Monday’s Washington Examiner column deals with what was barely spoken about in the aftermath of David Cameron’s and Tory Party’s big win last week: How much was the threat of rising fanaticism on the mind of British voters?
When I say “barely” I actually mean “not at all,” and I spent more than five hours listening to the BBC’s World Service on Friday and again this morning durng back-and-forth drives between Charlottesville, VA and D.C. Most of the commentators featured on a variety of BBC programs could barely conceal their disappointment with the results, a few didn’t bother to, and aside from some ritual denunciation of the pollsters, the programs focused on Scotland and the “Brexit” rather than on reasons why Cameron’s government was returned with more seats than in 2005 –the first time that has happened in the U.K. since 1983.
Much complaining was to be heard about “first past the post” being unfair (with an unintentionally hilarious “the system doesn’t resonate wih German voters” on the 70th anniversary of VE day from a German commentator who works for the Marshall Fund –Daniella Schwartzer?) and about how the issue of Scottish independence was “back on the table,” though so soon after the referendum rejecting independence it might have made a bit more sense to conclude voters Scotland simply want it both ways and appear poised to keep their subsidies while gaining even more autonomy for local decisions. (Texas seems more and more like Scotland to me in its collective attitude towards the country of which it is a key part.)
But while there was much speculating about whether or not the “Brexit” would ever come about, and while there was one ringing declaration that “these are not your father’s ‘shy Tories,'” not one minute that I heard spent any time wondering whether British voters in any significant numbers are worried about the rise of Islamist fanaticism and that such concerns led them to vote for Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May, and generally for stability, seriousness and watchfulness of the rising menace abroad and perhaps at home.
The same sort of obliviousness manifested itself in the U.S. commentariat after the 2014 GOP blowout and following Likud’s surprising win in Israel in March. But of course voters in all three countries who aren’t blind to the world around them know the score and they know that the two “powers” on the march in the Middle East are Iran on the one hand and Sunni fanaticism on the other. The only thing common to the GOP, Likud and the Tories is that each of these three parties is far more serious about the dangers from rising Islamist fanaticism than the plausible alternatives to them before voters, and if one assumes voters of the sort that take national security seriously cast their ballots strategically to put into power (or keep there) those most clear-eyed about international threats, then the results across three elections in three different countries line up coherently.
I’ll be talking about this “people want seriousness about the fanatics” on Monday’s show. But don’t look for it in many other places in the MSM at home or abroad. Most of the chattering class are still in a state of shock, even if electorates in all three democracies seem to me to know exactly what they are doing.