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The US corporate media seems to be portraying Gordon Brown's problems as having to do with insufficient political skills. Yet, Brown replaced Tony Blair, who was wildly unpopular, before the financial crisis took place.

Looking at American television when Tony Blair was usually shown licking the boots of George W. Bush, it is easy to forget how Blair usually projected himself to domestic audiences in the UK on the BBC. Instead of sniveling and humiliating himself, on domestic matters, Blair was charismatic and forceful. He was clever, and his handlers always had just the sound bite to keep the opposition at bay.

The problem was that charisma, a strong personality, and great sound bites war thin after years of Thatcherite policies. It wasn't bad enough that he humiliated the UK by genuflecting and appeasing an unelected tyrant like George W. Bush on the international stage. Blair also favored watered down versions of Tory policies that disposed the majority of the British population. Sugar coating dispossession can't work indefinitely.

Once Blair wore out of his welcome, Labor replaced him with the seemingly earnest Gordon Brown. However, Brown favored the same Thatcher-lite policies that he helped implement as a member of Blair's cabinet. This contributed to the depth of despair when the global economic crises arrived, and it also contributed to Brown's inability to act in a forceful way to intervene in the economy that both major parties had been moving in a laissez faire direction for decades.

The Conservative Party is winning the local and EU elections by not losing ground in the polling while Labor is losing a tremendous amount of votes to third parties. Neither party would be close to a majority of seats in the more significant House of Commons if not for the winner take all system in Britain that inevitably gives bizarre results when there are third parties. Proportional representation is a much more reasonable electoral system, yet the British seem to dislike it as much as we do. The upshot is that the Tories are gaining power without gaining support.

The media are focused on the improved performance of far right parties, but they are ignoring the improved performance of the Greens. The main lesson to be learned is that people in the UK want a real alternative to the Pepsi vs. Coke politics of the Conservative and Labor Parties.

Sound familiar?

It should. Obama, like Bill Clinton, is governing more like a Republican than a Democrat, to put it mildly. He has more time politically than Brown because the GOP is in a state of disarray, ceding much of its leadership to gargantuan loudmouth whose mind seems to still be terribly altered by Oxycontin. Gopper rhetoric reminds one of the British National Party. While sentiments like that have more adherents here than in the UK, it isn't a strategy to build a majority or to even put up a strong national fight.

American liberals could easily start electing Green or independent liberal candidates in certain House Districts. However, these American liberals, like the British left, seem to be too beaten down by the atrocities of Bush (or Thatcher in the UK) and corporate media propaganda to mount serious political challenges where the opportunities exist (e.g. in Nancy Pelosi's district or in several districts here in NYC).

The danger of a gutless left adrift with a sense of helplessness is that the only real alternatives to the Crest vs. Colgate politics we are getting here in the US are coming from the far right.

 

3 comments

  1. Lew Scannon Says:
  2. If the corpocracy gives us two choices: Republican and Republican-lite, then perhaps we too should start forming a third party more in line with what Democrats say to get elected than what they do afterward.

     
  3. A especially thoughtful take on Tony Blair... Have you ever submitted essays to Huffington Post? You should think about it!

     
  4. earwicga Says:
  5. I like the Pepsi vs. Coke metaphor. Especially appropriate as both are full of rubbish and are should be gotten rid of.

     

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