The British Labour Party, having suffered a surprise and humiliating defeat in the last General Election is in the midst of a leadership contest. Without going into detail, the contest is looking like a runaway victory for one Jeremy Corbyn. Mr. Corbyn is a Progressive wet dream – renationalization, a Hamas supporter, deep, deep green. So much so that Tony Blair, writing in the Guardian said,
If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation. If he wins the leadership, the public will at first be amused, bemused and even intrigued. But as the years roll on, as Tory policies bite and the need for an effective opposition mounts – and oppositions are only effective if they stand a hope of winning – the public mood will turn to anger. They will seek to punish us. They will see themselves as victims not only of the Tory government but of our self-indulgence. the guardian
In Canada, as Dr. Dawg points out, the NDP is conducting an “Orange purge” of its candidates based upon those candidates support for “Palestinian Human Rights”. Two candidates purged so far according to Dawg.
In the US, while Trump wanders about saying the unsayable, the progressive left of the Democratic party personified by Bernie Sanders is pulling ahead of the lacklustre Hillary – who is, frankly, more likely to be indicted than nominated. But Sanders faces his own progressive nemesis in the form of harpies from the Soros funded #blacklivesmatter claque.
Sitting well to the right I can, of course, simply pop open a beer, grab some popcorn and cheer the lefties on. However, there is something actually happening here which makes this more than a pleasing spectator sport.
All over the West there is fissure between what might be called the “pragmatic” left and the “progressives”. The progressives embrace a multitude of causes – they are social justice warriors, militantly pro-immigration, deep green, pro-Pali, certain that Islam is never the problem, all about equality and very much against a particular form of “inequality”. They are happy to include 9-11 Truthers, BDS activists, radical environmentalists and intersectional feminists. And the progressives are sick and tired of, on the one hand, having their activism used by mainline parties and on the other being pushed into the backroom when it comes time to actually run an election campaign.
For several decades the ostensibly left-wing parties in the West have tried very hard to keep their progressives as far away from the public eye as possible. Sort of like the crazy uncle in the attic: you can hear him but never meet him. Pragmatically this makes a lot of sense because if you let them out of their cage they come up with gems like Linda McQuaig announcing that oil sands oil needs to be left in the ground so that we can avoid the scary “global warming” which occupies so much progressive attention.
For those of us on the right, progressives provide a good deal of entertainment. SJW’s earnest discoveries of racism under every bed simply denatures the word “racist”. The capacity of true green believers to “keep the faith” in the face of the collapse of the IPCC’s models and the Pause” is delightful proof of the power of belief over science. However, for people like Mulcair or Tony Blair or Hillary Clinton, the progressives’ intrusion at the grown up table is an existential threat.
A great deal of the left’s electoral success is based upon its capacity to isolate and immobilize the progressives left parties usually contain. (The NDP in Canada buried the Waffle so deeply they can’t remember where they put it.) But that capacity is showing signs of slipping away. Corbyn will either become the next leader of the Labour Party or the fixing of the leadership election will be so blatant that the Labour Party itself will be destroyed. If Mulcair does not win the next election, the progressive part of the NDP will be able to claim that it was because the NDP sold out its progressive heritage. If Hillary somehow manages to win the Democratic nomination and is beaten in the General, the progressives will be able to claim that a real progressive would have won. And in each of these scenarios the farther shores of progressive thought will no longer be confined to the back rooms.
If the progressives are able to gain traction it will open terrific opportunities for the conservative interest. Western political landscapes being what they are, the right has rarely governed from a conservative position. At best, it heads in a statist direction a little more slowly than the left would prefer. But if the progressives are able to seize control of the main left parties and propel them out into the progressive wilderness, the conservative parties stand a chance of election on actual conservative platforms.
Pragmatism on the left has been met by pragmatism on the right; but if the left is willing to embrace the electoral poison of progressive policy, the right will be able to get on with the job of slowly shrinking the state.