Politics

Brexit is breaking up Britain’s parties

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There must be something rather poetic about seeing the Palace of Westminster bandaged with tarpaulins and propped up by a tower of scaffolding. Brexit, which the ringleaders presented as a blow only to Continental institutions, is rocking the bricks and mortar of Blighty instead.

Transformation is taking place inside Westminster just as much as it is outside. Thanks to Brexit, the UK’s two main political parties find themselves in a position of existential crisis from which they may never emerge the same.

Several days ago, former Labour and Conservative party strategists revealed new findings, declaring the next stage in the evolution of British politics. The Brexit hubbub means the large-scale redrawing of the perimeters of UK politics, as the internationalist vs. nationalist fault line runs straight underneath traditional party boundaries which have long been based on the weight of our wallets. And if the painfully slow wade through unchartered Brexit waters since the EU referendum has proven anything, uniting equally passionate globalist and more nationalist, realist factions under one gargantuan left or right-wing party construct is an impossible task.

Brexit questions the efficacy of the entire UK political machine. So much for a vote presented as a threat only to Brussels. Soon enough, the UK may have to give way to the regeneration of its own party system. Numerous European nations have seen the upstart of new poltical movements, bringing immense structural change. Britain could be next. Most notably, Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche has become become the world’s latest proponent of cooperation and centrism, transforming the French political scene.

More importantly, the one key side effect of the rise in support for Macron’s ambitious project has been the emergence of other new, more specific rival political forces. France’s new right-wing force Agir could pose problems for En Marche and Les Républicains. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s new left-wing bloc, La France Insoumise, has not gone unnoticed either, as the the Parti Socialiste tries to regain stability.

I am sceptical of En Marche, and do think that soon enough it will struggle to balance so much opinion in one party construct. Centrism is often fine on paper, but in principle it can be almost impossible to please all. On such grounds, a Macron-style centrist movement might not last long in Britain. The simultaneous subscription of socially democratic globalists and more centre-right pro-EUers to such a project does sound a little pie-in-the-sky for reasons of domestic debacle. The New Labour experiment taught us this.

But even if En Marche and its centrist masterplan does eventually run into problems, it would have, above all, been responsible for the wider regeneration of French politics. Through the byproduction of new opposition parties, En Marche has kick-started the transformation of a once black-and-white dualist system into a kaleidoscopic party landscape.

A form of political fragmentation similar to that seen by France could soon enough take place in Britain as well. If the Labour and Conservative parties remain caught up in the Eurosceptic-globalist traffic jam which cuts their parties in half, a breakdown into new political entities is the next step. Momentum, bolstering the radical politics of Corbyn, has already broken from the legacy of Tony Blair and could finally split the Labour Party one day soon. Furthermore, Pro-EU Conservatives are restless and tired with May’s sympathy for demands for a harder Brexit.

But at the hands of Brexit, the realisation of such a rejuvenation seems unlikely. As our politicians scurry around nervously, 29 March 2019 looming on the horizon, our political system is becoming stagnant. In its haste to implement Brexit no matter what, our government’s ‘put on’ show of uncompromised strength and unity is distracting from the structural wake up call triggered by Brexit, which remains to be answered.

Tragically, the impossibility of Brexit means that this call is ringing out. Our binary political system might be ready to evolve beyond its class-based design, revolutionised by the globalisation debate triggered by Brexit. But whilst all alone, Britain must cling onto every ounce of life that remains and to what it knows. It seems that the consistently lagging beat of our decades-old party system is the only rhythm to which Britain knows how to march.

For Theresa May, the appearance of strong government is paramount; without party unity amongst Remainers and Brexiters, her Brexit game plan would be flimsy. Britain, adamant that its ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude and naturally stiff upper lip is the right approach, is witnessing the demise of its own politics. The nation’s retreat back into itself, an indulgence in the nostalgia of the country’s domineering, imperial days, only prevents the creation of a better Britain, and the flourishing of new parties which reflect the UK’s place in a globalised world.

Similarly, in trying to build effective opposition to the Conservative government, the Labour party is left torn. Haunted by its leader’s Eurosceptic past, Labour is caught in the headlights when it comes to Brexit. Even its policy away weekend in February – something just to corporate-sounding for Corbyn – failed to burn away the mist. If it splits whilst Theresa May trudges on, it will be in a worse position than the Conservatives. On the other hand, if it stays together, it denies itself the chance to truly regenerate, escaping the construction which has been so obviously in need of reform since the dawn of Tony Blair.

What goes around comes around. A national unwillingness to see the bigger picture and to compromise within the European arena is translating into a paralysing inability to progress and see sense at home. Issues of globalisation will underline British politics for decades to come. Our party system has to give way to decisive changes in opinion surrounding migration, liberal economics, and supranational justice. But the scratchy Brexit record is drowning out the calls for such a transformation. The stalemate lies in the fact that no party will split unless the other does, and that Brexit requires a self-destructive demonstration of national stubbornness, a sort of faith in a system of ‘good old’ – but more nonsensical – common sense that is doomed to fail some day soon.

Brexit was presented as the chance to improve our country. But it makes dealing with the future evolution of our own politics next to impossible. The EU referendum has opened a fresh can of worms. Our parties must move to reflect questions of our relationship with an irrefutably globalised world, not just those surrounding life at home. But until we give up on brokering a Brexit deal no matter the consequences, breaking our back to remain confident in ourselves even if such a plan is pointless, an adaptation to the nationalist-internationalist divide cannot be put in place.

As our government pulls out all the stops to push through a deal, even if it comes at the enormous price of our own political evolution, it is obvious that Brexit was anything but a vote to take back control. Instead, it was a vote to wallow in our own folly and to bathe in the comfort of our own nation, no matter how flawed, whilst our neighbours grow taller and flourish beside us.

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The EU has to be harsh with Britain if it is to survive

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Two-and-a-half months on from June’s shock-to-the-system Brexit vote, Britain’s foreign affairs forecast looks murky. The Netherlands, Austria and Denmark are fast lining up their Brexit sequels, nations which, if withdrawn, could hugely question the longevity of the EU and its current agenda.

