Extinction Rebellion: A catalyst for change or excuse for chaos?


Ever since its inception in May 2018, Extinction Rebellion has taken the world by storm. Their extravagant protests have forcefully placed the spotlight on the imminent “ecological collapse” and “mass extinction” we face, which world leaders have desperately attempted to sweep under the rug. Although historically, this inaction has partly been due to the mute reaction of the public towards climate change, viewed as an issue for the future, not the present. In the lead up to the 2017 election, YouGov polls stated that only 8% of the public considered the environment as one of their top three issues. However, in the run up to the December election, 25% of Brits believe that the environment is a highly salient issue, placed in their top three concerns. This can almost certainly be attributed to the impact Extinction Rebellion has had, changing the politics of climate change from being merely a formality that was spoken about by bureaucrats to appease activists, towards an uncontrollable uprising that has invigorated the wider public to enforce real change.

Extinction Rebellion’s initial protests outlined their aim to use “non-violent civil disobedience” to spark outrage and stem away from the traditional, ineffective systems of redress of grievances. On October 31st 2018, in one of their first protests, over 1000 XR campaigners blocked roads around the Houses of Parliament, locking themselves together and bringing London to a temporary standstill. Whilst this may be seen as a tame attempt in bringing attention towards the climate crisis when viewed in an isolated form, the continued widespread disruption serves as a hallmark to the success of the group. Less than a month later, the protestors struck again with an army of 6000 on what was dubbed as “Rebellion Day”, blocking 5 landmark bridges in London – with the Guardian highlighting it as “one of the biggest acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the UK in decades”. The explosive growth may have surprised many politicians and activists alike but is simply down to its disorganised and chaotic nature. Its decentralised nature, the lack of formal hierarchy, the promotion of grassroots campaigning and the formation of protests in short time periods culminates into a perfect storm of unforeseen disorder, which underlines the premise of XR.

Its decentralised nature, the lack of formal hierarchy, the promotion of grassroots campaigning and the formation of protests in short time periods culminates into a perfect storm of unforeseen disorder, which underlines the premise of XR.

Arguably the catalyst for change was the continuous 10-day protests held in April 2019, which was reflected both in the UK and across the world. In the UK, activists glued themselves to trains, staged “die-ins” outside the London Stock Exchange and the Treasury, and aimed to sever the traditional institutions who they felt have ignored their key demands. Over 1000 people were detained at the protests, cementing it as one of the biggest civil disobedience events in British history, eclipsing that of the anti-nuclear protests at Upper Heyford in 1982 and Thatcher’s poll tax riots in 1990. Another two-week series of actions in October 2019, dubbed as the “International Rebellion”, took place in over 60 cities worldwide, further cementing their global and domestic influence. It seems this overwhelming pressure has prompted politicians into action, with Parliament declaring a “climate change emergency”, less than a week after the end of the spring protests – which met XR’s first demand to “tell the truth”. Their second demand to “act now” hasn’t been met in its entirety – with Labour vaguely committing to “reaching net zero by 2030” and the Conservatives remaining rigid to their 2050 target, a far cry away from the group’s radical 2025 ambitions. However, there has been a fundamental shift in public opinion, and acts as the predominant reason for their success. The vast support for the pressure group during the April protests, despite its disruptive activities, is the underlying reason for its success.

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The recent Channel 4 Debate on the climate may also show increasing public support for the issue. 

Without this public furore, politicians are more than content to stick to short term electioneering tactics, rather than implement long lasting climate policies. Celebrity endorsements don’t hurt either, ranging from Benedict Cumberbatch to Steve Coogan to Mel B, garnering over 100 signatories in an open letter to the media for their support towards Extinction Rebellion, despite allegations of hypocrisy due to their high-carbon lifestyles. Donations tend to be a prerequisite for a pressure group’s success, whether it is either an insider or outsider group. Extinction Rebellion is no exception, receiving over £2.5m in the past 12 months, dispelling the notion that outsider groups fail to garner significant donations due to their unorthodox methods of campaigning.  It seems that Extinction Rebellion has redefined the description of a successful pressure group, mixing a variety of factors that previously were unavailable to a group without any access points within government.

However, the successes of Extinction Rebellion have begun to wane in recent months, particularly over the debacle at Shadwell Station and Canning Town in October. Extinction Rebellion protestors climbed onto trains, causing widespread delays and were forcefully dragged down by members of the public. This stunt alienated ordinary commuters and created internal divisions within XR, being described as a “huge own goal” by one XR spokesperson. YouGov’s findings that 54% of the public opposed the October protests only further highlights the debate has inadvertently turned into a class war, with activists ignoring the substantial impact they are having on minority communities. Protests should target the issue, not the people, yet Extinction Rebellion has failed to understand this fundamental difference. Damning reports of XR costing the Met Police £37m as of October 2019 – over double the amount spent on reducing violent crime in London – surely further divides public opinion, with police funding already severely strained. The need for balancing the right to democratic protest and disruption is one that XR must consider, ensuring that they focus on the institutions at the heart of the environmental problem rather than the general population. Extinction Rebellion must also address their lack of diversity, being labelled as a “white middle-class ghetto” and criticised by other environmental organisations for not being inclusive of ethnic minorities. Their mass-arrest strategy, whilst effective at gaining attention to their cause, is one that exacerbates this issue, with Metropolitan police statistics showing that nine in 10 of the 1,100 activists arrested in the group’s April protests in London were white. Inclusivity and diversity are vital to progressing the climate cause, as not appealing to the communities hit hardest by environmental degradation only halts further progress.

 

Extinction Rebellion must also address their lack of diversity, being labelled as a “white middle-class ghetto” and criticised by other environmental organisations for not being inclusive of ethnic minorities.

Despite concerns that Extinction Rebellion has aroused, the chaos they have caused has undoubtedly changed the climate debate for the better. Would such accelerated progress have been seen without drastic civil disobedience measures that they have employed? The emphasis on peaceful protest must be maintained for XR to have a tangible impact, although the Suffragettes proved that violence can work to get their voices heard. More must be done to ensure that the general public are not simply collateral damage and are part of the wider conversation to bring about drastic change to the current inaction by governments across the world. Whether failures in democracy justifies non-violent breaches in law is up to personal opinion, but Extinction Rebellion certainly believe it’s the only way forward.

The public are split over whether they are a catalyst for change or an excuse for chaos. Maybe a better description is the amalgamation of both, with Extinction Rebellion using chaos to be a catalyst for change.

What would be the Brexit Utopia?

The UK is in a political crisis. From here, what would form the top three perfect endings?


Everyone must be scratching their eyes sore about the state of British politics at the minute- it’s truly extraordinary. The Supreme Court ruled Johnson’s advice to the Queen as unlawful, the Government has lost 7/7 votes; and there is no clear yellow brick road to Brexit paradise to follow. Even the Her Majesty’s Opposition are at odds with each other; Corbyn wants a neutral Brexit campaign- whatever that means. Like me, you must be thinking that the world has gone insane. You’d be unequivocally correct.

It’s November 1st, 2019. What would be the ideal scenario to follow such a rumble in the Brexit jungle?

AN ELECTION: CONTESTED BY NEW LEADERS

An election looks likely, even in a political world of disproportionate unpredictability. There are certain ways that this can be achieved, even in a time of deadlock. If Johnson rallies his troops to vote against his own government, and manages to gain traction from the other parties, there could be an election within 14 days of such an event. This may not be possible, as the immediate aftermath could result in temporary pact-sharing nonsense. I don’t even think Corbyn trusts himself to lead a minority government, let alone other opposition MPs- essentially ruling this plan of action out. Labour can’t even unite under one Brexit policy, let alone gain sufficient consensus to from government.

According to the latest polls, The Tories are enjoying a strong lead over Corbyn’s neutral position. The Conservatives are on 32% and Labour on 23%. The Lib Dems sit on 19%. YouGov/Times

In an ideal world, either Boris or Corbyn win a majority that can be suitably used in the Commons, to half-end the stalemate of leave/ remain shenanigans. What would be superb, is if the Lib Dems were to fail on their anti-Brexit campaigning, to which has helped no one in this political crisis. No one needs the Lib Dems anyway. Flip-flopping, Brexit-denying; MP nabbing liberals. We wouldn’t want a hokey-cokey government made-up by the Lib Dems- it’d probably take them a whole year to work out where to sit. Yes, they’re strongly anti-Brexit, but like many of the other parties; they offer no unifying plan.

It’d be perfect if Corbyn and Boris stepped-down, that’d happen in my Utopia. In reality, there’s no one better to lead each respective party, so we’re stuck on this stage. Politics at the moment is truly screwed. And no, Jo Swinson definitely isn’t the answer.

A BREXIT WITH AN AGREEABLE DEAL

The upcoming EU summit between the 17th and the 18th of October may offer up a genuine chance for Britain to avoid a no-deal Brexit, although the chances of such an agreeable deal passing through Parliament is low; considering the government effectively the minority body in the House of Commons. Rees-Mogg once noted that simply removing the backstop would not be consequential enough of a change to warrant a good deal. The problem the government has is that their own backbenchers are ardent leavers and the House is undoubtedly anti-Brexit. If you were to bang the heads of Mark Francois and Steve Baker together, you’d get nothing but rhetoric and a story about British exceptionalism.

Clowning around: A man with a funny hat filming a 21st century clown.

