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Are the UK local elections a wake-up call for David Cameron?
Last uploaded : Sunday 28th Apr 2013 at 13:59
Contributed by : Carol Gould


I thought I would re-publish this article from a year ago as local UK elections loom on 2 May. The present hysteria surrounding the rise and rise of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, fascinates me as an American because the Tea Party rose from disatisfaction with both Democrats and Republicans. The Tea Party now has six US senators and helped shift the US Congress from Democrat to Republican control in the 2010 mid-terms. Some time ago I appeared on a television programme with Nigel Farage and was impressed. I may not agree with many of his views (at heart I am a liberal) but I did love the way he -- like me -- has fought tooth and nail to survive cancer. My Tory friends scream at me that he is 'an idiot' and that his supporters are 'lunatics' but it will be interesting to see how well the lunatics -- who nearly triumphed at Eastleigh -- do on 2 May.

Related link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/28/ken-clarke-ukip-waifs-strays .


First published 5 May 2012

Are the UK midterm elections a wake-up call for Barack Obama?

by Carol Gould

I will never forget Malcolm Rifkind telling the audience of a 2006 BBC ‘Question Time’ television broadcast to stop protesting the continuation of the Blair regime by reminding them that Americans had just voted with their feet and thrown the Republicans out of Congress. This disastrous midterm election result in turn rendered incumbent president George W Bush impotent in terms of passing legislation and confirming appointments at the mercy of Democrat-chaired congressional committees.

Rifkind reminded the audience that they had had a chance to elect a conservative, Michael Howard, to Downing Street in 2005 but Blair had retained his seat despite large local Tory gains in the election.

There were many factors that caused the upset in the United States in the 2006 midterm elections. Hurricane Katrina and the abysmal response by the Bush Administration even infuriated Fox News. When Fox News is infuriated Americans pay attention. The banking meltdown did not break into full flower until 2008 but by 2006 Americans were beginning to sense the onset of a property collapse and were worrying about their personal debt problems as some slid into negative equity. There had been corruption allegations against Republican dignitaries and the public was also becoming disenchanted with the Iraq War, which, along with the Afghanistan conflict, was draining the Treasury and killing GIs almost every day.

In 2008 Barack Obama won the White House. If midterm elections are a harbinger of the manifestation of public anger, the May 2012 British midterms should be a signpost to David Cameron. The general election in Great Britain will take place in 2015 whereas the American presidential election took place two years after the 2006 collapse of the GOP. However the negative results for the conservatives this week should be a message to change direction. My Tory friends remain disgusted by ‘people with a backache getting benefit --- backache isn’t a disability’ and others saying the nation is swamped by foreign-born benefit fraudsters. Their general c oncencus is that the Tory party must go back to its original values and move to the Right. I recall Joanne Cash -- of the expensive car with large dog seated in front as she turns corners at a staggering speed -- passionately addressing the conservative conference in 2009 about the nation’s lamentably high benefit bill. Iain Duncan Smith has, however, just stated that he is not prepared to reduce benefits any further. He knows austerity does not work in a recession. He knows that we could suffer violence as we did last summer. A former head of the British intelligence services has told me the likelihood of ‘blood in the streets’ is high. People unable to pay for their groceries can be driven to violence when they hear that Barclays has the funds to provide its chief with a £24 million package. To wit Bob Diamond of said Barclays Bank could redirect his bonus money to small businesses or even offer the funds in little bonus gifts to savers, who have earned nothing from their loyalty over the past three years. During the Great Depression Franklin Roosevelt took charge and told the bankers to pull in their reins. In 1929 bankers threw themselves off buildings; in 2012 they just pay themselves obscene wages whilst the rest of Britain struggles to hold onto homes and feed and clothe its children.

But here is the rub: in 2010 America voted with its feet again and threw the Democrats out of Congress. A handful of senators enjoyed election under the right-wing ‘Tea Party’ ticket. Again, the American public had been hit by home repossessions and redundancies and decided the Obama administration was doing little to bring down the national deficit. Oddly enough -- and this would never happen in the UK -- Americans resoundingly repudiated Obama’s attempt to provide Americans with healthcare. This is an anomaly I do not understand; even Democrats I have met have warned me that ‘universal health care is the first step to socialism and then communism.’ Many Republicans see Obama as the most destructive and dangerous president ever and as an appeaser of Jihadists.

Whatever the causes of the downfall of the Democratic party in the 2010 midterm elections it is an indication that Mitt Romney could take the White House in November 2012. As of this writing Obama and Romney are neck and neck. What can Obama do to improve his standing? From the angry rhetoric I witness in small gatherings it appears he can do nothing right. The enormous Labour victories in Britain this week are not so much an expression of passion for their uncharismatic leader Ed Miliband but a protest vote against everything the Tories are doing.

We could go back, of course, to 1994 when Bill Clinton lost the Congress; the federal government ground to a halt in 1995 as Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich led the campaign to derail the budget. Everyone thought Clinton was finished but the comeback kid regained national support and won re-election in 1996 by appealing to the conservative wing of the American electorate. His crackdown on crime followed by his vow to reduce big government in his 1997 inaugural address appealed to the heartland. The Republicans controlled both houses of Congress until 2006.

America was booming in the Clinton years and ‘austerity’ was not even in the national lexicon. Now the western world is in near-meltdown (just look at the faces of Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke and George Osborne and you will know we are not far from the catastrophe that loomed in 2008) and we need a growth programme modelled on the New Deal.

If David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson want a calm summer for the Queen’s Jubliee and for the Olympics they must move quickly to reduce the strangulation of all social classes and do what FDR did: create jobs, create industrial success and help the vulnerable. Taking away One Stop Shops, libraries and local community centres and removing taxi cards from 99 year olds is sadistic. A nation that gave the world Shakespeare, Milton and Keats should not be closing libraries. (By the same token we give millions in foreign aid to developing countries to open libraries!) A nation that penalises the already-struggling is doomed to dark days.


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