An article by: Martin Sieff

Britain's upcoming general election, now scheduled for July 4, presents an ironic prequel and counterpoint to the United States' vote scheduled for Tuesday, November 5.

As I have previously written in these columns, the outcome of the US election, while narrowly favoring President Joe Biden according to most opinion polls, is still shrouded in uncertainty. The bottom line is a total lack of broad national credibility and even acceptability for both ancient candidates competing – 81-year-old incumbent Biden and his predecessor, soon-to-be-78-year-old Donald Trump.

Trump was president for four years. Biden is completing his first term now. Love them or hate them, the American public now knows both of them all too well. But in Britain, the situation is radically different.

The embattled Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, 44, the former chancellor of the exchequer, or finance minister has only been in power less than two years since October 2022. He is easily the most energetic, able, responsible and serious leader Britain has had since David Cameron from 2010 to 2015 – and Cameron now supports him as his foreign secretary. But he inherits the incredibly awful record of his three immediate predecessors – Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Unfortunately for Sunak, he is an Asian Indian, an extremely wealthy former international banker and a serious and responsible man. Therefore, the Conservative Party rank file, who still fondly remember and revere the clownish ineptitude and catastrophe of Boris “Bojo the Clown” Johnson will never forgive him for that.

Brexit has only reinforced the rigorous anti-democratic line of the incompetent Brussels bureaucrats

Johnson’s supposed achievement in finally completing Brexit – the British exit for the European Union – only cemented the hardline anti-democratic inept Brussels bureaucrats and power mongers more firmly in place than ever. And he did so with an extraordinary ineptitude, laziness, complacency and stupidity that bewildered and astonished even sympathetic political leaders across Western Europe from Ireland and France to Germany, Spain and Italy.

There is much that was wrong with the EU and there still is, but the ludicrous way the Brexit – “British Exit” – movement demanded and forced it solved no problems and only made all the existing ones worse.

The Conservatives have now been in power for 14 years, ever since Cameron, then with the support of the Liberal Democrats, narrowly edged out the supposedly moderate “New” Labour Party of Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in 2010. Now Labour is poised under its current leader, veteran trial lawyer Sir Keir Starmer, 61, to come sweeping back with probably the largest parliamentary majority in British history.

However, like their predecessors, Blair’s New Labour after his own landslide triumph in 1997, capped by two more in 2003 and 2007, they look set to waste it all, and far more quickly and catastrophically.

Both parties are dominated by outdated and simplistic myths on both domestic and foreign policy issues

The problem in British politics and society is that both parties are dominated by now old and obsolete, simplistic myths in both domestic policies and on foreign affairs and national security. The Conservative rank and file still revel in the myth that outside the EU, they will rise again painlessly to dominate the global economy practicing all the qualities of hard work, scientific education, shrewd investment and free market entrepreneurial energy that in reality they are totally incapable of.

Not to worry! The Free Market under the Sacred Hand of the Divine Adam Smith will Work Its Wonders so long as the government ends all aid for and cooperation with business and industry and annihilates social security and medical coverage.

Most of the British people after a quarter century and more of these cruel and unerringly stupid and failed policies applied relentlessly with witless desperation and merciless, ferocious power, do not believe in this nonsense for a second. And rightly so.

The truth, precisely the opposite of the Brexit fairy tales. As long as Britain was safely within the EU, it was the most competitive and productive major economy there. Not because it was so good but because all the other major ones were so bad. They were even more lazy, socialist, complacent and declining than Britain was.

However, a narrow 2015 referendum Cameron had recklessly and stupidly granted propelled Britain out of the European Union.  And once outside the EU’s sensibly high protective tariff barriers, Britain has been left at the mercy of the increasingly stormy and threatening ebbs and flows of global investment and trade without the sheer size and resources of Russia, China and the United States or the global blocks of the EU, ASEAN, BRICS or Mercusor to protect it.

Boris Johnson, the demagogue most responsible for the narrow (18 million to 14 million) and not at all landslide Brext referendum decision, imagined that his soulmate US President Trump would immediately grant Britain super-favored Special Partner status. Of course, Trump didn’t. And he lost his re-election race in 2020 anyway. Since then, President Joe Biden, the proud descendant of starving refugees from the 1845-48 Great Irish Famine who fled to America, has never been disposed to grant the British any special favors.