This makes a deal agreeable through majority in Parliament low; and with a No-deal now practically illegal, Boris wouldn’t dare resign himself to ignoring this statute. He’s already been ruled by the Supreme Court to have wrongly advised the Queen, so it surely wouldn’t be in his interest to run against an actual piece of legally binding legislation, this time.

Therefore, my Brexit deal utopia would be this: an agreeable deal that ensures economic stability of sorts, without impeding on the rights of legally documented workers in this country. Whether this is possible, who knows? That’s why it’s so easy to write with ifs, buts; maybes. You can hide behind the facade of idealism.

FARAGE FINALLY FADES

Farage is getting boring, for me anyway. Yeah he wants Brexit delivered, fair enough. It’s just that I’ve had enough of Nigel this decade; dare I say it, but more boring politicians will do. Farage has ridden the coattails of populism for the best part this decade, playing a key role in the 2016 Brexit campaign. History will not remember Farage as the guy that pressured Cameron into calling a referendum- but the guy that won it. This political turmoil can’t be pushed onto one person, but rather the system as a whole, yet Farage’s refusal to be recognised as apart of the political class is somewhat baffling. He is. He leads a party. He sits in the European Parliament. C’mon Nige!

Every politician has their pinnacle. If we can ever move on from Brexit, let it be that we move on from Nigel Farage too. Oh, and his millionaire friend Arron Banks.


That’s enough of silly utopian thought. Here’s to the next month or so. Let’s just hope politics isn’t broken enough not to be mended again.


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Order! What has Brexit done to our courts?

Is Brexit about to return a plethora of sovereign capabilities back from the EU?


The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important element of the British constitution, as it gives the British Parliament in Westminster, as an elected body, supreme power and legislative authority over anything. Often, ideas about sovereignty are conflated with notions of patriotism, but they are robustly different things.

Although the sovereignty of our Parliament is longstanding, the historical significance of such an imperative principle is disputed, so the best I can do is present historic law:

Perhaps one of the most important Acts of Parliament (statute) in the union’s democratic history is that of the Bill of Rights (1689), in which all royal political powers were removed. A succeeding statute, the Act of Settlement (1700) removed the monarchy’s influence from the judiciary, allowing for the first time in modern British history, a completely independent legislature and judiciary from Royal interference. But, questions about the sovereignty of Parliament have been contested and with the prominence of this issue escalating both previous to and after Brexit, the understanding of such a crucial constitutional principle is vitally important. With the sovereign power derived from the Crown, is it correct to suggest that the UK lost sovereignty to the European Union as a member? Or, is it another one of those conflated-mistruths I spoke about earlier?

A common phrase during that referendum campaign was ‘let’s take back control’, and a big political part of that message relies upon the importance of Parliamentary sovereignty- something which was eagerly discussed in that campaign. And, perhaps the biggest message was the the NHS money bus which promised an extra £350m investment if Britain decided to leave the European Union. There are two things wrong with the campaign slogans above. Before Brexit, the UK had around 98% control of its public expenditure through both the executive privileges of the government and the sovereignty of Parliament. This means that the NHS’ budget is not restricted by the European Union, but rather controlled by the British Government and scrutinised on by the various functions of the House of Commons. If politicians such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were so obsessed with better funding the NHS, they should’ve said so when the Conservative Party’s manifesto was written in 2015. It is the government which sets public spending via the Treasury- it isn’t threatened by zombie European leaders in Brussels or Strasbourg. They are zombies, by the way. Indeed, Brexit is something which has caused such stirs at the heart of a wholly outdated political system that people are starting to doubt whether taking back control is actually possible. As the Brookings Institute highlighted, there is a world of difference between national sovereignty and national autonomy- so don’t you dare get them mixed up!

Those who think that sovereignty will restore complete control of immigration, economics and international law are purely and simply wrong.

In simplified terms, sovereignty is something exclusively political to the nation and it cannot control the external influences of the outside world, and the effects they have within our borders. Those who think that sovereignty will restore complete control of immigration, economics and international law are purely and simply wrong. Those who do, well, I’m glad your reading my blog. I present the big questions of our day to you, On Face Value.

What is fundamental to understand is that if I was to vote based off of a usually salient issue, say the economy, and wanted the EU’s grubby hands off of it; I wouldn’t vote off of the basis of sovereignty. I would be voting for greater political and economic autonomy, which is a different idea entirely. If I want an economic structure that reflects Britain’s wider presence in the world, these changes rely upon a plethora of different contributive chapters in order for the story to be written. Elements such as trade deals, socioeconomics; politics in government and the economic tendencies of the wider world. In all truth, sovereignty should never have even been an issue in the referendum, simply because it has always been present.

A crucial example that I would point to would be the relationship between the UK’s judicial system and the legislature in Westminster. In this case, Westminster Parliament has complete favorability; it is a sovereign body, so it cannot be overruled even by the courts. The subordancance of the Courts is noticeable through legal doctrines that are referred to as ‘Common Law’, and these legal conventions follow the legislation passed by Parliament. So, if you’re unhappy that the courts haven’t got control, it isn’t a European issue at all- this precedent dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Blame them.

The European Court of Justice & The Supreme Court

Here’s where it gets spicy though, because it is true that we have a large chunk of our constitution reserved for the European Union- particularly in the judicial branch. Much like our courts, the European Court of Justice is a body which regulates the implementation of law, via the outlines stated by treaties and secondary legislation. Our Supreme Court must refer to the ECJ over such issues, because they are important protected elements of EU policy that must be adhered to in legislation. If the ECJ does rule that a piece of legislation is incompatible with EU law, it doesn’t have the power to strike down national law passed by a sovereign body. It is true that through a European ruling in 1964, states that had agreed to limit some of their sovereign capabilities would be obliged to follow the word of the treaties when making law. In this sense, EU law takes precedent in the manufacturing of legislation.

In 2016, the ECJ ruled that the Investigatory Powers Act was in breach of EU law on surveillance. The Supreme Court then followed with a Declaration of Incompatibility, to which the government agreed to reword their legislation.

If Parliament passed a law that was incompatible with EU law and directives, the Supreme Court would rule a Declaration of Incompatibility. This highlights a very important checks-balance process between the Judiciary, the EU and the British Parliament. The courts have very limited powers over Parliament, so if a law was to found to be negating the words of the EU treaties, the Supreme Court would attempt to find a resolution through the use of common law and legal conventions. Ultimately, Parliament still effectively has control of its laws and clearly; all this process does, is it makes law more representative and better worded for adequate enforcement by the courts.

As some Brexiteers would be quick to point out, there is another European court that does have some influence over the legislation that Westminster Parliament must adhere to- The European Court of Human Rights.

This is perhaps one aspect of the European Union that has got under the nails of many Conservatives and Eurosceptics. Originally founded to protect the EU from totalitarianism in 1959, the Court of Human Rights’ oversight has been an issue of national deliberation ever since its first involvements with the UK. Correctly or incorrectly, the role of the court is fundamentally to protect the rights of European citizens across the EU, particularly in areas such as employment rights. The court oversees the implementation of and the adherence to the European convention on Human Rights, which came into force in October of 2000. Essentially, any appellate can appeal to the court, on the basis of a human rights issue; including at times, states themselves.

Once again, the ECHR can judge a law to be in breach of the Human Rights Act, and UK courts can give a declaration too. The ECHR can override the decisions of UK courts if needs be, which could highlight the discontent of some toward the powers the court holds. Although, as a sovereign body, it remains Parliament’s jurisdiction to decide to amend said law or not. Usually though, public opinion dictates that they do.

The way to rid the United Kingdom of such a court is to repeal the Human Rights Act, which establishes the link between the court’s jurisdictions and ‘interference’ with British law. This is relevant particularly to 2016, when the government drafted a ‘British Bill of Rights’ to replace the potential omission of the Human Rights Act. This was widely condemned as a rushed and ‘populist’ proposal which gained very little traction, and there hasn’t really been much chatter since. Apart from Theresa May threatening to remove it as part of the Brexit withdrawal in January of this year, no solutions have been pushed. The House of Lords Brexit Committee warned that the Act was under threat after Brexit, after they labelled the government’s response as ‘diluted’. Talk about ‘good, strong government in the national interest’.


Historic rulings from the European Court of Human Rights on the UK:

 

 


Brexit and the separations of power:

This brings me to my conclusive segment- the current dilemma of the Supreme Court. The question over whether Boris Johnson ‘lied’ to the Queen is currently being mulled over by all 11 Justices, and a ruling is widely expected next Monday. Regardless of the verdict, this case highlights the extraordinary political climate of today and to think we had seen it all. John Major (former Prime Minister) even testified through a lawyer this week, indicating the extent of the political rupture. Forget bonkers. This is unheard of.

These developments are lurching into a constitutional crisis, particularly in regards to the makeup of the balance of powers between each branch. Bear in mind that the uncodified state of our constitution makes the coming decision even more important; if the Supreme Court adjudged that Johnson misled the Queen, some will cry political interference from the Judiciary. Therefore, the key question is this: is it for the courts to intervene in such a matter? If so, what an earth does that mean for the future? Remember, legal doctrines are a vital part of the judicial process. This would break the trend.

The immediate future is indifferent; if the Supreme Court rules that it isn’t within their jurisdiction (which is quietly expected), we return to the normal state of play. Well, Brexit normal. If an opposite decision is arrived at, Parliament could be recalled immediately. Chances are, Johnson would prorogue Parliament again.

