the Conservatives under Cameron have re-invented themselves as a “progressive” form of Conservatism, with a strong environmental, health, and EU orientation. Labour won’t get back in until they re-invent themselves in their turn.

But if Cameron is a “progressive”, a great many in his party are not progressive at all. They want out of the EU, don’t like windmills, and many of them never voted for the smoking ban either. So the politics of the next 5 years looks set to be dominated by the internal party politics of the Conservative party (much in the way that the Thatcher government was divided into compassionate “wets” and hard-nosed compassionless “dries” like Thatcher herself). By Thatcher standards Cameron is a “wet”, with a lot of “dry” backbenchers in his party. The Cameron government is an inversion of the Thatcher government.

Cameron believed (correctly it seems) that the Conservatives would only be elected if they adopted the environmentalist, healthist, pro-European ethos of the Blair years. Blair had, in his turn, adopted the pro-business ethos of the Thatcher years. But once Blair had been in power a few years, inherent Labour top-down authoritarianism (the “nanny state”) gradually emerged.  Cameron will come under mounting pressure in coming years to liberalise and de-regulate the UK economy, as well as slash public spending on nanny state operations like ASH and co.

And it seems to me that he’s quite likely to yield to that pressure, which will become intense the longer the UK economy remains sluggish. After all, now that he’s been elected, he doesn’t really need to continue with the environentalist and healthist and pro-EU stance. It was only necessary to get the Conservatives re-elected. And that job has been done. And the “progressive” opposition has been consigned to oblivion for the time being. He can forget about Labour and Lib Dems and SNP.

I don’t know how “progressive” Cameron really is anyway. I get the impression it’s all rather skin deep. But it might not be. But whatever it is, he’s going to be under pressure to ditch every kind of Blairite nanny state regulation (including the smoking ban, obviously). And not just from his own backbenchers, but also from UKIP, to which there may yet be several more defections.

All the same considerations apply across the pond in the USA. Over there, power swaps between Republicans and Democrats at a rather faster rate (8 years) than in the UK. And currently it’s the Republicans’ job to re-invent themselves, or find someone to re-invent them. And in the power swap cycle, the Republicans are next up for the job. Obama was the Democrats’ last re-invention of themselves. Ronald Reagan was a particularly successful Republican re-invention. But Hillary Clinton is most likely the Ed Miliband of US politics. She’s no re-invention, and she belongs to the pre-Obama past. And she’s probably too old as well.


About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to The Politics of Re-invention

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Times are A changing that’s for sure. Its up to the politicians now……all we can do is keep on fighting and see what these past spineless asses will do now that they don’t have envirotrons to worry about. After Obamas gone its going to be the same thing in the US………….If Rand gets in the ban issue will be done for…………that’s a given to anyone who knows the mans true beliefs.

  2. junican says:

    I doubt that you really mean what you are saying. What you are saying is that voters are not mesmerised. How can you say that when voters, for decades, have been conned into believing that the ‘issues’ which politicians and the BBC have agreed are the ‘important’ issues, that there is a ‘public debate’ about the issues? Sorry, that is a messy sentence.
    What I mean is that the ‘important issues’ are controlled. Did we notice how Nige brought up issues which the Elite did not want exposed? Did we note that neither the Greens nor Plaid Cumrie wanted to talk about immigration?
    I have seen today a couple of newspaper on-line articles extolling the value of immigrant, mobile workers. They say that vegetables would rot in the fields if it were not for the immigrant workers. BILGE, I CALL!
    Pay people enough and they will collect cabbages from the fields.
    None of this junk matters at all. It is normal ‘noise’.

    There are possibilities which are unknown. For example, suppose that the Christian Church stopped criminalising pleasure? The criminalisation of pleasure in the gospels is very odd. But is that true? There was the ‘last supper’, with eats and wine. There was the wedding feast, and the miracle of ‘the feeding of the five thousand’.


