UK Politics

In this election, Britain is neither left nor right, but a smörgåsbord of opinion

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The British electoral landscape is at its most volatile in years, Brexit dominates doorstep pleas, and the Tories just thought it would have been easier. Now, either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May will set foot in Number 10 tomorrow. Today at the polls, where class becomes more and more irrelevant, voters must make an informed choice based on issues alone.  

This time, both main parties offer policies further away from the centre ground. Despite the mudslinging, the chaotic radio interviews and the backfired soundbites, issues matter most. No longer can we expect, as last year’s Brexit victory showed, working class voters to continually side with the socialists, after the populist hijacking of globalisation, portraying it as something impossible to balance with home affairs, rather than something bringing great opportunity and success. Similarly, no longer can we expect wealthier and more middle class voters to always side with the Conservatives. Class boundaries have become so hazy that we may even question the effectiveness of predicting outcomes based on wallets, and indeed the current working or middle-upper class dichotomy. This is the end of big party tribalism in UK politics. 

Today’s snap vote, originally designed to erode the foundations of the Labour party, has instead reshaped the British political landscape, bringing the resurrection of the left-wing that Theresa May only two months ago thought was dead. 

The past two months of campaigning have indicated that Britain is about to pass through an important political portal, however. At the end of this campaign, the Labour and Conservative parties will not be the same as they were several months ago. Party politics is no longer, as Clement Attlee, Tony Blair, and David Cameron seemed to believe, entirely about class. Instead, politics is now more about policy, and more particular factions. Whilst we can still describe parties as either left of right of the spectrum, voters cannot rely on leaders to speak for one entire branch of society; the entirety of the left or the right.

In this election, both main parties have tried to catch-all, looking to reel in all sorts of voters, regardless of class. With May’s focus on strength and stability, and Corbyn’s impetus on governing for the greater good instead of the top 1%, both campaigns have run with messages which partly forget class divisions. One of the most astonishing developments of the Brexit vote only last June was that it leapt across social class boundaries. 

As a result, Theresa May has attempted to prove that Brexit is a transformation which can benefit all – the disenchanted working class, and the wealthy who look to abandon the red tape of the European Union. Similarly, the Labour Party, with its campaign of compassion and a celebration of society, has tried to attract both voters on average incomes, and even the most high-end of champagne socialists.

Right-wing and left-wing parallels can still be drawn with the main parties’ respective social care policies and increases in corporation tax. But largely, Labour and the Tories are out there to grab everyone. Myriad columnists and political scientists have reported that the Conservative manifesto is – wait for it – surprisingly socialist in places, regulating the energy industry, and even talking about a kind of centre ground in its manifesto.

But are the main parties really that similar? In reality, however, Theresa May’s party remains adamant that an intensely right-wing Brexit will be a success. Similarly, Corbyn’s Labour party remains quintessentially 70s-style socialist in places. The two parties, however, as much as they have tried to appeal to all, still remain within their individual right-wing and left-wing camps. Crucially, the two parties don’t even represent the entirety of their right or left wing bases, instead arguably speaking only for smaller details of the bigger picture – Brexiteers for the Tories, and traditional socialists for Labour.

Perhaps, therefore, the Tory party represents only Brexiteers. If this be the case, surely much of the British population remains unaccounted for. Not even Theresa May herself voted for Brexit. As for Jeremy Corbyn, he may have achieved overwhelming success in the past month, but there still exists a fiery branch of more Blairite, New Labour-oriented MPs, who have received little limelight since Corbyn’s anti-Tory crusade gained real traction over a month ago. New Labour MPs in the next Parliament will surely be keen to flex their muscles.

Not everyone can be a winner. Perhaps this is just a fact of democracy. But as society breaks down into more specific groupings, with more fluid conceptions of class, perhaps the big, social class aggregate party is now dead, and can be rendered impractical. Trans-class issues have dominated this election. The Tories are quietly torn between Brexit and liberal internationalism. The Labour party have, until only very recently, found themselves sitting on the fence between Corbyn’s radical socialism and the Blairite third way. How can these parties now appeal to all, if they represent one distinct portion of their ideological wings, let alone their entire right-wing or left-wing sides? Perhaps there is a new gap in the political market. 