What would the likes of Erskine May, A.V Dicey and Lord Bingham think of this mess? Better not answer that. Politics students like me? Well, we’re pulling our hairs out trying to keep up. Wish us luck with that.


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The ‘Girly Swat’ is back.

David Cameron is back with his new ‘explosive’ book. Even history can’t save you, Dave.


Dave has returned. The Prime Minister that resigned in 2016 following Britain’s decision to leave the EU has had very few run-ins with the public recently; tucked away in that reading shed of his. Unfortunately for us, his sudden reappearance from the abyss is an opportunity to market his brand new book: For the Record. Presumably, it is going to set things straight- although anything is possible with Cameron.

Before the release of his book on September 19, The Times today published an interview with the 6-year Prime Minister, in which he hinted that he would have done things differently to both May and now Johnson. Despite what is expected to be an almost 800 page recollection of his time in office, it won’t just be ‘girly’ spats that will feature in this memoir. His book could include answers to whether during the 2016 campaign, a no-deal was voted for and how he would have dealt with the negotiations with the EU. Considering that his renegotiation in 2015/16 was lamented for being ‘neither here nor there’, whatever he does suggest will almost certainly be spat back out by the likes of the Moggster and Brexit Boris.

The sales figures aren’t exactly booming on the pre-order lists, with the book not even making the top twenty on the Amazon charts, but Waterstones are confident that sales will be strong. However popular the book turns out to be, the contents will be rigorously examined by the Conservatives who are looking to preserve face over Brexit- something which they have failed to do since 2016. The release just precedes the Conservative Party conference by over a week, with their ex-leader looking to retain some of his battered reputation, despite barely being in the public eye for over three years. It would seem that he has plenty to salvage, and not just issues regarding Brexit. Remember the now infamous ‘Omnishambles’ budget in 2012? Thought so.

The 2012 budget was so heavily disliked, that even Ed Balls came out looking like a credible future Chancellor. The gist of the budget was this: the decision to cut the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p, which in its actuality was a huge token for the wealthiest. The measures on the surface were symbolic of a political suicide, with those earning over £150,000 being granted an easier time of things; during the hard-hitting austerity campaign. Dave’s partner in crime, George Osborne, was spared his job after the biggest political error in recent budget history. If it wasn’t for Cameron’s spineless leadership and sheer dependence on his number two, Osborne would have been reduced to the political graveyard. They both just about survived, although the leadership abilities of David Cameron were heavily undermined. The panto-villain of George Osborne has somehow escaped the political belittling that his former boss has received, despite arguably being the most inexperienced, incompetent and harshest-cutting Chancellor of post-war Britain.

So, there should be no surprise that the new book is going to look to paper over the glaring cracks of Cameron’s chaotic premiership. According to the pollsters YouGov, his reputation is flat-lined; out of nine-thousand participants, he has a 61% negative opinion across those involved with the survey. The last Conservative Prime Minister before Cameron, John Major is enjoying a slight bump in support following his summer promise to take the government to court, over the now ‘clandestine’ decision to prorogue Parliament. Not Dave.

Remember Ed Miliband? Yep, I thought so (again). Chaos with you, Dave? Not a chance. Poor Ed.

History is funny isn’t it?

Cameron probably does realise that his form of party management in calling a referendum was a mistake personally, although he has repeatedly refused to denounce the position as a “mistake” in public. It is ironic that this ‘party management’ has allowed for the Conservative party to be at its most fragile and fractured since the mid-90s, a decision which cost him his leadership of a majority government and personal popularity. What is more ironic, are the infamous tweets that aged badly during the 2015 general election campaign. Remember Ed Miliband? Yep, I thought so (again). Chaos with you, Dave? Not a chance. Poor Ed.

Dodgy Dave: The #LeadByDonkeys campaign took Dave on a trip down memory lane with their campaign earlier this year.

For Dave’s sake, it is only fair that I highlight his achievements over gay rights, equality and international contribution. He was also a fantastic leader of the Oxford anti-austerity campaign. Apart from these achievements, David Cameron will long be remembered as the man that started the process of splitting a nation; for some, one of the worst Prime Ministers of all time. Jeremy Paxman certainly thinks so.


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Dominic Cummings: The new real deputy prime minister

Special advisors have always been a contentious topic within British politics, but none more so than within Number 10 itself. The nature of Alastair Campbell’s appointment within Tony Blair’s team ahead of the 1997 election would change the influence of special advisors for years to come. The extent to which even Cabinet members titled Campbell as “the real deputy prime minister” highlights the disproportionate influence an unelected advisor has upon government affairs, being credited as the spin doctor due to his overbearing and intoxicating approach to the media in order to protect Mr Blair’s image at all costs. Malcolm Tucker in the TV series “The Thick of It” by the BBC was loosely based off the former director of communications, giving a weirdly accurate portrayal of the liberal use of profanities by Campbell behind the scenes, with the heated 2003 interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 regarding the “dodgy dossier” displaying hints of the short temper he held.

Fast forward to 2019, and a newcomer has emerged in the form of Dominic Cummings. Dominic already gained notoriety for his controversial role as the mastermind behind the Leave campaign, reportedly credited with fundamental aspects of the campaign such as the slogan “Take back control”, the campaign’s emphasis upon immigration and its informal links to the disgraced Cambridge Analytica. Cummings has followed in the footsteps of Campbell, depicted by the Channel 4 drama “Brexit: The Uncivil War”, unravelling him as the integral piece of the Brexit puzzle. This was the first time he was placed firmly in the public eye, and would turn out to be the first of many.

What differentiates Cummings from Campbell is the sheer number of controversies he has had within a small time period, making Alastair’s affairs seem trivial in comparison. Dominic has a knack for disregarding every founding principle of democracy, starting with the Electoral Commission stating that Vote Leave broke electoral law – yet faced a laughable fine of just £61,000 and a slap on the wrist. The same man who was found in contempt of parliament after failing to appear in front of the DCMS committee in relation to fake news has recently been given a security pass for the Palace of Westminster. Cummings is the epitome of anti-establishment, although that very same establishment is the one granting him unchecked and unlimited power. The “political anarchist”, as dubbed by former prime minister John Major, has not stopped there however.

Dominic has a knack for disregarding every founding principle of democracy.

Cummings has built upon his intimidation and use of obscene language from his days at the Department for Education under Michael Gove from 2010-2014, where he enforced a culture of “us-and-them” and bullying tactics. He was even reportedly involved in the attempted removal of a senior civil servant, which was likened to an episode from the aforementioned series The Thick of It. Cummings’ dictatorial regime is reflected in his involvement in the sacking of Sonia Khan, Sajid Javid’s media advisor. The audacity he had to escort the Chancellor’s advisor from No 10 by a police officer, merely over accusations of contact with Tory Europhiles, without Javid knowing prior to the sacking is beyond belief. This only serves to highlight inherent problems within the Downing Street machine, and where the real power lies. To make matters worse, the unfathomable decision to sack 21 Tory MPs was unsurprisingly linked with the vindictive chief of staff. Reports from Tory sources said Cummings threatened former Business Secretary Greg Clark to “purge” him and his colleagues that defied Boris’ plans. The outlandish behaviour that he has displayed, alongside the repeated remarks from prominent MPs about his conduct, only accentuates the destructive course he is leading the Conservatives towards.

The puppet meister (left) and the puppet (right).

Chaos has been normalised under the duo of Johnson and Cummings, throwing Parliament, MPs, convention and every facet of the British political system into turmoil.  The polarising nature of Cummings and his programme has arguably achieved the exact opposite of his intended goal – he has only served as a source of universal agreement from opposing MPs, who equally despise the unelected SpAd. The frequent nature of controversial appointments such as Cummings has re-opened conversation about the power of special advisors. Irresponsible actions that he has undertaken provides endless conundrums with few answers, and it seems like everyone is powerless in stopping the tyrant that he has become.

I hope we can all take solace in the fact that the political career of these despicable advisors has ended abruptly in resignation – Alastair Campbell with the Iraq Dossier and Hutton Inquiry, as well as Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill after the 2017 election. With an impending election around the corner and the Tories’ possible ousting as government, surely political history defines that Dominic Cummings’ time as the real deputy prime minister may soon be up.


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The Death of a Great British Democracy

With the unstoppable rise of populism and the effects of technologilisation, is it any wonder that British democracy is being called into disrepute?


The political earthquakes of the past five years have shone a light onto the adequacy of world democracy more than ever before. The significance of such issues aren’t new- they come as a result of historical failings- ones which have amounted to consequences of epic proportions.

The extent of the ruptures of modern democracy are far bigger issues than events such as Brexit; the current tendencies are simply just a product of intergenerational complacency- it has been 45 years since the end of Nixon, as an example. Highlighting Nixon’s tenure in office is just, as his presidency was one that rocked public trust in elected officials to an all-time low. His example was so prominent, that every political scandal has since been shipped with the -gate suffix, a grammatical aspect which hints at the failings of a manipulated democracy. He never recovered and seemingly, nor has democracy.

The culmination of today’s seismic political events have only highlighted the grave splits that have been hidden in institutions of democracy.

Brexit only highlighted politics’ shortcomings- it didn’t forge them.

Nixon’s presidency coated a quilt of doubt on the ability of politicians and governments across the world to use their power with responsibility and maintain accountability to the people. That quilt of irrepressible gloom suffocated the bedrock of public trust, and now it seems as though the veils are being pulled over the eyes of the public. Ironic, considering the ‘biggest ever’ democratic exercise in the UK only took place a mere 3 years ago. Ironic, considering Donald Trump promised to fix a ‘broken Washington’. The culmination of today’s seismic political events have only highlighted the grave splits that have been hidden in institutions of democracy, to which haven’t been as noticeable as they are today.

