Labour

To The Left

 

To the left, to the left everything you own in a box to the left…

What does Beyonce have in common with Bernie and Jeremy? They all are not afraid of shifting people to the left.

To the left bernie & Jeremy

to the left beyonce

Whilst Beyonce was singing about sending a man packing “everything you own in the to box to the left”, Corbyn and Sanders have always had a different “left” on their minds which is moving the political landscape to the left.

With recent political events such as Brexit, Trump becoming President, the rise and fall of Le Pen in France it appears that politics has turned all the way right. However there is not one sole reason as to these events, issues such as Brexit are multi faceted and not everyone who voted to leave the EU would consider themselves as right-wingers. Political commentators have been discussing the emergence of right, but what about the left? There has been a talk of ‘the left being dead’, after the American elections last year and from the Tories winning with a majority in the general election 2015. There were questions as to why both Labour and the Democrats, who had enjoyed power for a period of time were losing support from their core members. Both parties had taken their core support for granted in recent elections.Bernie Sanders, ‘America’s Jeremy Corbyn’ and his equivalent ‘Britain’s Bernie’ both have tried to address these issues and to engage with those who their parties had left behind.

Is ‘Bernie’ Jeremy and is Bernie ‘Jeremy’ ?

Both Bernie and Jeremy have lead anti-establishment campaigns in the hope of convincing the the working class, the average Joe, minorities, the young and women; that their left-wing movement is the best political choice to make. There are striking similarities between the men, they both have opposed inequality and their theme is redistribution of wealth and income from the very few to the majority. Additionally, both men though old have been able to connect with the young (Sanders is 75 and Corbyn is 68) which is something that the other politicians on their election campaigns could not do. They both have offered policies that are appealing to the young e.g. Labour promising to abolish university tuition fees during the recent election and Sanders’ plan to make tuition and fees free at public colleges and universities.  They also both know how to run effective social media campaigns, you only have to look at how their supporters rallied around  #FeeltheBern and #JezWeCan. A difference to point out is that Sanders is not a party politician, he was the first independent to be elected in the US House of Representatives in 40 years and Corbyn has always been a party man (this can point be debated with his voting record with Labour).

During the general election, Bernie Sanders praised Corbyn’s campaign and his efforts to reshape Labour and the UK. He shared his commonalities with Corbyn and said,  “What has impressed me-and there is a real similarity between what has he done and what I did-is he has taken on the establishment of the Labour party, he has gone to the grassroots and he has tried to transform that party…and that is exactly what I am trying to do”. He further added that he was impressed by Corbyn’s willingness to speak about class issues that affect not only the UK and America but the world.

Have they moved ‘everyone to the left’ ?

Sanders and Corbyn have a lot in common as discussed above, but has their anti-establishment movement resonated with the majority? Have they shifted everyone to the left or will Bernie and Jeremy have to pack their political boxes to the left?

Let’s talk about Bernie.

To the left bernie

According to Morning Consult’s poll, Mr Sanders is here to stay. A poll released on July 11 Senator Bernie Sanders was the most popular politician in the Senate with a 75% approval rating. In like manner, Fox News conducted a poll in April and found Sanders was the highest favourable politician at 61%. In addition, PolitiFact supported the claim Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States even though he lost to Hillary Clinton. This evidence supports the argument that Bernie Sanders along with his views and policy proposals are liked and supported by the American people. In March, Bernie told a crowd in ‘Trump Country’ West Virginia that “healthcare was a right” and this was met with a round of applause. Bernie spoke to Trump supporters in a rural town hall on a number of topics like climate change, healthcare, free higher education and this was met with warm reception. This demonstrates the ‘Bernie effect’- he has been able to speak on issues that everyday people care about. This also supports the notion that the country is moving towards the left and more are open to progressive policies. In a June poll by USA Today found that only 12%  of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan. Sanders remarks at the NAACP convention that the Republican’s healthcare “…legislation is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people” reflects USA’s Today’s findings.