There are several possible solutions – firstly, that the catch-all, all-encompassing party becomes successful in pleasing all (a rather utopian idea, based on this campaign and the politics of previous years). Secondly, the UK political landscape could break down, heralding a wider range of political parties, each reflecting different pools of political opinion, welcoming a new proportional system of voting. Or, parties could learn to agree internally – something that the Tories have performed at better over Brexit. Hopefully, however, Corbyn sceptics will consider the success of the party leader of late, and run with his more socialist manifesto.

Chiefly, perhaps our political system is outdated, with a need for rejuvenation if it is to facilitate a wide-range of political opinions. I fear that, despite the successes of Jeremy Corbyn in this campaign, the numerous New Labour supporters in the PLP will rise up against him if Theresa May wins on Friday morning. Furthermore, if Theresa May pushes on with her Brexit agenda, perhaps centrism will resurgence, as Corbyn and May polarise the system. Perhaps a more centrist force like French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche will soon come to the fore.

Centrism needn’t be the answer, and could only confuse things more, aiming to match the weaker right-wingers with left-behind Blairites. The Labour party may find itself with relative post-election peace, allowing Corbyn to do his socialist job. If intra-party feuds spawn, however, a pluralist proportional system could be the answer.

Today, however, the message is clear. Voters must vote based on the issues. Prime Minister Theresa May has shown herself to be unaccountable in debates, and has proven that a vote for the Tories is a blank cheque for Brexit. The Conservative Party’s plans for Brexit will turn the nation into a bargain basement economy. The party’s record, which so many government ministers have suggested that voters examine, shows myriad cuts to public services, and an NHS on its knees. Food banks shouldn’t have to be the core of so many communities. May has revealed herself as a leader who isn’t afraid to overlook the disgraces of Donald Trump’s presidency, let big business take the controls, turn away from the massive benefits of free movement, or broker deals with dodgy dictators. What’s more, reducing the effects of climate change isn’t high on Theresa May’s creaky agenda.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has galvanised much of the British population, and re-engineered the left’s platform. Once the media abandoned him, the Labour leader was last year deemed all too quickly as someone who just wasn’t electable. Reducing the Tory party lead from over 25 points to five would show otherwise.

Corbyn’s Labour Party has shown that it stands up for progressive politics in Britain, and is a truly possible antidote to May’s damaging game plan. Under Corbyn, work may truly pay, and public services will be injected with new life. Labour’s insult-free campaign of compassion, morality and straight-talking socialism has worked wonders. Labour will defend important human rights, uphold Britain’s place as just one cog in a complex international civil society where individual nations cannot always supremely call the shots, and reduce hardship at home and abroad. The nurturing of human success will be placed at the heart of society.

Corbyn’s campaign has been revolutionary, and a much-needed breath of fresh air for the electorate and those who feel upset by the failings of New Labour. Even in opposition, Corbyn has finally given a platform to those left behind. His supporters will not easily fade into the background. However, his next mission is to keep the Blairites at bay, just as Theresa May must calm down the more internationalist, liberal conservatives if she wants to be successful. Class is growing less irrelevant in UK politics, and voters instead shop around on issues and manifestos. Both May and Corbyn now have the tricky task of healing the divides in their parties as they veer their respective right and left wings in specific directions. Failing to do so could mean great constitutional change for the UK, if the huge class-driven aggregate parties which have for so long defined the UK’s political landscape soon fail to speak for all.

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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, 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, 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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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, UK Politics, World Politics

Angela Merkel was in charge of the EU – now it’s Theresa May

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If anyone should be credited with the title of ‘president’ of the European Union, it has to be Germany’s formidable Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Since her election as the German nation’s premier in 2005, the strategic and nifty Merkel has become one of the European Union’s main figureheads and prolific boss of the world’s second largest economy. Recent years have seen the EU’s de facto commander preside over some of the EU’s greatest challenges including global economic crises, the biggest spurt of human movement since the Second World War, and, of course, the current epidemic of Euroscepticism.

Angela Merkel may not hold this title for much longer, however. After a British vote to leave the EU last month, the island nation, which has long had an extremely particular relationship with Europe, is now calling the shots. The number of disgruntled EU citizens is growing.

