Archive for December 13, 2019

Off Topi:  Anti-Semitism and Brexit shatter Corbyn’s dreams of global far-left revolution 

December 13, 2019

Source: Anti-Semitism and Brexit shatter Corbyn’s dreams of global far-left revolution | The Times of Israel

Labour leader attracted young supporters but wider public failed to warm to him over his refusal to take a position on Brexit, accusations of Jew hatred and sympathy for terrorists

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, waits for the declaration of his seat in the 2019 general election in Islington, London, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, waits for the declaration of his seat in the 2019 general election in Islington, London, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON (AFP) — Jeremy Corbyn had hoped to become the vanguard of a global socialist movement but will step down in humiliation after overseeing his party’s worst election defeat since 1935.

To his supporters, the 70-year-old offered a chance to deliver a radical leftist agenda, shaking up the economy and reversing a decade of Conservative public spending cuts.

His vision attracted droves of young supporters, celebrity backing and the endorsement of other figures of the global socialist movement, with high-profile US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sending a supportive tweet on polling day.

But the wider public failed to warm to him, a situation made worse by his refusal to take a position on Brexit and accusations of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists.

Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson speaks during a campaign event to celebrate the result of the General Election, in central London on December 13, 2019 (Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP)

With two seats left to declare, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives inflicted Labour’s worst loss since 1935.

One of the first results emphasized Labour’s woes, with the former safe seat of Blyth Valley in a one-time mining area in northeastern England voting Tory for the first time in its history.

As he announced he was stepping down as leader, Corbyn defended his “manifesto of hope” and maintained his proposals were “extremely popular” during the campaign. But his message was eclipsed by Brexit.

Critics from the center of Labour rounded on the leader, while the hashtag #Corbynout was quickly trending on social media.

“Essentially the election was a referendum on Corbyn,” said Andrew Adonis, who served as a minister under former Labour premier Tony Blair.

Brexit neutrality

Bearded and teetotal, with a love of making jam and spotting manhole covers, Corbyn was a lifelong campaigner on socialist causes who spent many years happily on the fringes of the Labour party.

But he put himself forward for the Labour leadership in 2015 to ensure a left-wing voice was represented — and surprised everyone by winning, propelled to power thanks to grassroots support.

He commands cult-like adoration from young supporters in England’s larger urban centers, and in the 2017 election used this to huge effect.

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally outside Bristol City Council while on the General Election campaign trail, in Bristol, England, December 9, 2019. (Joe Giddens/ PA via AP)

He held huge rallies around the country, and that year tens of thousands sang his name as he addressed the Glastonbury Festival.

But he lost some of his sheen for many pro-European youngsters with his ambivalent stance on Brexit, and the wider public were not convinced.

He went into this election as the most unpopular opposition leader to have contested a British vote.

Corbyn caused some trouble for Johnson by accusing the prime minister of plotting to sell off the National Health Service in a “toxic” post-Brexit trade deal with US President Donald Trump.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) exchanges a glance with the Brexit Party candidate Yosef David (R) as they stand on the stage waiting for the result from the election race for the constituency of Islington North at the count center in Islington, north London, on December 13, 2019 (ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

His warnings of the impact of years of austerity also helped shift the debate, with the Conservatives promising more money for public services.

But with Brexit, he was accused of an absence of leadership on the biggest issue of the day.

There had already been a rebellion over his leadership after the June 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, over his lacklustre performance in Labour’s official campaign to stay in.

A lifelong eurosceptic, he later agreed to Labour’s policy to call for a second referendum but said he would stay neutral.

Security fears

Corbyn comes from an impeccable socialist background — his parents met as activists in Britain during the Spanish Civil War.

But he admits as a student he was “not academically successful.” He worked for trade unions before being elected to the House of Commons in 1983.

The Conservatives accused Corbyn of offering only more uncertainty over Brexit and portrayed him as a desperate conspiracy theorist.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

They also warned he was a security risk, a view echoed by a member of his front bench.

Corbyn, who has a long history of opposing British and US military interventions, has also been accused of sympathizing with proscribed terrorist organisations — from the IRA to Hamas.

They also highlighted allegations of anti-Semitism flourishing in the Labour movement under his stewardship.

