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Showing posts from June, 2016

Have we already forgotten about Jo Cox's death?

Remember Jo Cox?
She was the Labour MP who was murdered a week before the EU referendum vote.
The House of Commons united in tribute to her.
There was a profound sense of shock that a campaigner, parliamentarian and mother could have been shot and stabbed on the streets of England.
People agonised over the circumstances of her death.
No one knew what motivated her killer, but we heard tell of his links to shadowy right-wing groups in the USA.
Could the febrile political environment have played a part?
The referendum campaign had produced a lot of vitriolic rhetoric about migrants – whose cause Jo had bravely championed.
There was also a mood of anti-establishment fervour whipped up by people who should know better.
Politicians are all the same. All in it for themselves.
And then we discovered that Jo wasn’t in it for herself.
She entered public life to help others, as many people who become MPs do.
She had been to some of the poorest and most troubled places in the world. And then she’d gone ba…

Don't rely on your mandate now, Jez.

In my experience, you often get to know someone’s true character when they are a backed into a corner and everything’s against them. Today, there are a lot of Labour Party members who supported Corbyn for the leadership, but are now seeing for the first time what the guy is really like. All the banners proclaiming the MP for Islington North as a decent, honourable, principled man are starting to get a little frayed, aren’t they?
It comes as no surprise to those of us who were involved in Labour Party and left-wing politics in the 1980s. We came to know exactly the dead end represented by the metropolitan radicalism of Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.
It actually took me most of my teenage years to figure it out, as I’d initially been attracted to Labour by Ken Livingstone’s 1981 GLC administration. But as the decade unfolded and the left went down to defeat after defeat (and I wasted more and more time battling Trotskyist infiltrators and fellow travellers within Labour and camp…

Immigration stoked the Brexit fire. How will Labour respond?

A lot has already been said about Labour’s failure to reach out to alienated and angry working-class voters in the EU referendum. It’s clearly an important part of the explanation for Brexit. There is a real danger, however, that Labour politicians (even the more perceptive ones, who realise Corbyn has to go) might draw the wrong conclusions about the message that has been sent.
Immigration is a toxic and volatile issue at the heart of this right-wing counter-revolution. There is a very dangerous disconnect between Labour’s middle-class, intellectual activist base and the working-class communities that have traditionally voted for the party.
We’ve seen some truly ugly sentiments expressed in the campaign. By the normal standards of British politics, you’d think that things couldn’t get much worse than UKIP’s revolting anti-migrant poster. But we actually saw the murder of a British MP just over a week ago, by someone who allegedly shouted ‘Britain First’ as he attacked her and had conne…

Why Jexit can't come soon enough

The news that a motion of no confidence has been tabled against Jeremy Corbyn gives me some heart. There must be Labour parliamentarians who actually want the party to survive. It’s the only glimmer of hope to come out of the Brexit debacle.
There is always a tipping point in a mutiny. It comes when the consequences of inaction are clearly worse than the consequences of action. As the captain steers the ship aimlessly around in choppy waters, the crew members tolerate their sea sickness. But when he claims he can’t see the rocks that obviously hover just a few nautical miles away, sheer determination overcomes inertia.
I don’t actually care if there’s a blood bath in the Labour Party right now. If that’s the price which has to be paid to have a credible opposition to the charlatans and Little Englanders who will soon be running the Tory Party, then so be it.
Corbyn is hopelessly out of touch with the concerns of traditional voters and unable to connect with them. He is also a man who ha…

This Brexit vote isn't just about the UK. It's about the whole future of Europe.

The literal meaning of the word ‘insular’ refers to back to the idea of an island. It’s perhaps hardly surprising, therefore, that the UK’s referendum campaign on membership of the EU has been insular in the broader, metaphorical sense too.
Everything is about us.
We’ll be more democratic and more sovereign and free from the shackles of bureaucracy if we leave. We’ll be stronger and less isolated and richer if we stay.
The truth is that, whatever your personal viewpoint, the UK’s decision on Thursday 23rd has ramifications way beyond our borders.
If the unthinkable happens and we vote to break away from a tariff-free market of 500 million people, what happens next in continental Europe?
The first pressure will almost certainly be on the Eurozone. Italy’s maverick Five Star Movement – which just won key mayoral contests in Rome and Turin – has already called for a vote on whether Italy should leave the single currency. Despite a period of relative calm, the underlying issues surround…

22nd June: the view from the precipice

This has been the rockiest of rides.
Let’s remember that this Referendum need never have happened. It’s only taking place because of divisions in the Conservative Party and the electoral pressure built up by UKIP in recent years.
David Cameron probably never imagined he’d actually be in a position to call the poll. He found himself unexpectedly heading up a majority Conservative government and with half his Cabinet expecting him to make good on his promise.
His ridiculous negotiations with the EU ended with a scrap of paper that was never going to satisfy the attack dogs of the Tory right.  The substance of his ‘deal’ was then promptly forgotten, because actually it was completely immaterial to the enormity of the decision that confronted us.
And then the campaign proper got under way. 16 weeks of vitriol, bluster and internecine warfare.
The Leave camp has been riding a populist wave of anti-political sentiment. We all know that their appeal to people’s worst instincts on immigrati…