Educated at Durham University and UCL, Graham is Disclaimer's editor and a regular contributor. He has written for numerous publications including Tribune, Bent and Vice. He has also contributed to two books of political counterfactuals for Biteback Media, Prime Minister Boris (2011) and Prime Minister Corbyn (2016).
A democratic republican lefty, he struggles daily with the conflict between his ingrained senses of idealism and pragmatism.
Articles by Graham
The Brexit decision was an obvious cry for political change. Yet leaders were already fumbling towards a new political settlement. The irony is that by voting for Brexit voters have made change less likely to happen not more likely.
The hysteria following Jeremy Corbyn's speech at Glastonbury masks the obstacles in Labour's path to power. Opponents and voters will no longer underestimate him. His position on Brexit risks offending his voters. Victory at the next election cannot be taken for granted.
She may be weak and her premiership may be over in a matter of weeks or months, but Theresa May has been in frontline politics for two decades. The characteristics that got her to the top might keep her there - for just a little while.
Political drama is in chaos. Designated Survivor, Scandal, Madam Secretary and even House of Cards, are in decline whilst Alec Baldwin, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert lead the vanguard of much needed satire. As fiction tries to ape the presidency it inevitably jumps the shark.
Humble pie is the dish of the week. The relish with which it is being served up is almost as great as the delight with which some are eating it. Mistakes are inevitable. The question is whether we are big enough to learn from them.
The accepted verdict on the election is that a hard Brexit is dead. However her DUP deal gives Theresa May a majority. Where she is weak is in the Lords. If Parliament manages to frustrate hard Brexit, then Brexit itself is in doubt.
Jeremy Corbyn did not win this election nor did Theresa May. Two policies defined the campaign: the dementia tax and the abolition of tuition fees. The failure of one and the success of the other demonstrates that the real winners were the middle-classes.
Theresa May has failed in her gamble to win a majority to negotiate Brexit. She is now fatally diminished. Jeremy Corbyn had a great night - but he did not win. In such an unstable political climate, it is doubtful that Brexit can proceed as planned.
Following the terrorist attack in London, both leaders are presenting simplistic solutions to complex global problems but we cannot take national security out of politics. Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have politicised terrorism. Our pretend outage is slightly hypocritical.
history does not repeat itself. However, it is one of the only guides we have. There are more reasons to believe the Tories will win big as Corbyn is surging. However, It has been a passionless campaign and May's will be a hollow victory.
The election is now a two-way fight. The debate has become, who do you want negotiating Brexit, not should Brexit happen - and it’s May versus Corbyn. The Lib Dems are facing further humiliation rather than fighting back.
An analysis by YouGov has shown May facing a hung parliament. The narrative of this campaign has become one of Labour’s good campaign and the Tories' disastrous campaign. Narratives tend to be black and white. Each one is as wrong as the one it replaced.
Despite recent events Labour is lagging in the polls. They are heading for a big loss. It is unfair to blame Jeremy Corbyn. The left itself is to blame. Until it abandons its moral self-entitlement and returns to reason it will continue to lose.
Labour may have attacked Theresa May's changes to social care as a dementia tax, but they are progressive and fair. It shifts the burden to the wealthier and corrects anomalies. Bad politics does not always mean bad policy.
Theresa May framed her general election manifesto as "good solid Conservatism". There is much here to please Tory voters but May is trying to soften the party with broader policies on income inequality and industry. Tough on Brexit, she is hoping this is where the centre ground is.
Revelations that Trump revealed highly-classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister, followed his sacking of FBI Director James Comey. Trump is unfit to govern. Yet Republicans in Congress maintain their silence, revealing their self-interest in the face of a destructive presidency.
Jeremy Corbyn launched Labour's election manifesto with pledges to renationalise energy, water services and the railways. Key to their promises was massive increases in spending levels on housing, health and education. This was a Labour document, giving voters a clear choice come June 8th.
Politics is full of raucous debate and often theatre plays an important, and symbolic, role. However, social media has created a politics that is on steroids. The issue is not just Twitter et al. It is us. Our lack of objectivity excuses the political class.
Lyndon Johnson said that the first lesson of politics was learning to count. Somewhere in the top five has to be the ability to wear the finery of one’s opponents. Theresa May is also showing she can cross-dress. Corbyn has yet to show the ability.
Labour is facing a bigger drubbing than at its 1983 nadir. All the signs are there: defeat is inevitable. And, of course, none of it is Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. In looking for excuses, supporters are denying their complicity.