With high levels of disregard for the political class, a tidal wave of populism threatens to damage the European Union. But officials have to be harsh with Britain, setting an example of resilience to other nations, in order to prevent the EU from crumbling.

Yesterday, Brexit captain Boris Johnson declared Vote Leave’s £350m EU savings promise simply impractical. Today, Brexit minister David Davis signalled that turbulent negotiations could result in WTO trading tariffs for Britain. Recent reports have also suggested that British wages are shrinking, that the economy is lagging, and that prices are plummeting. Theresa May has for weeks reinforced that “Brexit means Brexit”, but exactly how her government plans to implement June’s decision is yet to be seen.

The dire facet of Britain’s vote to leave the EU is that most of the answers are yet to come. A mass exodus from the EU could hugely damage the stability of the global economy and cause the political equilibrium to wobble.

The EU cannot allow eurosceptic populists to walk all over it. But it seems that European leaders have lost confidence. British Prime Minister Theresa May several weeks ago travelled to Germany in order to speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding Britain’s conditions for EU abandonment.

After weeks of stubbornness from EU states, she did in fact return with success. May has managed to convince the EU ‘leader’ that Britain would need more time before kick-starting the leave process, and that talks would not commence in 2016. Talks of a similar nature held with French President François Hollande resulted in a more relaxed approach towards the need for Dover-Calais border checks, and that free movement would suddenly be up for discussion.

The EU’s decision to warm to the requests of Brexit Britain is risky. Allowing member states to slide out of what could still be a successful union will destroy the chances of dealing easily with global problems.

Most importantly, pandering to British finger clicking will degrade the EU and any chances of future reform. If EU leaders continue to allow the UK’s government to cherry-pick its way through Brexit, more European nations will chip away at the EU. Reform can only be done through a harsh stance towards Britain, allowing existing member states to work on piecing a more coherent and functional EU.

Britain has always negotiated its way through EU relations, the kind of picky politics that the EU ought to stamp out. Britain’s strong disdain for the Eurozone system, its naughty school pupil rebellions against the rulings of the European Court of Justice, and its excruciatingly particular agreements regarding border controls have shown that Britain has modified the politics of the EU, with self-interest at the fore. Britain regularly shuns the political protocol of the EU, seen as a burden on its individualist agenda.

The EU cannot show that it can be easily pushed over. Eurosceptics in other nations could soon be lining up to leave what could still be a successful union. A union like that of the EU should be a patchwork of states which share common values and goals. But if every nation requests a bespoke, nitpicking relationship, then the EU will have little chance of survival.

Perhaps Theresa May, however, by orchestrating a crippling Brexit and pushing the EU to breaking point is planning a grand post-Brexit European reform which will one-up her predecessor, David Cameron, with a process of reform. May could even manage to transform the EU back into the pre-1998 economic union, allowing Britain to regain control.

Watching President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel benignly allow the UK to call the shots over Brexit makes for painful watching. The EU now has the chance to repair itself, taking up arms against the next artillery fire from other Eurosceptics. If the EU is to survive, and have any chance of remaining as an authoritative and reputable force for political and economic decision making, it must restore order and assert its authority.

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europe, human rights, society, World Politics

The refugee crisis has proven that we are not global citizens

Fierce skies raging with Western airstrikes and an appalling disregard for migrants simply in search of better days have come to define a new era of global politics. Our governments are leaving our fellow global citizens behind.

As Western nations trudge on in their anti-Islamic State crusades – programmes of devastating warfare – the results are not just a long and drawn-out campaign of thwarting radicals. Their expeditions often beam back to the West unsettling scenes of bewildered young people who are trapped in a world of detritus and despair.

One subject of this collateral damage is Omran Daqneesh. Yesterday, disturbing footage of the man absorbed newswires and consumed social media feeds. Pictures showed the desperate boy being tugged from a mound of rubble, carried to an ambulance, plonked down in a daze, and rubbing his dusty, bloody forehead, astonished by the events around him.

His story is certainly not unheard-of. The UN estimates that children constitute 41% of refugees, young people demoralised and displaced by these new wars. Over 250,000 citizens have died as a result of Islamic State-focused  warfare in recent months, and the numbers continue to rise. Many more are sure to have sustained unthinkable injuries. Possibly worse is that, last month, the Guardian reported that as many as 73 civilians were killed in just one Syrian village by a US airstrike, 35 of whom were children.

The sad thing is that this type of trauma has become something normal. The upsetting reports of Daqneesh have doubtless raged many in the Western world. There is only so much that the citizens of developed nations can do, however. Their raising of awareness may tug heartstrings, but our leaders seem to be in a state of denial. How can such painful airstrikes, and the sight of perishing humans diminish the complacency of Islamic State guerrillas, whilst killing and hurting the most innocent people at the heart of the conflict – Syrians and Iraqis themselves?

The answer is that it does not. This approach sacrifices many for a long-term goal, currently far from being reached. Of course, extremism and Middle Eastern terrorism must be diminished – and it must be done fast. It is often this argument that has served to justify the mass airstrikes and divisive domestic policies which have taken states such as Syria and countries of the EU, respectively, by storm.

But as our nations continue to barricade themselves against the tempestuous tidal wave that is terrorism, both at home and abroad, we have become lax and afraid to rescue those at the heart of global conflict – in some ways, we are maybe becoming ignorant to it. Our responses to the new global political crises are defining our place in the world. We have closed ourselves off to the tribulations of many fellow human beings. Rhetoric from hard-right populists has served to inject cultural fear into the international community, fuelling an epidemic of xenophobia, and building higher the bricks of national borders.

In this flurry of bombs and grenades, our governments have forgotten about our fellow global citizens. This, in essence, means that we are not global citizens either.

Developed nations have become consumed by a decade of selfishness, with a lack of concern for deaths within warzones, and with disregard for the traumatised Middle Eastern civilians who are seemingly disposed into camps such as “The Jungle” in Calais – some of whom as a result of Western involvements.