Though he is loved by his supporters, the love is not the same within the Democratic Party. Following Clinton’s loss to Trump, Bernie Sanders has lead the resistance in the Democratic Party by pushing for progressive reform in the party and rallying against the Republicans’ health care plan. Some within the party are critical of Sanders policies and have opposed his plans for example Bernie’s medicare plans. This fall out has lead to cases where there has been in fighting between the two factions within Democrats at state level. So, has everyone moved left in the Democratic Party? A majority of the Democrats in the Senate did back Bernie’s bill that would raise the federal minimum wage in contrast to $15 in contrast to in 2015 when he introduced it only 5 senators supported it. Leading Democrat Senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker have all expressed their support for ‘Medicare-for-all’. This highlights the clear shift within the party, when only in 2016 last year Hillary Clinton said single-payer “will never, ever come to pass”. Polls have now showed that there is an increase of 19% of Democrats who want to see a single-payer system . In this poll by Pew Research Center 60% of Americans believe the federal government is responsible for covering healthcare for all. Even now 33% favour a single-payer system to health insurance, which is up 5% since January of this year and 12% since 2014.

To the left pew research center

There is now more support than ever for single health insurance run by the government rather than a mix of private companies and government initiatives. The Democrat party needs to now get behind Sanders and his new way of doing politics, otherwise they will be in disarray again in the upcoming mid-term elections and in 2020. Voters have taken a liken to Sanders’  sincere engagement in politics and how he reaches out to everyone. This is a strategy that all Democrats should seek to learn from to differentiate themselves from the Republicans.

There are claims that Bernie is to run again in 2020 however he has said that it is “too early” to talk about. Donald Trump, would lose in 2020 if Bernie Sanders was to run according to Public Policy Polling. Trump would lose to Bernie by a 52-39 margin (poll also showed Trump would lose Joe Biden by a greater margin and a 7 point margin margin by Elizabeth Warren). Just like Trump, Bernie is an outsider  to the ‘establishment’ as an independent senator. This is to his advantage as he has and will continue to gain popularity with those who feel underrepresented by the Democrats and the Republicans. Sanders’ popularity driven by activism, is another similarity shared with Jeremy Corbyn. The left is not dead in America folks, its a new left, a left that rejected Hillary and a left that focuses on those left behind. Its Bernie’s Left.

Let’s talk about Jeremy.

to the left jeremy

We know how Corbyn has faced criticism from his peers across other parties but also within Labour and at times his own Shadow Cabinet. Following the general election, his popularity has surged with a poll conducted shortly after the election showing Labour five points ahead of the Tories at 46%. It also showed Theresa May approval rating had gone down by minus 17 and in contrast Corbyn had gained 17 points. Jeremy Corbyn surprised all political commentators by gaining 34 seats including constituencies Kensington and Chelsea and Canterbury which were under the Tories previously.  The Labour leader benefited from the youth vote and his policies that connected with the general public. In a recent poll by the Evening Standard , Jeremy Corbyn has taken his best ever rating and overtaken Theresa May. Forty-four per cent of adults are satisfied with Corbyn compared to May’s 34% and  her government’s 28%. This poll highlights the strong dissatisfaction with May and is the lowest rating for any modern-day Prime Minister after an election. It also shows that Theresa May has become more unpopular than the early days of Corbyn’s Labour leadership. This all demonstrates that there has been a shift in the left but to what extent? Is it only because of the poor performance of May during the election campaign and dislike for the government’s policies for example its refusal to raise public sector wages? We will only truly know if there was to be another election and then can observe whether his popularity will translate into votes. Also, maybe we will see whether that has been a true shift to the left in Labour and the general public has taken place if May was to resign with a more popular Tory to replace her.

Bernie and Jeremy have not been afraid to move everyone to the left, whether its within the party they represent or the general public. It can clearly be seen that that there has been a strong shift towards their views with more supporting their policies and ideas. However politics is cyclical, all it takes is one event to shift the conversation back towards the right again. For now Bernie and Jeremy can keep their boxes in and press forward to the left.