After leaked reports of a meeting between the Prime Minister and EU commission President, Theresa May has turned Brexit negotiations into a war. It will help her win her election but may not help get a good deal. Yet Remainers should be cautious how they react.
As Jeremy Corbyn flounders on the election campaign trail, Keir Starmer has outlined Labour's Brexit position. The tone is friendlier and there are differences, but by accepting the need to end free movement of people the party is failing to offer an alternative.
Jeremy Corbyn is running a quixotic campaign. This election is about Brexit but the Labour leader is not talking about it. If he does not start telling voters how he will negotiate and what his positions are, he will doom Labour to a catastrophic defeat.
This is what Theresa May wants: a transformative election and a new Conservative dominance. Popular policies will not save Jeremy Corbyn. Like Blair her general election message is stability and change at the same time.
Theresa May has called for a general election for Thursday June 8th. The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn has never been weaker. She faces a landslide election. However, what she wants is to frame the debate to stop anti-Brexit arguments. Remainers must not let her win.
Following Trump’s air strikes on Syrian bases, Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to Moscow trip suggesting that the US administration’s position is still being shaped, but also that Britain, or Johnson, is not a trusted intermediary. There will be dialogue but Britain will not be part of that dialogue.
As he launched his local elections campaign, Jeremy Corbyn declared Labour to be a strong party. Yet they face losses in Scotland and Wales; while in England the Lib Dems expect to do well. A bad election will be another sign of Labour’s disintegration as a party of government.
Trump's inability to pass healthcare reform makes him a failure. His presidency now rests on tax reform. He either needs the Republican right flank or the Democrats to pass legislation. He needs them more than they need him but he has just spent the past week insulting them.
Trump's healthcare debacle means his presidency has got off to a disastrous start. Paul Ryan's failure to draft a workable bill means that Trump has been humiliated. It questions his ability to govern. But his party is just as incompetent.
As Theresa May triggers Article 50 she will formally start the process that will lead to Britain’s exit from the European Union. How did we get to this point? Graham Kirby accuses Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU elite.
George Osborne's appointment as the new editor of the Evening Standard plsays into all the worst conceptions of a corrupt establishment that seeks to look after itself. Theresa May must condemn his move and make it clear she wants to strengthen trust in politics.
Theresa May's Brexit policy has made a compelling case for Scottish independence. Nicola Sturgeon may well help break up the United Kingdom. To stop this, the left must end its constitutional failure and propose a radical, decentralised state. Nothing short of a new model Britain will do.
This is not about the Labour party. It is about the country. Jeremy Corbyn is plumbing the depths of imcompetence and unpopularity. By doing continuing he is allowing the Tories get away with a Hard Brexit and risking the stability of the country. He must go.
Theresa May has fostered the illusion that she is in control of events. Yet she has a slender majority and faces unrealistic Brexiteers. Once she invokes Article 50, she will have to face a united EU bloc. However she plays it, she is not in control.
William Hague has revived speculation that Theresa May will call an early general election. Undoubtedly the prime minister would win against a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn. But there would be a cost and the risks far out-weight the pros as she negotiates Brexit.
Accused of colluding with Russian authorities to win the election, President Trump attacks the free press, the judiciary, and any checks on his power. He wanted to jail Hillary Clinton and accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping him. He is leading an attack on democracy. Why are the right not opposing him?
Labour held onto Stoke-on-Trent Central in a close fight against UKIP, but they lost Copeland decisively to the Tories. It was a bad night for UKIP but a truly awful one for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. The only person smiling is Theresa May.
Labour faces two important by-election in Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central. That defeat is even conceivable shows how dire the party's position is. Yet, win or lose, with no natural successor Jeremy Corbyn is safe.
Donald Trump's first response to Michael Flynn's resignation was bluster. However, the allegations that his team colluded with Russian official before his election and inauguration are serious. He cannot evade forever but if he answers the questions he will admit the illegitimacy of his own presidency.
The GOP have abandoned any pretence of independence from the executive branch. In the face of ethical questions they are voting through Trump's nominees for his Cabinet. Trump is going to drag the Republican party down with him. And the thing is, they’ll deserve it.
Brexit brings obvious risks for the prime minister. Her aim to provide a bridge between the EU and Trump’s America was given short shrift by EU leaders and she has few good cards in her hand. If she is to succeed she needs to show Europe some love as she showed her love for America in Philadelphia.