The West has stood back for long enough, with too many nations continually turning their backs on the mass exodus of refugees flowing from war-torn nations. Many of those making their way to the European Continent come from no extremist background at all, merely seeking to avoid the bombs and broken buildings. Germany has been one of the most willing recipients of Middle Eastern refugees, with over 1.3m entering the country. Meanwhile, nations like Britain have accepted only around 9,000 refugees today. Spain has taken in 8,000, and France has absorbed 11,000.

The resistance and half-hearted responses of so many Western nations is very disheartening. Last week’s Nauru files, detailing horrific child abuse towards detained Australian asylum seekers, has shown another deep disregard for fellow global citizens, too. With such lacklustre for solving the problems of refugees displaced by the chaos of extremism, the West will become similarly troubled. Failing to fully involve ourselves in a broad taskforce of UN nations committed to clearing up the side-effects of Islamic State conflict will only create larger social and political problems in the long run. Ignoring those who have been stranded as a result of the Islamic State’s agenda will only top up the fuel tank of their campaign, and threats to the stability of domestic politics will only become more regular. Showing that the West can adapt to the problematic Islamic State regime, and treating the moral high ground, is the true way towards the defeat of such barbarism.

Some reassuring news is, however, coming to light. Britain is part of a team of global nations providing material aid to Syrians – to the amount of $1.1bn, in fact. The USA, Israel and others have been keen to contribute, too. Hopefully, a few more refugees will be welcomed soon. News came today in the Guardian of MP Stella Creasy’s parliamentary amendment attempts, which could see thousands of Calais refugees making their way to Britain if successful. Lords peer Alf Dubs has already managed to force the government to bringing as many as 3,000 more child refugees to Britain.

But there is still work to do. The West must make sure that it continues these efforts, and that it builds upon them. The UN reported in February 2016 that 13.5m people are in grave need of humanitarian support, and that 11.4m have been displaced by the Syrian schism. These people will not vanish. Recent attacks have likely pushed up these totals much higher. The so-called Islamic State’s bloodshed has been ramped up in recent weeks, as the siege of key strongholds like Aleppo and Raqqa builds more intense every day.

The more developed Western nations of Europe, North America, and Oceania have a moral duty to respond to the challenges of extremism with boosted humanitarian support, and open borders. Maintaining our moral strength, and resisting the taunts of extremists aimed at breaking down the integrity and principles of our societies, is key to defeating groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Avidly tuning in to populists and their rhetoric, and implementing divisive, barring policy, will only draw our societies closer apart.

But the main problem is that there is no global agenda and that the atmosphere of co-operation is dangerously thin. Western nations now see themselves as separate entities. We are not Europeans, or Westerners. The European Union has broken down, and the West is intent on rubbing its hands of common global issues like those of refugees, off-shore corruption, or even climate change. We are no longer Earthlings, instead divided by the constructed ideas of nation state and nationality.

How will we be able to come together in the future, ready to fight our corners against extremists? We must confront the problems facing the children of the future along with the their demoralised families, with a matter of urgency. If we do not, our places as global citizens will remain in question.

This entire crisis of extremism, hatred, and halted migration currently ravaging our world questions each of us directly, in fact. Are we really global citizens? Global citizens aren’t bystanders who watch on whilst fellow human beings perish, whilst children are deprived of futures and human rights, and whilst extremists take over the political landscape. The only way of solving common issues is via common involvement and common progress. If the refugee crisis has taught us anything, it is that unity is the only way forward.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics

May says she’ll make Brexit a success, but what about Scotland and the North?

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When the ball of the European Union debate was set rolling only some months ago, many must have thought that only the Common Agricultural Policy, Lisbon Treaty, and oily mechanics of the European machine would be up for cross-examination. But it has become obvious the Brexit vote does not just point to a discontent with Brussels, but to a pent up fury with the neoliberalism status quo, which many see as gnawing away at the skeletons of their once vibrant British communities.

Myriad citizens through the UK let their fury with the state of their own union show through a vote for Brexit, shunning globalisation and yearning for increased self-determination. Theresa May must not only make a success of the Brexit bills, but also of those who feel left behind at the peripheries of fast paced and global 21st century. The government needs to spark the waning coals of once lively industrial communities to prevent them from slipping into greater despair.

British discontent may stretch to the European institutions, but qualms with the current international order lie much close to home, in fact. The Prime Minister must work fast in order to eradicate the corrosice flow of discontent which cascades through areas of Northern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which feel more isolated from the UK than ever before.

The Leave campaign had generated a great deal of support amongst wealthier voters. But the more astonishing facet of the European Union referendum was the sheer number of working class individuals who sided with the Eurosceptics. The most anti-EU areas of Britain, shown to be Boston and South Holland in Lincolnshire, alongside regions like Castle Point and Great Yarmouth in the East, each show similar social trends. These areas have a diverse minority ethnic population, as well as poor standards of education, and a lower quality of life.

The very different issues which face the Prime Minister regarding Scotland will not disappear easily, either. Scotland’s vote to remain as part of the EU was purely a rejection of English Eurosceptic sentiment instead and, in some cases, to do with growing Westminster disregard for Scottish politics. The support for the remain campaign north of the border has shown that Scottish interests are very different to those of England. Support for Scottish independence has seen a slow but sure increase, and could threaten Theresa May’s premiership. In the same way in which she must repair relations with the north of England, the Prime Minister must now bring Scottish political issues to the fore if she is to succeed in maintaining the longevity of the union.

Rejuvenating Britain’s foreign relationships, as well as tweaking the operation of the union are May’s next challenges.

If the centuries old British union crumbles, it may erode May’s premiership, too. Theresa May’s plans as part of her Industrial Strategy Committee are a welcome sign of planned improvements for the northern parts of England, and should bolster the togetherness of the UK. The committee on Tuesday pledged to work on the UK’s economy in areas outside of the south east of England, chiefly in areas of Manchester and in the further north. Rail link projects have also been proposed in order to boost connections between northern English communities, also in the hopes of increased economic activity.

But if the Union proves too difficult to sustain in its current form, perhaps federalism is the answer. Of course, this is the outcome that the Prime Minister would dread most of all. As the nations which comprise the UK become increasingly diverse and are evidently in need of specific regional solutions to bespoke issues, perhaps a form of ‘devo-max’ across four identical regional assemblies would relieve the Westminster Parliament in its obstinacy that one size fits all.

