LONDON – The thrashing of Britain’s New Labour Party – which came in a weak third in local and European Parliament elections this week – may seem a minor event compared to Barack Obama’s triumphal overseas tour. Yet in many ways the humiliation of New Labour should send some potential warning shots across the bow of the good ship Obama.
Labour’s defeat, of course, stemmed in part from local conditions, notably a cascading Parliamentary expense scandal that appears most damaging to the party in power. Yet beyond those sordid details lies a more grave tale – of the possible decline of the phenomenon I describe as gentry liberalism.
Gentry liberalism – which reached its height in Britain earlier this decade and is currently peaking in the U.S. – melded traditional left-of-center constituencies, such as organized labor and ethnic minorities, with an expanding class of upper-class professionals from field like media, finance and technology.