    There is an inference of ‘eternal life’ in all these proposals. Heaven on Earth. Maybe, but the EU, WHO, UN are devils which are intent upon destroying ‘heaven on earth’.
    The Earth has a diameter of 8,000 miles. Mount Everest is 8 miles high. If we hacked Mount Everest into blocks to build houses, and reduced it to a plain, what difference would that make the the Earth? It would make 1/8000th of a difference.

    • Frank Davis says:

      How can you say that when voters, for decades, have been conned into believing that the ‘issues’ which politicians and the BBC have agreed are the ‘important’ issues, that there is a ‘public debate’ about the issues?

      I think you have your tongue in your cheek. Yes, there’s a stage-managed public debate. But there’s also a private debate, which isn’t stage-managed. It largely takes place in blog comments these days. And I suspect that the private debate will gradually become the public debate.

  3. waltc says:

    I wrote something about why we regularly “throw the bums out” (because they’re all bums) but it erased itself and I’m too lazy to recreate it. Meanwhile here’s Pat Buchan’s take on the UK’s political future, as seen from the far-ish right, tho strangely in accord with a column in the left-leaning Washington Post

    The second link “22 celebrities we were shocked to learn smoke” will amuse you for it’s gorgeously tabloid shock but may otherwise be comforting

    • Frank Davis says:

      I agreed with much of what Pat Buchanan wrote. I very often find myself agreeing with him. But I’m not at all sure that the UK is set to leave the EU. There’s still a lot of pro-EU feeling in Britain, with David Cameron representing it. If he now wants to bring forward a referendum on Europe to 2016 (rather than 2017), I think it’s because he believes he can win it, and keep Britain in the EU. It’s one thing that I disagree with Nigel Farage about, when he calls for an early referendum, because I think he’d lose an early referendum. Better to wait, and let the EU mess get even worse than it already is, and then we’ll find that the pro-EU people start realising that we have to get out.

      Personally what I’d like to see is the EU go back to being the Common Market. The latter was a great success. The former is a dystopia.

      As for the Scots, they’ve voted a) to stay in the Union, and b) then promptly elected a secessionist party. I think they want to have their cake and eat it. They want all the benefits of Union, and all the benefits of home rule.

    • Frank Davis says:

      As for celebrity smokers, courtesy of MJM, here’s Monica Bellucci, who is one of the many smokers who are ageing very well.

      Monica Bellucci

  4. Rose says:


    Election fraud allegations probed in Nigel Farage’s South Thanet campaign RT 16:34
    Kent Police investigate South Thanet electoral fraud claims Kent News 16:31
    South Thanet: electoral fraud probe in Farage’s lost seat The Week 16:10
    Police probe claims of electoral fraud in Thanet South – where Ukip… Daily Record 15:22
    South Thanet electoral fraud probe: Police investigate claims in Nigel Farage’s target… London Evening Standard 15:13
    Police Investigate Electoral Fraud Claim In South Thanet Breitbart 14:53
    Kent Police: Thanet electoral fraud inquiries ‘ongoing’ ITV 14:52
    Police launch election fraud probe in Thanet South Local Government Chronicle 14:42 [Source requires subscription]
    Thanet South ‘electoral fraud’: Police probe shock claim in target seat of… 14:38
    Police Investigate Thanet South Fraud Claims Sky News 14:33

    Kent Police confirm they will investigate allegations of vote fraud in the seat where UKIP leader Nigel Farage lost

    “The Kent Police have confirmed that they received reports of electoral fraud in the South Thanet constituency contested by UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.

    Reports of irregularities in the South Thanet vote cropped up on social media soon after the result was announced, with the Conservatives’ Craig Mackinlay seeing off the challenge of Farage with a lead of over 2,800 votes.”

    “Thanet South, which polls have variously shown the Ukip leader winning and losing, has been beset by delays with a result not now expected until 11am.”

    “Sky News confirmed at 6.58am on Friday that the count had not started but said it would be beginning soon.”

    “The slowdown has been blamed on a delay in the arrival of postal vote ballot boxes.”

    I still think it’s more likely to be down to sheer incompetance.

  5. smokervoter says:

    O/T with apologies.

