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
Syria is still an issue. It won’t go away just because most people have apparently stopped paying attention. Military intervention is now seemingly off the table – regrettably in my view – and the outside world is pretty much content just to let it all happen. Sadly, although this is morally repugnant, it remains politically popular – and doing anything to lessen the brutality is shrugged off by the British public; after all, such an action would cost money. Continue reading
Like some perverse retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ed Miliband was haunted by ghosts of prime ministers past – especially during the election campaign and by one of them in particular. While he was off campaigning in Bristol, the Labour leader drafted in his former boss to add some vim to proceedings in Sedgefield.
As well he might. Tony Blair is the most successful Labour figure in recent history, with three general election victories atop his otherwise already impressive record; indeed, he could even go down in history as the last Labour leader ever to win a majority at a general election, never mind three of them. And his skills do not just extend to winning, as the impressive speech he delivered on that occasion demonstrated. (It is also important to note that, unlike Miliband, whose attempt to imitate Wordsworth’s ‘happy warrior’ betrayed a seeming distaste for the platform and the podium, Blair appears to have a genuine relish for campaigning; some of it is always on show when he addresses a crowd, as has been demonstrated since.) Continue reading