SJB: ideological distance

This is based on a tweet thread posted after reading what I thought were some poorly thought through comments from the Sri Lankan Twitter commentariat about the overall strategy followed by a political party in Sri Lanka.

Disclaimer: I have no association with this party.

I hate having to defend Dayan Jayatilleka (with whom I have considerable political differences), but the hysterical reaction to this demonstrates how bad the Sri Lankan liberal elite are at politics. I say this as someone who has experienced & witnessed their hopeless incompetence first-hand.

While not getting into the specifics of his article (and ignoring his florid writing), DJ is making a valid point that an opposition needs a credible ideology that is broadly appealing.

The unpalatable truth is that any attempt within the next election cycle to assemble a coalition that can beat the current government will have to include some nationalist/reactionary elements. This may not be palatable to some of us, but that is the cold hard truth.

What the reaction to the DJ article also shows is that many of the Yahapalanaya people and those adjacent to them misunderstood the nature of their victory in 2015. They assumed that it was a vote for their version of liberalism and that there still exists a market for this.

Whereas 2015 was driven by different considerations. These were:

  • Incumbent fatigue (over nepotism, corruption & increased racial tensions)
  • The historical national security threat no longer being a factor
  • The UNP regarded as economically competent.

It is important to remember that the 2015 campaign included reactionary elements like the JHU and SF in key leadership positions. This has been conveniently forgotten by the Neo-Yahapalanayas. The reason they were part of the coalition was to act as a signifier that SB and national security interests would be looked after. The choice of Presidential candidate was along those lines too.

There is a self-aggrandizing book about 2015 from a JHU perspective. These screenshots are an example of the mindset.

The 2019 election was decided on leadership, economic competence & national security grounds. Whatever else the SJB has to do, it will have to regain the confidence of swing voters on those matters. To that — by definition — it has to distance itself from the parent party.

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