British Election Update, Part 3: Why I'm backing Labour

Now I know Jerome had a post yesterday backing the Lib Dems. And in many ways I sympathize: I'm more a Lib Dem voter in many ways than a Labour voter, whether one is talking about "New" or "Old" Labour. Nevertheless, it didn't take much for the old family and partisan loyalties to kick in: I may have said a year ago that I would back (not vote, even though I'm a British citizen, I vote in US elections) I was backing the Lib Dems or even the Tories (well maybe if Michael Portillo or Ken Clarke were their leader). But I knew for pretty much the last four months or so that I was backing Labour. Why, you may ask? Knowing that Blair's fervent support for the Iraq enabled Bush to a great extent (which I believe - and even if you believed Blair was right to back the war from the go, I think Blair did a disservice by not putting some distance between his own reason for supporting the endeavor and Bush's - perhaps more on this later).

Simply put, Britain under Labour is doing very well, and doing well not just for those at the upper end of the income ladder. With a hat tip to Jerome a Paris at Moon of Alabama, I present to you the following.

British income growth (by quintile) under Margaret Thatcher:

Now take a look at the British income growth under Tony Blair:

A bit of a difference, no? Too often, I hear that the left leaning parties that have come to power since the neo-liberal turn in the global economy that occurred in the 1970s have done nothing to stop - and in some cases, have accelerated - income inequality. I think this table clearly proves this wrong. And what's more, the generally equal rate of income (if anything, greater rate of growth for those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum) has been equaled by strong GDP growth.  Clinton's administration went along way towards demonstrating the fundamental economic superiority of left leaning (really centrist) governments in the 21st century world: Blair's administration does so to an even greater extent.

This example is indicative of the degree to which the  Labour government elected in 1997 has been good for Britain domestically - undoubtedly better than a Tory government would have been - from an economic and a civil libertarian standpoint. Beyond its positive economic record outlined above, it has created a minimum wage, has enshrined gay rights in to law, relaxed drug laws, and generally made Britain a more prosperous, more tolerant nation.

In response, the Conservatives have decided that - since they can't beat Labour on the economy - they will try to whip up the nation into xenophobic, anti-immigrant hysteria. Indeed, the Tories under Michael Howard have really become a desperate, ugly sight: their raison d'etre has become blocking immigration, removing Britain from the EU, repealing Labour's advances on gay rights and drug laws. This is not a reasonable libertarian conservative party, as it would be if Michael Portillo was leader; this is not the "one nation" Toryism of John Major; this is ugly right wing "populism" (in quotes because I believe much of this is not really popular). And it needs to beaten. Blair may or may not deserve a "bloody nose" for Iraq. But there are bigger fish to fry in this election, at least for the people who will be effected by the actual outcome (as opposed to foreign observers, whose primary prism for viewing the outcome is Blair backing Bush on Iraq).

No, the Liberal Democrats are a fine party. But they can't win this election. And whats more, a vote for the Lib Dems this time out will only have the effect of bringing in what appears to this observer to be a desperate, nasty Tory Party increasingly defined by what it doesn't like, not what it stands for, a Tory Party completely at odds with much of what the philo-Liberal Democrats in Britain and abroad stand for. The Tories need to be beaten once again, and soundly. They need to get the message that Britain will vote Tory only once they abandon their crude reactionary fantasies about the true state of the nation in the 21st century.

It is for these reasons that I'm strongly backing a Labour victory on May 5.

Tags: Foreign Elections (all tags)



The Tories Not a Threat
The Tories will not come to government after this election. It just isn't possible. Even if labour can't get a majority, they will form a coalition with LibDems. Don't let anyone scare you into thinking the conservatives are a threat. They're not. I don't think a LibDem government would do any worse than Labour on income inequality, and they would do better on foreign policy.
by dbarkeley 2005-04-20 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Tories Not a Threat
There won't be a Lib-Lab coalition. The Right Honorable Charles Kennedy has repeatedly and rather publicly stated that his party won't be forming a coalition government with either Labour or the Tories.
by craverguy 2005-04-20 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Tories Not a Threat
So what would happen with a hung government in which noone can get the votes to become Prime Minister?  

