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In British Election, Lessons for American Liberals

Jeremy Corbyn was loved by the left, and he just got trounced
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2019 9:32 AM CST
British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after voting in Islington, London, England, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

(Newser) – Those who lean left in America should be worried about what just happened in the British elections, writes Jonathan Chait at New York magazine. Yes, the vote is a result of particular circumstances there, but in general terms, it was also "a test of a widely articulated political theory that has important implications for American politics," writes Chait. "That theory holds that Corbyn’s populist left-wing platform is both necessary and sufficient in order to defeat the rising nationalist right." But Corbyn's huge loss "is a decisive refutation" of that. American liberals have held up Corbyn as a model since his relatively close loss in 2017, and Chait cites several articles that prove the point, with headlines like, "Jeremy Corbyn’s Success is a Model for American Progressives."

In particular, progressives saw parallels between Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, whose strong electoral performance came in 2016. Chait points out that Sanders is "considerably more moderate" than Corbyn, but that general similarities exist. At Axios, Margaret Talev makes a similar point about the American ramifications. "If the U.K.'s Brexit vote foreshadowed Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, yesterday's landslide for Boris Johnson could be a warning sign for America's liberal Democrats in 2020," she writes. Talev pulls two lessons from the results: "It's a reminder that mainstream voters hesitate to embrace radical change," and that even voters who don't like the incumbent won't necessarily vote for the opposition "if they don’t like its leaders." (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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