In the years that passed since Brexit, the British economy slowly but inexorably has been entering a downward spiral

As a result, over the past nine years since the Brexit referendum decision, the British economy has slowly but inexorably slumped towards the ground like a ridiculous, and inevitably doomed, overweight British airship of the 1930s. And the country’s other social pathologies have metastasized as the underlying prosperity that ameliorated them since the days of Margaret Thatcher has been consumed.

In fact, the number of coddled and denied illegals still unwisely flooding into Britain has probably boosted the total to 75 million can only grow enough food even in stable times for 15 million people and has to pay to import the rest -and much else. Since Labour is committed to the same wide open immigration policies as the Democrats in the United States, this situation can only get worse – and fast. Further, the flood of petrodollars from North Sea oil wells that underwrote the Thatcherite Free Market fantasies of the past 40 years are now at last running out.

Sunak is the first prime minister since Cameron, who was forced out after the Brexit referendum in 2015 went against him, to recognize these realities. But he is locked by the policies and ideologies of his predecessors and the stupidities of the rank and file of his own party into being unable to confront or change them.

Starmer may rapidly prove even worse. He has no background in banking or business – or in anything approximating to reality – whatsoever. The British legal system, the House of Commons and the Labour Party are all he knows. And each of these is a fantasy world more all-consuming and omnivorous without any reference points to sanity than the Lord of the Rings and Matrix sagas combined.

Starmer’s domestic policies look certain to drive even more of the Direct Foreign Investment which more street-smart prime ministers like Thatcher, John Major, Blair and Cameron rightly valued over to Continental Europe – where the French, Germans, Italians, Belgians and Spanish will be sensibly only too happy to host them.

At the same time Starmer’s proposed “compassionate” policies on law and order will further compound the social crisis little commented upon outside Britain but, in reality, vastly worse than anything that has ever been experienced so far in the United States. Brutal violence and common stabbings on public transport are still extremely rare in US cities but they are routine in London and have been for a long time.

Violence is a major problem in British society and everyday life

Over 44 years, I have yet to personally witness any act of violence in any American bar. And I have enjoyed the hospitality of a lot of bars. As any casual visitor to Britain and all British inner-city dwellers know, that has not been the case for generations in Britain.

Fourteen years of neoliberal permissive government under Blair and Brown feminized and castrated the British police and domestic justice system. It has been prime time for predators to rape, mug, stab, steal, rampage and murder the elderly, single women and the poor ever since.

All of this can only accelerate to even more insane levels in the coming months. Outside the Potemkin Village of tourist and Bankers London where few tourists dare to venture, England has descended over the past half century into a poverty-swept desert of drugs, porn, crime, corruption and despair compared to which George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier was a pilgrimage to a Shining City on a Hill.

Starmer is uniquely unsuited to the unprecedented crises he is certain to face: Slow-moving and slow thinking, dignified, courteous and above all complacent he brings to mind Herbert Henry Asquith – arguably the most catastrophic leader in British history – who let his country drift into World War I and then bungled his strategy and choice of generals so much that more than a million young men were killed out outright and millions more crippled and traumatized for life by the experience.

Like Asquith, Starmer is a bland, serene, courteous, basically well-meaning and kindly – or at least faking it passably – nonentity – certain that all is for the Best in the Best of All Possible Worlds – as long as he is in charge. He is Voltaire’s Candide – just pulled out of the closet, dusted off and given a fresh lick of paint as Britain’s Wooden Titan of the 21st century. As long as he has nothing to do , everything will be fine.

In the face of global competition, Britain risks hitting rock bottom while promoting the myth that “the glory days of Britain’s world power” could somehow be revived by a new era of “heroic British leadership”

But of course, everything is NOT fine. A tiny island nation of 68 million people – that is the official figure, the likely true population is now likely close to 75 million – only produces enough food even in the best of times to feed 15 million. The global industry it attracted while it was within the EU has for nearly a decade been moving to the Continental Mainland to stay within the giant unified EU market that ironically a British leader, Thatcher, worked so hard to create.

As a result, in the blast of global competition, far from rising triumphantly above the waves to new buccaneering triumphs, Britain over the past nine years has sunk like a stone – as all of us with brains larger than a pea warned and predicted would happen a decade ago.

That clears the way for Labour. But after Blair’s moderate “New Labour” evaporated into cold air in 2010, what IS Labour? Keir Starmer certainly does not know. He is a figure all too often seen in US politics as well. He is a reincarnation of the 1930s 40s Hollywood cartoon character Mr. Magoo – happily strutting along, oblivious to the suffering, chaos and despair all around him.

