If Americans want to know what a Bernie Sanders candidacy would be like, provided that the Vermont socialist was to get the Democratic nomination, they need look no farther than the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the opposition Labour Party in Great Britain. Corbyn represents a reversion to how Labour approached public policy before Tony Blair reformed the party to appeal to the center-left. In many ways, Corbyn makes Sanders seem like Ronald Reagan.
According to the UK Telegraph, Corbyn would not only raise taxes on “the rich” in order to pay for increased welfare spending in Great Britain, but he would initiate a policy he calls “the people’s quantitative easing.” That policy would involve having the Bank of England print money to pay for various infrastructure projects as well as new housing for the poor.
Other policies Corbyn advocates include renationalizing the railroads and other industries that were privatized under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the establishment of a “National Education Service” that would do to British education what the National Health Service did to British heath care, a minimum wage, a maximum wage, rent controls, and the abolition of the British monarchy.
The last proposal could be a blessing should Corbyn ever find himself in residence at Number 10 Downing Street. The UK Daily Mail reported that the new leader of the opposition Labour Party once favored a resolution welcoming the prospect of an asteroid wiping out the human race. His support for the resolution in the House of Commons seems to have derived from his support for the rights of pigeons, which at the time MI5 was considering using as bomb delivery devices. Corbyn is a warm defender of the rights of pigeons.
Andrew Stuttaford notes that Corbyn likes to keep company with a number of tyrants and terrorists, including Vladimir Putin, the late Hugo Chavez, the IRA, Hezbollah and Hamas. However, he has called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be brought up on charges of war crimes.
The elevation of Jeremy Corbyn, a former backbencher with no leadership or cabinet experience, to the leadership of one of Britain’s largest parties has sent a shockwave through the British political establishment, including some of the Labour old guard who would like to win elections some time. The conventional wisdom is that two developments will arise out of Corbyn’s election.
First, British Labour is likely to be in the wilderness so long as Corbyn is in control of the party. His views are just too extreme to attract enough voters. Indeed, the betting is that Labour is likely to lose a considerable number of seats.
Second, the Scottish National Party sees Corbyn as an opportunity to seek another vote for Scottish independence. The SNP reasons that any Labour voters who are left in Scotland would naturally gravitate to them, strengthening the cause of creating an independent Scotland.
The happiest people in Great Britain now that the leader of the main opposition party is the most left-wing in British history are the stalwarts of the British Conservative Party. From their point of view, the only party that might threaten Tory rule has just decided to immolate itself. Will the Tories use the opportunity to enact serious reforms in British economic policy? That remains to be seen. Thatcher would do it, but there does not seem to be a modern-day Iron Lady in the offing.