The leader of the first nation to formally vote to leave the EU, Theresa May, has unprecedented influence over the future of the European Union. This week, the new British Prime Minister made the first of her foreign visits to Germany. In the aftermath of a turbulent EU debate, Mrs May has been particularly keen to promote consistent and amicable ties with European nations.

Britain’s Vote Leave campaign, the eventual victor, and its still rampant support has been met with strong retort from European leaders who remained firm on their promises not to allow Britain to destroy the EU. But after several weeks of pressure, and after the Prime Minister’s discussions with German and French premiers, it seems that the EU is slowly warming to the reality of Brexit, paying attention to the imminent threats of Euroscepticism, and listening to the ever louder calls for EU reform.

As the reality of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union sets in, the EU is having to completely re-evaluate itself. Britain is the nation which has spurred an entirely new European era – one of provoking game-changing reform. It is Prime Minister Theresa May who is at the helm of this fascination transformation. The successes of Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant bodies around Europe are continuing to build, and it is these organisations and their supporters which shed the real influence upon the future of the Eurozone.

As discontent with the European Union in its existing state grows, the power of the EU’s most prolific leader, Angela Merkel, and her allies is rapidly declining. Power is now in the hands of those who reject the status quo – the hands of those such as Prime Minister Theresa May who must now seek a different European format for her people, and also who has sparked the creation of a different type of EU for all Europeans.

Speaking for the majority of EU member states in the company of Mrs May, Chancellor Merkel this week announced that the EU will allow Britain to delay its exit from the European Union until its action plan is totally clear. Doing so is in the European Union’s interests, and buys back time for a huge, Europe-wide re-negotiation of the EU’s institutions – a re-negotiation which may save the Eurozone from further crumbling.

Allowing Britain the liberty of deciding when to implement the Article 50 membership emergency stop clause is not the only concession being made for the UK’s Brexit. Changes to the EU’s liberal policies of free movement of people may soon be granted in attempts to soothe anti-immigration sentiment. Migration allowances coexisting with the ability to freely trade has long been one of the principle cogs of the European Union’s machinery, but one which now seems to be rusting. Despite strong initial rejection by leaders including French President François Hollande, plans for a migration break lasting for up to seven years may soon be granted to nations like the UK.

Discussions of a different future for the European Union have long proven unfruitful for Europe’s growing hard-right. Many of these conservatives are sure to be rubbing their hands. Whilst the EU becomes twitchy and the atmosphere of uncertainty becomes thick, changes surrounding the way that Europe works are becoming increasingly necessary.

As May negotiates her way to a different future for the UK in Europe, the British Prime Minister is in an enviably strong position, and perhaps is the new driver of the EU vehicle. The newly invested British premier is now vying for a plan which would allow Britain to completely control its migration levels whilst yielding the benefits of a position within the European Economic Area. Mrs May might not have voted to leave the EU herself, but as UK Prime Minister, it is now her mission to “make a success of it,” as she has repeatedly vowed.

Making a success of Brexit is exactly the type of move which will serve Mrs May’s reputation and her credibility well. Whilst a Brexit might not be the outcome for which the Prime Minister had hoped of the EU referendum in June, Theresa May is now in a position to push for real change, becoming a hero of the European right wing. As Angela Merkel’s EU becomes unworkable, Theresa May’s plan may become the solution.

The German Chancellor and her European allies are known for being stubborn, but the British Prime Minister has finally been successful in making headway. If Britain succeeds in its bid for the ability to control migration, increased controls for member states over a wide range of different issues may come. Reform is, of course, in the European Union’s interests. Hard-right populists and Eurosceptics are sure to continue to triumph if changes fail to materialise.

If the European Union wishes to survive, it looks like Merkel and her team must face up to dealing with the new challenges which could one day serve to destroy it. Reform of the EU is what will dilute Euroscepticism, keep the EU economy thriving, and ease the strain of global crises on its member states.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s European dream looks close to fading, and Theresa May is corroding the authority and political power wielded by the German leader and her supporters. Perhaps Brits believed that a vote to leave the European Union would draw it away from the continent almost instantaneously. But if the events of the past week are anything to go by, the United Kingdom is still very much involved in the politics of the EU for now.