Trump is president. Brexit will happen. Barring impeachment or a public clamour for a second referendum, these facts will remain. To the victor belongs the spoils. But they don’t always keep them.
In a week when the government has come under heavy fire for its mismanagement of the NHS, Corbyn managed u-turn twice in one day over a wage cap, while offending both Brexiteers and Remainers with his muddled stance on free movement. His tactic of aping Trump is revealingly insulting.
Democrats need to create a wider paradigm about social justice and democracy. By accepting that there exists a demand for change but denying that Trump owns any mandate they have the beginning of a strategy to ensure that Trump is not allowed run rampage over first America and then the world.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have a long history of euroscepticism. So it should come as no surprise that Labour is now committed to not blocking or even delaying Article 50. It’s almost as if they are not trying to hold the government to account.
Short Fiction by Graham Kirby
60 million people voted against Hillary Clinton. Their reasons were many from anger to a sense of identity. They did not do so with one mind. If we accept that Brexit started a domino effect which is humiliating the political classes, then those dominoes are falling to the nativist right not to the “socialist” left.
When theatre promises to be dynamic all sorts of things strange can happen. In Our Hands requires huge reserves of stamina and versatility from its actors and puppeteers. There is no deny that it is a visual tour de force. My question is, is it worth it?
Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe but public opinion had shifted over the last decade. Enda Kenny now has his own choice: whether to drag the country away from its Catholic inheritance or remain the accidental taoiseach.
Corbyn needs to create the conditions for loyalty. Members cannot demand loyalty. When they voted they did so with eyes completely open in the full knowledge that his parliamentary colleagues did not have confidence in his competence. They cannot now complain should the leader not change and the lack of support remains.
There were some interesting points to Theresa May's speech on education. Then she went and spoiled it all by promising greater selection and a return to academic selection. She risks defeat but is a sign of our backwards debate about education policy.
The 1976 production of Robert Graves' historical novels about the life of the emperor Claudius almost became an embarrassing flop. Instead when it first aired it gain a large audience, several BAFTAs and became iconic much-loved television. A study of power, it was revolutionary and daring television and has a claim to be one of the most influential programmes ever made.
May has pulled off the trick of making the public believe she offers something new and different. But we have yet to really understand her: what is the philosophy which informs how she makes decisions, beyond supposed pragmatism? Also, is she able to translate these underpinnings into a language which resonates with the public?
There is a seeming paradox about novelist Mary Renault. The truism that novelists write about what they know is both true and false. As someone who wrote historical fiction this is obvious. It is also true of all writers to an extent. But the paradox seems to go further
We bandy about terms such as liar and charges of extremism so readily that they have become meaningless. It is opportunistic and easy but ultimately self-defeating. Hyperbole. Where does it get you?
Britain’s honours system is not only class-ridden but confusing. The miasma of ancient orders is incredible and cries out for simplification. As long as we continue to grade honours we degrade the exceptional. Piecemeal attempts to reform the system have failed. Maybe it is time not for pragmatism but to democratise.
To have voted for him in 2015 was not dishonourable. To do so now when there is so much evidence of his intolerance shows a contempt for pluralism. Corbyn's whole raison d’etre as leader has become that he represents the will of the membership. He pretends it is democracy because it is all he has.
So there it is. Theresa May’s new government. Only four Cabinet ministers remained in place; there are eight women; seven Brexiteers. Her Cameroon cull has left many shocked. But Brexiteers have been treated equally ruthlessly. Those who have seen Teresa May as a cautious leader have mistaken dullness for preparation.
Theresa May is Britain’s next Prime Minister. As she assumes the mantel of leadership, Labour begin another election. It will be an unpleasant campaign. The challenge for May and Eagle is to demonstrate that principles and passion are not the preserve of political polarities.
The paradox of the EU referendum has been the greater the referendum’s significance the more defiant the voters came in asserting their identity. The other conflict is that we live both in an age where democracy is embedded into our consciousness but equally one of post-national globalisation.
Nominations closed with a intervention by Michael Gove which not only declared his own intentions to run but also dished the chances of the long-time favourite Boris Johnson. Voting begins on Tuesday 5th July. The winner, to be announced on 9th September, will be Britain's next prime minister. So who are the candidates?