When the new Prime Minister took on the challenge of renegotiating Britain’s place in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, the task of saving the union came, too. The EU referendum has shown up the deep social and economic differences which set each UK nation apart. Making a success of Brexit will clearly involve domestic upheaval as well as a rethink of British foreign affairs.

Unless Theresa May and her government work fast to repair the relationship with Westminster and the worn-out areas of the UK, the age-old union which has bound Britain together may begin to disintegrate. An agenda which successfully irons out the creases in the societal fabric woven between the societies of Southern England, Northern England and Scotland, must be designed. Making a success of Britain itself is vital before it can be deemed a success in front of the rest of the world.

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society, UK Politics

Labour’s ganging up on Corbyn is only setting the party backwards

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As the Labour party’s hunt for strong leadership continues, the campaign against the increasingly entangled Jeremy Corbyn looks very grubby indeed. After a vote of no confidence from his own MPs in the aftermath of the tumultuous EU referendum – something of a post-apocalyptic political landscape – the radical, socialist politics of Corbyn are currently being extensively tested.

A second leadership election is largely the result of the still fiery coals of resentment towards Corbyn which have been burning since the election of his ‘straight talking’ and ‘honest’ politics last September. Support for an alternative candidate for Labour’s leadership, primarily Owen Smith, has swelled in recent days.

The incumbent Corbyn has found himself charged by a large proportion of Labour members with crimes of weak performances at Prime Minister’s Questions, failures to deal with outbreaks of anti-Semitism and MP abuse, and even bad dress sense. The real issues concern subjects much more serious than those to do with the style of Corbyn’s jackets or how far up his tie is knotted, though.

A major boost for Smith’s candidacy came after the once favourite to win the leadership election, Angela Eagle – who had taken great pleasure in declaring war on Corbyn for quite some days – suddenly retreated from the frontline. As discontent grows, MPs have become dead set on challenging the present leader who is seen by many as the Labour party’s considerably weak face. Labour’s less radical wing is simply desperate to remove Jeremy Corbyn based on the grounds that he is the party’s first class ticket to years of Conservative gunfire. The argument that Corbyn would currently be unable to deliver general election success is among the gravest of concerns which have been voiced against him. Those who yearn for a more centrist Labour party hope that in September the present leader will be removed just like the failed James Callaghan was in 1979.

The request to remove an unpopular leader must, of course, be taken seriously in any healthy democracy. The major problem, however, is that the tactics of many within the Parliamentary Labour Party in their attempts to oust the current leader are proving detrimental to their own credibility and that of party. The Labour party pledges to stand for progression and fairness, but the PLP and it anti-Corbynista supporters have shown none of these qualities in recent weeks as they taunt the increasingly robust pro-Corbyn camp.

Activists and MPs have, over recent months, blamed Corbyn for failing to deal with the epidemic of abuse which continues to endanger politicians and their staff. Last month saw the fatal shooting of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, and in the light of such a brutal attack, many of Labour’s MPs have feel similarly uncomfortable. In addition, numerous party members have reported receiving death threats, and hurtful comments from worrying online trolls.

But the responsibility for the unsettling motives of albeit very few extremists certainly does not lie on Jeremy Corbyn alone. Preventative measures can only go so far. The real causes for such negativity are set elsewhere. Dangers posed by far-right populism, its endorsement of casual racism, the comeuppance of outspoken politics in relation to the arguable failures of the Establishment, and the promotion of xenophobia have contributed more to building resentment towards innocent politicians. The task of eradicating hatred is not solely that of Jeremy Corbyn – it is one which must be faced by the entirety of the Labour party, and actually the entirety of the global political scene.

What really trumps “anti” feelings associated with UK politics is togetherness and party unity. Surely the Labour party should reinstate this ethos, instead striving to work collectively in halting the Tories’ agenda of austerity and societal hardship. Headlines of late have become dominated by Labour’s internal strife which is rapidly growing tiresome. It’s time Labour politicians and their associated supporters clubbed together. The creation of a strong, socially democratic force, which is capable of holding the government to account, is what will trounce the harm being vehemently promoted by some in their bids to tear up Britain and its political fabric.

In their attempts to halt Corbyn’s radical programme, many of those associated with the Labour party have put themselves in danger of losing their own integrity. Although now reversed, the party had intended to only allow long-term grassroots members to vote in the leadership election. In addition, it had implemented £25 membership charges for new members in possible attempts to throttle support for Corbyn. In the days following the landmark referendum result to leave the EU, it was clear that hundreds of thousands of UK citizens were joining the Labour party in protest.

Corbyn and his crew won’t be silenced, and the radical left will not be easily quashed. Attempting to smother the growing threat to Blairism has only accentuated the divide which currently holds up the Labour party, and has inspired more dignified retaliation from the radicals. Thousands have signed petitions in recent days, aiming to bring the Labour party to court for what they see as a violation of British democracy.

The Labour party’s keenness to fix tough barriers to political participation from a grassroots level suggests the creation of a worryingly closed off party environment. By barricading itself from the realities of Corbyn’s strong political support, Labour is in danger of violating its self-proclaimed democratic principles. Anti-Corbyn advocates ought to allow a fair contest to play out, and get behind their party’s defining principles of grassroots decision-making.

As Corbyn and the left-wing organisation Momentum have come to spearhead an ever growing mass socially democratic movement, the existing Labour Establishment just can’t resist interfering. Every day it looks more flustered and agitated. Their tricks for stifling the grounds of Corbyn’s re-election are now being exposed, and could seriously destroy the Labour party’s political standing.

After a huge public mandate for Jeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader in September of last year, it looks like his support is only growing as a result of the vendetta against him. The programme of Corbyn’s opponents doesn’t seem to be as effective as they might have previously anticipated. Desperate for a return to the Blairite politics favoured more by a great deal of the Labour party, as opposed to listening to the calls from the party’s local hubs, Labour risks falling down from the moral high ground once again.