Perhaps the biggest question of British democracy is that of our parliamentary component of convention is an element which has perhaps reached its viability as a tolerable tool of politics. There is no doubt that it has worked, but the heavy collision between direct and representative democracy has corroded trust from both sides of the European question- even if it was initially a party spat. There is no doubt that democracy in the UK had one of the boldest inceptions in the world, and traces of that beginning are very much still demonstrative today. It is notable that belief in history and political precedents is important, but there must now be a pragmatic change to the way politics works. Pragmatic being the realisation that the system is broken, and by using the last three years as examples, learning from the grave errors that have now preceded this piece.

In a Liberal democracy prided on the political freedom of the public to sway the biggest political decisions of the day, the incompatibility of this week’s events not only highlight that more scrutiny needs to be placed on government, but also, more transparency on MPs. The Democratic Audit, published annually with the LSE, had warned of the importance of improving the state of parliamentary process before this most recent implosion. Minimal actioning followed. The adequacy of scrutiny is simply non-existent, and this is not a new phenomenon contrary to popular knowledge- Blair got away with it. His actioning of the Iraq war in 2003 was the biggest scandal to slither past the coat of scrutiny preceding the issue of Brexit, and families will argue they still haven’t seen the light of day since. The deep lies in which his government told over ‘weapons of mass destruction’ had fooled Parliament then, and the now infamous ‘Dodgy Dossier’ could have spared the livelihoods of British soldiers. Had there been more accountability, perhaps this course of action may have been prevented- lives saved, democracy preserved. There must be no mistake: the failures of the constitution are not simply down to a lack of modernisation, but rather the failure of a Parliament to advocate for meritocratic representation. Forget ideology or partisanship, this obnoxious slide in good representation has been flummoxed by the conscious decision of parties to promote tribalism and opportunism.

Dominic Cummings represents the conductor of this government’s tendencies to turn the constitution into a sword of political manipulation.

Boris Johnson’s selection as an MP in 2015 is evidence enough to suggest this; as Mayor of London, he made his intentions clear that he would combine his role as MP with mayoralty. This not only a negation of his role to the public of London, but also to his new Ruislip constituency. It is not feasible to suggest that he could have done both jobs well enough, as both are in essence, full time jobs. Boris was a personality, one which would have proved vital for the Conservatives in 2015 (which they won). This was not a selection based off of Boris’ skills to help his new constituents, because if it were, the job would have gone to someone with more time and availability to represent a constituency. And, is it at all a surprise that Boris’ best contribution as PM so far has been dubbing Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘chlorinated chicken’? It probably will not come as such a shock that his decision to suspend Parliament was seen by 46% of people as undemocratic, compared to 32% on the contrary (YouGov, snap poll). Ipsos Mori have also chipped in with a poll: 75% of people are already dissatisfied with the government- making it the least popular incoming government in 40 years. This may just be a speculative poll, but if this has any true indication of the state of British democracy, then there is a lot to fear. There will inevitably be an election though, and with the government electioneering through policy proposals, it could be about to change. There may be a mandate, and suddenly all the issues over a non-legitimacy would be resolved. Brexit could even be finalised. In a Utopia, yes. With the electoral system however, the woes are set to continue.

Forget ideology or partisanship, this obnoxious slide in good representation has been flummoxed by the conscious decision of parties to promote tribalism and opportunism.

VOTES AND TECHNOLOGY

It does usually fall on an election to fix the broken political split in Westminster, but any potential election could be one that threatens to have the opposite effect. Our current system of voting has been widely criticised for some time: First Past the Post relies upon a simple majority in each constituency for a candidate to win a seat, and as a plurality system, often the national results are skewed quite significantly. Take the Labour heartlands for instance, these constituencies collectively voted to leave the EU, with 70% of the heartland constituencies doing so. But, DeltaPoll suggest that any chance of a pro-Brexit party winning there is extremely slim as these areas decisively vote for Labour on a habitual basis. So, Labour will keep their heartlands regardless. The problem comes when pro-Brexit parties will begin to contest tight seats that change hands often, and with the vote being split significantly, the possibility that remain parties could sweep in and win a seat are likely (i.e. Lib Dems). Labour are behind in Wales, the Conservatives face the possibility of being wiped out in Scotland and potentially, the Brexit Party’s vote could be completely misrepresented due to the voting system.

Boris Johnson may be polling at around 35% at the moment, but in today’s politics that will only be worthy enough to be a minority government, if polls were to stay at a similar place during an election. The voting system may well suit parties like the Conservatives, but in a time of political toxicity, it is hard to imagine how long it will remain in place if hung parliaments are consistently produced. There may be a bigger issue with democracy now; a problem that threatens to misinform, lie and destroy the premise of accountability. The fake news and distorted political propaganda on social media platforms such as Facebook have already allegedly flirted with the EU referendum and the 2016 US election; there are genuine fears that it may continue if a new election rolls around the corner.

Brittany Kaiser’s whistleblowing has further increased scrutiny on how media companies have a foothold on democratic practices.

The select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently published a report that suggested that on sites such as Facebook, genuine news stories are getting less coverage than fake news due to the level of manipulation that these headlines go through to get featured. This all follows the concerning revelations that during the 2016 EU referendum, around 50 million Facebook profiles were ‘harvested’ by former data company Cambridge Analytica. These figures and profiles were shared with Leave.EU and the UKIP campaign during the referendum. The now infamous Brittany Kaiser released emails to the committee earlier this year that were indicative of the rigorous data campaign that Cambridge Analytica performed, giving a further indication that mass manipulation of voters by technology has undermined British democracy- that much is clear.

Problems over populism and fake news have been liked as a matter of certainty in Italy, with fake news ‘having undoubtedly favoured right wing populist parties’ there. So is it that surprising that democracy is suffering as a result? A report by Italian researchers suggests that people choose to be apart of a ‘fake news bubble’, due to their prior preference of digesting news from populist sources. The biggest issue that this report outlines is the self-echo chambers that platforms like Facebook allow for; people are able to share their political views and tendencies, which is reinforced by confirmation bias. In this particular study, it is open to suggest that for whatever reason, people are taking rational decisions to share and believe warped information. There could be a link with socioeconomics and the news someone chooses to share, but there are limited links to suggest such an explanation, although it does hold some logic.

People are taking rational decisions to share and believe warped information.

In a liberal democracy, the media system should be diverse and pluralistic and there could be a case to blame social media for the the erosion of free, correct and informative publications during an election. Fake news is so threatening, that consecutive governments have outlined approaches of tackling this manufactured, false medium of information. Whether these measures are successful or not will be hard to interpret. The beauty of being in a liberal democracy is that news is overly unregulated, with the formal news outlets all have binding codes of conduct in regards to journalistic integrity. Social media and other such outlets don’t, but establishing such a conduct would be near impossible. The social media companies will need to step-up, and with Facebook’s employment of Sir Nick Clegg, it would appear as though they are trying to tackle these problems seriously. But, evidence suggest they just haven’t. Another election could be submerged in dangerous rhetoric fuelled by populist ideas, starting from the very social media apps on everyone’s phones. That will not mend a political crisis. Undoubtedly, it will worsen it.

Democracy has flourished through the failings outlined; the vibrancy of Westminster is indicative that actually, informal political interaction is strong. But, what has it achieved? It takes formal political change to tackle the key issues of the day, but if formal political interaction is failing, where is it that change can really be achieved? This is the question that is facing our times and an answer is needed fast. If not, a broken democracy will soon become a dead one.


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Politics in turmoil: The UK isn’t alone.

You would be forgiven in thinking that the UK are having a political crisis so grand that the rest of Europe is laughing at us. Not so, especially when you look at Spain’s ensuing disaster: there is still no permanent Prime Minister, despite having an election earlier this year. The biggest problem is that there is a clash of socialist ideas and approaches, something which has failed to amount to a permanent government. The biggest party in the Spanish congress, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), form the current administration, as the biggest party-but without a majority. This is crucial, as without a coalition, there is no stable government to meet the allocated deadline of September 23. The PSOE’s target party is Podemos, another party who have strong roots with socialism, but who demand certain ‘wants’ in order to facilitate the possibility of a minority coalition.

‘They would see this as a betrayal of a relatively young constitution

Centre-right political parties are adamant that Sánchez stays away from Catalan independence parties.

Yes, a minority coalition. The current acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had won the April elections but with Podemos, they would still be some eleven seats short. This means that Sánchez would have to rely upon Basque independents in the congress, which would allow him to avoid falling under the influence of the Catalunya independent parties. The question over Catalunya has had a huge effect on Sánchez’s position, with pressure from centre right parties effectively built around the worry of an independence pact being formed. They would see this as a betrayal of a relatively young constitution (ratified 1978) and the breakup of a country that presided in an oppressive dictatorship for a large chunk of the 20th century. They do not want to see a threat of a breakup of a democratic Spain so early into this century, which they fear a pact would more than threaten to do.

