Let’s put it bluntly: if one turns off Twitter, Labour is having a disastrous election. Despite having been ready for battle since September, their campaign has got off to a terrible start. Jeremy Corbyn says one thing on Trident, his defence spokesperson says something else on - well, she states party policy. Of course, Theresa May is playing it low key - if you’ll forgive the English understatement - if you don’t interupt your enemy when they are shooting themselves in the foot, why would you when they are doing it to both feet? Then Kier Starmer stood up to give his Brexit speech. That it was Starmer not Corbyn is telling. Starmer is meant to be a rising talent and a potential successor in the event of Corbyn resigning after defeat.
In 1983, Shadow Defence Secretary John Silkin asked the then Labour leader, Michael Foot, to stop bringing unilateral disarmament into his speeches. The Tories were heading for a landslide election and every time Foot mentioned his support for CND, Labour dipped in the polls. After a general murmur of agreement, Foot’s reply was, “I will never again have the opportunity that I have to convince the British people of what I think is right.” Foot would have rather been right than prime minister. Whether that is admirable or not, his party took fourteen years to recover enough to win an election.
The first headline of Britain’s snap general election was Theresa May’s refusal to participate in televised debates with other party leaders in the run-up to the June 8 poll. ITV, Sky and the BBC have pledged to hold debates regardless of whether the prime minister shows up. It’s unlikely they would literally “empty chair” May, but her absence would speak volumes to voters. This is the new Iron Lady? The opposition leapt at the chance to accuse May of weakness and evasiveness about defending her party’s record in government, and her own plans, on the national stage - particularly Jeremy Corbyn and Labour who lag far behind May’s Conservatives in the opinion polls. May has already u-turned on holding an early election. Labelled #ChickenMay and being harassed on the campaign trail by The Daily Mirror’s man in a chicken suit, she may reconsider taking up her debate podium as well.
At time of writing #SansMoiLe7Mai (count me out on May 7th) is trending in the top four on Twitter. Sparked by the far-left's disgraceful refusal to openly back Macron against Le Pen, this worrying trend amongst French voters represents the National Front's only chance of winning in in two weeks time. And, what's more, it's their supposed opposite numbers, blinded by self-righteous principles, who are attempting to hand it to them on a plate. Started as a protest by La France Insoumise (France Undefeated)- a group of pro-Melenchon partisans not dissimilar from Corbyn's acolytes over at Momentum, the hashtag is being used to express their intention to abstain and encouraging others to do so.
So there we have it. The provisional results are in. Emmanuel Macron has won the first round of the French Presidential election and will face up against Marine Le Pen and her fiercely loyal Front National in the second round on May 7th. The first results to come in showed Macron winning by two percentage points at 23.7%, closely followed by Marine Le Pen at 21.7% It is hardly say a surprise, despite the media hubbub about how unpredictable this election has been thus far. It has to be said, Fillon's surprising come back and Melenchon's triumphant surge both caused the bookies to reconsider as today approached. For weeks now, I've been talking with French people and generally coming to the conclusion that a Macron/Le Pen second round clash is inevitable. I was, however totally convinced that Le Pen would win by some distance tonight, yet to my great pleasure, I was proved wrong.
Until now hardline Brexiteers on her backbenches have been supportive of her approach, but that support could crumble once hard compromises become necessary. Whitehall sources suggested on Tuesday that May’s decision was influenced by the emerging timetable for Brexit negotiations, which could see substantive talks about a free trade deal with the EU postponed until after Britain leaves in March 2019. Before Tuesday’s announcement May faced the prospect of attempting to leave the EU with a partial deal, against the background of a slim parliamentary majority, and a general election looming within months.
“Shame on you if you fool me once, shame on me if you fool me twice” It’s a saying the Labour Party ought to heed. In 2015, it seemed inconceivable that the Conservatives would win a majority. Labour had every reason to fight for a lead, to trumpet their policies, even to inscribe them on giant stone slabs. Few could have predicted the overseers of austerity coming out on top. In 2017, however, Labour can’t afford to be so blinkered. Gross naivety is forgivable the first time, but not as a repeat offence. If they sail into the upcoming election without having learnt the lessons of the previous one, the fallout will be squarely on their shoulders.
No, we haven’t learned that Mr. Trump is an effective leader. Ordering the U.S. military to fire off some missiles is easy. Doing so in a way that actually serves American interests is the hard part, and we’ve seen no indication whatsoever that Mr. Trump and his advisers have figured that part out. Actually, what we know of the decision-making process is anything but reassuring. Just days before the strike, the Trump administration seemed to be signaling lack of interest in Syrian regime change. What changed? The images of poison-gas victims were horrible, but Syria has been an incredible horror story for years. Is Mr. Trump making life-and-death national security decisions based on TV coverage?
Such has been the frenetic pace of politics that the Easter break comes as a welcome pause. Brexit and the Trump presidency have consumed politics. Then the tempo was heightened last week by Donald Trump’s strikes on Syrian bases. Although politics will be far from the minds of many, the pause gives us time to reflect. Britain is undergoing one of the greatest changes in its post-war history. It carries considerable risks. The risk becomes greater when one considers the dearth of new ideas and bold thinking among our political class. When she became prime minister, Theresa May spoke passionately about her unionist beliefs, about the need to tackle society’s burning injustices and, most intriguingly, about rebalancing capitalism, to help those who have not seen its benefits. Her rhetoric shifted dramatically to the left, abandoning the orthodoxies of the Cameron-Osborne regime.