I don’t usually wade into global economic policy here on the Stump, but as Mitt Romney reminded us in his speech last night, the 2012 presidential race is “still about the economy—and we’re not stupid.” So after coming across a particular pet peeve of mine just now, I’m going to wade on in. In its lead editorial today, the Wall Street Journal pushes back at the broadening ranks urging Germany to loosen up on its austerity mantra for Europe. I’m not going to get into that fight now—I figure this guy’s got it under control.
Two weeks ago, Britain was a nation lost, permanently ill at ease, with a mutant, hybrid government and an air of meekness and gloom. There wasn’t anything to distract us, to feel particularly ashamed or proud of—everything was just a bit depressing. Nine out of ten news stories were about Kate Middleton’s hats (too Canadian?) or clavicles (too pointy?). In Europe, we would have just looked insensitive if we had complained about our dull, entrenched problems, given the exuberant sleaziness in Italy and chaos in Greece.
[Guest post by Alex Klein] The country of my birth is parodying itself. We’ve spun around the roundabout of funny and turned off directly into sad. The News of the World’s Pandora’s box is daily spilling out even fresher hells, so embarrassing in their corporate-journo-politico complicity that one could almost forgive Rupert Murdoch for burning a million emails worth of evidence — well, almost. Today, we learn that NOTW tried to hack Gordon Brown, Prince Charles, and 9/11 victims. Then they tried to buy the Queen’s phone number. In times like these, England rarely turns to the clergy.
One of the most striking changes to Newsweek in recent months has been the influx of celebrity authors. The current issue alone contains contributions from Gordon Brown, Cindy McCain, Betty White, and A.Q.
On Friday, May 7, for the first time since 1974, we woke up the morning after the British election and didn’t know who our prime minister would be. No party had won an absolute majority, and so, for a period that a BBC-TV documentary has dubbed the "Five Days that Changed Britain," Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, held the balance of power and negotiated with Gordon Brown, who was still entrenched as prime minister, and the Conservative leader, David Cameron. Finally, the Tories cut a deal with Clegg.
So Number 10 Downing Street has a new resident, from a new party. It’s a little strange for us Anglophilic public policy wonks, since it sometimes feels like Labour is all we’ve ever known. Indeed, Tony Blair became prime minister for the first time just a few months after Bill Clinton’s second inaugural--what now seems like a different eon in America. (And in the U.K., too--Posh and Becks had just met.) Particularly during eight years in the U.S.
Many observers are wondering why the Conservatives failed to gain an outright majority in last week’s elections. After all, Labour has been in power for thirteen years, Gordon Brown is deeply unpopular, and the budget is in crisis. Moreover, David Cameron worked hard to modernize and moderate the Conservative party, and despite a surge after the first debate, the Liberal Democrats scored only a modest gain in the popular vote and actually lost five seats. The answer is starting us in the face, and it’s disturbing: the Tories fell short because the right-wing anti-Europe, anti-immigrant partie
WASHINGTON—Britain produced an electoral earthquake all right, but not the one so many expected. The real lessons have less to do with two-party systems than with how economic change has challenged old strategies on both the right and the left. The Conservatives under David Cameron came in first with the most votes and the most seats.
So what happens now? That's the question Britain asks itself this morning. It would have been easier to answer if the country had managed to make its mind up yesterday. but for the first time since 1974, a British general election has produced no winner, only multiple losers. Gordon Brown remains prime minister for now but his credibility is destroyed and it seems most unlikely that the country would wear any coalition deal he cobbled together.