Whereas we often see politics in polarised terms, drama often relies on shades of grey. The rehabilitation he strove for after his resignation was only ever partial; in drama he achieves what real life denied him. The fictional Nixon thrives because he combines the potential for greatness with a capacity for self-destruction.
With the EU referendum less than a month away, Disclaimer continues looking at the opinions of those who are actually going to make the decision - the voters.
Despite his poor leadership, support for Jeremy Corbyn among Labour members has grown. He is not cutting it and those who support him are guilty of letting this government get away with it. It is those who most need a government committed to equality, who will suffer.
David Cameron’s seventh Queen’s Speech was dominated by the train he set in motion with his autumn party conference speech. It is a play for the centre-ground and made with an eye on disillusioned left-wing voters. It may be that he has left it too late though.
We all sin. That does not mean we are sinners but we do err. It is to be human, and all that. Character is not just how we behave when we think nobody is looking, but how we carry the burden of our past actions. It is as true of people as it is of society and nations.
Inventive and witty, loaded with intrigue and even softness, The Master and Margarita is a sublime love story and a panegyric to freedom. It is a book by which the author took the sweetest and coldest of revenges upon the ugly repression of Stalin’s brutal regime.
A short story by Graham Kirby.
Sanders has to end his campaign, endorse Hillary Clinton and then go out and convince his supporters that the former Secretary of State is the best choice to lead the country. He cannot win the nomination against Clinton. But Trump or Cruz might win the presidency.
It is too easy to charge those who are direct democracy sceptics with elitism. How to make democracy best work in the interests of citizens needs to be debated. But direct democracy is not a progressive panacea or indeed any kind of panacea.
St Sebastian has become the ultimate gay icon: he is the embodiment of beauty and the quintessential representation of tortured suppression. Through the ages the saint has a constant capacity for reinvention, becoming a blank projection for same-sex desire. How many other saints have made it to the cover of a gay magazine?
Faust’s bargain with Lucifer is one he makes out of frustration with the limits of human knowledge. Faustus’ reaction to his frustration is an extreme one: he resorts to necromancy, ultimately he trades his soul for unimaginable power but eternal damnation. Why does Faust still grip our imagination?
With his eighth budget Osborne's overriding aim, it seems, is to win the referendum then win the next election. There will be headlines but this was an empty, political budget. The shame is that he will probably get away with it.
Party democracy is just mob rule dressed up because it suits a transient purpose. The lack of ‘demos’ makes party democracy a self-defeating contradiction: MPs should not become delegates to party members but seek to represent all their consituents.
After the non-result of Ireland's election negotiations could fail, or an unstable minority government falter quickly, and another election be called. It may even be the most desirible option. But who really knows what will happen then?
Season Four and Frank Underwood bounced back. The trouble remains that House of Cards is neither satire or black humour; it still does not have genuine sophistication. House of Cards yearns to be a serious look at politics; rather good television but it sees itself as more than that.
The long neglect of Gladys Mitchell, a relic of the fabled Golden Age of Detective Fiction, has often puzzled. Celebrated as a daring and inventive author in her lifetime she was even given the epithet 'The Great Gladys' by Philip Larkin she was the prolific progenitor of some 86 full detective novels. But how many of you have read any of her works?
A short story by Graham Kirby.
Short money, as it is called, was introduced in 1974 to give a permanent financial arrangement to enable opposition parties, big and small, to play their full part in the House of Commons. The proposed cuts smell of an attempt to skew the democratic decks in the government's favour.
There is something disconcerting but challenging about a medium which denies us one of our senses, and instead challenges our imagination. But radio is prepared to give greater space to weighty topics in a way which television is not.
The 'Leave' camps are bogged down in process issues because there is no theme to their campaign. This is history and they are flunking it. Meanwhile Cameron has mapped out a potential pathway to victory.
The appointment of a ministerial team is perhaps the most tangible of a host of Crown powers which wielded by prime ministers both to personal and party political advantage. There is one way we can ensure better appointments, and that is to remove the prime minister’s power of patronage and give it to Parliament.
New politics is old. Very often it is just politcs by another name. Whether it is the Liberals in 1974 or the Greens in 1989, political insurgency has been done before. However the certainty of some of its adherents is terrifying.
Two countries. The issues are very different. However Ireland is having a constructive debate about the role of equality, pluralism and human rights in a state-maintained education. A few hundred miles away, over the Irish Sea, the silence is vociferous.