Angela Merkel could turn around her European Union. Pressure from Theresa May and Eurosceptics from around Europe – most prevalent in nations such as France, Denmark, Austria and Netherlands – may well in coming weeks and months force large-scale reform on the EU. If current EU officials fail to recognise the need to address grave problems of migration, security and the economy, the institution which has united European nations since the end of the Second World War may break down in front of them.

Britain has led the way in starting the possible – but albeit preventable – mass exodus of European Union nations. Theresa May now has the upper hand on the EU quandary, and her protest on behalf of the British people is sure to provoke reform sooner or later. It is clear now, however, that it is largely Mrs May who is calling the shots over the future of the EU, and it could indeed be her who, quite paradoxically, saves it.

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Scotland, society, UK Politics

The Tories’ secret weapon in Scotland is working at last

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Several decades ago, and even up until the recently astounding Scottish General Election in May, many would have said that the Tories are dead in Scotland. Many continue to stand by that statement, particularly as the SNP continues in its sweeping of Scottish constituencies, one of Europe’s most powerful leaders at its helm.

But despite the Nationalists’ seemingly infectious causes, it is evident that support for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is rising. A more centrist, but still right-wing party, the Scottish Tories are still seen as very subordinate to their colleagues at Westminster.

But the reason for Tory votes in the recent election is not austerity. Instead, it is unionism. If newly installed British Prime Minister Theresa May is to see success, she must reduce the threat of Scottish independence. As the only decisive force against independence, the Scottish Conservatives have seen an unprecedented influx of votes, and may now solve the unionists’ problem.

Conservativism, once a complete taboo on Scotland, now looks markedly less of a target for hostility. The rise of the Scottish Conservatives has seen its leader – the female, young, gay, and formerly working-class Ruth Davidson – receive acclaim from voters, journalists, and more importantly, Westminster MPs. Throughout the EU referendum, Davidson continually impressed even English voters. Checking on the SNP, and presenting the case for a strong a British Union, the safety of the Union – and a possible career move for Davidson herself – is in her own hands.

If Theresa May strategises intelligently, a strong representative of the Conservatives in Scotland could help the Tories portray their focus on issues north of the border favourably, and to their advantage. If Theresa May uses this opportunity, saving the United Kingdom could be one of the hallmarks of Theresa May’s premiership.

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europe, society, UK Politics, World Politics

The future of Boris and his ambition is in May’s hands

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Flapping around in the midst of the EU referendum fallout, the Conservative Party is currently enduring what may only be the start of a lengthy spell of political turbulence. Prevailing volatility amongst raging factions of Remainers and Brexiteers has shown that the UK’s recent vote has failed to eradicate the tense mood which currently shrouds the Tory party. Stranded at the epicentre of the Brexit wreckage, the Tories have been left broken and despairing. June’s ballot has certainly not put an end to the Conservatives party’s epidemic of quarrelling, and future success for the party looks to be considerably far out of reach.

The European Union isn’t the only source of the UK government’s quandaries, though. In a vetting process originally set to take at least ten weeks, David Cameron’s successor has been rapidly selected in just three. Upon the surprising victory for Vote Leave, it were former Mayor of London Boris Johnson who was originally tipped to succeed the now disposed of Cameron.

After a rather uncharacteristically serious stint as co-frontman for the Vote Leave campaign alongside Michael Gove, a large proportion of the Tory party believed that it were Boris who had proven himself worthy of leadership. But Gove’s crafty moves to undermine Johnson in the party leadership contest were relatively successful. His cunning decision to run against Johnson – an act described by many as treachery – has certainly prevented Boris from mapping the Conservatives’ direction in the short term.

Last week, most thought that Boris Johnson was finished, and that he may never hold any more influential party position than that of a constituency MP. But the prominent blondie may well come back to widen the Tory party’s divide in months and years to come – especially during or following the incumbency of newly-appointed Theresa May.

Yesterday, it were instead she, the former Home Secretary, who triumphantly stood in front of Number 10, ready to colonise Westminster with her distinctly formidable demeanour and uncompromising approach to decision-making. Today, May pressed on with the hand-picking of her new political arsenal. Mrs May’s cabinet has seen many a surprising appointment, however, including – rather controversially – that of the  Boris Johnson who is now Britain’s foreign secretary.

