Will we think of the postwar era as the ‘New Elizabethan’ era?

when she goesPhoto credit to Chris Levine.

Today, Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British (or English) history.United Kingdom Flag Icon

At the beginning of her 63-year reign, which today officially exceeded that of another queen, Victoria, Winston Churchill was prime minister of the United Kingdom, former prime minister Clement Atlee was still leader of the Labour Party and Harry Truman was just entering the final year of his presidency in the United States.

India was enjoying the fifth anniversary of its formal independence from Great Britain and some countries, like Belize, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, were still British colonies. The Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin was still alive (though would die in just over a year), and the Cold War would sludge on for another 38 years. Mao Zedong would have nearly a quarter-century ahead of him as the ruler of Communist China. Charles de Gaulle was still six years away from founding France’s Fifth Republic, and the European Economic Community, the forerunner of today’s European Union, would not be formed until the 1957 Treaty of Rome — and it would be another 20 years before the United Kingdom would be permitted to join the EEC, over two of de Gaulle’s vetoes.

As of today, at least, the halfway point of Elizabeth’s reign is in 1984, when British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was still in her second term and US president Ronald Reagan had yet to win reelection. US basketball player Michael Jordan had just been drafted by the Chicago Bulls, and the world had never heard of Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Britney Spears or Green Day.

Consider this: Diana, who married Elizabeth’s first son, Charles, the Prince of Wales, was a princess for only around one-fourth of Elizabeth’s reign — from her marriage to Charles in 1981 to her untimely Paris death in 1997. (But note that the British monarchy’s lowest point, in the second Elizabethan era, came in the early hours following Diana’s death — and that the media-savvy perspective of former prime minister Tony Blair, along with the saccharine ‘cool Britannia’ sugar high of New Labour’s first term, did much to restore the monarchy’s luster).

The very presence of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor is so staggering because, for more than 63 years, she has been such a reassuringly stolid face of the British monarchy that she is now the living embodiment of both what it means to be British and what it means to be a monarch. That’s not hyperbole. Of the 39 countries in the world that use monarchies (constitutional or otherwise), Elizabeth is the head of state for 16* of them!

All of which is a long way of saying that here in the year 2015, one way to think about the postwar era is simply to think of the age of Elizabeth — the new Elizabethan era.
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Corbyn versus Cameron: The future of PMQs in Great Britain?

For the first time since Corbynmania began earlier this summer, the Labour backbencher and leftist rebel — now favored to become the Labour Party’s next leader when all the votes in the leadership contest are counted on Saturday — directly challenged prime minister David Cameron in the House of Commons on Monday.United Kingdom Flag Icon

Ostensibly, it was just another question about the Conservative position on admitting more refugees from Syria and abroad (see video above).

But there’s some fascinating body language that could show us what the future of British parliamentary politics will look like — and very soon.

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RELATED: Corbyn’s surprise rise in Labour leadership race highlights chasm

RELATEDThe rational case for supporting Corbyn’s Labour leadership

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Corbyn, the MP from Islington North since 1983, has the distinction of bucking prior Labour leaders more than any other backbencher. But a surge of support for Corbyn, viewed by supporters as an earnest defender of British leftism, swelled the ranks of the Labour electorate. New members, presumably swept up by Corbyn’s charms, joined in the tens of thousands simply by paying a £3 membership fee. With the support of some of the country’s largest and most powerful unions, Corbyn quickly — and surprisingly — shot to the top of the pack against his three more moderate rivals.

Ironically, many of the 35 MPs who nominated Corbyn do not even support him; instead, they supported him to give Labour’s far left, previously an anemic force in party politics, a voice in the election.

There’s still a chance that shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who won plaudits last week for her strong stand on admitting more migrants to Great Britain, could win — and there’s a sense that she emerged only too late as the most ‘prime ministerial’ of the four candidates vying for the leadership. There’s still even a chance that the former frontrunner, shadow health minister Andy Burnham, could win. But oddsmakers are still betting on Corbyn to emerge victorious on Saturday. Voting opened on August 10, though many Labour voters have only recently received their ballots. Votes are tabulated on a preference basis — so if a voter’s first choice is eliminated after the first round of counting, the vote is transferred to the second choice and so on.

While Corbyn will almost certainly win the first round, there’s a chance that, as other candidates are eliminated, the anti-Corbyn vote will consolidate behind either Burnham or Cooper. The most moderate candidate, Liz Kendall, most associated with the policies of moderate former prime minister Tony Blair, is widely predicted to finish last.


Nowhere will that political earthquake create more tremors than at Westminster, where few members of the parliamentary Labour Party support Corbyn (pictured above), who may struggle to enforce the kind of party discipline he has so often bucked. Virtually no one believes that Corbyn will survive as Labour leader until the next scheduled general election in 2020 — and that it is only a matter of time before more seasoned Labourites hatch a restoration. Many senior shadow cabinet members flatly refuse to serve in a Corbyn-led opposition. Blairites (and Brownites) on Labour’s moderate wing worry that Corbyn’s 1980s-style socialism will doom the party’s chances in the 2020 election or beyond, and fear Labour could split, as it did briefly in the 1980s under former leader Michael Foot. Continue reading Corbyn versus Cameron: The future of PMQs in Great Britain?