One of the Democratic selling points — and it was certainly one that Monsieur John Kerry tried to hit hard — is that American conservatism is out of step with Europe, and that Democrats, with their advanced European attitudes, will help us be friends again with the rest of the civilized world. This sales pitch hasn’t changed despite the fact that the European electorate, when given the chance, has lately been ousting its liberal leaders in favor of more conservative ones. As of a few days ago, that change had happened in Germany, France and Italy. Yesterday, it began to happen in England. Although the Labour government is still in power, local election results show that the average Brit in the street is disenchanted with Labour. The bloom is off the Tony Blair rose:
Labour woke up to its worst result at the ballot box for four decades on Friday morning as voters staged a mass local election protest against Gordon Brown’s government and the worsening economic situation.
As results continued to come the picture deteriorated for Labour. By mid afternoon Labour had lost 283 seats, while the Conservatives had won 232 seats and gained target councils such as Nuneaton & Bedworth, Bury and Southampton.
North Tyneside turned blue at 11.30 on Friday morning in an emblematic victory for the Tories, who have struggled to make inroads in northern metropolitan areas in recent years. “We’re back in business in the north…the wheels are spinning no more,” said Eric Pickles, shadow local government minister.
The results in the south were also bad for Labour, which on Friday lost Reading – its last council in the region – to no overall control.
Mr Brown on Friday described the results as “bad” and “disappointing” and said it was imperative for the party to listen to the electorate. The Tories have so far gained 12 councils, while Labour has lost nine and the Liberal Democrats had gained one.
I’ll be the first to admit that European conservatism is different from American conservatism. The latter’s focus, at least in theory, is on smaller government, lower taxes and a strong defense. European conservatism can better be characterized as Socialism-lite (which is certainly true for the Tory party), it clings to its weak defense position, and it tends to have a White Supremacist tinge that is, to say the least, disturbing. Nevertheless, it’s not as hostile to America as the long-prevailing Leftist European orthodoxy has been, and it certainly has a somewhat more free market agenda. From that point of view, a McCain victory, rather than a Hillbama victory, is the thing most likely to align us more closely with Europe.
UPDATE: Apparently the discontent with Labour has infected London, which is finally fed up with “Red” Ken Livingstone. Boris Johnson is not a conservative as we in America understand it, but he is a conservative, not to mention witty and (despite being very, very white) articulate. (Hat tip: JL)