The left of Spanish politics has been caught up in a battle for cabinet positions, and with the PSOE initially offering no departments to Podemos’ selected group of potential ministers, an agreement is yet to be reached. Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, want ministry jurisdictions and not to be left out in the cold. They fear no government roles would essentially tie them into an agreement with little breathing space, and minimal influences of policy choices. Although they do not want to tie themselves in to a bad agreement, they aren’t walking away, as they realise that this is the best opportunity for them to have power since their 2011 inception. It is a stalemate, and this lack of concessions is leading to a potential second Spanish election of the year- which could lead to yet more uncertainty.

The two leaders will meet again over the course of September to find an agreement that could allow for a government to form, but much like the approaching Brexit deadline, there is little to no time to waste. Sánchez has been rejected twice before, and this month is the indicative period for his political future but also for the sustainability of the constitution. It has to be noted that the former Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy was ousted last summer over corruption charges within his own party, a signal strong enough to project the displeasure around Spanish politics today. To combat this, the acting prime minister has attempted to lay out over 300 new policy proposals to form a coalition ( El País) and some key ‘ministry’ promises for the party. The response has been muted so far, with Iglesias saying that he will analyse the contents of the proposal further. The rest is yet to be seen, and if no deal can be reached, a new election is scheduled for November 10.

‘Negotiation’ seems to be the money word at the moment- and no wonder.

 

 

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The Boris Brexit Bash Rumbles on.

Tonight’s big political news is that the House of Commons has voted in favour of taking control of the Commons’ business. This will enable MPs who have been against no-deal to legislate that No-deal isn’t redeemable by law, with this particular vote pencilled in for tomorrow (4th).

YES: 328 NO: 301

The House of Commons votes to take business control away from the government.

Another key moment today is that Boris Johnson has laid down a motion for an early snap election through the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011. This essentially means that for an election to be guaranteed, the House of Commons needs 2/3 of MPs to vote for the confirmation. The talk of the town yesterday was that the government planned an initial ‘stick and twist’ election for October 14, a few weeks ahead of the deadline. Well, it seems that the government has run out of ideas after today’s defeat.

The growing trepidation of a no-deal has led to over 20 Conservative MPs voting against the government, with Boris Johnson’s words on the steps of Downing Street doing little to prevent the fall-out. Now, it is likely that the deadline for getting a deal could be extended to January 2020, signifying the extent to which British democracy is well and truly in deep hole.

The talk of an early election may have been confirmed today, but by no means is a general election certain. It may be that parties would want to pass legislation to prevent a no-deal completely, meaning that they could yet not be ready to vote for such a motion. But, the Tory psycho-drama is set to continue, with all 21 of the rebel Conservative MPs set to ‘lose-whip’ in any circumstances (Vicki Young, BBC). Even Philip Hammond, it is reported, has lost his whip according to the Guardian, meaning that he is no longer, in technicality, a Conservative MP anymore. And, with more set to follow, the middle-class apocalypse is really set to spice up.

These revelations follow on from earlier this evening, when ex-Tory Dr. Phillip Lee crossed the floor to the Lib Dems which was confirmation that the government’s paper thin majority had been shredded. This could very well be the end of the Conservative party, as their future is now in serious contention. Ken Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees- he thinks that it has been ‘taken over’. He could well be right.

The credibility of Boris Johnson is running close to fatal, and with the immediate prospect of essentially booting-out 21 MPs for voting against the government, it could be Boris’ bye-bye. It was said that Johnson could well have one of the shortest tenures as Prime Minister in living memory, and those early sentiments could soon be proven to be correct. Considering Boris suggested that Brexit would be delivered on a ‘do or die’ basis, this is surely the bit where he has been shot in the leg and must find a way to limp over the line (metaphoric, of course).

The EU summit is on October 17, and if there is to be a rumoured October 14 election, a huge amount rides upon what happens tomorrow and this week in the House of Commons. And, with no majority and 21 MPs looking as though they are expelled from the party, his administration is hopeless. Boris’ career as PM could be over before it even started, and having only won off of the basis of a ‘selectorate’ (Party member vote), his credentials have been depleted. Heavily.

With my last year of A-Levels set to start this week, it signifies that however young I may be, this period is surely going to be remembered as the most consequential time in modern British political history. This could be the beginning of the end for the mainstream political parties- the Conservatives are disunited (and bitterly so), Labour cannot fathom a useful trajectory of momentum and the SNP are still looking to keep within the borders of Scotland.

Is it any surprise that the Brexit Party did so well in the EU elections this year? Probably not. There is an open chance that a new generation of parties are all lining up to boss politics in the not too distant future.

Keep your heads on, as this might just be the most frantic month, let alone week in modern British politics. It’s certainly do or die now. Be Safe, please.

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It’s the Constitution, Stupid!

What a time it is to be alive. Never before has interest in our unentrenched constitution been so relevant. We have the leading lights of politics rushing to remind us of normal convention. This is how it is, they say. Indeed, in normal circumstances it is- but these are no normal times.

The current fiasco regarding the suspension of Parliament is rapidly turning into something that will not just blow over by the end of summer, despite calls for us all to just calm down. Mr Rees Mogg has today suggested that any outrage is a ‘phony’ attempt to detract away from Brexit, which indicates how far out of touch he is. In his eyes, this a habitual move by a government to lay out its policies for the coming sitting of Parliament. Mogg has a tendency to rely upon the importance of convention as a component of the UK’s constitution. Convention is great, but the beauty about having an uncodified constitution is the very potential of it to be shaped by the status-quo of today. We are all probably aware by now, that gentlemen with the calibre of Mr Mogg are devoid of any grasp of the importance of getting this damned process right.

Mogg is such a clear man of principle, that he does not detract away from the norm in the House of Commons and the processes that follow. Ever. Remember that earlier this year, John Bercow allowed for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement to be presented to the house three times, despite being defeated twice before the final vote. This was a play on convention, to which in normal circumstances would not have happened. Mogg voted for Ms May’s agreement, despite lamenting it beforehand. He ‘flip-flopped’, despite being so morally entrenched enough before, not to do so. An ardent follower of the constitution should have surely abstained from the vote. This was such a step-out from normal procedure, that a man of such adherence to convention would be outraged. Hence, Mr Mogg lost credibility and he was only resuscitated earlier this summer when he was appointed by PM Boris as Leader of the House of Commons.

There would be greater respect given to a man of such knowledge, if he had acted on principle. He would’ve surely realised that not only would this have damaged public opinion of the political class further, but ensued more turmoil toward the adequacy of our constitution. Perhaps, Rees Mogg’s touch-tight defence of normality is why we are almost definitely living through a crisis of political procedure. Works of constitutional authority such as Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice could not have foreseen such challenging circumstances in the workings of Parliament, way back in 1844. The constitution should be an evolving centrepiece solely to soothe the needs of society- not threaten to further divide it.

The spit-balling rhetoric of Mogg is something which threatens to damage the constitution’s functionality in such a time of political toxicity. By using the constitution as an excuse to politicise convention is a sad trend which politicians are leaping into like a war-bunker, in the hope of avoiding the incoming blitz of destruction. This sentiment that a government should follow the word of convention is a lazy excuse for hiding the fact that they have no means to an end. They’re not going to achieve a deal with the EU that can be presented to Parliament, due to the short time they have left. And, with Mogg being a man that has championed Brexit since its inception in 2016, it is his reputation that is on the line. Forget what A.V Dicey or Erskine May wrote centuries ago- this is about him. He needs a hard Brexit to pet his hard-Brexit pugs in Parliament, and demonstrate to them that he did what he promised to do.

The Conservative party is losing limbs from its own body.

Once upon a time, Mogg was an advocate for two referendums, on the basis that they would provide a period for legislation and scrutiny to which would best suit the needs of the time. How far we have come. Mogg loves reading books about convention and dictating how the English language should be used; dressing as though he is reenacting Victorian Britain BUT it seems as though he is more modern than ever before. For the first time in living memory, a government is using procedure (it should have happened last year, but didn’t) to force through political, partisan gain. As someone who is a normal person , I’m as annoyed as everyone else. So too is John Major, Tony Blair and now the inspirational Ruth Davidson. The Conservative party is losing limbs from its own body. This party isn’t fit to govern today.

Need I remind you that Mogg once used the longest ever recorded word in Parliament a few years back. floccinaucinihilipilification. I’ve too got a noun for Jacob: T**t.

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Government plans Parliamentary shut down: Confirmed.

It seems that within the last few hours, Parliament is going to be suspended on advice to the Queen by the government. This idea isn’t new, but it seems as though a No Deal is the only way of exiting the EU by the October 31st deadline.

It’s a Constitutional Outrage if the reports are true.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons

There’s a bunch of reports blowing around at the moment, with outlets pushing contrasting versions of the story. While suspending Parliament to push through a No Deal would be true, there hasn’t been a Queen’s Speech for a while due to the Government’s insistence with dealing with Brexit first.

Some journalists have indeed pointed out that this announcement will urge the no deal MPs in the House of Commons to quicken the pace with their demands, effectively meaning that the next few days and weeks will be filled with pictures of Corbyn, Swinson; Soubry and others. The Queen’s speech is an opportunity for the government to lay out its annual legislative drive, outlining its main policies; and with a particularly barron run for legislation over the last two years, a Queen’s Speech is overdue. The circumstances are contentious; with conference season coming into the frame towards the end of September, it leaves a very narrow corridor for any Parliamentary motion against a no-deal.

Anger is absolutely just: Boris was indecisive in his plan over his leadership bid earlier this summer and having initially advocated a deal, it seems as though the EU have shown him the hard shoulder. This is the do or die part for the PM.

