At the start of the year, the Brexit party didn’t exist. When it roared to success a few months later in the European parliamentary elections, much was made of how unlike a normal party it was. Nigel Farage was fond of telling audiences that his MEPs included Tories and former members of the Revolutionary Communist party. What else could unite them, he would ask, but the need to leave the European Union? Yet that common cause is now proving to be the party’s undoing in the wake of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. Continue reading
Fears of a European Bannonism
Steve Bannon is not as clever as he thinks, but he is good at attracting attention. At Breitbart News, Bannon fashioned effective propaganda, becoming an essential aspect of the right-wing media system – in America and, latterly, across the world. Continue reading
For some people, these islands seem just too small to satisfy their ambitions. Not content with Britain, many want to be known around the world; they want to be famous in a new and different way. Continue reading
Emmanuel Macron, leader of France’s En Marche! and candidate for the country’s presidency, seems too good to be true. Intelligent, impeccably educated, charismatic, he is very different to François Fillon, who is officially ‘embattled’ – and certainly looks jaded – after the emergence of a financial scandal regarding the unorthodox (and state subsidised) employment of his wife.
And Macron is nothing at all like the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen. Continue reading
After the British electorate voted to leave the European Union last June, things began to change rapidly. The prime minister speedily resigned and was replaced. His successor brought in a host of ministers – some new people and some rather old ones – to take account of this dramatic shift in public opinion. Those who had been on the fringes of the governing Conservative party – for example David Davis, an archetypal antique face – are now in the cabinet. Continue reading
This last week has felt terribly strange. It was – at least in domestic terms – the first time in my politically aware life that things have seemed tremendously, dreadfully significant. I have lived through many wars and revolutions in foreign countries (and I have followed many of them with interest), but the current chaos overtaking Britain’s political system seems different again; it is both less severe and in a way worse, not least because it is entirely self-inflicted. Ministers have resigned; shadow ministers have been fired; and every political party (with a few exceptions) now faces real internal turmoil. This is not the stuff of stable government; it is not the ideal breeding ground for a generation of sensible, pragmatic leaders and statesmen. Continue reading
With the PR battle over Britain’s EU membership hotting up, it is a dispiriting thought to remember that the official campaigning period has not even begun.
As a country we are in for yet more of the seemingly endless, vituperative debate surrounding Europe; and some of what has been said already touches on certain subjects in a worrying manner.
There is a distinct possibility of the EU referendum campaign giving an airing to some of the nastier debates and perspectives within the British body politic, including borderline racist sentiments. Continue reading
Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extoll the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.
Caesar’s double bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.
W. H. Auden, “The Fall of Rome”
Though the current trouble affecting the Conservative party in no way resembles the malaise affecting its Labour equivalent, there is certainly a sense – one which is reinforced by media coverage and the proclamations of opposition politicians – that the party is in trouble, even crisis, ahead of the upcoming referendum on the European Union. Continue reading
I like Michael Gove a lot – in fact, I think he’s one of the best Conservative ministers we have and are likely to enjoy for some time to come; but I’m a little saddened by his wanting Britain to leave the European Union. Not, I think, necessarily because this requires him to team up with two of the most unpleasant political figures in the country – the dual horrors of Nigel Farage and George Galloway, who represent living proof that extremists of Left and Right eventually come to resemble each other – but because in many ways it makes the case for remaining a little less attractive. Continue reading