One of the politicians deemed most responsible for the great rift which has sprung up in the middle of the Tory party now sits in one of the most important positions in politics. But seated underneath the watch of Theresa May means that Johnson will be, to an extent, constrained. Everyone knows that Boris is a careerist and has dreams of the Tory party leadership. Theresa May’s tactics remain to be seen, but, needless to say, Mrs May will be keen to dissociate herself from Johnson’s politics which could subvert her much-needed authority.

But it is Mrs May who has the upper hand now. It is she who has the power to decide the fate of Boris Johnson. Will he be a successful foreign secretary, bolster his standing within the party, continuing to stoke the still red hot coals of the Eurosceptics’ campfire? Or will the new Prime Minister user her iron fist to manoeuvre Johnson off her path, clamping down on his sizeable realm of support?

By promoting Boris Johnson, who will surely be one of her government’s most prolific ministers, Theresa May could possibly have made a fatal error. Despite only a marginal win for Vote Leave, Brexit generated not only wide support for cutting ties with the European Union, but also for Boris Johnson himself. Today’s cabinet announcements include six Brexiteers – six individuals who still advocate for the views of the Tories’ large Eurosceptic, more libertarian base.

Herein lies the problem. In the event that the popularity of Mrs May begins to wane, the grounds for Boris Johnson to become the backseat driver of this government could look strong. Providing Boris Johnson with such stature could come back to kick Mrs May, and could be detrimental to the stability of her brand new premiership.

On the other hand, allowing Boris Johnson to have a degree of political ammunition is a somewhat clever move. Undoubtedly, Boris’ careerism and ambition to work his way into the top seats of government still exists. Keeping the man who has the power to be most divisive in the cabinet forces a great deal of responsibility upon him.

His ability to largely manage the UK’s global affairs, and, needless to say, implement the Brexit for which he so desperately advocated, shows that sympathy is not one of Theresa May’s defining characteristics as a politician. If the operation of leaving the European Union backfires, it will not be Mrs May who takes the blame. And, of course, an ability to broker deals and negotiate with international neighbours is essential for truly great politicians.

Should Boris Johnson fail to become a hit with the rest of the world’s biggest economies, the future premiership hopeful’s reputation will be destroyed. Currently, his global record isn’t wholly clean, having made several offensive remarks in relation to other cultures, prompting worldwide hostility. Johnson was booed at a French press conference today, is reportedly hated in Brussels, and many Germans cannot believe Boris’ new status. Judging by Theresa May’s ‘take no prisoners’ attitude to government, Boris Johnson and his future chances will be eaten alive by his fellow party members should he make detrimental diplomatic blunders.

Albeit considerably better organised, the Tory party is still precariously balanced upon the controversy of issues relating to the European Union, immigration, and the only very recently more earnest Boris Johnson. Prime Minister Theresa May has made the decision to feed Mr Johnson the power for which he eternally begs, but keeping Boris at bay is vital to the stability of her leadership. Gaffes, policy rejection, and rebellion could result in a challenge to her leadership just as messy as that carried out by Gove towards Johnson.

Theresa May has shown in the past that she is a formidable leader. She is one of few Home Secretaries to emerge from the position with their reputation unscathed enough to battle on in the cabinet. With the right foresight and meticulousness, Mrs May could indeed revive the Tory party to its former robustness. As the internal lining of the Conservative party fabric is now close to tearing, it is vital that stitches it back together, with Theresa May pushing her cabinet ministers and backbenchers into line with her tough approach – especially Boris Johnson.

UK politics has never before been so Machiavellian, based on opportunism, and required such precise tactics. If the nation’s new Prime Minister shows any signs of flinching, those on the other side of the Tory party will surely squirm their way out of their muzzles immediately, Boris Johnson clenching the reins. Theresa May had better have had her game plan drawn up weeks ago. The careerism and ambition of Boris Johnson has certainly not been halted, but the Prime Minister must fast minimise it. Clever manipulation by Mrs May of her internal opponents is what will veer them away from her new political stomping ground. Johnson is the Prime Minister’s biggest threat, but whether or not he will be a success or a failure is her call.

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