People may be inclined to view him as though he (Johnson) cares.

This approach could be a masterstroke in the long term: announce strong policy through the medium of the Queen’s Speech, Boris gains credibility through his vision. People may be inclined to view him as though he cares. We’ve seen him in hospitals, prisons and factories gearing up for a campaign. The Queen would announce new policy, and with virtually no majority in the House, Boris would be able to convince MPs that an election is what is needed. He’s been campaigning since taking office. This is his anticipated move. He’s got his party’s conference September fall, and he’d probably use that to ‘woo‘ the base.

Twitter is going bezerk. It’s everywhere. Just the chaotic publicity that Boris would’ve wanted.

Just to be clear, Prorogation is common. It is used to mark the end and the start of a new Parliamentary session. The Queen takes advice from the Privy Council before every session is closed by her in the Lords. The issue is, any Parliamentary ‘business’ or debates or even committee reports will be brought to an end, making way for the new session. Public bills (law which affects the whole country) can be dragged over with agreement. But, with October’s deadline looming, this is seen by many as a power play by the Government. The timing is a harsh reality of the political time we are living through.

This actioning is divisive, but a decisive move by the government. MPs who want to block no deal must get a move on, because time is running out. That is the government’s idea. The Speaker John Bercow has already intervened. He says that such an important decision of pursuing a no deal requires important debate within the House.

With a divided House already, opportunity for debate is thin. Johnson may have just pushed the inevitable but, Bercow is probably right. This seems to be rushed- it mustn’t be. It appears as though the ideological infighting over Brexit has come to fruition. Let the Hunger Games begin.

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Are the Tories really about to be seduced by Farage?

Nigel Farage is a charming man. Well, to some. The Brexit Party leader is infamous for his hard-right politics and with the current trajectory of British politics, he may just be too hard to resist. Forget the bouncy head or the rigid mannerisms, Farage won five million votes in an EU election that wasn’t supposed to be in the diary. Now, Farage could just be flirting. Boris may well bluff. But, with an increasingly unlikely chance of any deal this October, Boris could likely swipe right.

The use of Tinder as a metaphor is showcasing what has been known for some time- the Conservative party are being dragged to the right. Let’s hop in the DeLorean and head back to 2014. Farage and his UKIP party had won the European elections, beating the Conservative vote. As we are all probably aware, this spooked out David Cameron badly. Cameron was already struggling with his backbenchers- they thought he was weak. They may have been right. But it’d be unfair to call Cameron a bad leader, without realising that the circumstances surrounding his tenure were unfortunate. When first becoming Prime Minister, Cameron reportedly established a strong relationship with French President Nicolas Sarkozy who was the glue to Cameron’s EU relations. Sarkozy lost his election in 2012, prompting a key figure in Cameron’s diplomatic rapport to be lost. Merkel was also a fellow right-wing thinker, but she had always been careful with Cameron, in mind of his party’s disunity over European relations. The growing Eurozone crisis was also unfortunate: he was forced into making a public announcement that any future treaties involving changes to the composition of the EU could only be implemented as statute only through a referendum. Dave’s hands were tied with the economy which meant that his own ambitions of compassionate Conservatism were dead.

Without doubt, Farage is an opportunist. Today’s speech was an example of that.

His biggest error was not winning the 2010 general election outright, something which inevitably meant that he caved in- to an extent. Sure, he couldn’t reverse his first election result, but he sure had to win his second. The composition of the projected electorate indicated a tight election, with UKIP appearing as though they could split the Conservative vote, following those indicative EU elections in ’14. So, he made the decision that he would hold and election if he won outright in 2015- something which was obviously a play to Euro-sceptics but also to his doubters. He was going to do anything to win. He did, but at a great personal cost. Cameron would now have to ride the possibility of splitting the country and his government, just so he could silence his doubters. This is where Farage comes in. His populist charge in 2014 had forced a nervous government into giving him his greatest political opportunity. Without doubt, Farage is an opportunist. Today’s speech was an example of that.

Fresh from this weekend’s G7 summit in France, the signs were that Britain getting a deal were thin. The shrewd business guy in the White House alluded to the EU’s “toughness”. Although a few days before, Macron suggested that the Withdrawal Agreement could be ‘amended’. Farage didn’t support Theresa May’s deal, and he won’t stand for the same deal being plastered with Boris’ face on it. For Farage, if Boris does get the job done- he’s done. He must try to be the antagonist for any exit. This is him trying to be the Brexit macho man by flexing his most recent European election success. Should Boris get into bed with Farage, the man with no British Parliamentary mandate would shape the future of Britain with a Prime Minister with a remarkably thin mandate. If Boris is to win in any potential election, he must look as though this is his thing. Otherwise, Farage’s hero status may just inflate his chances of splitting the Brexit vote even more. At that point it would be the end for Boris.

At a Brexit Party event, Farage warned Boris of the consequences if Brexit wasn't completed properly.

At a Brexit Party event, Farage warned Boris of the consequences if Brexit wasn’t completed properly.

Boris’ credibility as a Prime Minister is on the ropes. Parliament has just today seen Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens; SNP and the Independent Group congregate in unison to stop a no-deal (dubbed the Church House Declaration) . In fact, numbers suggest that the government is the minority in the House. Not for the first time this year. They would block absolutely anything that had a hint of Farage to it, highlighting that these next weeks and month are really do or die for Boris at Number 10. If he does cooperate with Farage, it could mean that he wins popular support and calls an early election, which Farage would love. He could effectively claim that the government listened to him. It’s so obviously a trap, Boris.

Don’t get into bed with Mr Charming over there. Put him to bed and you have an election at your fingertips.

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Brexit: Lies, Hypocrisy and Boris Johnson.

When David Cameron announced his plan for an in-out referendum regarding EU membership in January 2013 at Bloomberg, no one could have envisioned the impact it would have for the several years after that infamous speech and for many years to come. What was widely viewed as a move to swing UKIP voters to the Conservative Party eventually ended his own premiership abruptly, alongside his former Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Leave campaign went against all the odds and achieved their goal. However, their win was tainted against a backdrop of lies and hypocrisy, already unravelling the day after the referendum. Nigel Farage immediately disowned the £350m pledge to spend on the NHS on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, despite never raising any concerns before the referendum. The argument that the British public had always yearned for change and it being the ‘will of the people’ is farcical. Evidenced in 2015 by YouGov, Europe was seen as the 7th most important issue for the electorate, highlighting how Euroscepticism had been curated and manifested within the minds of British public.

Even after the referendum win, lies have been spread by the proponents behind the Leave campaign and its supporters. The persistent message had been about the UK’s ability to negotiate its own free trade deals, no longer bounded by the shackles of the EU and its restrictive policy towards independent free trade agreements. Former Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox had promised in 2017 that “we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019”. Two missed deadlines later, this so-called promise spectacularly failed. As of August 2019, only 13 deals have been agreed, with only 1 deal having been signed with a top 10 trading partner. In June 2019, Boris Johnson said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit are a “million-to-one against”, yet allocated an extra £2.1bn to no deal spending and has not made any significant progress towards renegotiating the “defunct” withdrawal agreement. The lies continue, with Boris Johnson and David Davis floating the idea that the UK could withhold the divorce bill payment if we left with no deal, as we would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the European Courts of Justice. Yet, the EU would almost certainly sue the UK in the international courts in the Hague, as the UK has entered into an international commitment as a sovereign state to pay the money. The most vocal critics of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in Davis and Raab raises a confusing question – how is it possible for the general public to have confidence in a bill that is opposed by two of its main curators?

The hypocrisy is endless, only amplifying under Boris Johnson’s leadership. Back in April 2016, Johnson criticised David Cameron spending £9m on EU leaflets sent to every household as a “complete waste of money”. However, under the guidance of Johnson, Sajid Javid green lit a £138m public information campaign about a no deal Brexit. Given the economic position the UK is currently in, ring fencing a ridiculously large sum of money towards an issue that was entirely made by Boris is beyond belief. The main premise of leaving the EU was to save money and create new opportunities for the UK outside of the EU. However, the endless bureaucracy, delay and uncertainty it has caused due to the actions of incompetent Brexiteers has decimated any hope for these aims to be achieved. Rather the UK has become a laughing stock, with the chaotic nature of its withdrawal cementing the erosion of its status as a key sovereign state.

Brexit was meant to economically benefit the UK, yet any hope of a prosperous post-Brexit economy has subsequently been destroyed. The irony of Michael Gove’s interview with BBC Four’s Today programme on 21st June 2016 is as amusing as it is depressing, stating that “the pound is at a higher level now than it was at the start of the campaign and I think that reflects certain robust truths about the British economy which if we vote to leave, we will be able to build on.” Fast forward to 9th August 2019, where the pound crashed down to €1.07. UK’s crippling position has been further undermined by its consistent pandering towards the US. Boris Johnson plead with the US to “compromise” in order to better any trade deal for the UK – the UK is now at the mercy of other nations, with any notion of regaining sovereignty a thing of the past. Johnson’s adamant and unwavering position on the backstop could lead to a hard border in Ireland. This could see the return of the days of the Economic War from 1932 to 1938, which severely impacted cross-border trade between the UK and Ireland.

Brexit is no longer a symbol of political reform and change in political discourse as it was back in 2016.