Cameron’s concession in allowing Eurosceptics to campaign for Brexit without resigning was inevitable not unforced. It had only become a question of when he made the announcement. Whether it was a tactical masterstroke or a joke only time will tell.
After a three year campaign it has been revealed that Prince Charles has been receiving sensitive, classified government papers. Where monarchy is concerned there are no rules. They are part of Britain’s secretive, undemocratic state.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary’s speech was electrifying. He was respectful, persuasive, brave. In fifteen minutes Hilary Benn broke the monopoly the Corbynistas have held on idealism.
Jeremy Corbyn does not have an alternative to air strikes and seems unable to make concessions so that the British people listen to him.
We need to fight ISIL's brutality at home and abroad but to do so we also need to secure our liberty and renew our democracy.
Grammar schools will add to the discrimination that still exists in the education system. They should not be brought back,
Recent comments by the Leader of the Commons, Chris Grayling, about supposed “misuse” of FoI by journalists who want to generate uncomfortable stories, reveal an instinctive mindset against transparency.
Since the introduction of Equal Marriage by the Coalition government, civil partnerships, the halfway house which were introduced to afford gay and lesbian couples the legal protections of commitment, have enjoyed a unintended anomaly in UK law: they are one facility which can be accessed by homosexuals but not heterosexuals.
For the first time there is an answer to the “English Question” being proposed: it is called English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).
In the twenty five years since that speech no female leader of a major, UK-wide party has addressed a party conference. Thatcher’s four successors as prime minister have all been men; her five successors as Tory leader have all been men. In fact, only one woman has even stood in a Conservative leadership contest: Margaret Thatcher. No woman has been elected leader of the Labour Party.
The last favourite to become Tory leader (and prime minister) was Anthony Eden in 1955. So George Osborne may dominate the 2015 Conservative Party Conference but it doesn't mean he will be the UK's next prime minister
The Trade Union Bill 2015- 2016 passed its second reading on 14th September. Its purported aim is modernisation so that “hard-working people” are not inconvenienced by unsupported strike action, but it is a massive transfer of power away from workers and to employers.
There may well be a debate soon about mandatory voting. Who knows where it will lead? But before we can know that, clearly we have to decide the kind of polity we live in.
The moral high-ground is not given. It is earned. Corbyn's leadership may force some to look at themselves again and see themselves as others do. In a strange way, it might be the best thing to happen to them.
With the exodus of Blairites and Brownites, there is an element of this to Jeremy Corbyn’s first appointments. Household names are few and far between.
A dangerous notion will lose Corbyn the election, if he gets that far: the belief that there is no need to persuade Tory voters to vote Labour. The thing about non-voters is that they do not vote. Decisions are made by those who show up.
Yet last week Nigel Farage launched the UKIP “Out” Campaign. His belief that he and his party are best placed to win a referendum is perhaps the best thing that could happen to those who want to remain part of the European Union.
So this is what the wilderness looks like. On Sunday 12th September Labour will become unelectable as members, affiliates, registered supporters choose the least experienced, least popular, least plausible candidate as leader. We are in unprecedented territory.
Before they assumed office the Conservatives had a far-reaching, even radical, programme of constitutional reform. However, it may be that Cameron’s greatest constitutional legacies were never intended.
At the heart of cosmopolitanism is the idea of mutual respect, even obligations, between people and groups despite their different backgrounds. There is an undeniable logic: a universal morality that goes beyond the artificial boundaries of the nation-state.
Calls for reform of the Lords are as inevitable in every parliament as hearing the first cuckoo in spring. Many people will see the latest appointments as further evidence that it is time for reform. An elected second chamber is an understandable democratic reaction. But misguided.
Post-Miliband Jeremy Corbyn enjoys his moment in the sun, though it is not a neoliberal one.
Since the election, social media profiles have become festooned with a “76” logo. The 76 are either in denial that the Conservatives won or are questioning the legitimacy of their win. The opportunism is staggering.
The case for war against ISIL: when order breaks down the policy priorities change: just because we cannot do the right thing everywhere it does not mean we should not try when we can
In the glorious, messy fiction that is the United Kingdom we might discover that what has been holding us back from being “one nation” is the institution we are told binds us as a country.
To defend politics is not to defend every decision by government: although politicians are often their own worst enemies, no group could stand the scrutiny under which we put our political class.
Tsipras' Ruthless Pragmatism may be the only thing that is preventing political collpase in Greece
Comments threads and the age of Unreason. The left must stop claiming moral superiority