The Labour party consistently complains of the inadequacy of Corbyn’s leadership. What plagues the party more is their disunity and consistent infighting. Corbyn could provide adequate leadership if they just got behind him and accepted the public mandate for a leader whose movement gains fresh support day-by-day. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifism and his lack of patriotism are unattractive attributes to many MPs and voters, but these are qualms which can be ironed out. No leader is intrinsically perfect.

If the Labour party is still adamant that its fight between radical politics and Blairite-type ‘centrism’ play out, then it should at least take place in an atmosphere of good sportsmanship. The Labour leadership campaign this year has turned dirty and personal. Politicians, activists, and members have lost sight of the real issues. Instead, for many, it is a campaign set on unfairly thwarting the perfectly adequate left-wing principles of a perfectly adequate left-wing politician and leader.

Disruptive internal strife and indecisiveness regarding the party’s controversial Blairite past and its more populist, radical future is exactly what is setting it back from success. Harmful blows against Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the democracy-defying tactics of many attempting to stifle support for a candidate chosen by the people only last year – and one whose support so evidently still exists – should have no place in British society. The reinstatement of intraparty unity, and a return to the true principles of the Labour party – “social justice, community, rights [and] decency” – are the answer to Labour’s seemingly endless policy war. These attributes are exactly what will bring back security to the UK’s currently perforated and paralysed left wing.

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human rights, society, World Politics

The West can’t let Erdoğan win, and must push for real democracy

Last Friday’s coup in Turkey, which aimed to provoke a military takeover, failed, but the country’s current political set-up is still far from perfect. As the nation’s President resumed control in the early hours of Saturday morning, some might have seen the survival of Erdoğan as an example of widespread support for him from the Turkish people.

But do not be fooled. With ever harsher clamps upon the southern European nation’s press, ethnic, and societal freedoms, the President’s regime is highly controversial. His policies are not progressive, and ought to be halted fast. It must be something a little comforting, however, to see that predominant support for his presidency when contrasted with potentially dangerous military rule is existent. Myriad citizens have taken to the streets in pro-government demonstrations over past days. The public faced with the lesser of two evils, President Erdoğan still has an increasing monopoly over domestic policy, furthered by this week’s emergency decrees.

Turkey’s past is not one that revolves around finite democracy. Whilst the country is certainly more democratic than it were ten years ago, it is clear that the Erdoğan presidency is not one which encompasses all human rights. This week, President Erdoğan has made no delay of his purge of public office, effortlessly chucking out opponents to his rule. Real power lies exclusively in the hands of the governing AKP.

After last week’s coup attempt, President Erdoğan’s recent actions are not surprising. Just a few days ago, Turkey brushed up against a regime of heightened authoritarianism which ought to have any last drops of momentum soaked up. This week, thousands upon thousands of civil servants, judges and other public officials thought to not side fully with the Erdoğan regime have been forcibly removed from their posts. Today, over 1,000 privately run education institutions will be closed. More than 58,000 people in total are thought to be feeling the effects of the President’s latest purge which he justifies with the need to destroy chances of an even more dangerous coup. Already this year, President Erdoğan has waged a tough war on scores of press journalists who actively speak out against the AKP’s semi-authoritarian regime, an act which largely defies the supposed democratic principles upon which Turkey is said to be built.

Currently, Turkey is one of the most talked-about nations in the world, the end point of Europe and gateway to the Middle East. A hugely advantageous base for the West in interventions against the so-called Islamic State, as well as for dealing with the refugee crisis which continues to grow in seriousness, Turkey’s mustn’t be upset. But maintaining our nations’ moral and political integrity is still important.

Handing privileges of fast-tracked EU membership to Turkey in return for saving the EU from a great deal of the refugee crisis, or allowing the gravely problematic Erdoğan regime to exist undemocratically is simply not permissible. The persecution of dissidence, slamming of anti-regime journalists, and the force-feeding of government prescribed values is unacceptable for Western support no matter the advantages.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s current views of Turkish disarray are feeble, as she last week underlined the importance of a rule of law within Turkey. The biggest problem is that Turkey’s rule of law is not robust, and that its constitution is hugely flawed. Moreover, such a draconian President should not be permitted by major Western powers.

I am sure that Erdoğan’s plans for controlling dissenters will incite fear among the Turks, but more organised coups with wider support could materialise in the near future. One of them may even win, posing greater problems for the Middle East and the currently fragile European Union. Turkey’s growing relationship with traits of authoritarianism is highly toxic, and failing to stamp out Erdoğan’s politics could result in absolute chaos.

The UK and the rest of the West’s lax attitude to the government’s purging of opponents, and rejection of the European Convention on Human Rights is thus abominable. Turkey is certainly an extremely useful global actor, but our absolutely necessary reliance upon the nation cannot prevent us from upholding typically European values of democracy. Full friendship with Turkish authorities must not come until its political system is strong. Currently President Erdoğan is monumentally pushing over European and North American States and their integrity.

If Erdoğan continues, instability will eventually arrive, prime stomping ground for extremists and a nursery for terrorism. If anything, the attempted coup last week has shown that discontent in relation to the Turkish government is brewing. Turkey’s politics and society are extremely volatile. It is time that the West took the hint, and implemented sturdier pillars of democracy. For it is in the interests of Western nations to prevent a better organised future coup, which could have the potential for more authoritarian principles. Such an attack on Turkey’s already weak political infrastructure could devastate not only the country itself, but also the future of the European Union and standards of international security.

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The EU referendum has highlighted not only the European Union’s faults

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The pollsters had, for several days, proclaimed an easy win for Remain, and even UKIP’s Nigel Farage, known for his strong-willed politics, suspended his Brexit celebrations yesterday at 10pm. As much of the UK population downed tools last night, Prime Minister David Cameron and his team believed that a victory for the Remain camp was in the bag, and that their futures were secure.

But after a passionate yet emotive speech from David Cameron this morning, it is clear that a defeat for the Europhiles was in fact the reality, and that it would cause an almighty stir. Conceding Remain’s defeat after a tumultuous EU referendum campaign, it was his nemesis Boris Johnson’s turn to breathe the sigh of relief. Hailing a win for his Vote Leave campaign wasn’t the only feature of his unusually civilised speech, however.

