Monday, November 04, 2013

Conservatism in power. The UK example.

Sang Tan - AP
When Americans talk about British politics there is one refrain I hear again and again, "The Conservative Party is like the Republican Party, but more liberal, like how Democratic Party acts." I hear that a lot. And it is amusing, as it sticks it, in some way, to Republicans about how far to the right they've gone.

The trouble is, it isn't the best representation of what's happening in the United Kingdom. Under the modern Conservative Party, lead by David Cameron, they've continued many of the agenda bullet points of the old Thatcher era.

The main one I want to bring up is the old term, privatization. (Yes, I know, the British spell it differently.) Privatization has continued to be a part of the Conservative agenda for the British Isles. What have they been going after? What has been tried, though thankfully, not always successful for Cameron?

Tearing down the public infrastructure can be fun.

  • Privatizing many road.
  • Privatizing parts of the police force. (All part of opening up the public services to business, To end "the state's monopoly over public services"...that is the point of being a public service. But Cameron and the Conservatives know this well.)
  • Selling off forest.
  • Privatizing the libraries.
  • Privatizing the postal service. They said you, the average person could buy shares in the new company, but uh oh. Looks like Cameron's, and the Conservative Party's, powerful friends got most of the loot. Funny that.
  • Next up on the agenda, the National Health Service. When the NHS stumbles, the Conservatives will announce that it's time to put the old girl done, and sell her for parts. Just like the rest of the infrastructure.
THIS is what British Conservatism is up to. Yes! They are more openly friendly to gay people and Muslims. Yes! They are not being guided by the likes of the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh. (But they do have Rupert Murdoch around. -- But he's not having the best time in the UK these days.)

But we sometimes forget the other side of the grander conservative agenda. The economic side. We do see it hear in the United States. The push to prevent the ACA from coming online. The fight over the survival of the US Postal Service. And then we get to the states! See what is happening in Detroit? And across Michigan? They are selling off chunks of it. And other Republican governors are acting much the same. They are mini David Camerons...without the years at Eton. (I don't want to leave out the Democratic mayors of Chicago in all of this. The sale of the parking meters in the city was a stunning act of personal greed, bolstering the conservative viewpoint.)

The country is under pressure and threat. And ideas that go back to Margaret Thatcher, and on back to the first angry conservative opposition to the social safety net, are at the root. Conservatives foster these ideas. And they then ignore the repercussions of these ideas.

But in the UK...The Conservatives seem to be winning that economic fight. People are pissed about a lot of it. But they aren't tossing them out, yet. (It would be nice if Labour was currently more competent and could actually lead a proper revolt in debates in the Commons.) I can only hope Brits are able to preserve their nation against the grabby hands of David Cameron's friends. 

And here in the US, let's realize what comes if the GOP does get the White House, or full control of the Congress. Heck, the power they swing in the courts is damaging enough as it is. We need to push them out before they do too much damage to this country.

And it pissed me off when I see Democrats or pundits forget this reality. They often get chummy with the idea of bolstering some


And if you wonder, yes, the UK has it's own weird characters that look almost destined to rise to power they should never have. Meet Boris. Or, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

It blithers and dithers. And when he isn't doing that, he's off quoting things in Latin. Then he races off on his bicycle to his latest affair. ...And some think he could be a future leader of the Conservatives, and Prime Minister.

He's that annoying sort of affable. He looks like such an idiot, so people think he's charming and harmless. Look at him, at the London Olympics.

First they laugh at him. Then they love him. It's terrifying. Because he's a rich, privileged, highly connected, highly educated conservative. But he manages to camouflage it. (His full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. -- Not that we should judge people based on their name.) He's developed a look and style.

Let's hope Conservatives in the United States don't learn from him. But, say, does he at all remind you of Chris Christie. In Christie's case, conservatism masked under a few moderate position, and an angry "in your face" demeanor. It seems to sell somewhat in the United States. People do seem to ignore his troubling side, and troubling ideas. Perhaps in another post.

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