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Political winds — like those in Britain — mean trouble for US Democrats

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Political winds — like those in Britain — mean trouble for US Democrats

Five years ago next month, British voters, in the largest turnout ever, voted to leave the European Union by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. It was an unexpected result, and a harbinger of Donald Trump’s even more unexpected election as president five months later.

In both countries, key votes were cast by white non-college graduates. In the US, blue-collar Democrats in Pennsylvania and the Midwest switched to Trump. In the UK, working-class voters long loyal to Labour joined leading Conservatives in supporting Brexit.

Supposedly ascendant coalitions of metropolitan professionals and racial and ethnic minorities were, to their self-righteous rage, defeated. Metro London, with 20 percent of the nation’s votes, voted 60 percent to 40 percent to remain in the European Union. But the rest of England, 70 percent of the UK, voted 57 percent to 43 percent for Brexit.

Five years on, the realignments that produced 2016’s surprise have continued, with seemingly different results in the two countries. Here, Democrats regained the White House in 2020 and won majorities in both houses of Congress.

In Britain, the Labour Party, split between metropolitan leaders and working-class Brexit voters, suffered its worst defeat in decades in 2019 and did even worse in local elections last week. It looks to be in danger of joining the old socialist parties of France and Germany as extinct major parties.

But the differences can be overstated. Joe Biden’s Democrats have only tenuous majorities and face increasing tensions between woke leadership and historic constituencies on important issues such as crime and immigration.

In Britain, such tension has resulted in Labour losing dozens of House of Commons seats in its “Red Wall” — the traditional textile, steel and coal-mining communities in the Midlands and north of England. Conservatives won more than 40 Red Wall seats as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won 365 seats to Labour’s 202 in December 2019.

After that, Labour ditched its London-based leftist party leader Jeremy Corbyn for London-based barrister Keir Starmer. Like long-serving (1997-2007) Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, Starmer is moderate on economics, but he joined Blair in trying to overturn the Brexit referendum and proudly took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.

Starmer’s stances won him record support, 65 percent and 70 percent, respectively, in his home constituency of Holborn and St. Pancras. But he foolishly chose an anti-Brexit candidate in last week’s special election for the Red Wall seat of Hartlepool, a 70 percent pro-Brexit port on the North Sea.

Hartlepool was a Labour seat since its creation. Last week, Hartlepool voted for Conservative over Labour by 52 percent to 29 percent.

“Labour,” writes Telegraph columnist Janet Daley, “has not just, as everybody keeps saying, ‘lost touch’ with its traditional supporters: it now holds them in open and quite febrile contempt.” And she adds some historical perspective: “What is the point of a political party that began as the voice of the industrial proletariat when there is no more industrial proletariat?”

The Labour Party was founded in 1900 as the political arm of labor unions at a time when the working class was the majority of the electorate. Continental parties with similar heritages are in even more trouble. France’s Socialist Party, which won the presidency in 2012, got 6 percent of the vote in 2017. Germany’s Social Democratic Party, founded in 1863, has now fallen to a distant third place in polling for next September’s election, with the Green Party emerging as the chief competitor of the governing CDU/CSU.

It may be natural that, as the working class grows smaller and high-education cultural leftists more numerous, an environmental and anti-nationalist left will replace socialists as major parties in parliamentary systems or as dominant forces in the left party in two-party systems like ours.

One lingering problem: Working-class-dominated parties have concrete goals relevant to large constituencies. But high-education and class-dominated parties tend to fixate on the abstract aimed at increasingly microscopic groups (transgender rights) or virtue-signaling their own superiority over the benighted masses (“systemic racism”).

Neither is a winning tactic in a Britain, which “has fundamentally shifted” and “become a more open society,” as its multiracial Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recently concluded, or in an America, which elected a black congressman from a white-majority district in 1972 and a black president in 2008 and 2012.

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Opinion

Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

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Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

Pandemic journal: Wuhan Lab Was Batty

Despite the insistence of Peter Daszak — a “longtime partner of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and one of the most staunch and outspoken critics of the lab-leak theory” — the lab “did indeed have live bats within its walls,” reports National Review’s Jim Geraghty. Sky News Australia found May 2017 footage showing caged bats and one “hanging off the hat of” a researcher “wearing a mask and glasses but no other protective head covering.” The lab even “filed patents for bat cages.” Daszak, whose EcoHealth Alliance funneled government grants to the Wuhan lab, deleted tweets claiming it held no live bats but hasn’t “admitted he was wrong.” That lab “had more samples of bat viruses within its walls than any other building on earth,” yet Daszak and others claim the fact COVID originated in Wuhan “is simply coincidental.”

Libertarian: Biden’s Infrastructure Backfire

President Biden is focused on “all the money he plans to spend” on ­infrastructure, rather than on getting the biggest bang for the buck — which suggests he will be buying “a lot less infrastructure” than otherwise, argues Reason’s Christian Britschgi. The prez insists, for example, that jobs go to union workers, yet that could raise costs by as much as 22 percent. His team paused a Houston highway project on civil-rights grounds, possibly opening an “avenue for activists to slow” other projects. And the Bidenites are considering a rollback of Trump-era limits on environmental reviews. In the end, his team’s commitment to “outdated red tape” will “inevitably impede whatever it ends up trying to build.”