But if Britain’s domestic condition is so awful, and its prospects for recovery and rejuvenation under Starmer so miniscule, the prospects on the global scene are infinitely worse.

For any national decline anywhere can eventually be stopped, slowed, identified, confronted or ameliorated until more favorable external conditions generate new hope. But instead, Britain’s leaders – Conservative and Labour alike – are madly careening into – and seeking to pull the United States and the whole world into – an insane ideological world war against Russia and China.

Here again, the roots of this stampede of the Gadarene Swine ((the biblical story concerning the Gadara demoniac: Yeshúa expelled demons by sending them into a herd of pigs, which in turn threw themselves into the lake, committing suicide) – for there is nothing moral or rational about it or even intelligently psychopathic or self-serving whatsoever – has deep roots. It ultimately stems from the deepest fantasy of all – that the glory days of Britain’s world power can somehow be revived with a new era of heroic British leadership to inspire countless other nations to bleed and die in draining first Russia and then China to exhaustion.

The irony is that Britain ls two most revered heroes of the past century – Winston Churchill the prime minister of World War II and Mrs. Thatcher from 1979 to 1990 pursued real, wise, responsible policies while in office that were entirely the contrary of these “walking tall on the world stage” fantasies that Tony Blair and David Cameron both adolescently gloried in – and that Boris Johnson brought to new depths of infantile absurdity. By contrast Churchill and Thatcher both consistently sought warm and constructive relations with both Moscow and Beijing.

Instead of taking care of their own country, British leaders are doing everything possible to provoke Russia, create anti-Russian governments, and start wars in all of Russia’s neighboring countries

Today we see a very different story: Here is isolated, increasingly impoverished Britain, having cut itself off from the European Union and all the societies and economies it profited so well from over the past 40 years. Instead, the nation’s leaders, Conservative and Labour alike, are going out of their way to provoke Russia and create anti-Russian governments and wars in all of Russia’s neighboring states while arming them with their own latest weapons to the hilt.

Also, when Prime Minister, Johnson ridiculously sent Britain’s only two aircraft carriers – for which the British navy and government cannot afford to even build and operate their own aircraft or provide any anti-submarine warfare protective forces – all the way round the world supposedly to intimidate China which already has or is about to have the largest and most modern air force in the world.

Will these ludicrous and phenomenally dangerous, indeed suicidal, policies change under Starmer? Of course not. He has shown not the slightest interest in objecting to the rapidly expanding untrammeled power of the British security Deep State at home, or to its uncriticized, unregulated and effectively unmonitored limitless misadventures abroad. Far from seeking to improve British relations with Russia, he has publicly called for President Vladimir Putin to be convicted of war crimes and for the most lethal British weapons to continue being sent to Ukraine to kill Russian soldiers.

Strarmer’s Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey spelled out this policy clearly after visiting Kiev last month.

“If there is a change of government after the election, there will be no change in Britain’s resolve to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes,” he said.

Britain’s own war crimes in Kosovo, Syria, Libya and long-standing efforts to destabilize democracy in Ukraine culminating in the 2014 Maidan coup remain of course unacknowledged by Starmer, Healey and colleagues.

The British public, to their eternal discredit and now certain unavoidable destruction, has shown not the slightest interest in curtailing this state of affairs. They will happily turn out in their hundreds of thousands to protest on behalf of “Palestine” or “Ukraine’ and against Israel, or of course Russia or China. But the idea of openly admitting to any stupidity, let alone crimes by their own government is anathema to all of them.

Half a century ago as a young Irish student at the University of Oxford I already witnessed earlier manifestations of this particularly unique and repulsive exercise of English hypocrisy, self-righteousness and judgmentalism towards the rest of the world – contemptibly posing on issues it could do nothing about – or had done so much to bring to pass, while resolutely refusing to take any action of genuine effectiveness that might indeed end the wars, and conflicts their own country’s selfishness, intrigues, greed and sheer stupidity had fostered so widely and for so long.

Here then is the ultimate paradox of the upcoming election in Britain: On paper, it will deliver the most sweeping transformation and mandate for reform in the nation’s political history. Out with the old! In with the new!

But it will all be just a sham: A month after the election, all the squalor, the despair and the vague, awful sense of a threatening world remorselessly closing in to wreak long-overdue retribution will be back in full force.

And this time, there will be no escape.

Writer, Journalist, Political Analyst

Martin Sieff