The Corner


The Shocking British

Concerning the British election, two observations (remember that formulation from WFB?):

1) When Prime Minister May called an election, I thought, “You know? The parliamentary system is almost like cheating. When your party is riding high and the other party is saddled with an old Bolshie who’d have trouble getting elected to the student council at Oberlin, you can call an election. How convenient.”

And lo. You never know about the public. You never know in a democracy. And an electorate can be a fickle thing.

The same electorate that we lionized on the Right for choosing Brexit …

2) “Theresa May ran a terrible campaign!” everyone says. Okay. But I’m a bore on this subject: You know who’s responsible for the outcome of an election? The voters.

In 1992, people on the right said, “President Bush ran a terrible campaign.” Maybe. I mean, for sure. But people knew the broad differences between Bush and Bill Clinton, on character and everything else. And they made their choice.

In 1996, people said, “Bob Dole ran a terrible campaign!” Okay. But people knew the broad differences and made their choice.

One more: In 2012, people said, “Mitt Romney ran a terrible campaign!” Oh? We could argue about that. But people knew President Obama and they knew Romney, broadly speaking: and they made their choice.

A bad one, in my opinion, but I had just one vote, in our big, continental nation.

Jeremy Corbyn is indeed an old Bolshie. He’s right out of Central Casting. If he showed up on the quad in my hometown, Ann Arbor, the Left would blush — turning redder than they already are. Let me be frank: Corbyn has been on the other side — yes, the other side — of practically every dispute that Britain has had: with the Communists, with the IRA, etc.

And Theresa May? A solid Conservative and patriot, whatever else one may think of her.

Now, I realize that a parliamentary system is different from a presidential one — but still: The voters knew about May and Corbyn, in broad outlines. And the Corbyn-led Labour party did very — shockingly — well.

Did the prime minister and the Conservatives run a lousy campaign? I’m sure they did. I also don’t care. Responsibility lies with the voters.

Over the years, some of my critics have said, “Jay blames the voters.” No, it’s not so much that Jay blames the voters. Jay accords them responsibility. Jay credits them with being responsible for their decisions, whether he agrees with those decisions or not.

I think the British people — the Labour voters, those millions — are out of their gourd.

The Latest