Britain’s most senior rabbi suggested anti-Semitism was a “new poison” within the party, which had been “sanctioned from the very top.”

Corbyn failed to dampen the row during a television interview with the BBC, side-stepping repeated chances to apologize to Britain’s Jewish community.

He can also be tetchy and evasive when challenged, such as in 2018 over whether he had laid a wreath for Palestinian terrorists four years previously.

The Arsenal football fan’s third wife is Laura Alvarez, who is 20 years his junior and runs a company importing coffee from her native Mexico.

Off Topic:  Johnson meets Queen as final UK results gives him largest win since Thatcher 

December 13, 2019

Source: Johnson meets Queen as final UK results gives him largest win since Thatcher | The Times of Israel

( God bless the British people.  To the devil with the Labor antisemities… The leftist media claimed it was “down to the wire.” British “fake news.” – JW )

Triumphant Conservative PM vows to push ahead with Brexit; Corbyn, beset by accusations of anti-Semitism, says he will step down as Labour leader early next year

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he returns to 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and accepting her invitation to form a new government, Friday Dec. 13, 2019. Boris Johnson led his Conservative Party to a landslide victory in Britain’s election that was dominated by Brexit. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he returns to 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and accepting her invitation to form a new government, Friday Dec. 13, 2019. Boris Johnson led his Conservative Party to a landslide victory in Britain’s election that was dominated by Brexit. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won a thumping majority of seats in Britain’s Parliament — a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the UK out of the European Union next month.

With 649 of the 650 results declared on Friday, the Conservatives had 364 seats and the main opposition Labour Party 203.

“We did it — we pulled it off, didn’t we?” a jubilant Johnson told supporters. “We broke the gridlock, we ended the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock!”

A few hours later, Johnson was whisked to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II as part of the constitutional ritual of forming a new government. He is the 14th prime minister to be asked by the monarch to form a government.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at London’s Buckingham Palace for an audience with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II after the Conservative Party returned to power in the General Election with an increased majority, in London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

Johnson received a standing ovation from staff as he returned to Downing Street after accepting the Queen’s invitation to form a new government.

Johnson’s victory paves the way for Britain’s departure from the European Union by Jan. 31.

The victory makes Johnson the most electorally successful Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher, another politician who was loved and loathed in almost equal measure. It was a disaster for left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who faced calls for his resignation even as the results rolled in.

Corbyn said an internal election to choose a new party leader to replace him will happen early next year and that he will step down then.

As the bitter recriminations began about Labour’s failed campaign, former Labour Party Home Secretary Alan Johnson called Corbyn “a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew that he couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London on December 13, 2019. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

In the immediate aftermath of the election, 70-year-old Corbyn said he would not lead the party into another election but resisted calls to step down immediately.

US President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson on Twitter, and said that “Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit.

Donald J. Trump


Results poured in early Friday showing a substantial shift in support to the Conservatives from Labour. In the last election in 2017, the Conservatives won 318 seats and Labour 262.

The result this time delivered the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher’s 1980s heyday, and Labour’s lowest number of seats since 1935.

The Scottish National Party won almost 50 of Scotland’s 59 seats, up from 35 in 2017, a result that will embolden its demands for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

The centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats took only about a dozen seats. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson stepped down after losing in her own Scottish constituency.

The Conservatives took a swath of seats in post-industrial northern England towns that were long Labour strongholds. Labour’s vote held up better in London, where the party managed to grab the Putney seat from the Conservatives.

The decisive Conservative showing vindicates Johnson’s decision to press for Thursday’s early election, which was held nearly two years ahead of schedule. He said that if the Conservatives won a majority, he would get Parliament to ratify his Brexit divorce deal and take the UK out of the EU by the current Jan. 31 deadline.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon waves as she arrives at the SEC Centre in Glasgow for the declaration in her constituency in the 2019 general election, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

Speaking at the election count in his Uxbridge constituency in suburban London, Johnson said the “historic” election “gives us now, in this new government, the chance to respect the democratic will of the British people to change this country for the better and to unleash the potential of the entire people of this country.”

That message appears to have had strong appeal for Brexit-supporting voters, who turned away from Labour in the party’s traditional heartlands and embraced Johnson’s promise that the Conservatives would “get Brexit done.”

“I think Brexit has dominated, it has dominated everything by the looks of it,” said Labour economy spokesman John McDonnell. “We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate. From this evidence there clearly wasn’t.”

The prospect of Brexit finally happening more than three years after Britons narrowly voted to leave the EU marks a momentous shift for both the UK and the bloc. No country has ever left the union, which was created in the decades after World War II to bring unity to a shattered continent.

Britain’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds arrives for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency count declaration at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

But a decisive Conservative victory would also provide some relief to the EU, which has grown tired of Britain’s Brexit indecision.

Britain’s departure will start a new phase of negotiations on future relations between Britain and the 27 remaining EU members.

EU Council President Charles Michel promised that EU leaders meeting Friday would send a “strong message” to the next British government and parliament about next steps.

“We are ready to negotiate,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The pound surged when an exit poll forecast the Tory win, jumping over two cents against the dollar, to $1.3445, the highest in more than a year and a half. Many investors hope the Conservative win will speed up the Brexit process and ease, at least in the short term, some of the uncertainty that has corroded business confidence since the 2016 vote.

Many voters casting ballots on Thursday hoped the election might finally find a way out of the Brexit stalemate in this deeply divided nation. Three and a half years after the UK voted by 52%-48% to leave the EU, Britons remain split over whether to leave the 28-nation bloc, and lawmakers have proved incapable of agreeing on departure terms.

Opinion polls had given the Conservatives a steady lead, but the result was considered hard to predict, because the issue of Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.

Johnson campaigned relentlessly on a promise to “Get Brexit done” by getting Parliament to ratify his “oven-ready” divorce deal with the EU and take Britain out of the bloc as scheduled on Jan. 31.

The Conservatives focused much of their energy on trying to win in a “red wall” of working-class towns in central and northern England that have elected Labour lawmakers for decades but also voted strongly in 2016 to leave the EU. That effort got a boost when the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage decided at the last minute not to contest 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

Labour, which is largely but ambiguously pro-EU, faced competition for anti-Brexit voters from the centrist Liberal Democrats, Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, and the Greens.

But on the whole Labour tried to focus the campaign away from Brexit and onto its radical domestic agenda, vowing to tax the rich, nationalize industries such as railroads and water companies and give everyone in the country free internet access. It campaigned heavily on the future of the National Health Service, a deeply respected institution that has struggled to meet rising demand after nine years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.

Senior Johnson aide Dominic Cummings said that the opponents of the Conservatives just weren’t listening to the public outside London.

“After the shock of the referendum, MPs and journalists should have taken a deep breath and had a lot of self-reflection of why they misunderstood what was going on in the country, but instead a lot of people just doubled down on their own ideas,” Cummings told Press Association.

“That’s why something like this happens against expectations.”

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the declaration of his seat in the 2019 general election in Islington, London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP/Alberto Pezzali)

Defeat will likely spell the end for Corbyn, a veteran socialist who moved his party sharply to the left after taking the helm in 2015, but who now looks to have led his left-of-center party to two electoral defeats since 2017. The 70-year-old left-winger was also accused of allowing anti-Semitism to spread within the party.

“It’s Corbyn,” said former Labour cabinet minister Alan Johnson, when asked about the poor result. “We knew he was incapable of leading, we knew he was worse than useless at all the qualities you need to lead a political party.”

For many voters, the election offered an unpalatable choice. Both Johnson and Corbyn have personal approval ratings in negative territory, and both have been dogged by questions about their character.

Johnson has been confronted with past broken promises, untruths and offensive statements, from calling the children of single mothers “ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” to comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to “letter boxes.”

Yet, his energy and determination proved persuasive to many voters.

“It’s a big relief, looking at the exit polls as they are now, we’ve finally got that majority a working majority that we have not had for 3 1/2 years,” said Conservative-supporting writer Jack Rydeheard. “We’ve got the opportunity to get Brexit done and get everything else that we promised as well. That’s investment in the NHS, schools, hospitals you name it — it’s finally a chance to break that deadlock in Parliament.”