Border watch: Migrants’ COVID Threat

President Biden should have at least “waited until the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was over before reversing Trump’s border-security measures,” but he has instead enabled migrants to bring “the virus — including potentially dangerous variants — into the interior of the US,” laments Nolan Rappaport at The Hill. Team Biden excepted unaccompanied alien children from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary order permitting “the rapid expulsion of aliens who would otherwise be held in crowded areas while being processed.” While the coronavirus is “still killing more than 200 people a day in the US,” Biden is admitting newcomers from low-vaccination countries without so much as a COVID test. The president vowed to “follow the science” in fighting the pandemic, and “politicians should keep their campaign promises.”

From the left: Manchin’s Favor to Dems

For all liberals’ rage at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) “for opposing the For the People Act and for supporting the filibuster,” he may “be doing these liberal Democrats a favor,” contends John Judis at Talking Points Memo. The voting bill is a highly controversial and thus an unpopular “Christmas tree of progressive election measures” that includes “public funding of elections, . . . support for Congress being able to declare the District of Columbia a state and a panoply of regulations that would govern state elections — elections that are supposed to be the purview of states.” Meanwhile, “the presence of the filibuster forces Democrats in the Senate and the Biden administration to focus their efforts on popular economic measures,” since it makes it impossible to pass more culturally divisive ones that would harm the party’s candidates in 2022.

Conservative: Joe’s Smart Strategic Reshoring

Global supply chains have benefited consumers in the form of cheaper prices — but they have also “created new problems,” observes John Steele Gordon at Spectator USA. So kudos to Team Biden, which has “produced an important new report” seeking to address one main downside: America’s dependence on foreign powers for security-sensitive manufacturing needs. “The United States currently relies mostly on ­imports are of particular concern: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients and critical and strategic materials.” As the early pandemic’s mask shortage showed, “great powers . . . need to be able to produce strategically important products within their own borders.” By recognizing the problem, the Biden report is an important first step.

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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Opinion

Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

Benjamin Netanyahu showed the opposite of grace as he exited from power on Sunday.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

The Issue: The discussion of law and order at last week’s Democratic debate for mayor.

If any one of these five candidates becomes mayor, it will be the continuation of the de Blasio era (“Crime focus of Dem debate,” June 11).

Many of them are in favor of defunding the Police Department, which is why there is so much crime, and shootings are rising every day.

The people of this city had better wake up when they go to vote. Haven’t we had enough of this? When will it stop? These candidates will not put an end to all this.

Rob Johann

Queens

Thinking that a Republican candidate could not win the mayoral race in New York, I switched my party to Democrat so I could vote.

After listening to all the Democratic candidates during the debate last week, I want to immediately switch my party back to Republican and vote for Curtis Sliwa.

He is our only hope to live in a city that values law and order. He won’t cave to these left-wing zealots who will further destroy our city and our quality of life.

We need a mayor who can bring back the tourists, help our economy and ensure a better life for all of us.

We cannot let the city go into further decline with any of these Democratic candidates. Please, wake up and vote for someone who will lift all of us up.

Susan Green

Manhattan

The fact that Andrew Yang is slipping in the polls is the only good news in the mayoral race.

Eric Adams is talking about crime, while Yang thinks the biggest issues for the city are AI and climate change.

If Yang wins, people will be dreaming of “the good old days” under Mayor de Blasio, formerly thought to be the bottom of the barrel.

Andrew Delaney

Miami, Fla.

I am not impressed by any of the Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City.

What each of them is proposing will cause further crime, divisiveness and decay, raise taxes, make life more miserable for residents and visitors and drive more families out of the city.

What does it take to get through to the New York voter? How bad does it have to get before they abandon a party that is becoming more idiotic with every election cycle?

Take a look at cities and states that have been doing well under Republican leadership and consider voting Republican.

D.M. Diana

Greeley, Pa.

Even Adams is falling for it. He said the “solution” to city violent crime is to reach out to youth and improve mental-health services.

These chic answers are a guarantee that innocent New Yorkers will continue to be murdered, raped, thrown onto subway tracks and maimed.

Get the violent off the streets first. Whether they are criminal or mentally ill, sort that out afterward. Get them away from the rest of us first.

Paul O’Keefe

Union City, NJ

I generally agree with The Post’s endorsements, but I am baffled by its support of Adams for mayor.

His stance on the NYPD changes at his convenience. One day he’s anti-cop and a fierce critic of the NYPD (even though he was employed by the NYPD), and then he switches and comes across as pro-police.

Can New Yorkers elect a mayor who lacks common sense and leadership skills? His suggestion last summer to New Yorkers to settle disputes about illegal fireworks on their own and not call the police was deadly. Shatavia Walls, 33, died as a result.

Adams lacks the moral compass and common sense required to be a winning mayor. The people of New York deserve better.

Susan Berger

Brooklyn

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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