 

Images: Channel 4 News/Youtube , Pew Research Center , BBC , CNN

Stay Blessed

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Brexit: Regional Divides

Brexit regional divides

One of the big questions that continues to pop up in the Brexit debate is how each country will vote? Leaders from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have taken opposing views as to where they stand in the EU referendum. Thus highlighting the regional divides that the debate will bring up. Let’s see where they stand:

Scotland

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said she would like to see “a strong and positive case” for the UK to remain in the EU.  She also said David Cameron’s negotiations were argued on narrow grounds. Both, Alex Salmond (the former leader of SNP) and Nicola Sturgeon have warned that Brexit will reopen the question of Scottish Independence. Mr Salmond said that the second referendum will be “irresistible and I think very rapid”. This was supported by the First minister who said, “If we get into the situation where Scotland stays to vote in, the rest of the UK votes to come out, then people in Scotland will have big questions they will want to look at again about whether Scotland should be independent”. She also made a similar statement on the Andrew Marr Show as she said it will almost certainly trigger a second referendum. Additionally, she has previously called for the EU referendum to be subject to a double majority whereby there will need to be a majority in each part of the UK rather than a simple majority.

Compared to other parts of the UK, Scotland is more pro-European. This is partly down to the current Scottish government, SNP, which the majority of Scotland’s population are supporting. It is seen by SNP that an independent Scotland being part of the EU is only possible if they have a pro-EU stance. Additionally, Scotland benefits from EU subsidies and exporting to the continent without trade barriers. Brexit could have a great impact on the Scottish economy as Britain Stronger in Europe (pro-EU campaign) has said Scottish Exports to mainland Europe are worth £11.6 billion. Furthermore, Scotland in the next few years will be receiving £33 million from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and hundreds of millions more from structural funds. Polls have shown that Scotland is in the remain camp. A poll by Comres found that amongst 1,105 British adults the support for remaining in the EU was higher amongst the Scots, compared to the UK as a whole. 59 per cent said they will vote to remain whilst only 31 per cent said they will vote out. Similarly, a poll by the Daily Record showed that 66 per cent want the UK to stay in the EU and  28 per cent will be more likely to back independence if the UK got out of the EU (14 per cent less likely to back independence).

Wales

The debate in Wales is likely to be centred around the financial benefits of the EU membership. Wales is said to have received an estimated £3.8 billion between 2007 and 2013 from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, structural funds and other funding streams. Labour’s first minister, Carwyn Jones has said that the Welsh electorate have a choice about the money in their pockets “£3000 per household, right across Wales”. He further added that the farming industry in Wales (58,000 farmers in Wales)  could come to an end as “our farmers depend on over a £200m a year of subsidies and access to the European market”. The Welsh government has said the country will benefit from £50m of EU investment each year under various funding schemes. Despite Wales being one of the main beneficiaries of the UK membership, it has grown Eurosceptic. According to Barometer, the country’s 2.2m voters will decide to leave the EU (45 per cent to vote out and 37 per cent to remain). The leave vote has grown by 3 points since December and the remain has decreased by 3 points. The Vote Leave camp had not gotten more than 40 per cent of the vote until the end of last year. This is seen with the rise of support of UKIP in Wales, with the party polling ahead of Plaid Cyrmu and Liberal Democrats who have both been in government. Recently, Plaid Cyrmu leader Leanne Woods argued similarly to Sturgeon that UK should only leave the EU if all four countries voted to leave.  It is said that the pro-EU parties are fearful of how close the June 23 poll is to Welsh Assembly elections and they will not have enough time to come together. Many argue that the money the UK spends on the EU budget could be used in Wales. Campaigners argue that there is little evidence that money from EU has made a big difference in Wales. Many in Wales are unhappy with the Labour administration, as well as the loss of steel jobs at Port Talbot which some blame the EU for its failure to prevent Chinese steel dumping. This has therefore lead to a drop in support for the EU.

Northern Ireland

A poll in November showed that Northern Ireland wanted to remain with 55 per cent wishing to remain and 13 per cent wanting to go out. However first minister of Northern Ireland,  Arlene Foster said she was recommending Britain to vote out of the EU. This is because she said the Prime Minister’s negotiations did not go far enough in securing fundamental reform of Europe. This is likely to cause heated debates and divisions, where Northern Ireland has a power-sharing government (DUP shares power with Sinn Fein, Ireland’s nationalist party). Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuiness said “the future of Ireland north and south is in the EU and Sinn Fein will be campaigning vigorously to stay in”.

Image: www.theguardian.com