Saturday, May 9, 2015

If you read nothing else today, read this piece on Scotland vs. England. (It's a proxy for progressives vs. conservatives everywhere!)

It's all about austerity, reports John Nichols in The Nation. England's conservatives, who love the pain from austerity (as long as it's other people suffering), won big in the recent election; it was a blood bath for the Labour party. That's what we will hear from our own media. But the Scottish National Party won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK parliament on a platform opposing austerity. Why did Labour lose? They aligned with the conservatives in the referendum on Scottish independence.

When Labour and the SNP went head-to-head in Scotland, Labour lost more than 40 seats. Why the wipeout? Despite the fact that Labour was the opposition party to Cameron and his government, it fully aligned with the Tories to oppose the 2014 Scottish referendum. Labour leaders failed to recognize that the referendum vote was not merely raising the issue of independence but the issue of austerity. While Labour was not going to back independence, its shoulder-to-shoulder campaigning with Cameron's Conservatives blurred the lines of distinction.

Blurred lines are bad politics, especially when essential economic issues are being debated. They suggest what Sturgeon refers to as a "cozy consensus" around austerity.

The message of the SNP breakthrough, not just for Scotland, and not just for Britain, is that people are sick of the "cozy consensus." And they are ready to vote for radical alternatives. Americans progressives can, and should, learn from the emerging anti-austerity politics that says, unequivocally, that the cuts must end and a new economy must emerge.

Those blurred lines obscure values and cloud messages and obfuscate issues. That's why Democrats in the U. S. keep losing - losing elections and losing members of the Party. If we want to win, we need simple, emotional, value-driven messages about what we stand for. And it should not be austerity.

For more on the Scottish vote, check out Rachel Maddow's piece in the post below.

I am headed to Scotland this summer. What could be better than sampling single malts in a progressive country?

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