Shortly after Cameron’s unexpected news, Johnson paid tribute to “one of the most extraordinary politicians of our age”, Cameron soon to set out on a departure of his own. After watching our politicians spearhead a somewhat childish referendum campaign, featuring many old playground tactics, we must question the credibility of our leaders and their Establishment.

Today’s marginally winning, but evidently considerable, support for an end to the UK’s relationship with the European Union tells us many things. Leaving the EU will have a monumental impact on our nation’s operation, and may well tear the threads which tie the United Kingdom together – now with all the more fragility – apart.

Whilst the wealth of support for the campaign to leave the EU has shown that the continental community is problematic, it also provides us with alarming truths of our own society. The European Establishment is obviously at fault, but in the same way, that of the United Kingdom is, too. Citizens throughout England, Wales, and parts of Northern Ireland, primarily, are evidently finding the current political regime tiresome.

It is nothing short of devastating that so many have been compelled to reject a co-operative European administration which keeps its member states in line, and that a huge proportion of our nation’s trade and investment opportunities have become suddenly fractured. In addition, the air of common culture that only the European Union was able to promote and diversify has become smoggy. Our borders will soon be barred, and our ability to co-operate easily on the largest of international issues has been shattered.

The overwhelming gains made by Johnson, Gove and Farage have shown that the entire political Establishment has failed many a British citizen, and that the status quo is not working. Such numerous working class Leave votes throughout the Midlands, the North of England and Wales were surely fuelled by the failings of past years’ budgets to revolutionise living and working standards for the most deprived. As London and Scotland voted overwhelmingly for a seat at the European table, it is clear to see the divide between these culturally diverse epicentres and communities which feel hard done by with current government.

With blatant lies and scaremongering, the campaign agenda of Vote Leave in many cases revolved around playing to the fears of the electorate. A debate which featured not a conversation on the nature of free movement, but instead xenophobia, failed to focus on the positives of a vote to leave the European Union. A campaign which has revolved around the demonisation of minorities, and the confusion of many voters who have become caught up in a bog of sly statistics has generated fear and instability throughout endless scores of communities.

Doesn’t this form of campaign strategy in itself paint a vivid picture of our decaying Establishment? Our nation’s political integrity has hit a very low point. Whilst the EU referendum has now been won, no one can dismiss the tricky tactics deployed by those advocating for a vote to leave Europe. The degrading tone of many of our politicians over the past ten weeks has shown that the UK must fast restore its social respect. For the obsession with blame and fear that has dominated the EU debate has only boosted the tense culture which flows throughout many British communities.

Let us not forget one of the most important aspects of this year’s referendum. Hasty to combat the imminent threat that UKIP posed to British politics, and keen to restore Tory party unity, it was Prime Minister David Cameron who dug his own grave by risking the referendum.

Cameron is responsible for a campaign of scaremongering himself, but his intent on using a matter of great public interest in order to heal the Tory party has come back to kick him. Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes of the Establishment this time was its focus on careerism, and its desperation for political advantage, adamant that the discussion would effortlessly stamp out UKIP. Many would argue that Boris Johnson secretly hoped that a win for Vote Leave would help to cement his future as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Instead, the Tory party has cost itself valuable allies and its credibility. The Prime Minister’s running away from Downing Street today speaks loud enough volumes. His ‘master plan’ to redeem the Conservative party of populist threat has markedly backfired.

Scotland’s mammoth 62-38 vote in favour of staying within the European Union has shown the intense social divide between our two nations all the more. The UK Establishment has been unable to smoothen out the arduous terrain of the new political landscape, already reshaped by pro-Scottish independence sentiment. Of course, the Scottish remain vote was nothing at all of a protest, unlike the possible intentions of those across England and Wales. But the robust links of Scotland with the EU have shown Scotland’s distinct mindset, and has only made Westminster’s relationship with Holyrood more prickly.

Surely after such a game-changing campaign and result, the Establishment will not be able to rest comfortably for many nights to come. Today’s vote result was undoubtedly a loud SOS from many who feel largely discontented with the European Union’s present operation. But the surprise victory of Vote Leave has served to pose new challenges for the British Establishment. Its fear-centric campaign has shown that the UK must find a new source of political integrity, and today’s unforeseen victory has highlighted that many feel failed by politics within the EU, and the UK.

The Establishment in itself has wrecked Britain, and has killed its own chances of success. But it didn’t have to be this way. Populism is the fault of governments around the world. Euroscepticism and right-wing populism has the failings of our global Establishments right at the heart of its rapid spread.

It is now only the Establishment which must restore public confidence and diminish its own detriment. It is only the Establishment which can start to once again champion the hardworking people of British society, and support the deprived. And it is only the Establishment which can pop the dreams of future right-wing populists such as Donald Trump by treading the moral high ground.

If the EU referendum has proven anything, it has proven that our leaders have made a great mistake in trying to combine political advantage with serious questions of the position of Britain in the world. The British Establishment’s fearful campaign tactics have displayed the lack of political dignity that surrounds our nation’s decision-making process. Surely our leaders wish to avoid further calamity. But to do so, they must first restore themselves and their own structures.

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Politics isn’t about what you favour, but instead about what you don’t

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It has been a long time since I have heard predominantly good things being spoken of a politician, the current political landscape, or their policies. Perhaps some of the moments which last sparked jubilation in the political sphere were when Barack Obama was elected as the first black US President, when Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was last seen conversing naturally with a group of – actually interested – schoolchildren, or when German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood in front of Syrian refugees with open arms.

But it seems that right now, political contentment is at a low. The tone of debate around the world has degraded in recent months, and many of our politicians and their policies seem to revolve around counteracting some form of societal evil. Every day we are instructed that immigrants, nuclear power stations, or even Donald Trump will be the reason for the world’s end. Energised by multiple failings from both above and below, a wide range of voters, activists, and ordinaries have come to believe that politics is not working, a pessimistic and tiresome mindset which is fuelling politics of bitterness.

This advent has helped to kick-start fiery anti-establishment groups, seeing a rise in politics which focuses on resenting specific parts of society, creating a dangerous political culture. This engagement with ‘blame; policy is rapidly increasing, and is having a somewhat devastating side-effect. Whilst many citizens are, of course, uniting in opposition against what they deem to be most threatening to themselves and society, many are detrimentally turning hurtfully against certain social groups, in some cases minimising minorities and bolstering fear.

