The British center right party, the Conservatives, won a stunning victory upsetting all predictions of a hung Parliament. This makes the US the exception in the English speaking world of being the only government headed by a leftist, Barack Obama (whom I shall call oBUMa from now on).
John Key (New Zealand), Tony Abbott (Australia), Stephen Harper (Canada) and of course David Cameron (UK) are all leaders of center right parties and Prime Ministers of their countries. Will the growing conservative tide from across the Atlantic surge to the US?
The Conservative victory in the UK was stunning because for months, the Conservative Party and the centre left Labour Party were neck and neck in the polls. What made the victory even more amazing was the strong showing of UKIP, an even more conservative (with a small ‘c’) party which won 12.6% of the votes. If you add that to the Conservative Party’s 36.9%, you get 49.5% of conservative (with a small ‘c’) votes. There are some striking similarities (as well as differences such as gay marriage, which Cameron signed into law) in the politics in both the US and UK. The two most common and burning issues in both countries are:
2) The debate about growing the pie vs dividing the pie equally.
The UK, like the US is awashed with immigrants at a time when a lot of people are not working. * In the US as in the UK, people who objected to unchecked immigration are labelled bigots. In the UK, most of the immigrants are legal and from other European Union (EU) countries. In the case of the US, the problem is the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico. The Democrats, sensing an opportunity to gain Hispanic votes for decades want to grant them amnesty;
In the UK, the question of immigration is tied up with EU membership which allows untrammeled immigration from EU countries. The anti-immigration party is UKIP which wants to stop immigration by withdrawing from the EU altogether. Many Conservative Members of Parliament (MP) also feel that way and some even defected to the UKIP. Cameron made a last ditch appeal to UKIP supporters to “come home” to the Conservative Party.
They see their country’s traditions and identity being eroded. If you take a ride on the London Underground, you will hear a gaggle of foreign languages ranging from Hindi to Urdu, to Arabic, to Polish, to Greek to Spanish. David Cameron has promised to renegotiate with the EU to allow the UK to control their borders and to hold a referendum on British membership in the EU. In both countries, those who seek to maintain the cultural identity of their country and oppose uncontrolled immigration were accused of bigotry or racism.
2) The debate about growing the economic pie vs dividing the pie equally
Labor, the center left party in the UK, like the Democrats has been banging the drum of class warfare and social justice. They campaigned on higher taxes on bankers’ bonuses and a ‘mansion tax. This will pay for a guaranteed job program and greater health care spending. Labour has always portrayed the Conservatives as “heartless”.
This image stuck and even the Conservatives’ coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats agreed. Conservatives (or Tories as they are called in the UK), with their drastic cuts in government spending to balance the budget was seen as the “party of the rich” just as the Republican Party is in the US.
It is no wonder that the polls were wrong. All these accusations by opinion makers in the universities, news media made people afraid to tell the pollsters the truth. This phenomena of the “shy Tory” led to a serious under-estimate of their support.
The problem is that the cultural elite in Britain as in America are leftists who view their opponents as morally inferior to themselves. For example, Rebecca Roache, a lecturer of Philosophy at the University of London and formerly a researcher at the University of Oxford unfriended her Conservative friends in her Facebook. She said this in her blog:
So, unfriending. Is it okay? Well, the view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party that—in the name of austerity—withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big business—to express one’s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views.
As in America, leftists have this feeling they are morally superior to those who disagree with. They are incapable of saying “let us be friends, even though we disagree”. So it is no wonder that the Tories are shy. They learned to keep their mouths shut in social gatherings to avoid losing their friends. This habit seems to have carried forward to answering poll questions.
We can see a similar phenomena in the US. American conservatives are labelled by liberals as intolerant, uncaring for the poor and racist. The news media, universities and Hollywood are liberal bastions. Thus, America’s cultural elite keeps sending out the message that conservatives are somehow racist, uncaring and intolerant of gays.
For example, Chick Fil A was embroiled in controversy regarding its stand on gay marriage. There were threats to stop them from opening new restaurants in Chicago and Boston. Two students wearing Chick Fil A T shirts were harassed on the internet. This is what America and Britain has come to. People are afraid of expressing their views. The Left has succeeded in stifling free speech.
This is the likely reason why the polls in the UK were all were all wrong. They all predicted a neck and neck race resulting in a hung Parliament. In the end, the Conservatives won by a margin of 6%. There were people who told the polls one thing and did another in the privacy of the voting booth. The British press has dubbed such people as the “shy conservatives.”
Besides the immigration issue, there was the issue of growth vs economic justice. Like the British, Americans are intimidated by the liberal elite dominating the universities and news media. Another front where liberals are attacking is in regards to gay marriage. Those who oppose gay marriage are labelled as intolerant by the liberal elite.
If you expressed an opinion that the left disapproves of, you can expect to be harassed. That was also why US polls were wrong about the 2014 Congressional Elections. Looking ahead, I think the public scoldings from the media and academic elites in America has turned US conservatives quiet but also angry. To be constantly condemned for the traditional values of middle America like a belief in being rewarded for hard work as undeserved (oBUMa’s “you did not build that”), the desire for keeping illegal immigrants out as racist, support for the traditional family as being intolerant has angered conservatives. They may be intimidated from speaking out, but they will show their displeasure in the Presidential elections in 2016.
I predict that a Republican will win the White House in 2016, making it a clean slate of right wing President or Prime Ministers in all five English speaking countries.
*In the US, the unemployment rate is currently 5.5% as compared to 7.5% in the UK. The US is facing the question of 20 million illegal immigrants while in the UK, the immigration question is
(But the US figure does not tell the whole picture. The figure appears low because a lot of people are discouraged from looking for work and are not counted. A more reliable number to look is the worker participation rate, which is currently 63.8%, or about the lowest since 1978. That is as bad as in Jimmy Carter’s time. )