    I found this on the Express website and just had to pass it along.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I was in the seafood import business from Baja, Mexico to Southern California for 6 terrific years. As Chryssie Hynde would say “those were the best years of my life”.

    Well, the moment I saw the picture of Popeye the giant crab I focused in like a laser beam on the black tips. And then there was the species name – Brown Crab. My main selling attractions were Pacific Stone Crab Claws, which consisted of the Red, Brown and Yellow varieties. And I specialized in to Jumbo’s which where 3 to 5 to a pound, or on average 4 ounces each. They were all distinguished by black tipped claws.

    When I read that Popeye weighed in at 4 kg (or around 9 pounds) I thought, yes that’s big but…just how big in comparison to my product?

    It’s been a spell but I think claws amount to 51% of the overall crustacean. Ergo, sparing you all the tortured math, Popeye’s claws weighed in at 2.29 pounds (or 37 ounces) each! And my super jumbo babies, which I thought were truly gargantuan, weighed 4 ounces each. BTW, the name of my enterprise was California Crustaceans (I sold some mexcian shrimp and lobster as well).

    The picture used in the article is deceiving, at least to my eyes. At first blush Popeye didn’t look that much bigger than my Pacific ocean products. But Jeez Louise, 37 ounces! Seven times my Mostest Jumboest.

    Beast from the deep: Giant crab found in English Channel

    This was my California Brown Crab product

    • Rose says:

      That is indeed a huge crab.

      • smokervoter says:

        Couldn’t help but notice that there’s a fishery for the very similar to my product North Atlantic Brown Crab in Devon. Any chance Frank that you’ve dined on this delectable denizen of the deep before?

        The article also says that most of the catch is exported to Spain and France. So, not too popular an item in Jolly Olde England I take it. Can’t compete with Fish & Chips I suppose.

        You guys are missing out. After that first cigarette following a lusty roll in the hay with a beautiful woman comes dining on a huge plate of crab claws in my universe.

        The secret to success in business is being madly in love with your product.

  6. smokingscot says:

    When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated he was 69 years 11 months old, so let’s just say he was a septuagenarian for the entire duration of his terms as President.

    Hilary Clinton’s DoB is 26 Oct 1947, so on the basis that she could be inaugurated in January 2017, then she’ll be about 8 months younger than Ronnie was. So 3.25 years of her first term in office she too will be a septuagenarian.

    Personally I’m not swayed much by the woman’s age; rather it’s down to personality. Ronnie had it in truckloads and he had the knack of making the Yanks feel good about themselves – with good reason. I loved the way he did utterly daft things, like getting four thumping great warships taken out of mothballs and terrifying the folks attempting to block the Straights of Hormuz with those 16 inch guns.

    Okay they went though fuel at such a rate they had to have two tanker ships trail them at all times just to keep them mozying along at a modest cruise. Fired up in anger and those beasties really cost money… big time. But I loved it as well as the way he simply outspent the USSR. And that in turn resulted in the end of the USSR, the end of the Berlin Wall and so on

    Mrs. Clinton on the other hand has a completely different personality. She’s not gregarious, she’s not especially tolerant and I see her as a School Marmish type. The pointy finger, the controlling type. And she’s the product of a career in politics.

    She’s working the system, relying on her brand name and in it for herself. It’s not her age that does it, nor her colour, nor her religious beliefs, not even her attitudes to smoking. She’s just an outright lousy choice and I sincerely hope she tanks.

  7. gainny says:

    With few exceptions (e.g., Senator Jeff Sessions), the Republicans are no better than the Democrats and often are in collusion with them—on immigration, for instance. Right now, the Obama administration is trying to get through a bill to enable him to commit to treaties without consent or discussion—a “living document” that could be altered after it is passed. It’s so secret that legislators have to go to a special room to read it, are handed only one section at a time to read, have to turn in any notes before leaving the room, and can’t discuss it. The Republican leaders, McConnell and Boehner, are its biggest supporters. It is the precursor to a trade treaty that is also secret; leaks suggest that, among other sins, it would allow unrestricted immigration.

    To keep up to date with the Republicans’ betrayal of Americans, the best single source is

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