A handful of recent events serve to prove this. Only last week, the shooting of British MP Jo Cox showed that a sad minority believes in an act as shameful as killing an elected official. In recent days, Italy’s main anti-establishment party has made huge gains, Italy not the only country to see such a rise. Worldwide, the refugee crisis – the biggest movement of people since The Second World War – has provoked mixed sentiment, including a large pool of anti-immigrant protesters, and in many areas, even xenophobic and racist feelings. And a couple of months ago, the Panama Papers revelations exposed large-scale wrongdoing across global governments, fuelling anti-establishment feeling all the more.

It is no wonder that citizens across the world are bored with such endless, fruitless rhetoric. Fear and hatred are fast coming to define politics as citizens see no other remedy to their ailing governments and communities. Wrongdoing within government, a selfish hostility to an influx of immigrants, and resentment towards our MPs are each playing a part in tearing up society. Politics now revolves around marginalisation – not celebration of the good qualities which enhance our nation.

So, who is at fault for the culture of torment and blame which is reconstructing our political culture? Many would argue that society itself is causing the problem. The rise in barbaric terrorist acts shows that much of the gusto for wreaking havoc comes from the people. But it does indeed look like the Establishment has a monumental part to play. In many cases, electorates around the world have turned dead set on voting for manifestos which show pent up discontent with their current rulers. Recent corruption in relation to financial wrongdoing and offshore accounts, the polarisation of our political parties – fostering such intense left and right wings – and the rise of such casually outspoken leaders such as Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are each contributing to a new politics stubbornness. In the same way as many of our politicians, scores of voters now flippantly find anyone to blame for the worst of societal calamities. The success of anti-immigration ideals and anti-establishment policy emphasises that such an ethos is becoming increasingly – and somewhat worryingly – commonplace.

Hatred and blame are becoming international epidemics, diseasing our politics. On the social media stage, and even on our streets, jibes aimed at specific minorities are growing worryingly normal. The demonisation of a select few is creating an all too casual class of resentment amongst both voters and our leaders – incumbent and prospective. When, indeed, will an air of acceptance, teamwork and common good return to the fore of society’s mind? Without definite steps towards a strong emphasis on co-operation and interdependence, Britain will grow alien to the world in the same way that many deem outsiders as alien to Britain.

If anything, at least our democracy is functioning properly. A healthy democracy must have channels for opposition, but the scale of dissent is becoming too huge. As governments struggle to deal with new political, social and economic challenges, a blaring national forum is playing out. Our principles of free speech and the ability to challenge are evidently strongly in place. But out nation’s obsession with opposition, and the willingness of albeit very few to marginalise set individuals may soon have the adverse effect. The sudden influx of political discontent and the deeply rooted challenges that many pose to the status quo could see the destruction of our democracy.

Perhaps I am, in some ways, no better than the few who continue to rage, exaggerating the pessimism which seems to surround Britain’s politics. Whilst opposition is a fundamentally good thing for politics, the movements in which a select few citizens are involved are turning the act of standing up to certain policies into a license for hatred and resentment. If our politicians and citizens are adamant to blame an failing establishment and lax leaders, perhaps it is indeed our representatives who are wrong, and it is those who continue to fuel such a dirty discussion. Maybe when Britain starts to re-energise its public services, a blame on migrants will diminish, and our discussion will become cleaner. Maybe when our government proves to be truly in touch and right on the level of the people, anti-establishment and its needless addiction to blame will fade away. And maybe when leaders who believe in the acceptance of racial slurs and scaremongering step down from the podium, society will start to rebuild its bridges.

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society, UK Politics

The Westminster system is halting UK political progress

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It doesn’t take the most keen of political junkies to tell that British party politics is reaching a frustrating stalemate. The Labour party, since the growth in support for – and election of – Jeremy Corbyn, has become the arena bearing witness to fierce internal strife over its position on many issues. But the current debate over Britain’s membership of the European Union has smashed the complacency of many Conservatives who believed they were safe from the epidemic of divide. A huge rift has developed between staunch supporters of David Cameron and other hard-line Eurosceptics. If anything, this is a stark message alluding to the evidently out-of-date Westminster Establishment.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party last year marked a significant turning point in Labour policy. Torn between the Blairite ‘third way’ and Corbyn’s by-the-book socialism, vast numbers of MPs are struggling to find much common ground. The Tories have proven to struggle with similar issues of their own, with a camp strongly in favour of ideas from further right, and war over the quandaries in relation to immigration and EU status.

This is worrying for a democracy like Great Britain. If parties fail to wholeheartedly unite and allow such instability to thrive, the future of British government looks bleak. The current Westminster structure is outdated and old-fashioned, unable to adapt to the specificities of modern day voting behaviour. There is simply no way that Britain can be forced to mould itself into such an uncomfortable structure which takes only a few indecisive policy options into account. Without change, governments will become ineffective, oppositions feeble, and the electorate switched off.

This issues lie with the Establishment and its pace alongside a fast-changing society.  Our main political parties of Labour and the Conservatives were once formed with the target of aggregating their respective working and middle class citizens. But nowadays, our political society cannot operate in this way. Social class is now far less important for voters than it was during the war-time and post-war periods.

Thus, the factors of gender, political personality, age, location, and simply the precise issues themselves have gained in astounding importance over the past decade. The attempts of many ‘catch-all’ parties in Britain, and further around the world, to gain the support of the average voter may be somewhat genius abroad, but is seemingly not practical in the UK. The diversity of our nation’s society today means that each person is looking for something different from politicians, and our leaders are failing to inspire each and every one of them. The Westminster parties in Britain are struggling to adapt to the new challenges of the 21st century, and aren’t succeeding in raking in the trust of all sorts. The British political system is stuck in the past in its old social class boundaries, and needs new rules.

So how can Westminster become the dynamic environment for engaging political debate that it once was? The people and the society are in place, but the institutions aren’t keeping up with the electorate’s transformation. The fact that both of the largest parties must deal with somewhat eternal internal splits, and juggle two very different pools of policy, must hint that the political framework of the UK needs to be taken a part and put back together again.