What was once dubbed as Project Fear has now become Project Reality, with the current government led by a divisive Brexiteer implicitly admitting to. The leaked Operation Yellowhammer report highlights possible queues for lorries lasting up to 2 and a half days at the channel crossing, shortages of medicine supplies and rising food prices to name just a few of the damning concerns. Brexit is no longer a symbol of political reform and change in political discourse as it was back in 2016. Now it has become the staple of chaos and a breeding ground for irrationality and stupidity. Johnson’s first speech as prime minister mentioned how he would “restore trust in our democracy”. However, requests from Boris surrounding the legality of proroguing Parliament to get Brexit across the line sets a dangerous precedent and immediately creates distrust towards his ability to act upon this quote. The weakening Brexit mandate cannot be passed via undemocratic means, serving as a paradox to the idea that it was a democratic decision. Bypassing the House of Commons, the cornerstone of British democracy, would defeat the very purpose of the people electing MPs to serve on their behalf.

Brexit has been lost in the sea of lies and hypocrisy, serving as a catalyst for division within the nation and its own demise. The charlatan PM has caused what was a relatively insignificant issue prior to 2016 to consume the future of the UK. The writing is now on the wall.

The horror of Britain’s Hidden Majority

Poverty is a term which has a string of misconstrued representations in the modern day. The type of poverty that has arisen over the last decade lies in the wake of the biggest financial crash of the 21st century: a crash which consumed livelihoods, took jobs and resulted in economic turmoil for the general population. The response, at least here in the UK, was to enter a harsh era of austerity, something which Theresa May declared was all but over in October of last year. The former Prime Minister took office with a heralding speech which promised to “fight the burning injustices” in modern Britain- words that befitted a historic speech by only our second female leader. May made it her mission to make our Union a “country which works for everyone” an idea which was, at the time, a mirroring of David Cameron’s ideas regarding the importance of society. Even he, the bespoke Etonian schoolboy, believed in a ‘society’, as long as it was not confused with the state. Modern Conservative Party ideals have since been lost in translation, and regardless of political alignment, this has to be admitted. In her relatively short period in office, the indications are that Theresa May failed in justifying the promises in her premier speech three years ago.

“That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others”

Theresa May, July 13 2016.

In England, life expectancy has worsened between the richest and poorest, a solemn rate which goes some way in highlighting the massive disparity between the well offs and the worse offs. This could still yet change, with May sanctioning an extra £20 billion in funding for the NHS to improve health provisions across the country. What shouldn’t be misinterpreted is that life expectancy is a figure delicately dancing between various important variables, but this goes no way in hiding that the United Kingdom is still lagging behind in expectancy- ranked only at 18 in Europe in 2016. But, life expectancy isn’t the most serious indicator screaming over the horrors of poverty in the sixth biggest economy in the world, much to the anguish of the ‘silent majority’. Yet, the failings of a decade are only being noticed now, a full eleven years on from the crash that inflicted such societal wounds in the first place. It would be ignorant to suggest that poverty is a new phenomenon, but the displacement of finances and the consequences that have entailed since 2008 have been the heaviest of a generation.

Poverty hasn’t a fixed state, nor an actual face value. The problems surrounding poverty are formulated through a principle that poverty has relatively few forms. Poverty is an all consuming black hole which has scores of different forms- each one having varying levels of strenuous pressure on families and society alike. Poorness isn’t the sole bearer of poverty in the United Kingdom. Economic disparities among people are the easiest trends and figures to allude to, but poverty does indeed have far reaching social implications for a society- social richness being the cornerstone of a generation. Whether that be childcare, strong schooling, healthy community support or certain local provisions, the increasing deficit in social wellness is hard-hitting on the hidden majority. The hidden majority are those who desperately need help from strong local community institutions, but through the unnecessarily deep measures of austerity, their concerns fall on deaf ears. The Conservatives’ response to poverty has been irresponsible and tragic: a UN delegate condemned the “uncaring ethos” of the governmental shift of social policy. It should have been better, in fact, it had to have been better. The “tragic consequences” which Professor Alston reported should have been something unthinkable for a One Nation Conservative government; whose ethos centred around the core principle of Noblesse Oblige-stating the need to look after the worse-off in society. Both Mr Cameron and Ms May were clear of their One Nation ideals, so, hiding behind a staunch Conservative facade is useless. And, as the jittering process of Brexit stumbles on, there is a genuine concern that the hidden will soon be the forgotten.

David’s (Cameron) true legacy is not about the economy, but social justice “”

May’s first speech as Prime Minister thanked Cameron for his social policies.

While May’s government increased spending into local communities in the final months of her administration, the problems are so deeply cut that throwing money at the problem will not change the fate of those trapped in trouble. Trouble being a plethora of consequences which have manifested across Britain. The effects of poverty on local communities have been alarming- social deprivation being the most prolific killer. Around 33% of young children are in poverty in the United Kingdom, according to results found by the Social Metrics Commission– a leap of approximately 400,000. And, there is an inextricable link between children experiencing social turmoil and those living in poverty to gangs. The harsh realities that local communities have faced has allowed for exploitation of young people with an invariable connection with growing gang-related activities across the board. Research is indicative that fourteen to seventeen year-olds are the children at greatest risk of falling into the trap of gang life and following a warning from The Children’s Society group, a coherent response from local governments and the government itself is needed.

It is always difficult criticising a government for making cuts following a heavy recession, but there has been evidence enough to suggest that the extent of the cuts exceeded what was required. Yes, borrowing had to fall. Yes, the deficit needed to be cut. But no, there wasn’t a need to perform such stinging reductions in welfare and social care areas. Some organizations have even accused that infamous coalition of ‘economic murder’ in which may have resulted in 120,000 deaths. That is no feature of a ‘compassionate conservative’ party. That is carefree Conservatism.

There is undoubtedly a social crisis in this country, alongside the impending political one. The mismanagement of political institutions in general has given way to such problems, which will have long-term consequences. London is at breaking point- more rough sleepers than ever before. A soaring crime rate. Something needs to give and quickly. The works of small organisations isn’t enough- Homeless Link is barely managing with the help it gives to those on the streets.

There is clarity over one thing: something needs to change. This shouldn’t be an ideological battle, there are real people who haven’t a voice and haven’t hope. There could be light in the idea that there was a revolt in the referendum three years-ago. Why wouldn’t there be? An incompetent opposition, behind a bulldozing ‘do or die’ government. It’s a shame that Brexit is becoming a partisan issue. Or, an opportunity for ideological, purely fantastical dreams about a ‘correct Brexit’. The only Brexit that should be in consideration is one that would ensure social security, so that society’s worse-off don’t fall into an even deeper hole of insecurity and poverty- financial or social.

It says alot about the state of politics that neither party is trustworthy enough, or ‘alive’ enough to enforce impactful change. If Brexit is to happen, a deal is the only option viable enough to safeguard the social security nets, which are already on the brink. A no-deal would further the pain of those of us on ‘running the fine line’; those of us already struggling and members of society who have been left in the dark. This is a clear dividends in our politics. Drop the ideological toxicity- gamesmanship isn’t a solution to the serious political questions of our time. If there was ever a need to do politics properly, this is it. The end of the road for political posturing. Communities are on the verge, and they need to be resuscitated or it could signal yet more struggle and more uncertainty. There must be an urgent focus in the following weeks and months ahead in helping to improve the lives of the hidden majority.

There needs to be urgency, as the hidden could well become the lost.

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Corbyn’s Labour is fast reaching the point of no return.

Labour is losing the principles which have made it the supposed party of the minorities and working class. Corbyn’s leadership has shown that this is no longer the case, and that it may have reached endgame.

Labour have dominated my constituency for as long as records show. The extent to which shows that they have held power here all but three times since 1918, indicative of the strong ties of left wing alignment in my area of London. Indeed, the majority of London is red and that may not change for the foreseeable future. There has always been an inherent presumption, particularly where I live, that Labour are the party of the working-class and the party of the minorities. That may well have been the case, hell, that was the prime reason for the party’s inception in 1900. The success it has had in my area is obvious when interpreting voting records, but markers of Labour support are nowhere to be seen. This is a strange marker of politics in modern London. Within the local vicinity lie a vast collection of different cultures and backgrounds- something which has been of permanence all my life. Walking to school daily is complemented by a vast array of smells from nearby shops and restaurants: the names of local shops are distinctively foreign, paying remarkable homage to the countries and cultures that found them.

So, it is no surprise that prescriptive politics demands that Labour win here, and they do. They expectedly increased their majority here in 2017, following our verdict to stay in the EU by 55%. Yet, the political disconnect here is as clear as day. There is no urge to care about politics, heck, why should they? Politics here has had no real impact, there are still local problems which have been swallowing here since before my birth, I am told. Places like mine are close to such political apathy, that the prudence of the Labour party in maintaining votes from places like my community could be in serious doubt. People here don’t vote for Labour because they feel connected with the party’s values or ideas, but rather because it is what happens. The chances of the Conservatives ever winning here are low, considering that the core electorate here vote Labour based on principle. It is safe to note that Labour will win the seat here next election, whenever that may be, but the danger of Labour disconnecting from its core vote should be a point of worry for the party’s hierarchy. If it continues to steal the votes of a politically blind public, then those who swing-vote should be of major concern to the team charged with getting Labour elected into government again.

The question for Labour and Corbyn doesn’t lie with constituencies like mine electorally, but with those he must convince of his values and ideas. The ideals of the Labour party have been lost here, despite the fact they hold the local council, and have held the local constituency seat since 1992. Yet, they continue to win here and yet, the very foundations of the Labour party have been corrupted, nearing a point of irretrievable nothingness. Labour has a rich history of cultivating local values, through invigorating bubbling support and outreach from its local branches-oozing the collective values that have bounded its precedents throughout the history of the party.

