Who's leading around the world at the start of a new week:
Bernie Sanders up over Hillary Clinton 43 to 33.
Donald Trump over Ben Carson 29 to 25. If you're interested in the single-digit guys from the professional political class, Rubio 6, Huckabee 4, Walker 4, Bush 4, Santorum 3...
From the same poll, in New Hampshire:
Sanders over Clinton 52 to 30. She's gonna have to rehearse being a lot more spontaneous.
Trump over Carson 40 to 12. If you're into the basement action where the supposedly "electable" fellows lurk, Kasich 9, Bush 6, Paul 6, Cruz 5, Walker 3, Christie 2, Rubio 2...
Across America? The new Washington Post poll:
Donald Trump now running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton
~North of the border, in the Canadian election campaign, Thomas Mulcair's NDP has opened up a dramatic lead over the Grits and Tories:
NDP: 31.3 per cent:
Liberal Party: 30.3 per cent;
Conservative Party: 30.2 per cent.
How that works out in next month's House of Commons, who knows? The Liberals lead on the East coast, the NDP on the West and in Quebec, and the Tories in the Prairies and Ontario. Everyone, at least in the media class, has the vague sense that Mulcair is likeliest to emerge as Prime Minister, but quite how he gets there is even less clear.
~Meanwhile, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre at Westminster, on Saturday grizzled leftist weirdbeard Jeremy Corbyn has managed to seduce the Labour Party leadership away from all the Islington wine-bar PR slickers who've run the party since the dawn of the Tony Blair era. Does anyone say "wine bar" in Islington anymore? I dunno. It's an Eighties word, I think. But the point is no one had said "Jeremy Corbyn" since the Eighties, either. Until 20 minutes ago. And now he's Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. In Donald Trump terms, when Hugh "Gotcha!" Hewitt interviews Jezza, he won't have to worry about him not knowing the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah, because Corbyn loves both of them.
~Even more spectacularly, on Monday Down Under, the Aussie Liberal Party (ie, "liberal" in the classical sense, not in the leftie control-freak statist sense) struck at their conservative leader Tony Abbott and toppled him as Prime Minister, replacing him with Malcolm Turnbull. My favorite foreign minister, Julie Bishop, joined Turnbull when the bull turned on Abbott. I'm losing track of the number of leaders she's been deputy leader to.
[UPDATE: Kiwi reader Paul Deacon says: "What's not to admire? The black widow of politics."
Gulp. She mates, she kills. I wonder if that's what the look in her eye with this guy (scroll downpage) is all about.
Oh, well. Notwithstanding the diminished life expectancy of her political partners, she remains my fave FM.]
A few thoughts on these developments:
~Tony Abbott is - was - more to my taste ideologically. He's a monarchist, a social conservative, the man who repealed Australia's disastrous carbon tax. But he was not an effective executive or parliamentarian or shifter of public opinion - and, partly as a result, he let me down badly on one of my two core issues: freedom of speech.
Malcolm Turnbull is far less to my taste ideologically. He's a republican, in favor of gay marriage, who's hot for all the climate-change hooey and supported that ghastly carbon tax. He's also a little thin-skinned - to the point where he walked out of one of my speeches. Not over anything I said, alas. He never got that far. He took umbrage at something Nick Minchin, Australian Senate leader and Finance Minister, said during his introduction of me: Nick and Malcolm were on opposite sides during the monarchy referendum, and so Turnbull flounced out in what, for a republican, was a very queeny huff.
That said, I find him one of the most serious and thoughtful politicians on the other of my core issues: demography. We sat next to each other at a conference a few years back. It was alphabetical - so S for Steyn, T for Turnbull; on my other side, I had R for Kevin Rudd, the previously ousted Prime Minister. We had little plates of snacky-type stuff and, every time I turned to talk to Turnbull, Rudd's hand crept over and snaffled my nibbles. Anyway, Turnbull, like me, is a serious demographic junkie, and he spent much of the afternoon passing me various napkin doodles of inverted pyramids showing projected population declines for different fertility rates. Compared to most politicians around the west, he was almost uniquely well-informed on the subject.
So I wish him well, and I assume he has learned the lesson of his last, failed stint as leader, which led to Tony Abbott deposing him. Now he has deposed Abbott, a decent bloke but one who seemed never quite to grasp that a leader has to lead. In the end, the issue was his competence rather than his conservatism.
On the other hand...
~The general view of Jeremy Corbyn's remarkable coup is summed up in this headline:
The Day The Labour Party Died
I'm a little more cautious about that. In fact, I wouldn't entirely rule out it proving to be The Day The Conservative Party Died. Or, at any rate, what's left of meaningful British Conservatism - in that David Cameron's opportunist empty-suit instincts are sure to pull him even further into the mushy Blairite Third Way bog that Corbyn and Labour have just vacated.
