Twenty-two people dead. Many more injured. Scores of people frightened as a suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester’s MEN Arena. This is the second terrorist attack in Britain in a matter of months. That our leaders respond to attacks with well-worn homilies is to be expected. What can one say to make such unnecessary loss better? The Westminster Bridge attack was right at the heart of our democracy: its physical closeness to the symbolic heart of our democratic institutions was intended. More recently, the French presidential election saw incidence of such violence. Equally, the timing of the latest attack - during an election campaign - was not a coincident. That is was Manchester, not Westminster, makes it no less horrific; that it was a concert, attended by young people and families, makes its nature even more savage.
The legendary Liverpool football manager, Bill Shankly, once said the ball control of his ungainly centre-forward reminded him “of a dog walking on his back legs – he doesn’t do it very well, but you are surprised he can do it at all”. And so it was with Donald Trump’s Middle East speech in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, over the weekend. The speech proclaimed massive arms sales to the brutal, undemocratic, human rights abusing Saudi regime. These weapons will help the Saudis to further pulverise their poor and weak neighbours in Yemen. Trump went on to tout a Judeo-Christian-Islamic alliance to defeat terrorism in the Middle East, whilst conveniently ignoring that he was speaking in the homeland of fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia’s malignant role in spreading its extremist Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam across the Muslim world also went unmentioned.
Forgive me, but this is where I came in. 45 million people will soon have an opportunity to put a cross in a box on a piece of paper that could change the nature of their governance. If the polls are correct, an overwhelming plurality will reject change and hug the devil they know. For many democracy is a cathartic experience. For true believers it is a test of their identities. On 8th June, that plurality will reject not just the party that they support, it will reject them. In their grief, many will turn on Jeremy Corbyn. The one-time saviour of the left will receive scorn for his poor communications skills. We’ve been here before: that the electorate rejects a party because they did not understand its message is one of the tropes of democratic politics. Ask Ed Miliband.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” If this proverb can refer to politics then Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond should be pleased, not angry, about Labour “stealing” Scottish National Party policies. It is a compliment and a nod to shared values. As social democratic anti-austerity parties, the SNP and Labour’s main disagreement is constitutional. Plagiarism, if we can call it that, is therefore inevitable. However, what the SNP’s criticism does is illustrate a point. Ukip is in its last gasps as a political party. The right has united, but the left remains fractured. In response to this Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, called for Labour to form a “progressive alliance” with other left-wing parties, which at the general election would maximise the anti-Conservative vote.
At the dawn of time before it all began Before stars and comets Before the B of the Bang Before Moisture ether bone and tooth Before Jesus Mary Joseph the truth Before creation civilisation Before the dawn of man God was putting the final touches to his master plan But scratching his head and drawing all he could muster He contemplated the task of building Manchester Location Culture Industry Its humans
There is a scene in the 1980s comedy Yes, Minister where Sir Humphrey accuses of Jim Hacker of one of the worst government decisions he has ever witnessed. The minister replies that he has just made one of the best political decisions of his life. It may be that Theresa May has just made one of the worst political decisions of her premiership. “Dementia Tax!” screamed Paul Dacre at May’s plans on social care. Politics might be the art of the possible but May did something impossible: she united the Corbynite left with The Daily Mail. Next week she will reveal a flying pig. Perhaps she hoped that in an election about Brexit nobody would notice. Perhaps she thought Jeremy Corbyn so toxic that it was worth the risk. Or no risk at all. If so, she has been proven wrong. With a ruthlessness reminiscent of New Labour at its finest, John McDonnell savaged her plans.
They’ve claimed it will hurt working families - without ever quite explaining how - and that it isn’t properly costed, despite failing themselves to explain how they’d invest in the NHS beyond saying “we’ll keep the economy strong”. Their most hysterically screeched claim is that Labour are dragging us back to the 1970s. Is that the case? Labour’s manifesto does incorporate many of the post-war values trashed by Thatcher. And while undoing everything wrought by Thatcherism is unlikely, re-nationalising services and increasing the top rates of tax would mark a profound shift towards socialist thinking not seen since…well, the 1970s. To free market devotees and certain right-wing tabloids, those certainly were the “bad old days”: strong unions, regulations, a culture of redistribution allowing for a strong welfare state.
White House and administration officials are reeling at news that President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russia’s top diplomats during an Oval Office meeting last week. It’s the latest crisis jolting Trump’s senior staff in the week following the chaotic fallout from the firing of FBI director James Comey—and especially ironic considering the president’s repeated condemnations of Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, which contained a handful of messages deemed to be classified. The White House initially denied the reports, but Trump confirmed that he had shared information on terrorism and airline security with the Russians in two Twitter posts on Tuesday morning.
The leak and then publication of the Labour Party’s general election manifesto triggered the much-expected claim by the Conservatives that it marked a return to the bad old days of the 1970s when growth was weak, inflation high, and the UK had to go cap in hand to the IMF for a bailout. Never mind that the 1970s problems was as much caused by the embargo by OPEC as by domestic mismanagement by both Tories and Labour - nor that it was also actually a decade of rising living standards, growth in credit, and rising property prices. It was still a good slur and was eagerly picked up by Theresa May’s allies in the rightwing press.