Writing in the New Statesman about how useless and selfish Boris Johnson has been as Foreign Secretary, John Elledge says this:
There’s no evidence he cares about the public good, nor matters of policy, nor even ideology: he treats politics as a game, and his goal has only ever been to reach the next square on the board. This was how politics worked in the latter part of the Roman Republic, where the entire point was to complete the cursus honorum quicker than your peers
Not a classicist myself, I needed Wikipedia to tell me that cursus honorum is a set of public offices that aspiring politicians sought to hold. Ostensibly as a means of securing well rounded training in matters civic and military, but (by the end) a means of self-aggrandisement. Continue reading “The Selfishness of a Career for Career’s Sake”
Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP has two jobs and two job titles. First, he is Leader of the Labour Party, a position to which he was elected by a majority of those eligible to vote, in every voter category (members, registered supporters, affiliates). If that were the whole story then a leadership challenge would be completely undemocratic and wrong.
However, Mr Corbyn is also Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition. This is not some ceremonial title you get when elevated to a particular position, like Lord of the Isles or Second Lord of the Treasury. Instead it is a post that fulfills a crucial rôle in our democracy, scrutinising Government actions and Bills on behalf of the entire country, including people who did not vote Labour. Just as the Prime Minister (First Lord of the Treasury, by the way) is accountable and answerable to everyone, so too is the Leader of the Opposition. Continue reading “Jeremy Corbyn Is Not Doing His Job And Should Resign”
Now Britian has voted to leave the EU, there is a lot of discussion about at the moment over when or if Article 50 will be triggered.
Spinning Hugo suggests that it may never happen. He points out that the negotiating position of the UK is far stronger while Article 50 has not been invoked… and it will be instantly worse once it is invoked. Since EU leaders have declared that they will not begin negotiations until Article 50 is triggered by the British Government, a stalemate has arisen.
This is a compelling analysis, but I am reminded of the the Unexpected Hanging Paradox:
A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week but that the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on his cell door at noon that day.
Using logic, the prisoner deduces that he will never be hanged. When the executioner knocks on his door on a Wednesday he is therefore totally surprised. Continue reading “Article 50 Will Be Triggered When Illogic Dictates”
Ever since the EU Referendum campaign kicked off in earnest, everyone—Brexiters, Bremainers and Bragnostics—have been complaining that they can’t get the straight facts out of anyone. “If only we had the facts” they cry, “then we’d all be able to make a sober, rational choice about whether to vote in or out”.
That’s a noble idea but it’s also delusional. Most people aren’t going to do sums. They’re going to vote on gut instinct, emotions, and, if they are trying really hard to be civic minded, then they’ll vote on whose arguments seem most credible.
We don’t need more facts. The facts are out there for those who care to look and who have been educated in macroeconomics.
What we need are better metaphors. Continue reading “The EU is Not A Household Expense—It’s A Trade Fair”
Following the awful knife attack at Leytonstone on Sunday, the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv has been trending on social media. It has been so widely shared that it was discussed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and even the Prime Minister repeated it during his speech.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
To recap, the phrase was shouted by a passer-by at Muhyadin Mire, who attacked a fellow passenger on the London Underground system, allegedly shouting “this is for Syria”. Mire has been charged with attempted murder. Continue reading “#YouAintNoMuslimBruv: How We Became Savvy Propaganda Merchants For Good”
Yesterday, the Prime Minister re-announced that his Government had targeted British citizens with missiles fired from RAF drones. Two men are dead. The Sun and others have cheered the news. Others have expressed grave concern. Continue reading “Why we shouldn’t execute Islamic State militants with air-strikes”
The thing that irritates me about the Labour Leadership campaign is the Manichean approach adopted by everyone. We hear talk of schisms and splits and the “soul of the party” as if Corbyn is presenting such a different vision for the party that the Venn Diagramme of values and polices has no overlap between him and the other candidates.
This cannot, in reality, be true. But what troubles me about the overall tone of the debate is that it has made me doubt whether the losing faction, whichever it may be, will work with the person who wins. Continue reading “Could Corbynism compromise with Blairism?”
On OpenDemocracy’s OurKingdom blog, Oliver Huitson draws attention to the way in which the right-wing media has shifted the focus of its attacks in recent days: from ad hominem assaults on Ed Miliband, to warning about the danger of SNP influence on a possible minority Labour administration. Continue reading “Constitutional coups and the decline of media influence”
Thursday evening saw another party leaders debate. This time it was a BBC production, hosted by David Dimbleby.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, chose not to take part. One assumes that he and his strategists had good reasons for his decision. He has presided over many unpopular policies and would have been exposed to continual criticism. Perhaps he and his advisers felt that he could only lose.
But his absence felt odd. All the other participants were able to hammer the Coalition Government policies with impunity (Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, was not there either). Ed Miliband was able to take up the Prime Ministerial mantle unopposed.
Of the five parties that did show up for the debate, four are clearly to the left of David Cameron’s Conservatives and one, UKIP, are very much to the right. Their closing statements were different and appealed to different demographics, but throughout all I could hear was the sound of the Comservatives hemorrhaging votes.
My hunch is that the nationalist parties will do very well on 7 May, and that UKIP will pick up votes that should otherwise have gone to the Tories. I think this will allow Labour to prevail in a few seats that they may not otherwise have won, and that Miliband’s offer will persuade enough other voters. Taken together, all these results will put Labour in a position to form their own minority or coalition government. Of course, the campaign still has a few weeks left to run… but right now, I think Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister in May.
There’s a new app in town, called Meerkat. It allows you to stream live video direct from your mobile phone or tablet, with the link appearing in your Twitter stream.
Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to Barack Obama, writes:
If 2004 was about Meetup, 2008 was about Facebook, and 2012 was about Twitter, 2016 is going to be about Meerkat (or something just like it).
(He is of course talking about US politics). I wonder whether that’s true though: I fancy there may be a premium on asynchronicity—sending messages to people to read when they have time, rather than in the moment. How much value is there in This Is Happening Literally Right Now over the Twitter news model of This Just Happened? Meerkat does not seem to have any catch-up functionality—if you click on a link to a stream that has ended, there’s no way to view it back. Other services like Ustream and Google Hangouts do offer that functionality and I bet the Meerkat devs are beavering away (or whatever it is a meerkat does) to get this feature into the app. Continue reading “Why not do an extra leaders’ debate via #Meerkat?”