Friday, 20 May 2016

A response to Sadiq Khan's endorsement of Hillary Clinton:

I love Sadiq Khan. I've been immensely proud of the job he's done as my MP over the last 10 years and of the fact that he's been chosen by over a million Londoners to be the Mayor of London.

And if he wants to support Hillary Clinton, that's his business. But his explanation for why he supports Hillary over Bernie is disappointingly simplistic.

It is a fantastic thing that Greater London has elected its first ever Muslim Mayor, and I do think that it is a tremendous show of the kind of city we are that we had the confidence to do so, especially in the face of such a vile campaign. But Sadiq's religion wasn't an issue until the Tories made it an issue.

Every time I, or my parents, have voted for Sadiq, it hasn't been because he's a Muslim, it's been because of the job he's done as a constituency MP, and because of his politics. The fact that he happened to be of an ethnic minority and thus was a good symbol of the multicultural city that London, and in particular, Tooting, is, is just a bonus - not a reason to vote for him in and of itself. You won't catch me voting for Sajid Javid if the opportunity comes up, for example, because I don't share his politics - at all.
Yes, it does send a nice message if Hillary is elected as the first ever female President of the United States, and that would be inspiring. But I'm sure that felt inspiring for lots of little girls in 1979 with the election of a certain Margaret Thatcher...I suspect the reality of what Mrs Thatcher then did to their communities didn't make her such a great role model to them. See the point I was making about Javid?

Now look, obviously Hillary is to the left of Thatcher and Reagan, and she does have an impressive CV. I respect that. I respect also that in many ways she might have her heart in the right place, and if, as is still fairly likely, she clinches the Democratic nomination, she will have my full support to defeat Trump.
But Bernie WOULD be better. And I'm not just saying that because I agree more with his politics. Its because I've been spending a lot of time studying for myself how American politics has been going for the last year, and things aren't looking good for Hillary. Where once she was leading Trump in every national poll but simply smaller margins than Bernie, now she is in a statistical tie with him in every recent poll released. We're talking broad bases of support? Hillary has Democrats, BAME voters and the over 50s, but she doesn't have young voters (who make up nearly a third of the American electorate in total), white voters (who still make up a substantial amount of the American electorate) and political Independents - what we might call 'swing voters' over here - who vastly outnumber those who call themselves either Republicans or Democrats. 
Bernie, on the other hand, has much higher support among all of the demographics that Hillary fails in, is still largely liked by the Democrats who *aren't* voting for him in the primaries, and, by nature of being the Democratic nominee and being up against Trump, will very likely have the support of the demographics Hillary currently is more favourable among.

The most telling thing Sadiq says in this interview is “I don’t know enough about American politics, but from what I’ve read about the selection, my concern about any candidate where he or she wins their selection, the question is ‘can you then win the election?’

This isn't just an internal party election, Sadiq. In fact it's in the closed primaries, where *only* Democrats can vote, that Hillary's fared better while Bernie has fared worse. In the open primaries, however, where *anyone* can vote, Bernie has been winning by landslides.

Bernie is the only candidate left in the presidential reace with net positive approval ratings. Trump's are climbing, and Hillary's are falling.

Bernie is the only candidate left in the Democratic race that still maintains a consistent and large lead over Donald Trump.

And Bernie is much, much more progressive, and in line with Labour Party values, than Hillary is. It ought to be raising alarm bells that in Westminster, the chair of the Hillary Clinton fan club is a Conservative MP.

Although it appears to have happened on a much smaller scale in British politics than in Britain and America, something big has been happening in Western democracies. The old two-party systems have been falling apart at the seams. Labour's sister party in Greece, PASOK, was annihilated in the 2015 general election and comprehensively replaced with a new party, Syriza.
Similarly, PSOE, Labour's sister party in Spain, has had it's two party hegemony with the PP (Spain's Conservative Party) broken by the arrival of Ciudadanos, the Citizens Party, on the Right, and Podemos on the Left.

The Irish Labour Party has been utterly destroyed, with the worst result it had in its 100+ year history, at the recent election, after having gone into coalition with the right-wing governing party.

There is still a place for candidates of the old politics, but they have to come to terms with the fact that there is a really potent anti-establishment feeling that has reared its head in Western democracies, and increasingly, older left/right-wing or left/right-of-centre parties are being (excuse the pun) 'Trumped' by more polarised, radical alternatives.

The truth is, Sadiq, if you knew a bit more about American politics, you would know that, despite the various advantages the Democratic Party has provided her with, Hillary Clinton is the one whose appeal is too narrow in this election.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is the one with the 'Big Tent'.