Would Sanders have beat Trump? Well never know for sure. The polls seemed to say he would, but then the polls also seemed to say that Clinton would, and for that matter they also said that the UK would stay in the EU. Actually, given the parallels between this election and the Brexit vote, we might have a test for that. The UKs Labour Party is currently led by Jeremy Corbyn, who is very similar in both politics and temperament to Bernie Sanders. If the UK were to hold a general election next year and Corbyn won convincingly, that might be an indication that Sanders could have beaten Trump. Unfortunately the UKs next general election is not until 2020, by which time things will have changed a lot and it wont be much of an indication either way.
Thats what I said seven months ago after Donald Trump won the US presidential election. Well, a couple of days ago the UK did hold a general election. Corbyn cant exactly be said to have won convincingly the result was a hung Parliament (no party holding a majority). On the other hand, given that only weeks ago the polls had Labour riding towards the biggest trouncing in a century, I think this result does strengthen the case for Sanders beating Trump if only he had been nominated. Assuming of course, as before, that the US and UK are riding on broadly the same political currents.
What happens now for the UK? Too early to say. Clearly Prime Minister Theresa Mays hope of negotiating Britains exit from the European Union with an improved mandate has gone to pot. Will her Conservatives and Northern Irelands Democratic Unionist Party manage to form a stable enough government to hold a majority in the House? I wouldnt bet money on it. The DUPs beef with Labour is purely due to Corbyn having entered talks with Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army decades ago to end the chronic violence between Catholic separatists and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland, apparently successfully as it turned out, rather than well, rather than what? Wiping Irish Catholics from the face of the Earth? Youd have to ask the DUP.
Im not as surprised as most commentators seem to be by Corbyns success; in a country ravaged by unending austerity and stale promises of improvement just around the corner, promising to stop austerity politics was always going to be popular. The biggest surprise to me is Scotland. What has the Conservative Party done for Scotland lately, and how has the Scottish National Party failed it, that so many votes swung from the latter to the former? Did Scots see the SNPs renewed calls for independence after Brexit as cynical opportunism? I dont know how to answer that question. If, as seems likely, May loses her position as Conservative leader and it all triggers yet another election in a few months time, Scotland would be the place to watch. In any case, my prediction that the United Kingdom will cease to be United within a decade so that Scotland can remain European appears presently to have been wrong.
You wouldnt know it yet to look at our news media, but New Zealand has a general election of our own coming up in a few months. Should any Labour or Green politician happen to read this post, I would urge them to take the lessons of the UK to heart. For a generation, nominally Left parties throughout the English-speaking world have put all their energy into winning centrist voters away from the Right. This strategy is not going to work any more. Business as usual is over. You need to get young people voting again, and to do that you need to provide them with a bold and credible alternative to the status quo. You are competing with the seductive, poisonous notion that immigrants and brown people are the cause of our economic struggles and we need to kick them all out. You wont counter that with Everything is fine, lets just keep on the way were going. Hillary Clinton, David Cameron, and Theresa May all tried that, and look where its got them. Please dont deliver us into the hands of racists and bigots like they did. Please be strong.