Tag Archives: United Kingdom

No Senate, Please

Since the publication of Gordon Brown’s doorstop constitutional report for Labour Keir Starmer has been backed into a corner. Not only has he now committed to abolishing the House of Lords, which the report recommends, but he has also promised that he will do so in the first term of a Labour government.  

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Boris Johnson Saved by His Hollow Party

Boris Johnson has survived the attempt by some in Britain’s Conservative party to remove him as prime minister. The margin not quite close. But by being so publicly called into question, both the prime minister and his party have been weakened. Dogged by real and performative public disapproval, Johnson will have difficulty remaining in power for the rest of the parliamentary term, and more performing to do in the next election to remain in office after it.

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The Dangers of Politics

From across the Atlantic, it seems that American presidents are gunned down, or at the very least shot at in anger, with steady regularity. None have been hit in my lifetime, but enough have been attacked in living memory for it to be a minor cliché of the office. By contrast, only one British prime minister has been assassinated — and it was over 200 years ago; and his name, Spencer Perceval, is remembered almost solely in light of that fact.

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Yemen’s Wars

Mountainous and dry, with a tendency to anarchy in the ample spaces between its cities, Yemen has long been hospitable to insurgency. Yet in ancient times it was home to the Sabaeans and had claims to be the biblical land of the Queen of Sheba. Its fertility and beauty were such that the Romans called it Arabia Felix, ‘happy Arabia’. The people there are mostly Arabs and like much of the rest of Arabia, became subject to the distant domain of the Ottoman sultan. The fate of the peninsula was influenced significantly by Britain, which in 1937 took the port city of Aden as the centre of its colony (on independence in 1967, it became South Yemen). Britain exercised significant influence over who ruled Muscat and Oman; assisted succession to the monarchy and imamate of North Yemen; and together with the US confirmed the al Saud family as hereditary rulers of what became Saudi Arabia. Now combined, the former North and South Yemen are together Sunni by bare majority, but the Zaidi Shia remain a large, mainly northern minority.

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Iran’s Hostage Diplomacy

To read Richard Ratcliffe’s long investigative article about the purported reasons behind his wife’s situation, one can sense the burning sense of injustice and betrayal he feels.

Not only has his wife been arbitrarily and unlawfully kept as prisoner, for years, by one of the world’s most capricious systems of hostage-taking – by a nominally legitimate state – he has also suffered the dual humiliation of being strung along by two governments: Iran’s, and ours.

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The Bid to Stabilise Mali

British troops have begun operations in Mali as part of a United Nations mission to counter jihadist groups in the country. UK forces began arriving in February and have, with BBC cameras in tow, started their long-range patrols of the country’s sparse regions. The way the cameras captured it, those involved in these initial patrols seem confident, but also a little uneasy.

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