UK Politics

Is this election the end of the catch-all party?

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As the climax of this general election approaches, it is clear that Westminster is the epicentre of the Eurosceptic earthquake which has caused seismic shifts in the British political landscape.

One year on, the aftershocks of last year’s Brexit referendum can still be felt. Whilst the political x-axis has long been the right-left barometer, the y-axis which may well control British politics for years to come is now based on whether voters be internationalists or nationalists. The ideological foundations of the UK’s parties continue to quiver with the mounting gravity of the Brexit question, and the populist pendulum has swung from the right towards the left. Fractures within the Labour and Conservative parties, too, over the nature of the UK’s unilateralist turn, have made the nation’s key political structures increasingly brittle.

When Theresa May declared her intentions to seek a mandate in April, she must have thought that victory would slip easily into her hands, with Jeremy Corbyn only just clinging onto the political scene amidst internal Labour party strife and backlash from the electorate over recent months.

But now it is obvious that the gap has narrowed. Either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May will set foot in Number 10 tomorrow, navigating the treacherous ridge of the British political peak which has a sheer drop at either side.

Today’s snap vote, which many believed would erode the foundations of the Labour Party for several years to come, has instead had the opposite effect. A victory for Theresa May still seems the most likely result, but this election has brought to light new corners of political opinion within the two biggest parties, fragmenting the once clear-cut right and left wings. Can the leaders of the UK’s two biggest parties really speak for the entirety of each of their movements?

The Labour Party isn’t, and hasn’t been since Blair’s 1997 landslide, categorised simply by one strong shade of scarlet. Neither can the Conservative Party be characterised by one tone of light blue. The Labour tapestry now includes a multiplicity of pinks, crimsons and Burnt Siennas, and a look through the Tory lens reveals a kaleidoscope of turquoise, aquamarine, royal blue and teal. The left is split between Jeremy Corbyn’s more traditional socialism, Tony Blair’s third way, and a great deal of pro-Brexit lefties. The right, in turn, exists as a patchwork of more centrist free-market liberals, pro-Europeans, and May-supporting Brexit stoic.

Over the campaign, both main parties have tried to pick up as big a portion of the electorate as possible, reelinh in voters regardless of class and background, having realised that party affiliation isn’t as simple as it once was some decades ago. With May’s focus on strength and stability, and Corbyn’s impetus on governing for the greater good, both campaigns have sought to operate beyond class divisions, out to capture the human sentiments of holding either national or European identity, and playing to the hopes and ambitions of the general public for the future of their British nation.

In this election, Theresa May has attempted to prove that Brexit is a transformation which can benefit all – the disenchanted working class, and those who look to abandon the red tape of the European Union. Similarly, the Labour Party, with its campaign based around ideas of an all-encompassing society, with a more internationalist approach, has tried to attract both voters on average incomes, and even the most high-end of champagne socialists. But the reality is, however, that leaders now have to piece together smaller, more specific factions of opinion within one diverse party construct. Support is no longer simply a question of where you work, how much money you earn, and what food you put on the table.

Arguably, as parties have sought to capture all voters, within a society which has become more culturally, socially and economically diverse, the parties themselves have had to fit into new moulds and broaden their appeal. It is now increasingly hard for governments to please everyone and for parties to appeal to all. Perhaps, therefore, large parties which once had simply formulated political motives which spoke to the masses can no longer speak to all types of individuals found within a more varied society.

Many would, of course, argue that it is impossible to please all and that this is just a fact of the democratic and, more specifically, majoritarian, system. In this election, both parties’ manifestos have aimed to appeal to all, but in reality, the leaders and their governmental gameplans only represent one part of the party’s multifaceted opinion base.

The Labour and Conservative parties arguably have chosen to run with just one form of their respective left and right opinion this election, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn’s traditional socialism, mixed with a streak of revolutionary populism, and Theresa May’ anti-EU strategy which champions ideas of UK national feeling and emphasises a need for uncompromised national sovereignty. Corbyn does not come across well to the Blairites, politicians who are sure to flex their muscles in the next parliament. Similarly, May, who was, until the departure of David Cameron, a remainer, fails to win over more centrist and European Tories.