Mr Corbyn, like Mr Turnbull, is a republican, but from the deranged end of the spectrum. He is more solicitous of Osama than of the Queen, and famously told Iranian TV that the "assassination" of bin Laden was a "tragedy", adding, for bonus conspiracy-theory points, "if it was bin Laden". He is in favor of talks with ISIS, although he conceded to Russian telly that "some of what they have done is appalling", as appalling as "what the Americans did in Fallujah and other places".
As for the Queen, he's hinted that he may be the first Leader of the Loyal Opposition to refuse to join the Privy Council. Which shows a somewhat defective understanding of constitutional order and process. It would never occur to Malcolm Turnbull to do the same with the Executive Council Down Under, because his republicanism is about persuading the Australian people that it's time to change the country's constitutional arrangements, rather than just pissing over anything that rubs you up the wrong way.
Nonetheless, I wonder quite how much damage Corbyn will do to what's left of the Labour Party. His leadership will confirm the party's demise in Scotland, but, after this year's election, I'm not sure how many of their English redoubts they can realistically be evicted from. What's left wants a hardcore punitive-tax anti-bankster anti-war social-justice attitudinal polytechnic Marxism, and there's enough of them to merit a party of their own. "Jez, we can!" as the sloganeers have it.
~Canada, like most of the rest of the Westminster system, usually has a six-week election campaign. For various reasons, this time round Stephen Harper opted for a highly unusual 11-week campaign. Or, in American terms, about the length of time between the early November election and the late January day on which the previous guy finally moves out of the White House. By contrast, in a parliamentary system, Tony Abbott will be moving out of Kirribilli House right now.
The assumption behind the 11-week campaign was initially, from the government point of view, that it would give time for a certain weariness with Stephen Harper to be lifted by the nimbleness of his skills on the stump. Later, when it became clear that this was unlikely to happen, the assumption, from the media/opposition point of view, was that it would allow time for the Liberals or, more likely, the NDP to break away from the three-way tie. That hasn't happened, either. Maybe it will. But, if not, Canadians will wind up with a House of Commons that reflects where the country's at right now - kinda sorta feeling that it's time for a change but not quite ready to change wholeheartedly. So a minority government.
But nobody's really enjoying dragging it out for a whole 11 weeks: I heard on Canadian radio last week someone observe the Queen's record-breaking 63 years and seven months by saying she was now "the longest-reigning monarch since this election campaign began".
~As for those Trump polls, and to a lesser extent the Bernie Sanders numbers, the experts assure us that it's "early days" yet, with four months to go (or basically the combined lengths of this year's UK and Canadian elections) before any actual votes are cast in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary - so Trump's 40 per cent and Bernie's 50 per cent in the Granite State mean nothing.
I'm not sure who benefits, other than the Consultant-Industrial Complex, from three-year presidential campaigns. But the fact remains that Trump has been in a runaway lead for months now. In any other system, he would already be Leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister. Maybe, between now and January, Bush, Walker and Rubio can painstakingly build up their two or three per cent into double digits and deny him victory. Or maybe not.
But my point is: In most countries, you wouldn't have that luxury. You have to be able to start, make your case, and win, all in six weeks.
And there is, by comparison, no donor class. For example, Malcolm Turnbull spent - what? - twelve bucks to become Prime Minister (I'm assuming he may have taken a cab to parliament). A process that takes three years and a gazillion dollars to wind up with Mitt Romney or John McCain as its candidate is in itself problematic, and ripe for hijacking by any sharp-eyed operator, as Trump is currently doing.
But let's say Trump finally implodes, even though his implosion is like the "Brutal Afghan Winter" of 14 years ago, eagerly anticipated but never actually occurring. And let's say Bernie collapses in South Carolina. And we wind up with what the party establishments want: the wife of a previous president running against the son and brother of another previous president - or Eva Peron vs Pitt the Younger. One of the advantages of actual monarchy - if Messrs Corbyn and Turnbull will forgive me - is that, aside from getting a non-hereditary political class, separating the head of state from the head of government puts politics in its proper place - as grubby, vicious, swift, brutal, decisive and popularly responsive, as the British Labour and Aussie Liberal parties have just demonstrated.
As much as I love New Hampshire primary season, I wouldn't mind a bit more of that over here.
~I'll be spending tomorrow, Tuesday, with Hannity & Colmes. At 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific, I'll be plugging my new book live on the Alan Colmes radio show. At 10pm Eastern, I'll be on the TV with Sean Hannity coast to coast on Fox News. Full details of all my media appearances this week are in our On the Air box at top right. If you're in the vicinity of the receiving apparatus, I hope you'll dial us up.