PR is the answer. Many reports have shown that if proportional representation had been used in recent elections, the share of seats in parliament would be markedly different. In 2015, the SNP in Scotland would have seen substantially less seats, UKIP would have achieved a whopping increase, and the Liberal Democrats would gain a position as fourth party in parliament with a 7% share. The key advantage with PR, is that it is a modern system designed for a modern society, which takes the growth in issue voting into account. The most important thing is, however, that PR would nurture Conservative and Labour party splits which are much needed for any form of progress. PR would not mean instant death to one of the parties’ internal camps, but would build a separate party stage allowing them to truly proclaim their message, instead of begrudgingly succumbing to their inner opposition.

Perhaps the Tories and Labour would be reluctant to split currently, eager to cling onto their inevitably greater share of power through the First Past the Post system. But in the next ten years, unless both sides unite, the crevasse will grow deeper and a parting looks inevitable. Separate parties with pacts on their similarities, giving a degree of leeway for their differences would revolutionise the Westminster system and make the party system considerably more workable.

We need a change. Through a complete overhaul of the Westminster institution via voting system, politics would become fairer and more true. Certainly, large sections of Britain would become more politically engaged, waving goodbye to the blockaded politics we have witnessed for too many months. Many societies worldwide have made the change, including Germany, New Zealand, and, of course, Scotland. It is time for Westminster to follow suit. If the London Establishment continues to trudge on in Westminster – the abyss of torment and interparty battles – Britain’s democracy will become decayed and society will grow bored of the nation’s dysfunctional decision-making.

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economy, europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The economy is the UK’s only care in global matters

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As the judgment day that is June 23rd fast approaches, the nature of Britain’s foreign policy and its international relations have never before been placed under greater scrutiny. The European Union referendum has meant intense discussion of UK parliamentary sovereignty, global spending, and the nation’s relationships with neighbouring states. But our nation’s ties with states located in Europe aren’t the only ones coming into question.

Past weeks have given ear to the dissonance regarding international affairs across the whole world – most specifically, in the USA. More often known as TTIP, the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between America and the EU is set to boost the global economy, but at a considerable price. Myriad MPs and activists have voiced concern in recent weeks, claiming that the new Atlantic agreement would put public service operations at risk of privatisation, reduce the UK’s financial regulatory powers, and that a robust, European, ethical framework would begin to break down.

What is driving the steady support for the introduction of TTIP is what has always driven the capitalist West – money. It is easy to see that TTIP is attractive from the outset, providing grand chances for the further stimulation of the US and EU economies. Experts have estimated that the agreement would mean a global financial boost of around $100m. The prospects of a stronger world economy are plausible, but cannot come at the expense of a great loss in parliamentary sovereignty to multinationals, and a loss of focus upon the global common good that the EU at least tries to instill. Numerous EU directives would become quickly overridden, and big businesses are sure to have a draconian power influence not only over parliament, but across all of society.

The truth is unravelling all too quickly. The rise in Euroscepticism, meaning an obvious rethink of Britain’s relationships with its neighbours, is showing that our global affairs are not based on camaraderie at all. Many of us do not identify as Europeans, and do not share the sense of community that helps to construct many states in the Eurozone. Innumerable pieces of legislation are born in and baptised by the EU, and it is clear that, for some, its collective direction has shaped our nation’s decision-making process a little too much. Political advantage and dialogue is not what Britain’s politicians seek from the likes of Merkel and Juncker anymore.

During the campaign leading up to 1973 – when Britain gained EU membership – one of the biggest cases in favour of the transition was the almost instantaneous economic advantage. Still, the economy lies at the heart of Britain’s colony in Europe. Neither peace nor teamwork are foremost here. Britain can’t have joined in order to work for the common good like many of those who signed up to the post-war European Community. The stubbornness of the British government over recent months, and from a large proportion of the British people, has made this blatantly obvious. Britain has gained all it wants to from the EU. Trading relationships for several decades have moved the nation back into the spotlight, and the nation’s politicians have maintained and increased the nature’s stature.

Perhaps the European Union has now politically exhausted the United Kingdom. Whilst it would secure increased sovereignty, if the UK votes to leave in just over three weeks’ time, it needs to ensure a back-up plan for its economy. Capitalist America is prime stomping ground, of course. Right-wingers are tired of the EU’s legislative infringement, a burden to a nation that seems to look primarily at its economic standpoint instead.

If Britain chooses to stay, a world of benefits is still available from all directions. But the tasks of interstate teamwork and the concessions that it commands are proving to be too much for vast numbers of national Eurosceptics. Britain and many of its people are willing to forego ethical standards set by the EU, and risk the security of vital public services – anything to ensure that the nation’s economic ballast does not take a hit.

The UK has always been a wily character when it comes to global affairs. Its position in the European Union was, from the start, one that was painstakingly scrutinised and adapted. Looking at the nation’s relationships abroad with a predominantly narrow, economic focus can explain not only the EU and TTIP quandaries, but also the controversial UK-led Saudi arms trade, and Britain’s closed door approach to the refugee crisis.

A devastating side effect of this highly capitalist, 100% economy focus is that any form of moral high ground is likely to disappear from Britain’s view of the political landscape. Neighbouring states and global organisations continue to allow Britain to meticulously negotiate its way into economic partnerships of all kind. In turn, buying into more agreements like TTIP and the EU, seeking only economic benefit, will only degrade the UK’s moral high ground when working on international matters.

Those who favour a Brexit on June 23rd choose to advocate for an odd but somewhat entertaining juxtaposition. The EU is said to be the world’s freest global marketplace. But whilst claiming that the economic case is the most important thing at stake during the EU debate, those backing Vote Leave are essentially supporting a major economic climb-down for the UK. TTIP may stimulate the economy to an extent, but it will take time to build up the success that the UK has had with Europe. Why leave what has been one of the UK’s most sturdy support bases for many decades?  For sure, a Brexit would mean returning to many controversial operations, create social, political and economic animosity all over the European continent, and significantly reduce Britain’s moral standards in both trade and manufacture.

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