A return to Queen's rule?

The House of Lords gaining power once again?  

Who is in charge if there is no Prime Minsister?

by Valatan 2005-04-20 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Tories Not a Threat
It is my understanding that the Queen always appoints the Prme Minister, who is, officially, the head of Her Majesty's Cabinet. She usually appoints the leader of the party in the majority, but if there is no party in the majority, I suppose she will scour the parties for the least polarizing figure.
by craverguy 2005-04-20 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Tories Not a Threat
but the HOC has the power to vote no confidence in the PM, no?  I guess they'd probably find someone who can barely ecke out surving a no confidence motion, and the governmetn would be unstable and short-lived, and I guess the advantage of an unwritten constitution is that a special rule can be established for such a bizarre situation.  

It'd sure be interesting to watch, however  

by Valatan 2005-04-20 08:17PM | 0 recs
A vote for the LibDems is not a Tory vote.
The vast majority of seats that the LibDems hold were taken from the Tories. In the coming election, a reasonable estimate is that they will pick up two seats from Labour and two seats from the Tories.

Unlike a vote for America's Green Party, a vote for the LibDems really is a vote for the LibDems.

by craverguy 2005-04-20 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: A vote for the LibDems is not a Tory vote.
In some cases. It depends.

Regardless, I would still vote Labour unless the candidate really was lousy - ie David Blunkett.

Ben P

by Ben P 2005-04-20 06:33PM | 0 recs
Does it really matter?
Considering Rupert Murdoch practically controls the news media in the UK as well? He who controls the media controls public opinion so it seems these days.
by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-04-20 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Does it really matter?
Funny you mention. I'll get back to strangely "conservative media" in Britain in my next post.
by Ben P 2005-04-20 07:27PM | 0 recs
don't worry, Tories will be humiliated again
If they couldn't start clawing their way back under the mostly inoffensive William Hague, how are they going to do it under totally unlikeable slimeball Michael Howard?

The Tories are boxed in. They can only elect leadership from members of their parliamentary faction. Their parliamentary faction has been so decimated that hardly anyone of any stature in it has not already been tainted by participation in John Major's government. They have no solutions to offer. They are just pathetic.

What the Tories really need would be a Bill Clinton-type character to come out of nowhere and redefine the party. But because they don't have federalism (well, not much anyway) and are in a parliamentary system, they can't bring in a leader from the outside.

I would vote Lib Dem without the slightest hesitation.

by desmoinesdem 2005-04-20 07:15PM | 0 recs
What should be happening at this time in
Britain is the replacement of the Tories by the Lib Dems as the second party. A similar dynamic should be taking place in the bluest of U.S. states where the Greens should be replacing the Republicans as the second party.

Absent electoral reforms such as proportional representation and Condorcet compliant single winner elections, the process is badly warped at best and aborted at worst.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-04-20 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: What should be happening at this time in
ya, as soon as it becomes a threat to the big parties, they adjust themselves so as to make the 3rd parties irrelevant again.  cf. Populist party, prohibition party, Know nothings, Socialists, etc.
by Valatan 2005-04-20 10:09PM | 0 recs
Electabilities ghost
    "...they can't win this election."

So vote Labour because the Lib Dems won't win is going to be Labour's new slogan?   Sounds very familiar.

by uptown 2005-04-21 04:15PM | 0 recs
A Pretty Sight
The graph of income growth by quintile is a beautiful sight. It reminds me of how U.S. cities prospered in the 1990s. Clinton and Blair are alike in that they are more respected than loved. But no peacetime leader can do better than to promote prosperity that benefits all citizens.
by tommywonk 2005-04-22 08:17AM | 0 recs


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