Michael Barone

Republican primary voters chose provocative candidates, some of whom lost winnable seats. Only now do primary voters seem to be simmering down and trying to pick general election winners.

Blair's victories came with diminishing percentages and turnout. On the left, there was increasing rage at Blair's support of the Iraq war, and today Blair is virtually a non-person, unmentioned if not reviled, in the party he led. No one follows his example.

After Labour's defeat in 2010, the party rejected as leader the Blairite David Milliband in favor of his brother Ed Milliband, who more faithfully represented the views of their Marxist intellectual father.

Milliband -- "Red Ed" to the Conservative press -- has led his party sharply to the left, backing higher taxes on high earners, a mansion tax on big properties and a freeze on energy prices. He's even considering renationalizing the railroads though privatization has been widely accepted.

At the behest of the teacher unions, Labour opposes Education Minister Michael Gove's "free schools" (similar to American charter schools), despite their success with disadvantaged students. The latest Labour TV ad depicts Conservatives as snobbish "toffs" -- old-fashioned class warfare.

Milliband's critics say his strategy is to nail down 35 percent of the vote -- quite possibly enough to win in a nation with competitive minor parties and parliamentary district boundaries that heavily handicap Conservatives.

An obvious question: Why is Milliband's Labour party abandoning a governing strategy so successful under Tony Blair? Another question: Why would American Democrats such as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren abandon a strategy so successful under Bill Clinton?

One answer is that they're acting out of genuine conviction. Another is that circumstances have changed.

Blair and Clinton adapted after their party suffered multiple serious defeats. Today's Labour and Democratic leftists act out of frustration with how their parties have governed.

Party politics tends to attract people of strong beliefs, left and right. Until they get whacked repeatedly by defeat, they'll try to advance them as far as they think they can.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM