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, the future of Britain’s international relations looks increasingly murky. As Britain has taken the plunge in naming itself the first nation to withdraw from the European Union, those in Brussels are sure to be feeling the pressure. The Netherlands, Austria and Denmark are fast lining up their Brexit sequels, nations which, if withdrawn, could hugely question the existence and longevity of the EU.

With huge levels of disregard for the political class, European citizens’ guilty pleasure love affairs with the tidal wave of populism is out to damage the European Union. As global issues with refugees and the economy continue to draw on, and as populists turn to outspoken and sometimes rather bigoted politics, the European Union is now seen as something of a burden rather than a beneficial pool of traders and individuals with which to co-operate on the most grave of common problems.

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 proclaimed that “Brexit means Brexit”, but exactly how her government plans to implement the British people’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. The UK government’s discussions with the European Union’s officials are likely to be rocky. The ball should be in the EU’s court, however. In the weeks running up to the June referendum, figures in Brussels were adamant that Britain would have to play by the rules. Article 50 would be implemented immediately, and Britain would not be able to question the EU’s agenda. Fearing a mass exodus from the EU could hugely damage the stability of the global economy and its political sphere.

It seems that this has instead pushed the EU to be softer towards more Eurosceptic states, hoping that granting hostile states all of their wishes will keep them quiet. But this approach is mindless. It will surely only boost Euroscepticism, further fracture the already fragile European Union, and truly extinguish any re-ignitable coals. The European Union acceptance of such paralysing disregard for itself is vacuous, and will make the entire continent brittle.

Brexit just cannot be dealt with such laxity, and the EU cannot allow itself to be walked over by arrogant populists. But it seems that European leaders have lost confidence, prepared to watch the EU crumble. 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 had managed to convince the formidable 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 Francois 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 are pig-headed, however, and are nothing short of political suicide. Allowing member states to slide out of what could still be a successful union – albeit after considerable reform – will destroy the chances of dealing with global problems easily. Our fingers will grow green with the rusty Euro, and our national outlooks will be increasingly confined.

Most importantly, pandering to the finger clicking of Britain 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 leave the seemingly age-old EU. Reform can only be done through being harsh with Britain, thus preventing further votes to leave, and allowing existing member states to piece together a more coherent and functional EU.

Britain has always negotiated its way through EU relations, the kind of picky politics the EU ought to thwart. French President Mitterrand was, in the earlier days, sceptical of the UK’s membership as a decoy for American interests. It is surely no secret that, with just as energised Atlanticism over recent years, Britain still does not act in this way. Britain’s strong disdain for the Eurozone system, its naughty school boy-like 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, just to get the economic benefits. Britain regularly shuns the political protocol of the EU, seen as a burden on its individualist agenda. The very fact that British financiers pleaded for votes to remain shows how much European co-operation is at the fore of British relations with the EU.

So if Britain has succeeded in constantly questioning and editing the European Union’s agenda in Britain over recent years, what is there to say that it won’t this time? For Theresa May’s government has already started. It is precisely this approach that the EU must beware. Britain’s keenness to shift Brexit in its favour, to try and argue its way back in, to try and secure the economic privileges without the political overheads is something incredibly destructive. Unless the European Union clamps down on the picking and choosing of states such as Britain, enforcing true commitment to the European cause, it will have to watch itself die.

Currently, the EU can be easily pushed over. Other nations, just like the UK has done, will question the status quo and 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, and if every nation requests a bespoke and considerably tenuous relationship, then the EU will have little chance of surviving. Perhaps Theresa May is planning a grand post-Brexit European reform which will one-up her predecessor, David Cameron, and transform the EU back into the pre-1998 economic union, but adding in the other components most helpful to Britain. Whilst proclaiming support for the pro-EU campaign, maybe her motive is simply one of self interest. Such a master plan would almost certainly cement her career’s foundations and boost her popularity within Britain. Perhaps in no more than a year’s time, states like The Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark will be doing the same, and the current form of the EU will be a thing of the past.

Watching President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel benignly allow the UK to call the shots over Brexit makes for painful watching. Those at the helm of the EU can now either be firm with the UK, pressing on with reform and stamping out Euroscepticism, or let states like the UK off with calling the shots and watching the next version of Brexit kill the EU once and for all.

The EU now has the chance to repair itself, arming itself against the next artillery fire from the new populists. The way forward is through pushing the UK out if it insists on questioning the EU’s already determined framework. Reform must then be on the table, and fast. If the EU is to survive, and have any chance of remaining 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

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In times of late, issues regarding the safety and protection of those at the centre of Middle Eastern conflict have appeared atop the international political agenda more and more. The discussions on such subjects have been far from pleasant. With a worsening refugee crisis, Syrian and Iraqi cities and towns have crumbled at the hands of so-called Islamic State extremists. A fierce sky raging with Western airstrikes, and an appalling disregard for migrants simply in search of better days, have come to define a new era a global politics. It is clear that our governments are leaving fellow global citizens behind.

Western nations are trudging on in their anti-Islamic State crusades, a long spate of devastating warfare. Such sickening expeditions have often delivered unsettling scenes of bewildered young people, trapped in a world of detritus and despair. Yesterday, the disturbing footage of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh absorbed newswires and 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 reality.

His story is certainly not unique. The UN estimates that children make up 41% of refugees, young people demoralised and displaced by the disorder of a new era of war. Others, young and old, are sure to have experienced similar terrors. Over 250,000 citizens have died as a result of coalition-Islamic State Warfare in recent months, and the number continues 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 children.

Those living their lives in the middle of warzones must now deem this type of trauma as something normal. The very fact that they have remained alive in the midst of such chaos is something of a great achievement. The upsetting reports of Omran 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 in rescuing 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, fuel an epidemic of xenophobia, and build back up the bricks of national borders.

In such attempts to punish extremism, an of those aimed at thwarting the callous programme of the so-called Islamic State, 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 in 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 evade 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 a 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.

There is still work to do, however. 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 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. We are British, French, German, American and Australian. 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.

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 mess 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, society, UK Politics

Brexit voters rejected the Establishment, and they do have a point

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits The UK

When announcing the European Union referendum, David Cameron must have been feeling quite smug. The proposed vote would serve one purpose – to effortlessly eradicate UKIP and smother the future prospects of the British hard right. He won’t be feeling this way now, however, having seen the damage that June’s leave vote has done to both his party, and to the national and international political landscapes. The European referendum has completely backfired for the now former Prime Minister. The EU debate was not solely one of questioning the UK’s place in the EU. It questioned the entire British political programme.

Cameron’s successor, the formidable Theresa May, now has serious issues to sort out if she wishes to sparkle as British premier. Her priorities are now becoming obvious, as she is the one who must successfully wipe away Cameron’s mess. The new British Prime Minister is adamant that Brexit will be a triumph, re-energising the nation’s trade links, bolstering UK diplomacy, and ensuring that Britain’s place in the world remains one which is robust.

How easy these tasks end up being remains to be seen. With increased hostility not only from many European nations, but also coming from spectating nations like China and the USA, Britain’s foreign policy rejuvenation will require herculean efforts from Mrs May and from the rest of her frontbench. Rapprochement in the wake of such a dramatic withdrawal from the EU, and indeed the global political sphere, will take white hot intelligence and wise, tactical gameplay.

Many of those who cast their votes in favour of the Leave campaign truly believed in avoiding the bureaucracy of the EU, and in returning to ultimately British sovereignty. It is clear, however, that many wholly slammed the British Establishment, using the EU vote as a harsh retort towards the seemingly out-of-touch political class.

Areas such as Boston in Lincolnshire, and Great Yarmouth in East Anglia contained the highest proportions of Brexit voters, and both of common features. They are communities each with low levels of attainment, measly ratings for the quality of life lived by their people, and sky high levels of deprivation.

The most Eurosceptic areas of Britain are undoubtedly problem areas for May, and it is for these reasons. Eradicating such anti-establishment feeling is sure to prove an even harder task for her government, but must be dealt with. What primarily swayed the EU referendum to a narrow victory for Vote Leave was that they capitalised on those who have grown tired with the present Establishment. The fact that so many British people feel disenchanted by the current political agenda in Britain is gravely worrying, and stability for May and her colleagues can only come through restoring confidence in her premiership.

Leaving the EU may be a major blow to the UK economy, but the view of many unhappy voters – that the Establishment is crippled and distant at the hands of elites – means more worrying prospects for current and future UK leaders. Immediately after assuming office as the new Prime Minister, May pledged to create an economy which works for all, and to govern alongside of ordinary British people, instead of staring down from her throne.

This approach is vital, and May must stick to her word. Unity, inclusion, and a method of government which has the interests of the majority at the core are the most fundamental components for successful leadership. If May governs with these principles at the top of her agenda, she will not only be a successful politician, but also vitally restore confidence in the Establishment, stamping out ‘anti’ forces.

A fragile economy, a closed-off housing market, the gremlins of globalisation, and a lack of opportunity each fuelled the paralysing punch to those in political control on June 23rd. Housing has grown more unaffordable in recent months and years, and first-time buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to place deposits. In June, house prices rose by 8.7%. The costs of living grow even higher each week, whilst the dreams of social mobility float further away than ever before. A July report from The Prince’s Trust concluded that inequality is now determined from where and to whom a person is born. Brexit has seen the value of currency fall to unprecedented levels, too, inflation rates skyrocket, and growth forecasts to be considerably scaled back.

Theresa May’s nod to grammar schools this week, rolling out new plans for their revival, will do no better in remedying the pain felt by the most politically excluded areas. This will do nothing to cool down the tempers of those who took part in the Brexit protests. As many as three quarters of judges, and half of journalists were privately educated, and many more came from grammar school backgrounds. Refusing to boost educational equality within the state system is sure to only accentuate city-village, north-south, and rich-poor divides. Nursing the societal divides here will only aid the next rampage on the UK Establishment, as it gravitates further away from the centre ground.

Labourers and minimum wage workers are faring no better. Fast food delivery service Deliveroo has been, in recent days, the latest company embroiled in a scandal of low pay and disregard for its couriers. Strikes under the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union have increased in recent weeks, with inflation rising and rates of low pay for workers. With services suffering major cutbacks, it is clear that the status quo does not work for all. Investment is needed in the increasingly motionless communities of hard done-by Britain. Communities which had their industries shut down in the 80s, have been left behind. The areas which have taken the brunt of globalisation are now those which our government ought to be rejuvenating. Socioeconomic stagnation is rife across the ex-industrial parts of Britain, and May ought to show that she is on their side.

Until our economy works for all, until affordable housing is plenteous, until we see an outpouring of educational opportunities, until social mobility becomes possible again, until investment in forgotten communities restarts, and until services, their workers, and businesses receive support, anti-establishment sentiment will to prevail.

The Vote Leave campaign, once believed to be fundamentally centred on the ideas of Euroscepticism and sovereignty, appeared to lose these once defining characteristics as the EU debate drew on. The media, and many of those who voted for Brexit, capitalised on the problematic and out-of-touch Establishment which has left much of Britain behind. Those campaigning for Brexit had no real structure to their campaigning, were heavy advocates of scaremongering tactics, and forgot the pretty crucial aspect of an action plan in the event of a Brexit vote.

But the most worrying, and somewhat impressive, part of their campaigning was that this approach succeeded. The Brexiteers actually generated a victory on June 24th, even whilst lacking the sustenance of most political campaigns. With racism, limited facts, and no strict game-plan, Boris and Gove came out on top. Surely this should be a grave warning to Theresa May. The, in some cases, effortless success of Vote Leave speaks loud volumes about the seriousness of anti-establishment feeling. Brexit voters favoured Vote Leave not because they had a plan, but simply because they stood up for an alternative to the status quo of globalisation and closed-off politics.

Prime Minister Theresa May now has to become that alternative. Failing to do so will mean facing a premiership of instability, and stoking the red hot coals of anti-establishment sentiment. Mrs May has to have meant what she said on the steps of Number 10 upon succeeding David Cameron. Only time will reveal any commitment to that vision. Her words of a more equal society and a government on the side of the people alone should be the principles with which she officiates as Prime Minister, and those with which she cements the Conservative party.

Brexit has shown how much success the anti-establishment agenda has had in the past year, and how much support it continues to suck up. Just look at UKIP gaining 4m votes in the last general election. Look at the once totally dismissed Donald Trump now seriously contesting the US Presidency. Look at the other European states lining up for a Brexit of their own. Catering for all is impossible in politics, but Theresa May ought to show that she is on the side of the majority, at least. The Establishment must now fix itself, and reveal its pragmatic programme for ridding Britain of inequality and ignorance. If Mrs May fails to do this, she will just make her premiership more arduous than it has to be, and anti-establishment feeling will haunt her for much longer.

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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Referenda can’t be justified if they never end

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In just six years, three referenda have taken place in the United Kingdom. At the same time as the 2010 General Election took place, voters were questioned on the nation’s electoral system. In 2014, the people of Scotland were asked on the future of their ties to the rest of the UK. And this June, Brits took the plunge in voting to leave the European Union.

The grounds for these referenda do seem justified. Political tactics aside, each of the aforementioned issues were matters of great constitutional debate, and of huge national importance. The recent votes have highly encouraged political participation and awareness, with turnout of around 85% eligible voters at polling stations in both the EU and Scottish referenda.

As with many political issues, the leave the European Union has created a great divide throughout Britain. With one million votes crucially deciding the outcome of last month’s referendum, calls for a rethink, as well as a second EU referendum, have been loud. Many voters have signed petitions supporting such a move. Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith has even made advocating for another referendum on EU membership one of his key policies.

There is no denying that the unexpected decision to leave the EU hasn’t been problematic. Sterling has seen a huge depreciation, inflation rates have sky-rocketed, and the Bank of England has implemented great easing measures with haste. Universities have been quick to reassure their Continental students of their place in Britain, and are bracing themselves for an end to the Erasmus exchange programme. In addition, anti-immigration sentiment has proven to have manifested itself across the nation, and Britain is likely to remain wary of the supranational free movement of people  for a while to come.

Even if Owen Smith falls short of winning as the Labour party’s new leader, support for a second EU referendum is sure to remain. Last month, huge anti-Brexit protests took place in London, and as many as 4m people signed a petition backing the case for a rethink vote. The Independent reported only days after the Brexit result that over 1.1m Leave voters regretted their decisions, and would have voted in the opposite fashion.

The argument for another referendum is understandable, and does have considerable ballast. As the first member state to leave the EU, Britain has fired a shot blindfolded. After much scrutiny and uncovering of the truth in the weeks which have followed the June vote, it is obvious that a second vote could result in a rather different outcome. Perhaps, had the British public been granted the luxury of hindsight, the vote for an EU exit wouldn’t have materialised.

As much as the sight of the British people turning their backs on one of the world’s strongest economies, a goldmine of extra cash, and the only judicial check upon our government is utterly reprehensible, the result of June’s vote must indeed be accepted. Failing to do so would hugely undermine British democracy. After weeks of albeit slapdash campaigning, the people had their chance to speak. Therefore, why shouldn’t the public mandate for leaving the EU be honoured? Ignoring the will of the national majority would be overwhelmingly undemocratic, and largely unfair.

Granting the public the chance to participate in decision making themselves seems like a wonderful idea at face value. Fully enfranchising everyone this way would remove the need for wily and underhanded politicians, and would give the people absolute sovereignty. The reasons for our representative democracy, however, become clear when referenda go wrong, or when the victory is marginal. Just how and when do such issues become finally settled?

The EU referendum result was marginal, with only two percentage points deciding the victors. But the quality of campaigning throughout the EU referendum has shown how the political class has hijacked the British voters. Many will have voted in favour of a vote to leave in order to escape European bureaucracy, and to – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘take back control.’ Many of those responsible for Brussels’ unrequited love voted to leave on the basis of racial scaremongering, and were plagued by the classic outbreak of political spin. June’s referendum has shown the very serious problems with referenda, and how politicians managed to play to the fears and factual obliviousness of many Brits. Many would seriously argue that the British people are simply unable to make such difficult decisions, falling into the traps of rhetoric and unintended ignorance.

Moreover, the calls for a second referendum have shown that direct democracy does not, and should not, work in the 21st century political arena. Support for Scottish independence has remained at roughly the same levels since the 2014 vote, but calls for a second referendum have been consistent. When polls show significant support for the cause, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made a revote one of her top priorities, much to the dismay of many Scots. Sturgeon’s biggest problem, though, is how to make a future referendum final, and how to overcome the serious issue of ignoring the already substantial public mandate made only two years ago.

Playing the EU referendum campaign out once more could indeed produce a different result, but would fail to solve Britain’s problems. Leaving such important constitutional issues to citizens is a process that I, as well as many other Brits support in principle. Our willingness to reject the outcome of referenda, however, is more worrying, and can destroy the process in practice. At which point exactly are the people supposed to accept a final result? Switzerland’s direct democracy has created a largely unstable political system. Seeing Britain resort to a similar form of political ping pong would be detrimental to the stability of the country’s legislative system.

If societies are intent on handing absolute sovereignty to citizens, they must be willing to accept the outcomes. Referenda over Scottish independence and the EU have proven problematic in recent years, as they have failed to solve political issues. It looks like the UK’s quandaries with regard to the EU and Scotland could be subjects of much debate and tumultuous campaigning for many years to come.

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society, World Politics

Brazil has reminded the world of its strong soft power

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As this year’s host nation of the Olympic Games, Brazil opened its arms to the rest of the world on Friday ahead of a vibrant 16-day showcase of physical and cultural triumphs. But the Latin American country’s efforts to impress have not gone uncontested. Issues of health, safety, and politics have made Brazil’s journey towards success at this month’s Games in Rio de Janeiro considerably turbulent.

Brazil currently faces a paralysing outbreak of political corruption, as well as a battle against the life-threatening Zika virus. National unemployment levels have reached record highs over recent years, and the city of Rio de Janeiro faces grave issues of widespread crime. At a cost of $14.4bn, staging the world’s most high-profile sporting event – which can come with rewards of great political kudos – has certainly become the subject of much controversy amongst Brazilian citizens. Such calamity doesn’t only ravage the political and societal components of Brazil’s national constructs, though. The International Olympic Committee has found itself in dangerously hot water, too, after the sport world’s most astonishing doping cover-up came to light just several days ago.

If Friday evening’s Opening Ceremony was anything to go by, however, there are already huge positives coming from Rio’s hosting of the Games. Brazil may be shrouded in the darkness of its political and structural chaos, but it’s soft power has made a huge triumph. Not only was Friday’s joyous, colourful occasion a huge celebration of Brazil’s carnival atmosphere and the nation’s tumultuous but very individual history. Rio de Janeiro’s prelude to this year’s Games reminded us of the strength of its unique culture.

Commencing Friday’s showcase with a brief account of national history, Rio capitalised on its foundations of migration and diversity. Among the first settlers of what is known today as Brazil were humans of European, African, and Japanese descent. Whilst international political debate of recent months has tended to focus on hostility towards growing diversity and the free movement of people, Brazil’s openness and willingness to promote multiculturalism must be reassuring. Even today, over half of Brazil’s population is of non-white ethnicity, and many indigenous cultures exist throughout parts of the nation’s undestroyed natural settings. In 2014, it was noted that requests for asylum had increased by 800% over four years, Brazil being a preferred country among African migrants. This year’s Olympic Games even has refugee athletes competing under the flag of the IOC. Rio’s message of inclusion and unity, reinforced in Friday’s grand opening, has undoubtedly set a sparkling precedent for other nations, and must have restored confidence in its people.

As, over coming days, sport brings people of all backgrounds together, it seems that Rio’s focus on common global issues was particularly fitting. Brazil’s opening ceremony was quick to hone in on the growing threats of climate change. In recent months, the worldwide temperature has grown by as much as 1.3°C, just 0.2°C below the critical temperature for major global warming catastrophe. By encouraging all athletes to plant a tree as part of Rio’s sustainable legacy, raising awareness of increasingly detrimental CO2 emissions, and finishing with the symbol of the Olympic rings clad in green, Brazil has made excellent use of the international stage. The Rio Games’ flame cauldron is the most eco-friendly ever, too.With such a vast expanse of rainforest, as well as exemplary energy policy, Brazil is a key player in climate change discussions. Its political track record may not have been flawless of late, but at least the South American has succeeded in focusing on sustainability, a strong focus on which many nations are yet to achieve.

Brazil’s establishment have been the architects of an almighty mess recently. Judging by Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic showcase, however, Brazil’s people and their ethoses certainly aren’t in decay. Brazil has long been known as one of the world’s most luminous carnival capitals, and had a tourist industry of over $6.6bn in 2012. Most of all, however, Brazil has shown to have immense soft power, with a progressive outlook on global issues, and a past of diversity and migration which seems to be continuing into the present. The success of the far-right and its isolationist rhetoric is currently damaging many Western societies, shutting out those of different backgrounds, and sometimes denying the importance of tackling climate change. But this weekend, Brazil has proven to the world that it remains level-headed, and boasts impressive soft power. As a nation, Brazil society and political scene may appear weak. But Brazil is clearly determined to underpin and hold on to the ideas of unity promoted by the Olympic Games which will only be reinforced in the coming days of competition, and surely over years to come, too.

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Business, society, UK Politics

Cameron’s cronyism exposes an out-of-touch political class

Upon leaving Downing Street, David Cameron must have thought himself finally safe. He had at last escaped the media’s relentless eye, some of which had orchestrated his downfall. But this week’s revelations have only pushed Cameron further into already scalding hot water.

Last weekend, The Sunday Times revealed leaks of David Cameron’s Royal honours and peerage proposals. The Queen’s regal accolades should reward exceptional service within society, courage within conflict, and breakthroughs within academia. But Cameron had to cement his privileged legacy one more time. Numerous Conservative Party donors, beside a handful of Cameron’s closest aides, are included in his resignation rewards.

46 individuals are to be rewarded in Cameron’s cronyism. Exchanging financial support for political power is shameful, with big money controling politics. Such closed-off politics should not exist within consolidated liberal democracies.

Andrew Cook, donating over £1m to the Tory party, is to receive a knighthood. Jitesh Gadhia, another deep-pocketed donors, will assume a peerage. Party Treasurer Andrew Fraser, will be a peer, too, having recently donated £2.5m to Cameron. Just one of many, his millions have won him a place in the ‘Tory Leader’s Group.’ But let’s blow away the smokescreen – this a club for right-wingers with most mint.

Secretaries Gabby Bertin, Ed Llewellyn, and Liz Sugg will each receive peerages, too, with no guarantee that they will regularly participate in parliament. These figures will become the undemocratic backseat drivers of today’s Conservative Party.

Allowing big business to drive the Conservative Party, our politicians drift further away from the people. The British establishment only sinks lower, the approval ratings of which are already at rock bottom. Ipsos MORI found earlier this year that only 21% trust UK politicians. David Cameron’s nod to the upper class, whose funds cascade through the Conservative Party, is unlikely to restore confidence.

Cameron’s nominees will doubtless have done their duties impeccably, down to every last letter of the Prime Minister’s memos. The obligatory last day office dos will have taken place, already swollen bonus packages will have been paid, and a Michelin starred dinner, courtesy of the party, was perhaps thrown in. But this undemocratic cronyism should not pay reward party loyalists.

Here, the issue of Lords reform arises again. Why should those with the largest money dominate British democracy, and those who have laid their dossiers to rest overstay their welcome? One study found that, for the 2009-10 period of House of Lords activity, only 47% of Lords regularly attended parliament. The Times reported on Saturday that half of all Cameronian Lords invested last year have sat in parliament only five times ever.

The nepotistic political elite, continuing Blairite cronyism, degrade national democracy. Handing out peerages and honours effortlessly, those up in the eaves of the society, with big money, are polarising politics. Supposedly accountable politicians have left their morality behind, and an unrepresentative class controls proceedings.

The Panama Papers’ have already laid crafty politics bare. Global political trust is low. It was David Cameron who felt compelled to lead an international corruption crusade a few months ago, but politicians are in denial. South African President Jacob Zuma has been condemned by his own people for allowing big money to interfere with governmental appointments. Our political elites evidently believe that corruption is rife only within developing nations, but it appears that supposed liberal democracies are alive with corruption of their own.

Somewhat frustratingly, Jeremy Corbyn this week trod back into the establishment minefield he claims to despise. The Labour leadership candidate’s recommendation of ex-Liberty head Shami Chakrabarti for a peerage comes as a huge blow for left-wingers all over, and much of the grassroots Labour Party.

After speaking out against the right wing’s biased politics, what hope is there for increased trust if the opposition indulges in similar practices? An elected House of Lords will fix this problem. In the meantime, Labour has missed out once again on a boycott of the Tories’ undemocratic agenda.

When Theresa May assumed office several weeks ago, her Downing Street speech was one of social justice, increased equality, and faith in British government. But the new Prime Minister has already fallen short of her promises. Torn between upsetting her biggest donors and upholding democracy, it seems that Theresa May has cold feet, afraid to condemn David Cameron’s appointments. The £35,000 donated to the Conservatives upon May’s premiership must have got the better of her.

Perhaps our expectations are just too high. Perhaps juxtaposing democracy with self-interested is too much. Theresa May might have pledged to stand with the British people, but her mishandling of the honours fiasco has nullified that statement.

Does the new Prime Minister really want her government to float further away from mainstream society? Theresa May could reconfigure her party, by instead running an honest government working for all British people.

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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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Theresa May assumed her position as new British Prime Minister only couple of weeks ago, but the formidable Conservative leader has been served up grave issues beckoning resolution already. Despite being an advocate for Britain to remain a member of the European Union, the Prime Minister now has the unenviable task of overseeing what will be an indisputably tumultuous Brexit. But the process of Britain leaving the EU is sure to involve much trickier challenges than she may have previously anticipated.

Recent weeks have seen numerous activists and politicians call for a second European referendum, in addition to thousands of petition signatures and suggestions of House of Lords with the intentions of blocking Brexit. But the Prime Minister has remained defiant, having accepted that Britain’s democratic principles in relation to referenda must be honoured. In her first Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May was keen to highlight that “Brexit means Brexit,” and that her government is determined to make a success of it.

