Sunday, December 04, 2016

British Politics reshaped by issues of national identity

As in the Trump revolt, issues of national identity and loyalty are shaping British politics too. In Britain, the old guard want to remain connected to the EU, while those who want to make Britain great again want out of the EU as soon as possible

Labour faces being crushed between Ukip [out] and a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party [in] in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn [British Leftist leader] admitted last night.

The party suffered humiliation in the Richmond Park by-election yesterday, losing its deposit in a London by-election for the first time since 1909.

The victorious Lib Dems, who overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority after running a strongly pro-European campaign, vowed to supplant Labour as the main opposition to a hard Brexit.

Labour figures fear that the party faces electoral crisis as it loses votes to the Lib Dems in pro-Remain urban and southern seats, while Ukip builds support in its working-class heartlands of the north and Midlands.

Chuka Umunna, the former leadership hopeful, warned that there were now “no safe Labour seats”.

Even those close to Mr Corbyn said that Brexit “has unleashed a dynamic that none of us quite understood” — with voters increasingly ditching old party loyalties and instead defining themselves as pro-EU or anti-EU.

A senior Corbyn ally said: “We do have two different strong pulls. There are metropolitan seats, in London, Manchester and Leeds; they are strongly pro-EU. Then equally, there are dozens and dozens of seats which are working class, where many did not vote to remain. There’s no doubt it’s difficult to balance the two.”

Labour’s dismal showing in Richmond, where it polled just 1,515 votes — fewer than the local party has members — led Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, to call for it to consider electoral pacts with other parties.

“It’s quite clear that the usual political playbook parties use isn’t necessarily going to work in the situation we find ourselves in now,” he told the Politico website.

Other senior party figures dismissed that, insisting instead that Mr Corbyn had to move urgently to formulate a more coherent response to the referendum. Labour has vowed not to thwart Brexit but wants Theresa May to set out her plans to allow “proper scrutiny”.

Mr Goldsmith’s humiliation has also killed speculation that Mrs May could hold a general election next year. Senior Conservatives said it proved that voters punished unnecessary polls and the result underlined the fluidity and volatility of the present political climate.

An analysis by the British Election Study in October revealed that people identified more strongly with how they voted in the EU referendum than a political party. The researcher warned that “this new cleavage could yet disrupt British politics”. “The EU referendum revealed a more fundamental divide,” Chris Prosser, of Manchester University, said.

Labour is braced for another by-election humiliation next week in the Tory-held seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire. With Ukip the main challenger, Mr Corbyn’s party faces being driven into fourth place.

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, called on Sleaford voters, 40 per cent of whom voted Remain, to underline the message to Mrs May that they opposed an “extreme Brexit” as he sought to capitalise on his party’s by-election win.



British national assertiveness is being expressed in a very traditional way

With mockery of France.  The following rather savage cartoon about the President of France appeared in "The Times", of all places. The frog hopping off probably refers to the fact that M. Hollande has decided not to run for a second term as President.  The nude on the scooter refers to this


National sentiment strong in Austria too


If Europe’s first far-right president since the Second World War is chosen by voters in Austria tomorrow he will prove that he is “a far cry from a Nazi”, one of his closest political friends said yesterday.

Norbert Hofer, 45, the Freedom Party (FPO) candidate, has been narrowly ahead in most opinion polls against his Green Party rival Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, after an annulled vote in May and a postponed rerun in October.

A victory for Mr Hofer would be seen as continuing the Continent’s lurch to the nationalist right and a further blow to the European Union, with the FPO threatening its own membership referendum in certain circumstances.

Nearly 125 miles west of the capital, Vienna, in the “blue city” of Wels — so called because it is the largest metropolitan area under FPO control — anger over immigration fuelled support for the party founded in the 1950s by former Nazis.

The office of president does not carry much direct power but opponents are worried that Mr Hofer would use it to precipitate a general election and propel his party to government, perhaps in coalition with the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP), just as they are in Wels.


Limited immigration and asylum

Social housing “primarily” for Austrians

Oppose gay marriage

All foreign criminals deported

Compulsory national service

EU referendum in certain circumstances, for example if EU takes more powers

Andreas Rabl, 44, the mayor of Wels, who came to power last year on a surge of support during the migration crisis, said that the country needed to refocus on “Austrian values”, like his city.

He has begun intensive German language training for schoolchildren, half of whom he said could not understand the teacher when they started school, and has required all state-funded nurseries and schools to celebrate Christian festivals and eat traditional food. He has blocked a planned new refugee centre, arguing that the town has enough foreigners, with 24 per cent of citizens from outside Austria.

“There is this constant message that the FPO is a Nazi party, the new fascism and dictatorial,” Mr Wels, a long-standing friend of Mr Hofer, said. “The foreign media report about right-wing radicalism and the far right in Austria, I hear that all the time. I ask myself, what are they talking about? We have not killed anyone, we were in the government [from 2000 to 2005] and relinquished power voluntarily, there was no civil war and no other violent military clashes.”

He added: “New fascism — I do not see it. Mr Hofer as president would have the opportunity to correct this view. We are a normal right-wing party, correct, but we are a far cry from a Nazi party.”

In the first round of the election, the mainstream parties were eliminated by an electorate fed up with the government coalition of centre left and centre right. In the run-off in May Mr Van der Bellen beat Mr Hofer by just 30,863 out of 4.47 million votes. The FPO then won a case in court to have the result overturned due to procedural irregularities.

Supporters of Mr Van der Bellen in Wels claim that, like their mayor, Mr Hofer is the smiling face of a divisive and xenophobic party and tones down his message when he is not among core supporters.

Meanwhile Mr Van der Bellen, a chain-smoking former leader of the Greens, is distrusted by conservative voters. Walter Teubl, a Green member of the Wels city authority, said: “The OVP always portrayed the Greens as an ultra-left party. There were many lies about us — that we would legalise cannabis or ban car driving.”



The clash of the campaign managers

Kellyanne Conway (left), Trump-Pence campaign manager, sat next to Robby Mook, Clinton-Kaine campaign manager, prior to a forum at Harvard University on Thursday.  So the "Sexist" Trump team was led by a woman while the Clinton team was led by a man.  So much for Leftist accusations about Trump's biases. It would be more plausible to say that Clinton was the biased one.  How come she could not find a female campaign manager?  And the Donks are still relying on conspiracy theories to explain their loss.  Dumb.

The presidential campaign manager conference, held at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government every four years since 1972, is usually a place for insider war stories, shared and documented for history.

However, three weeks after this year’s divisive election, in a conference room with a half-dozen aides from both sides facing each other, the conversation quickly took a remarkably combative turn, highlighting just how deep the enmity between the Trump and Clinton camps remains.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white working-class voters?” Conway asked the Clinton team, then sarcastically offering a message: “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief strategist, responded: “There were dog whistles sent out to people. . . . Look at your rallies. He delivered it.”

Conway accused the Democrats of refusing to accept their loss.

“Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

At a forum that was less heated than the earlier encounter, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and Conway offered starkly different explanations for the election’s outcome.

Mook said that outside interference — including meddling by Russian entities — tilted the results Trump’s way, while Conway portrayed broader strategic decisions as behind the GOP win.

Conway, who took increasing control of the Trump campaign over the summer, said that she prevailed upon Trump to play “the happy warrior” and encouraged him to draw energy from his public rallies. That, she said, contrasted with the public image of Clinton.

“I said to Mr. Trump, ‘You know, you’re running against one of the most joyless presidential candidates in history,’ ” Conway said.



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