Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Should US Republicans embrace Canadian / UK style health care, hard lockdowns and climate action? UK Conservative British PM Boris Johnson has just won a stunning by-election victory. But there are dark economic and political storm clouds looming on the horizon of green BoJo land.

Pinkerton: What the Republican Party Can Learn from the Huge Victory of the British Conservative Party

8 May 2021

How the Brits Did It

Here’s why American conservatives should pay attention to the recent special election in Hartlepool, United Kingdom: The British Conservative Party has modernized and mobilized itself to win a parliamentary constituency that the Labour Party had held for nearly 60 years; indeed, the Conservative candidate won the seat on May 7 by more than 23 points.   

Now that’s a story worth paying attention to, with an eye toward our replicating it here.  

The parallels between American conservatives and British conservatives are strong and more recently even stronger, as the two parties have taken a populist, pro-worker, anti-globalist turn. 

As we all remember, in June 2016, British voters endorsed the Brexit referendum. Then, of course, in November 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S. And in July 2019, after weak Conservatives had dithered on Brexit, Boris Johnson became prime minister on a flat promise: “Get Brexit Done.”  Johnson won in a massive landslide; it was the biggest victory for the Tories since 1935. Then Johnson kept his promise on Brexit, absorbing along the way voters who had supported Nigel Farage’s U.K. Independence Party.

Yet there was more to Johnson than Brexit. His winning political platform was heavy on conservative and populist themes. He pledged more money for police, science, healthcare, apprenticeships, and infrastructure, while at the same time holding the line on personal tax increases. Johnson further promised to restrict immigration, as well as to toughen up on crime. 

To be sure, Americans haven’t quite cottoned to national health insurance, although it is true that the Affordable Care Act now enjoys a healthy margin of public support. Moreover, just in the past three years, the ruby-red states of Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah have voted to expand Medicaid, bringing many working-class families (the poor have always been covered under Medicaid) into the protective embrace of health insurance.


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For now Britain supports Boris Johnson. He gave them lots of money during the lockdown, and his authoritarian crackdown made frightened people feel safe. His massive subsidies for renewables also plays well with a population who have been relentlessly propagandised by the government funded BBC on the need for climate action.

Business confidence is also at a record high – all the money the UK government has pumped into the economy has sustained demand.

But sooner or later someone has to pay for the bread and circuses. British National Debt has crossed the £2 trillion mark for the first time – according to the OECD, the British Government owes 144% of GDP.

There has also been growing unrest against endless Covid lockdowns, though for now Boris Johnson’s Covid authoritarianism seems to enjoy overwhelming public support, if the Hartlepool election is any guide.

It is possible that US Republicans could achieve a similarly overwhelming victory by copying elements of Boris Johnson’s formula which resonate with Democrats; by embracing government funding of green policies (and providing impossibly optimistic estimates of the cost and benefits), promising comprehensive free universal healthcare, promising generous benefits, spending borrowed money like water, yet gaining an advantage over their opponents by leveraging people’s trust in Republican economic stewardship.

But this would be be a deeply unsustainable path to victory. Promising the impossible might get your foot in the door, but sooner or later people figure out they have been misled.

Boris Johnson’s Britain has to somehow contain and pay back that spiralling 144% GDP government debt. Massive investment in solar panels and wind farms will achieve nothing for Britain’s economic competitiveness. The inevitable harsh tax rises required to pay for all this big government populism could cause Britain’s new found business confidence to evaporate as quickly as it appeared.

via Watts Up With That?

May 8, 2021