The developments of past weeks have, however, shown that the Brexit vote does not just point to discontent with current EU administrations in Brussels. Myriad areas of Britain have revealed their anger with the state of the union with the Brexit vote. But how exactly will Theresa May make a success of them? Few could have foreseen the damage to the national status quo and Britain’s constitutional arrangements that the Vote Leave victory has done. The landscape of British politics looks more foggy than it ever has before, questioning the UK’s 300-year-old union, the credibility of UK political parties, and the nature of British foreign and economic policy.

After close examination of the EU referendum results, it is clear that British discontent reaches much farther than to institutions on the Continent alone. A vote to leave the EU was, for many, a statement of deep disregard for the state of British society and government. It is here that Mrs May’s greatest challenges lie. The Prime Minister must work fast in order to eradicate the growing disdain for the British government’s south-east-centric politics, as areas of Northern England and Scotland feel more isolated from the UK than they ever have done before.

The Leave campaign had, of course, generated a great deal of support amongst wealthy conservatives. However, the astonishing facet of the European Union referendum was the sheer number of working class individuals who sided with Eurosceptic viewpoints. 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. The vast majority of these areas have a diverse ethnic make-up which many have seen as a strain on local economies, as well as poor standards of education, and a low quality of living.

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.

In spearheading the UK’s response to what many citizens see as a broken European system, Theresa May has much more to repair – Britain’s broken society, and partially broken union. The government’s attention now ought to be diverted back home, to a Scotland which severely questions its place in the United Kingdom, and to the communities of the North of England which find themselves evermore at odds with an agenda of austerity, minimal investment, and immigration.

Brexit has shown that Britain has big problems at home, let alone abroad. Rejuvenating the operation of the union is May’s next challenge. The way in which she deals with such a quandary could indeed make her premiership and hugely boost her already impressive track record. But failure to improve the quality of life and social stability of British citizens in the north of Britain could mean grave unpopularity, and higher resentment for Westminster governance. Shortcomings in relation to Scottish issues could, in time, see increased support for national independence, fuelled by disapproval with her Conservative government.

An ailing union has the power to topple Mrs May’s entire tenure as Prime Minister. 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. There is still work to be done, though. Investment remains puny, and austerity has meant mammoth cuts to public services and local government funding in recent years.

The importance of Scottish issues on Theresa May’s agenda has been questioned further, too. Yesterday, The Herald reported that Scotland Secretary David Mundell was not invited to May’s Industrial Strategy Committee meeting. It is somewhat disheartening to see that Scotland has been left out of Theresa May’s discussions already. As calls for more political powers for Scotland have become louder in recent years, surely the Conservatives should be seriously worried about losing their precious union. In addition, many north of the border still feel that the Smith Commission proposals did not go far enough in further liberating the Scottish government. The narrow victory for the pro-Union campaign in 2014’s referendum over Scottish independence shouldn’t be taken for granted by Mrs May.

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.

Regional assemblies, coexisting with a larger federal government working on common issues like defence and national security, could indeed work wonders, and restore public confidence, investment, and sovereignty to parts of Britain which currently feel left out. Scottish independence hasn’t achieved a landmark support increase since 2014, and the chances of Northern England becoming a separate nation are doubtless extremely slim.

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 societal and political differences which currently set each UK nation apart. Making a success of Brexit clearly involves a lot more than it may seem at face value. Ensuring a strong Britain after leaving the European Union can only be done be ensuring that each component of our nation works together in absolute synergy.

Unless Theresa May and her government work fast to repair the relationship with Westminster and areas outwith the south of England, the age-old union which has bound Britain together may swiftly disappear. Cries for help in the form of increased devolution is increasing as citizens consistently feel ignored. An agenda for ironing out the profound differences between the societies of northern and southern England alone, not to mention the growing issues relating to Scottish interests, must be solved before a renegotiation of European relations can take place. 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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europe, society, World Politics

Communities are turning against each other in a new era of terrorism

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The seemingly eternal fight against terrorism and rampant extremism has, in recent weeks, shown no signs of coming to an end. As the West continues to barricade itself against a tempestuous storm of malicious attacks and organised crime, governments and citizens are being pushed to their limits. Cities across Europe and at the other side of the Atlantic are entering a new age of insecurity and paranoia.

France is just one of the countries at the brunt of this pandemic. The nation’s state of emergency has remained firmly in place despite President François Hollande’s hopes to lift it this week. Since anti-Semitic attacks in January 2015, and a fatal bout of terrorism in November of the same year, France has found itself and its society battered by gunmen and extremism all the more. Today saw yet another terrorist disaster at the courtesy of the so-called Islamic State take place at a church in Normandy after the already devastating French assault in Nice two weeks ago. This recent scourge of terrorism is certainly not specific to France, however. The epidemic has continued to ravage German communities in recent days after attacks in Würzburg, Reutlingen and, yesterday, Ansbach. Fatal shootings at a gay bar in Orlando, USA were also carried out killing or injuring over 100 people last month.

