The Dilemma at the Center of the UK Labour and USA’s Democratic Party

I’m an American living in the UK for the last six years. When I lived in the United States, I was involved with Democratic politics on a state and national level. Reflecting on that experience has made me conclude that the Labour Party and the Democratic Party share many of the same traits.

In the USA, it’s “vote blue no matter who”, and in the UK, it’s similar, “Anyone but the Tories”. There’s an undercurrent of thought that leftists can’t win, so you should just support the most left party and try to move the party left. In real-time, that isn’t the case. In Nevada, the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) won every seat in the Nevada Democratic Party’s leadership positions. They did what their opposition in the leadership always told them to do, win elections. How did they react? They stripped the party of its financial resources and then quit. Here, you can read a complete takedown of the whole thing at the Intercept and their sister audio podcast version.

Labour has a similar version of this story. In 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was elected to be the leader of the Labour party. In 2017, Labour outperformed expectations (winning more of the popular vote than Blair in 2005) and brought the Labour party just shy of gaining power. Teresa May called this election to coalesce power around her Brexit deal. The loss of seats for the Conservatives was enough to oust Teresa May as Prime Minister. They had to find a “magic money tree” to stay in power.

During Corbyn’s rein as the leader, the Forde Report found that there were forces within the party itself that were attacking Corbyn:

“The factions ended up in a cycle of attack and counterattack, with each side assuming that the other was acting in bad faith (sometimes justifiably, sometimes not) and responding in kind.”

That there were Trotskyist witch hunts:

“I was advised that the bellringing was conducted by the ‘compliance’ unit and represented the successful suspension or expulsion of a member – often surrounded by the description of such members as ‘trots'”.

and that there were factional, racist messaging by senior party staff:

“We find that the messages on the SMT [senior management team] WhatsApp reveal deplorably factional and insensitive, and at times discriminatory, attitudes expressed by many of the party’s most senior staff. The substance of the quoted messages is concerning – and totally inappropriate from senior staff of a purportedly progressive political party”

These factions were DESPONDENT at the idea of a Corbyn-led party taking power:

“WhatsApp transcripts included in the original 2020 dossier analysed by the inquiry had suggested that some staffers became despondent as Labour climbed in the polls during the election campaign despite their efforts.”

Looking at both political parties through the lens of recent history shows their moderate base operates both when in and out of power. They’re only focused on holding on to the reigns of power (at all costs) while not changing much while in power.

Right now, POTUS Joe Biden, who campaigned on being able to work with Republicans, cannot get legislation through Congress that the Democratic Party controls. As Peter Daou points this out at Direct Left:

This is Joe Biden’s actual record:

NO minimum wage hike

NO serious student debt cancellation

NO effective pandemic strategy (more deaths than Trump)

NO medicare for all — or the promised public option

NO more Roe v. Wade

NO filibuster reform, just speeches

NO voting rights protection, just more speeches

NO court expansion, just a sham commission

NO end to racist policing

NO end to gun violence

NO end to deportations & abuse of asylum-seekers

NO end to cages for migrant children

NO end to brutalizing Afghanistan and Yemen

NO end to droning civilians without repercussions

NO end to huge military budgets (bigger than Trump’s)

NO end to arming and coddling oppressive regimes

NO meaningful climate action

NO end to oil drilling and fossil fuel subsidies

NO end to poverty, hunger, and homelessness

NO end to billionaires pocketing trillions

That’s just a partial list of Biden’s broken promises — and broken moral compass. Corporate Democrats like Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi have always relied on performative opposition and theatrics to pacify their supporters while preserving the status quo.

UK Labour is now leading in the polls (even though they said they’d be leading by 20 points— and they aren’t) and may win the next general election. That may sound great, but as Biden has shown, if you don’t lead a party of change with ideas that you implement, you won’t be able to get anything done and “nothing will fundamentally change.”

Things might not be that bad if that was all that would happen. But the promise of “hope and change” and to “fundamentally transform” America by Barack Obama that didn’t materialise led to the election of Donald Trump. This lack of political movement had consequences.

Saying that you “must vote blue, no matter who”, if it were in the context of a personal relationship, would be considered gaslighting, DARVO-like abuse.

Performative opposition is the name of the game for both of these supposedly liberal political parties. They have nothing to offer except more of the same, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. This kind of do-nothing politics will eventually lead to radical change or hyper-nationalist fascism, resulting in much innocent bloodshed.

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