A few readers have asked for my take on the European elections. I don’t disagree with much of what David Pryce-Jones and Andrew Stuttaford have written, and I’ll have more to say about Europe’s neo-nationalist parties in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine this week, for any NR readers in Niagara Falls, N.Y. who want to take a stroll across the bridge. So let me make a point I don’t think either David or Andrew have touched on.
The British results are the latest forlorn thermometer reading of Gordon Brown’s long goodbye. Yet, while the Labour Party is shriveling before our eyes, David Cameron’s Tories are not obviously the beneficiaries. In the English council elections the Conservatives got a lower percentage of the vote than last time round, and, insofar as there was a (one percent) swing to the Tories in the European elections, in the end their vote was only a handful of points higher than the combined tally of the two beyond-the-pale parties, the openly xenophobic* (well, anti-European) U.K. Independence Party and the openly racist British National Party. If Gordon Brown’s rotting zombie of a ministry can’t drive voters into the embrace of David Cameron, what can? The Conservatives should have been the beneficiary of both the broader two-party electoral cycle and the more immediate internecine warfare in Brown’s cabinet. But they weren’t. If I were a Tory strategist, I’d be none too thrilled with what the entrails are saying.
Is British politics undergoing not the usual ping-pong but a murkier realignment? I’d be interested to hear our old pal John O’Sullivan’s take on this — assuming that on his travels he hasn’t accidentally gotten elected as head of the Slovak Iron Guard or the Clenched Fist of Romania or some other lively attraction of the European political scene.
(*Just to clarify, I’m using “openly xenophobic” in the politico-media establishment sense of being opposed to a centralized European superstate. Like many of us who are opposed to the EU, they like foreigners on a one-to-one basis — meeting them on a topless beach at St. Tropez and whatnot — but have no desire to be governed by them.)