Whilst a great deal of the terrorism encapsulating the West has been attributed solely to extremist organisations from far abroad, not all attackers have had direct links to organised crime groups. The killer of revellers in Orlando last month was found to have no connection to Islamic State whatsoever. The same goes for the killer in a brutal knife attack this morning in Japan, and also for the 18-year-old who was inspired by growing far-right sentiment to stage a massacre of his own involving shoppers in Munich. The problems of today do not relate solely to explicitly foreign-motivated terrorism, but instead they relate more to the eruptions of radicalisation of and the extremism which involves individuals based more locally. These are people of minorities who have become consistently marginalised by government and society, and of violent attackers who have been motivated by new isolationists and frightful rhetoricians.

This paints a rather sorry picture for Europe and its similarly beaten up American partners. Communities are being drawn apart in front of our eyes. A new era of ‘interior’ terrorism and national insecurity is emerging. The task of the West isn’t only to defeat the barbaric extremist group that is Islamic State, but to instead deal with the worrying contagion of radicals pledging fealty to the IS operation, and striking in the name of it. 

Very recently, European and American leaders have introduced rigorous counterterrorism measures, some of which widely criticised for accentuating and worsening the divides of our already cut up global community. The priorities of our governments must be set straight. Of course, counteracting organised terrorism ought to be high on leaders’ to do lists. But legislation has for too long presumed criminal tendencies of select groups of people. Instead of efforts to promote cohesion and unity, our leaders have come to harshly set apart certain individuals from the rest. It is this that motivates a large proportion of today’s killers, notably those who attack under their own name, an not that of an extremist organisation.

Unity and robust social cohesion are the key components which are missing from the constructs of today’s global society. Diversity and multiculturalism must be embraced by all. For example, France’s ban on the Muslim women’s burqa is highly controversial, and has attacked important cultural principles. US presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump’s divisive comments of a Muslim shutdown, and his plans for a more “closed door” America have increasingly vilified numerous US minorities. The alarming rhetoric which has come to isolate so many has been consistently condemned by myriad advisory experts, including Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane. Soutphommasane highlighted that many of those marginalised by stringent counterterrorism policy had been motivated by this alone in their savage revolts. Building support for the “anti politics” (as New Statesman writer George Eaton put it) of division, marginalisation, and stubbornness is infuriating communities, means that deviance is only likely to rise.

Whilst attempting to smother chances of terrorism, governments and security institutions are in fact creating even larger problems for themselves. Of course, only very, very few humans ever attempt to create devastation on the scale of recent attacks in Western nations. But the clear targeting and labelling of sub-groups is proving to be detrimental, and has only widened the scope for extremism to flourish. Whether attackers are frustrated by incomers to their homeland, or one minority individual is dismayed by Western nations’ disregard for them, divisive rhetoric and policies intent on singling out individuals look to only induce terrorism. The disgusting increase in casual racism and the promotion of such careless, outspoken politics continues to alienate many across the West.

Our societies are becoming fractured by racial and cultural injustices, and instead of appearing united, are leaving our communities vulnerable to the tribulations of terror. Damaging and fearful rhetoric has divided our communities. More worryingly, it is spurring a large contagion of extremists who dead set on tearing nations apart on their own initiative. People with no direct affiliation to terror groups are becoming criminals, inspired by the acts of others. 

The war on terror is moving into a new era. Unless governments and their citizens bind together to embrace multiculturalism, abandon the harm of racism, and build up social cohesion, we will make spontaneous extremists’ dreams a reality. Counterterrorism strategy and, indeed, international relations, must not centre around singling out entire minorities.

If the rise in support for the politics of the hard right escalates further, social unity and the true destruction of extremism will not materialise. The suppression and demonisation of select individuals is simply not a viable solution. Those who feel cut off from society are those who have created most harm, a theme evident in attacks which have ravaged a European, Northern American, and Asian nations of late. 

For the more conceited and judgmental wings of our political society are most to blame for the deep societal crevasses which continue to widen across global societies. Inclusion is the answer to the reunification of our communities, and the solution to the new era of terrorism taking humanity by storm. 

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American Politics, society, World Politics

The Democrats have lost their integrity – maybe the presidential election, too

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As if the mess of Hillary Clinton’s private email malpractice were not enough to embarrass the US Democratic Party, the uncovering of another abominable scandal has come back to kick them, and may even hinder the Party’s chances of election success in November’s Presidential vote. 

WikiLeaks, the organisation of radicals best known for uncovering some of the political world’s greatest scandals, has struck again – and quite rightly so. After several cyber attacks on US government email servers in recent months, the Democratic Party has found itself in hot water over its Clinton-related complacency.

It won’t be so complacent anymore, though. Over 20,000 emails have come to light which detail pro-Clinton bias from the highest ranks of the US’ biggest liberal party even before any formal judgments had been made by delegates in state primaries. The revelations have highlighted the shameful attempts of top officials to smother the election chances of popular left winger Bernie Sanders.

WikiLeaks’ uncovered emails clearly show discussions of how best to bring down Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders by publically questioning matters of his religious affiliation, and detail suggestions of circulating smears relating to Sanders’ political career in order to decrease his support. Such revelations are sure to plague the Clinton campaign irrevocably, and seriously question the integrity of the Democrat Party.

In addition, Democrat directors are shown to have pestered media outlets for maximum Democrat support in news agendas across America, and to have been secretly communicating with journalists in attempts for minimal Democrat backlash. The uncovered emails reveal also the way in which wealthy supporters are lavishly treated by the Party, detailing tactics of coercing donors into giving mammoth sums of money in exchange for considerable policy input, prestigious garden parties, and hobnobbing with the President.

This week sees the Democrat National Convention take place in Philadelphia, where the Democrats are set to firmly outline their political agenda and play their proposed prelude to the post-Obama era. Hillary Clinton was once the undisputed, sure-fire solution to preventing Republican nominee Donald J. Trump from storming the Oval Office this November. At one point during 2015, Clinton was reported to have the support of as much as two thirds of the Democrat Party.

But a couple of weeks ago, polls reported that public trust of Clinton had reached an election low, making November’s result even harder to predict. The next scandal Clinton will have to face is likely to damage her popularity in the polls to an even further extent. The appearance of the alternative Bernie Sanders has partially contributed to lower support for Clinton, but the recent marks against the former First Lady’s cards are proving much more indelible than previously thought.

After clear examples of the Democrats’ undermining of democracy, many citizens won’t be so sure of Clinton anymore. Today’s events may well leave hers and the Democratic Party’s reputations in shreds, and only boost discontent with the current campaign trail – possibly so much as to provoke swing voters to defect to the Republican camps.

Democrat National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is just one of those credited with knowledge of the party’s undemocratic activities. Footage of Schultz and her colleagues this morning attempting to calm frustrated delegates makes for extremely awkward watching. The Party Chair was reported to have been escorted off stage shrouded by angry activists who brandished pro-Sanders signs and booed to show off their deep discontent.

Isn’t such a reaction right, though? It is indeed. Key figures of the US Democratic Party have greatly undermined the principles for which they claim to advocate. WikiLeaks’ revelations have exposed shocking truths of the party’s disdain for anyone besides Clinton, hoping to protect the former stateswoman as she recovers from any potentially dangerous press ammunition.

Republican nominee Donald J. Trump’s campaign has for months centred on racist comments, controversial protectionism, and the infectious global epidemic of right wing populism. On these grounds, it was seen as the Democrats’ chance to unstoppably halt the causes of Trump, with real values of liberal democracy, social justice, equality and kindness instead. However, the tone of a great deal of the Democrat campaign has been considerably low. How can the campaign pioneered by Hillary Clinton aim to beat the scare tactics deployed by the Trump side herself and her staff involved in such fatal wrongdoing, too?

Embroiled in a scandal relating to communications secrecy during her tenure as US Secretary of State, and now in one possibly more serious relating to her party’s underhanded corruption, her election chances are crumbling. In the midst of such societal division, the Democrats had their chance to rejuvenate the US Establishment, and provide politics of unity and hope.

When will the US Presidential campaign become positive? Perhaps Bernie Sanders was the only one who advocated for progressiveness and just debate all along. It’s just too bad that now the DNC have prevented him from achieving his full potential. The pleas of other candidates at past primaries have had one defining principle – that one candidate is not another candidate, and that one does not stand for what the other does. The US Presidential debate has shown little sign of conversation relating to big social and political issues, but instead has revolved around scaremongering, controversy and anti-establishment sentiment. The Democrats’ flawed strategy won’t make US politics progressive at all, and has shown that it can competently fight battles of playground politics, too – not only Donald J. Trump.

Party officials may have believed that rigging the Democratic primaries would set Clinton’s candidacy above the storm of uncertainty which currently ravages the nation’s political sphere, had their actions gone undiscovered. Instead, the Democrats’ gamble has done more harm than good. The Party has lost its credibility, and possibly its ability to win safely in the November vote. The Democrats are sure to find that votes are harder to pick up in the all important swing states of Florida, California, Virginia, and the like. It is these votes that may decide the next President. Failure to capture floating voters, and the support of the volatile middle classes, could be fatal.

The Party also has a mission to restore confidence in its own constructs, and restore public confidence in the entirety of US politics. This mission is even greater than it were before today’s WikiLeaks scandal, given the sheer tidal wave of anti-establishment feeling which is sweeping global societies.

No matter the outcome of this year’s election, the next person to hold office will be tainted with the grave issues of their unsportsmanlike campaign. Hillary Clinton could have escaped this dark shadow easily by simply treading the moral high ground with a transparent, humble presidential bid. The sketchy outline of the truth of her email use as Secretary of State, and now the exposure of her party’s underhanded tactics, undeniably defying true democracy, will hinder her campaign’s success. Perhaps those all important swing votes will end up going to the Republicans after all.

The Democrats could have chosen to carry on from the Obama era with the principles of fairness and justice of which he will likely be most remembered. Confidence in the US Establishment is now painfully low, something which the Democrat Party could have restored, and now will have an even greater task of attempting to restore. The pathogens of corruption are currently diseasing the vital organs of the US Democrats, Clinton’s arsenal of political artillery becoming exhausted.

The Democrats seem to be a paralysed force, riddled with underhand tactics and intense political divides. The argument that Hillary Clinton isn’t Donald J. Trump lacks strength now. This election campaign ought to have been based on real political and social issues, and with pragmatism at the fore. Further to this, the Democrats ought to have offered a vision of fair play and progressiveness in order to defeat the alarming proclamations of Trump. If the Democrats can restore public confidence, they may be able to revive themselves. It will be no easy feat. Should they fail to, the very worrying politics of Donald J. Trump may be successful in November, many Democrats losing not only the election campaign, but also their integrity.

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