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Why it's crunch time on both sides of the Atlantic

2018 is set to be a year of political reckoning in both the UK and the USA. It’s very easy to imagine the crises that are likely to unfold, but much harder to predict their consequences or the way in which they will be resolved.
Trump will clearly come under increasing pressure as a result of the investigation into Russian collusion by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. If there is to be any realistic prospect of the current President being removed through an impeachment process, we’ll need to see some spark of activity in 2018. Otherwise we’ll be moving inexorably towards the next primary cycle and attention will turn to the removal of Donald Trump in the traditional, tried-and-tested way – at the ballot box.
The mid-term elections in November might prove to be decisive in terms of forcing the hand of Republican Senators and Congressmen. After all, if polling evidence is to be believed, the Democrats look set to make significant gains with Trump’s popularity at a record low. The reali…
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A 'meaningful' vote? Don't hold your breath...

David Davis is the guy who knocked on the door and persuaded you that your roof needed fixing, when it actually didn’t. He and his mates have been half-heartedly hammering away for an hour or two and you’re a bit worried about the end result, so you insist on inspecting the work when its finished.
Once you’re up on the ladder, he’s dismissing your concerns and telling you that everything’s fine. He’d love to spend more time on it, but unfortunately the crew is off to another job. And that will be five grand please.
So as Parliament gives itself the right to ‘scrutinise’ the final deal and hold a ‘meaningful’ vote, let’s not get carried away. All the ridiculous hullabaloo over the Article 50 case in the Supreme Court a year ago demonstrates that such rights are meaningless unless you’re prepared to exercise them. Let’s think about the likely scenarios.
Perhaps there isn’t a meaningful deal for Parliament to vote on. Some Brexiters online speculate that the insistence on this vote on…

The Tories have run out of ideas. And the UK is running out of road.

There is a sense of real spiralling decline about British politics right now. The Tories appear to be in full kamikaze mode. Their plane has lost an engine and the last drops of fuel are being siphoned out of their depleted policy tank. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted that the average age of the party member is now 71. Some observers claimed this was fake news, but it seemed for a brief moment all too plausible.
Freezing student loans or offering more money for people to buy their own homes just aren’t dramatic enough gestures for the scale of resentment. When you’re a teacher or doctor, aged 35, and you’re sharing a room in a communal house in London, you might indeed feel you were being treated with contempt.
The Tories have no big ideas. Theresa May spouts half-hearted platitudes. And her leadership rivals look woeful. The only remotely credible candidates currently have long odds at the bookies. Sajid Javid, for example. Or the talented Ruth Davidson, who can’t currently compe…

The Brexit blag? Jez is already squealing.

If you were involved in planning, say, the next Great Train Robbery, Jeremy Corbyn would be the last person you’d ever want on the team. The Absolute Boy just cannot keep his mouth shut or remember what he’s supposed to say.
Note his interview on the eve of the Labour Party conference in which he started musing about the Single Market.
“We need to look very carefully at the terms of any trade relationship, because at the moment we are part of the single market, obviously,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. ‘That has restrictions on state aid and state spending. That has pressures on it, through the European Union, to privatise rail, for example, and other services. I think we have to be quite careful about the powers we need as national governments.’
You can imagine Keir Starmer slowly and methodically punching a pillar in the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Brighton as he heard the Jezster open his mouth.
Corybn is simply revealing what we have known about him since time immemorial. He ha…

It's global politics and economics that drive the Uber debate

The storm over London's Uber ban sits right at the very heart of the debate about modern economic and political life. When the app's disruptive power transformed the way in which many people travel around the city, it threw up a whole host of issues.

There's the impact on traditional black cabs and the minicab trade, along with the claim that the company spends incredible sums of money subsidising fares in a way that's designed to eliminate competition. There's the employment status of the Uber drivers, which is subject to ongoing legal dispute.  And then, of course, there are the tax arrangements of the company itself.

Undoubtedly the most controversial issue of all was the accusation that Uber fails to vet its drivers properly and has been selective in the crimes that it has chosen to report to the police.

Uber doesn't see its role as one of policeman. It doesn't even consider the drivers to be its employees. If it did, there would immediately be all kind…

I was sad when I quit Labour a year ago. Now, I feel a sense of relief.

What motivates decent people to stay as members of the Labour Party?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering intensely over the past year, which I’ve spent in self-imposed exile. I resigned the moment Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader after the contest with Owen Smith.
When I quit, it was with a very heavy heart.
As far back as the late 1980s, I’d served as Labour General Secretary of the London NUS. By the early 90s, I was chairing Frank Dobson’s constituency party in inner London. On two occasions, I stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate.
If you make that kind of commitment, you assume it’s a relationship that will last for life. And even though I hadn’t been an activist in recent years, it never occurred to me that I’d be forced to rip up my party card. 
Today, as Labour’s 2017 conference looms, I wonder how anyone with a moderate viewpoint can kid themselves the party is even worth rescuing.
One group of centre-ground survivors falls into the category of the bloody minded. Like …

The mirror images of Trump and Corbyn

A number of people have pointed out the similarities between the populist movements of Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. Although from opposite sides of the political divide, the two leaders both command cheering crowds of adoring fans and enjoy the vociferous backing of online trolls, who take no prisoners in defence of their cause.
Tellingly, Jez and Trump share a disdain for the ‘establishment’, as embodied in the media and the mainstream political elite. Their political supporters patronise partisan alt-news websites and share a hatred of what they see as any kind of official news narrative.  Crackpot conspiracies and visceral distrust are at the heart of both political movements.
The American President and British Labour Leader also share strong misgivings about multinational institutions such as NATO, the EU and the World Trade Organization. They are instinctively protectionist, opposed to globalisation and share an illusion that jobs in traditional industries such as coal minin…