But perhaps the UK revolves around a majoritarian system which, in fact, does not work for the majority. With two large parties aiming to please all at campaign level, whilst truly only being able to adopt one type of left-wing and right-wing thought within a party which contains many more specific pools of opinion, surely not all can feel satisfied with politics.

If this be the case, surely much of the British population remains perplexed. How, therefore, can big parties manage to speak for all? Perhaps the big social class-driven aggregate party structure is now dead, and can be rendered impractical. Arguably, the two big parties have attempted to please all in campaigns but this is ineffective for many, as they adopt just one small portion of their own left and right wing party’s thought.

There are several possible solutions. The first is that the catch-all, all-encompassing party becomes successful in pleasing all. This has, however, proven to be a rather utopian idea, based on this campaign and the politics of previous years.

Another option is that the UK political landscape would break down, heralding a wider range of political parties which each reflect more specific divisions of political opinion, welcoming a new proportional system of voting.

Furthermore, if Theresa May pushes on with her Brexit agenda, and the Labour Party continues to run with its staunchly traditionalist, left-of-centre socialism, British politics could become increasingly polarised, generating a gap in the market for a new centrist movement. Perhaps a more balanced force like French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche will soon come to the fore.

No matter who wins this election, both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn now have the tricky task of healing the divides within their large parties, as they veer towards more specific directions. If the parties fail to unite their supporters, great constitutional change for the UK could be next on the to-do list. Perhaps the clear-cut, class-driven party structures which have for so long defined the UK’s political landscape are breaking down, no longer able 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, Britain’s foreign affairs forecast looks murky. The Netherlands, Austria and Denmark are fast lining up their Brexit sequels, nations which, if withdrawn, could hugely question the longevity of the EU and its current agenda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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society, UK Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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europe, Scotland, society, UK Politics, World Politics

Brexit isn’t progressive, but Sturgeon’s plan could be

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The events of the United Kingdom’s political scene over the past seven days have shown that change in politics takes place at a rapid pace. Since a vote last Thursday to leave the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron has tendered his resignation, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn has been left reeling after damning Cabinet resignations and a vote of no confidence, myriad international markets have become volatile, and many British citizens are now profoundly divided – both politically and socially.

For those voters who are startled by violent change, or simply prefer the status quo, then at least some of the Remain campaign’s predictions seem to have translated into reality. They don’t make for comfortable listening, though. Needless to say, supporters of a vote to remain as a member of the EU claimed that economic hardship, extremism, and constitutional crises would disease our societal construct in the light of a Brexit.

As if the murder of an MP and the demonisation of many ethnic minorities were not demoralising enough, recent days have already shown that the fear-centric Vote Leave campaign is infilitrating British communities fast. Many police forces this week have already reported a huge rise in racially motivated crimes, an albeit small minority of Brexiteers rejecting the EU on the grounds of abhorrent xenophobia.

A vast degree of economic calamity has arrived, too, causing pandemonium among CEOs, financial boffins and top bankers. The UK has lost its first class credit rating, the housing market is showing signs of slowing, market trading figures and the value of the pound have plummeted, and some of the globe’s biggest corporations are questioning the security of their futures within Britain.

More fascinatingly, but still worrying enough, is that Britain has pushed itself into an abyss of constitutional uncertainty. After a clear divide between English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish voters last Thursday, the 300-year-old union is showing its age. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s political arsenal has more artillery than ever, the infamous SNP leader currently one of the world’s most influential leaders with the potential to drastically alter the international affairs agenda.

Wednesday saw Sturgeon meet with numerous EU officials including Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Parliamentary President Martin Schulz. Scotland’s voice drowned out by the largely English-driven Brexit cacophony, the First Minister is keen to spread her crucial message – that her nation’s interests are being overriden.

