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How An Extreme Marxist Just Nearly Became British Prime Minister

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

When Americans voted, by a narrow margin, for Donald Trump in November, the British rolled their eyes.

Trump was, so many of us thought, a boorish outsider who lacked judgment and who had never held office. We would never make such a mistake as that made by our foolish cousins across the Pond, or so we thought.  

Today, Britons woke up to the news that the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, had somehow lost her parliamentary majority. Having called a snap election to capitalize on her political opponents’ perceived weaknesses and in the expectation of an increased parliamentary mandate to help her deliver Brexit, May contrived to turn a commanding 24-point poll lead into a narrow two-point advantage.  

The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – a man who whose extreme views make Bernie Sanders seem sane – did sufficiently well to be able to claim that, despite not winning the popular share of the vote or even a majority of seats in Parliament, he was the moral victor in the election.  

The 68-year-old Corbyn has applauded the evil totalitarian regimes of Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba. He praised Irish republican terrorism even while IRA bombers killed innocent civilians and servicemen on the streets of Britain (and tried, thankfully without success, to murder Margaret Thatcher). He has called Hamas his "friends." He tolerates anti-Semitism with worrying regularity even among those closest to him.  

He has opposed every single measure aimed at strengthening security and enabling the security services and police to defeat Islamic terrorism. He supports state ownership of utilities and confiscatory levels of taxation on the middle classes.  

How has this swivel-eyed extremist found himself so close to power? Here, simply, is what went wrong:  

  • Theresa May refused to take part in televised debates. This made her look like a coward. We are the land of Boadicea, Churchill & Thatcher. We don’t like cowards.
  • Her campaign was egotistically self-centered and yet uncharismatic, turgid and safe. She made Mitt Romney seem interesting in comparison. By contrast, Corbyn came across as authentic and passionate, campaigning with zeal for causes he has believed in for decades (even if they are bonkers and unaffordable).
  • Under her watch as Prime Minister and, before that as Home Secretary, jihadists responsible for recent atrocities in London and Manchester remained free to carry out their attacks. Voters don’t want to learn that this or that terrorist was on a watch list. They want these barbaric psychopaths who want to destroy our way of life to be incarcerated, deported or preferably killed.
  • Conservatives usually poll strongly among the elderly. In her party’s manifesto, May announced a tax on the elderly that would force them to sell their homes to pay for social care if they came to suffer from dementia in old age. When what became known as the "dementia tax" was shown to be about as welcome as a text message from Anthony Wiener, May ditched it as an idea within 24 hours. Her boast that she would provide "strong and stable" leadership sounded like a hollow joke.
  • Jeremy Corbyn promised voters unheralded amounts of "free stuff" even by the standards of profligate leftists, safe in the knowledge that he would not have to deliver on those unaffordable promises. The most notable – free college education for all – invigorated young voters who had stayed at home during last year’s Brexit referendum. One college town, Canterbury, swung to Labour for the first time in over 100 years.
  • The Conservative Party’s leadership imposed candidates on local parties. Those candidates were identikit politicians with no local roots. Local activists unsurprisingly refused to campaign for these centrally imposed careerists.
  • The Conservative Party has been absent from college campuses for the past two academic years. Imagine if the GOP forced the College Republicans not to campaign for two years before a presidential election. These kids are force fed enough leftist bilge as it is by their professors and our mainstream media. They need to hear an alternative viewpoint and have been denied it for too long.             

Thank God for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Having under-performed in England, the Conservatives won well in Scotland thanks to their opposition to Scottish independence.  

But 318 MPs still left the Party short of a parliamentary majority. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs have ridden to the rescue. These socially conservative supporters of Brexit, who passionately want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, are natural bedfellows for the Conservatives. Their support means that May can command the slimmest of parliamentary majorities.  

Brexit will still be delivered. The Special Relationship with the United States remains safe. And a Marxist has been kept from 10 Downing Street by the narrowest of margins.

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