I'm sure many of you stumbled across this bit of news yesterday:
The Conservative Party has hired Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina for its general election campaign team, BBC Newsnight has learned.Because nothing says "forwards, not backwards" like the party that is probably the West's most stalwart defender of monarchy.
....The Tories are hoping to emulate Mr Obama's re-election against a backdrop of economic problems. Many other governments that have sought re-election during economic turbulence have been punished by voters at the ballot box.
The Conservatives are also thought to hope that Mr Messina will bring to their operation the same binding marriage of social media and political organisation that many in the US credit with securing Mr Obama a second term.
And nothing says "middle-out economics" slashing welfare programs and embracing a "there is no alternative" approach to austerity, regardless of the damage done to the country's population and economy as a whole.
It is almost as though Messina is nothing but a soulless hack with no core principles except a desire to make more money. (Although that "almost" might be generous.)
However, it's difficult to feel that surprised.
First of all, there's Messina's "father-and-son-like" relationship with corrupt ConservaDem Max Baucus.
And then there's the ad he designed for Baucus that's considered the "epitome of homophobic demagoguery" in political circles.
Then, there's this gem from the campaign:
Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, assured a group of Democratic donors from the financial services industry that Obama won’t demonize Wall Street as he stresses populist appeals in his re-election campaign, according to two people at the meeting.And Messina also recently spoke (for big $$$) at a forum in Azerbaijan, which the Institute for Reporters' Freedom described as a “publicity stunt for an increasingly authoritarian regime.”
So, Messina's record shows signs of crude, bullying social conservatism, fealty to the moneyed interests, and a tacit support for authoritarian policies. Why, he's a perfect Tory!
Although the Overton window in Europe may be to the left of that in the U.S., one should not view the center-right parties in Europe as the cousins of this country's center-left party. If the Tories could, they would do far more to dismantle Britain's welfare state. They are simply constrained by the strong public support many of such social programs--like the NHS--have. Thatcher, for instance, wanted to dismantle the NHS, but the plan proved too contentious.
Also, even though David Cameron supported the same-sex marriage legislation passed in Parliament earlier this year, the Tories as a party do not, and the bill only passed because of the strength of Labour support. Almost half of the Tories voted against it.
Oh, and the Tories are also pretty racist in their attitudes toward immigrants.
On the other hand, Labour (the main center-left party in the UK) has typically been to the left of the Democratic Party but to the right of European social democratic parties. Both Labour and the Democratic Party, though, saw their neoliberal reinventions come to full bloom in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton (DLC/New Dems) and Tony Blair (New Labour) reflected the influence of Reaganism/Thatcherism.
Messina could have worked to help get Labour back in office. Ed Miliband, for instance, could use some help being more charismatic. If Messina wanted to support the austerity-pushing coalition, he could have chosen to work with the Lib Dems, who have seen their electoral support tank after they joined the coalition government (a betrayal of many of their supporters, considering that they had campaigned to the left of Labour). But, no, he chose the Tories. The Tories may not be a great fit for liberals--or even most Democrats, but they are for Messina.