It is now that Nicola Sturgeon has the freedom to forge new politics for Scotland. With Sturgeon holding an unprecedented global stature for a Scottish leader, the quandaries of Scotland’s interests and position are back up for discussion. In just several years’ time, citizens may bear witness to a fiery independence referendum campaign once again. Yesterday evening, JP Morgan predicted that , by the UK’s 2019 exit from the EU, Scotland will vote again on independence and use a separate currency.

Sturgeon has, for all of her life, been a stringent advocate and guardian of Scottish interests. Over the momentarily slippery issues in relation to the EU, she shows no signs of doing anything differently. The SNP’s 2016 manifesto clearly outlined that the party still saw independence as achievable in the not-too-distant future. For Sturgeon, the elongated EU debate has provided the chance for reignition of the independence flame, and for the creation of a progressive Scottish state.

The intentions of Vote Leave’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove may seem like an unlikely match with those of the truly internationalist Nicola Sturgeon’s. But the aforementioned politics do have more in common than you may think at first. Both sides intend to leave some form of political, social, cultural, and economic union. For the right-wing Brexit duo of Johnson and Gove, the European Union is their foe, and for the socially democratic Sturgeon, the arguably outdated United Kingdom is her achilles heel.

Undeniably, the two sides differ majorly. In a huge contrast, the Brexit soon to be fully imposed on UK citizens is in no ways progressive, support for which predominantly – but not totally – thanks to those of the right. Sturgeon’s possible exit is nothing of this type, however. The plan supported by the SNP and by an increasing number of Scots is for a truly progressive relationship with the European Union – an ethos set to extend to issues of home affairs, too.

Sturgeon only has the Brexit crisis to thank for this sudden boost in success. Glancing over the recent prognosis of the ailing United Kingdom, the iconic leader must be feeling a tad of schadenfreude. Many voters are now having the revelation which Alex Salmond’s independence campaign fell short of wholly inspiring two years ago. The 2014 referendum bid frightened many away from a Yes vote with the worries that independence would isolate the Scottish nation, and render the views of the people dead in future decision-making.

A high degree of political isolation is what many supporters of a Brexit have indeed voted for of late, and its consequences are provingt that a Scottish exit from the UK would be something vastly different. Unfortunately, Brexiteers have voted for a UK nation that will have attributes of deeper social injustice at its fore. It seems that the chances of a more left-wing Brexit have been shattered with the paralysis of the Labour party.

It is Sturgeon’s plan, though, that could eradicate the poisonous epidemic of xenophobia and paranoia currently sweeping Britain. The exit which Britain has made from the European Union is exactly what Sturgeon’s plan for Scottish independence wouldn’t be. Johnson and Gove’s Brexit blueprint has highlighted that Scotland’s exit from the UK could spur positive change, and that the policies for which they advocated during the EU campaign were not progressive.

As a growingly successful – and truly European – leader, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon now has the power to transform Scotland, making the nation a key voice within an ever louder European chorus. Despite being the outcome the First Minister wanted least, a vote to leave the European Union last week has provided the grounds for an argument detailing a more progressive Scotland. Brexit has pushed the topic of Scottish sovereignty back into the political arena, and her case has generated a great deal of support.Prime Minister David Cameron, whose days are numbered, even praised Sturgeon’s EU efforts on Wednesday.

Nicola Sturgeon’s diplomatic campaign this week did not just have the ideas of Scottish independence at heart, but also ideas of a solidarity, social justice, and co-operation. Her position as the antithesis of Boris Johnson has been a real plus. What could have been Sturgeon’s greatest nightmare has turned into a huge political advantage. Many who are dismayed by the new, somewhat backward Brexit may flock to Sturgeon’s side in the hope that an independent Scotland would be a game-changer. Presenting herself as face of an alternative to the individualist and neoliberal case for Brexit has shown that Scotland is a uniquely different entity, and that the SNP are one force of true advocates for togetherness and political, social, and economic growth.

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