The brunt of harsh austerity measures here have clearly had an affect on the community , and undoubtedly, others around the country. Rightly or wrongly, the Conservatives’ economic plan was actioned due to the desperate times following 2008’s financial meltdown. That had a huge impact, both financially and socially. Had Labour’s outreach been more effective, they certainly would’ve won in 2015. Ed Miliband failed, so he dutifully left. The realisation within the Labour party was clear- it had failed to win the voters that were in the middle, the dwindlers. The significance of the result was mirrored by the stunted turnout in Labour strongholds, like mine. Here, turnout fell more than twelve percentage points lower than the national average. Labour failed in engaging with swing voters, and had accelerated the process of core voter apathy, indicative in safe seats across the country.

Corbyn’s Labour is so open to political diversity, that it prevents the blossoming of political discourse among its own members.

To be fair to Corbyn, his campaign did well to push voter turnout here, which resulted in more Labour voter turnout since 1951. That 2017 election, however gleeful it may have seemed, only saw turnout rise by two percentage points. Corbyn’s performance in 2017 was a surprise to pundits and political heads everywhere, but the fall-out since has been obvious. Corbyn’s Labour has done more to alienate itself over the past year than the Conservative leadership could’ve hoped for. Rows over anti-Semitism, policy indiscretions and a general centralisation of the party leadership is something which has distanced itself from the voters it should be representing- both ideologically and locally. Corbyn has managed to show the world why socialism is apparent to failure. He claims to stand for the many and not the few, but this politics only seem to be dictated by the few. Himself. Labour self identifies as the party for many, for the minorities, but is significantly failing to adhere to those such basic principles. Corbyn’s leadership is ironically forged and upheld by the few. The tenacious stranglehold of Mr Corbyn’s leadership by Momentum is an ideological monster which has failed in invigorating local communities such as mine. Its startling focus on tribal politics is dangerous- it is restricting the very diversity within its own party. An instant contradiction to its so called ‘irreversible’ principles. Corbyn’s Labour is so open to political diversity, that it prevents the blossoming of political discourse among its own members.

Labour is no longer the party of the working class, or of the minorities. That won’t stop people voting Labour, particularly where I come from. Labour is now the party of purely ideological infighting. Yeah, the majority of people here are left-leaning voters, or are comfortable voting for social justice or greater provisions for their public services. That’s something which has resonated here for a long time. But a party consuming itself through the weak leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is fast alienating moderate Labour voters around the hardest hit areas of Britain. He may well go onto become our next Prime Minister, sooner than expected if he gets his way. But, it is evident enough to suggest that his stewardship as Labour leader is tearing the party apart. It could well implode. If it does, the 31,000 voters here who voted for them last time will be left without adequate political representation. I may not be a Labour supporter or future voter, but it says something about the state of the party when it is more concerned in its ideological infighting than representing the voters that are struggling to be heard in an age of populist politics. Corbyn must go if Labour is to return to being loosely tied together through its ideological values and community outreach- an equilibrium which has brought it electoral success in the past.

There is a hint of irony about Corbyn’s Labour party and its current state. But irony would only have worth if there was a hint of humour about it. The only joke here is that Labour’s representation of the minorities is a laughable fallacy.


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The Populist Tirade.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that politics is broken. It seemingly does however, take a genius to fix it. In a perfected Utopia, politics should breed consensus and advocate for finding common ground. Yet I’m no Marx, and as beautiful as a Utopia may sound, it is simply untenable. But in an era undeniably forged by the sticky fingers of populism, political discussion has suffered as a result. The overarching reason for this is arguably that there is no such thing a dogmatic political spectrum anymore- populism has ripped it apart. Nowadays, someone can be politically categorised as: a ‘Remoaner’ or a ‘Brexiteer’. There are other spin-offs of these tags, but they’ll do for now.

Whether you’re a flip-flopping Lib Dem, an inconsiderate Tory; a sympathetic Lefty or a lost cloud of thought, we must all recognise that actually, political language is changing. I lust to hear ‘Tory twat’ being chanted by a well-meaning protester once again. Not because it’s particularly nice, but because it has a slightly funny ring to it. Nowadays it’s all Brexit related political jargon or abuse. And it’s bad for debating and exchanging ideas.

I’ll throw you a quick example. Owen Jones, the well-known political activist and Guardian journalist recently went to a Brexit Party rally, as he documented on YouTube. Initially, I was impressed by the reception he got. There was no abuse, or over-zealous shouting. There were ex-Labour voters in attendance, subtly reminding Jones of the Brexit mess. Fair enough. A group of young lads who yelped of the bias of their teachers pitched in with cameos. A seemingly pragmatic man who oozed class and persuasion had a dignified chat with Jones. But there’s always one that ruins the party. This gentleman made little sense, but he was in his prime- and no one dared to stop the blitz. Think Sunday League football- the drunk guy looking for a fight over a foul throw. He continued his confusing rant, getting more personal and intrusive, more threatening. He shows off his gleeful manliness- “stand still son” he barks. Ironic, considering he attempts to pet Owen as his dog, but shows the communicative ability of a jumpy canine. Other Brexit party supporters stand around and watch, but fail to intervene on such a clear attempt to make Owen feel uncomfortable. They enjoy the fact that someone that disagrees with Brexit is getting schooled. Childlike wooing goes on, a popular tirade begins to amount. This isn’t debate, I thought. This is bullying in all but name.

A bit of research astutely followed, and I found this man’s true political views aside from that fact that I knew he was a Brexit Party supporter. Read the tweet below.

How gay rights could be linked to Nazis is rather baffling, considering diversity in Nazi Germany constituted an evil which encouraged the mass murder of millions of innocent victims. There may well be elements of the LGBT activism that aren’t seeking to progress the equality message, and I am inclined to agree with more focussed campaigning to achieve equality. But this tweet is a remarkable example of what/who people may be accidentally endorsing. Would those Brexit Party supporters now woo this guy on, upon the context of his other political views? That’s the problem with labelling someone as a ‘Brexiteer’ or a ‘Remoaner’ because it confuses people that really shouldn’t be confused.

I want Brexit to happen, I really do. But it’s about getting the right voices to represent the greater good. That would greatly improve democracy, which is what we need now more than ever.

Why is racism becoming more violent?

Racism is a problem that has plagued the frameworks of society, and its continued use has in many forms, evolved. Its development is frightening, and much like a lot of modern tendencies, the internet is culpable.


The deadly ‘Unite the White’ rally in Charlottesville (2017) presented modern democracy with a clear question- are the extreme capabilities of liberty of expression (or free speech) evidence enough to suggest that such a right be removed? A controversial issue – if not immediately relevant one- has been the subject of enormous scrutiny in political discourse. Is the incitement of hatred and discrimination simply too egregious an aspect that absolute free speech should be conserved? From a contemporary perspective, the UK limits freedom of expression, if content is deemed to be harmful, hateful or discriminatory.

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The First Amendment in the US is arguably the most significant right preserved by the Constitution- but has its founding intention been heavily distorted?

The UK’s legal permutation may historically reflect some important philosophical cornerstones; Thomas Hobbes explicitly outlined that speech of a discriminatory or derogatory nature should be fundamentally discouraged by the state. He suggested that such speech could, in effect, entrench loathsomeness and anger; which would go onto form a constituent proponent of the state of nature- a violent status-quo of instability and human conflict. And although it is important to note that Hobbes lived in a time of civil war and social unrest, he may have made a vital point. If, as he suggested, humans were susceptible to acting irrationally and in contempt, then some limitations on free speech may be constructive in combating the cancerous growth of modern-day racism.

There is an even stronger link with Hobbes’s historical ideas regarding the relationship between the ‘sovereign’ and the people- self-restraint. This concept suggests that the citizens of a society should listen, and be guided by the actions and gesticulations of the sovereign; or in a modern, more democratic appropriation- the government. This all was closely tied into the self-restraint that Hobbes wrote that citizens should have. As touched upon previously, Hobbes placed impeccable importance on this, in order to conserve the civil piece of a society. In many senses, the role of the ‘sovereign’ is to lead by example and be untethered in their judgement to reflect the needs of the population and base his rationale on the wider necessities. Particularly in the United States, it doesn’t seem alienable to suggest that the perceived role of head of state by Hobbes is abundantly relevant today.

ABC’s take on Trump’s ‘go home’ comments (above).


President Trump’s rhetoric- dangerous to some and far reaching for others- may have drawn comparisons between the contempt that Hobbes had underlined in his work Leviathan. The suggestion is hardly disjointed- Trump’s first speech as a candidate in 2015 labelled Mexicans “rapists”; in the 2018 midterms, white nationalist groups were joyful over Trump’s language use in tweets during the “immigrant caravan” and the infamous “send them back” comments this year sparked worldwide criticism. This in many respects underlines with a red marker how Trump has normalised racism in society today. How then, can a leader or ‘sovereign’ use suitable rationale if he has continuously befuddled minority groups over his political career? If Hobbes’ suggestions about self-regulation were to be applied Trump and his leadership, the racist rhetoric surrounding political discourse today is only reflective of the example and norm set by the state. And in Trump’s case, this may well be relevant.

It goes without saying that the concepts presented by Hobbes were fundamentally set for a specific-age, although they did allow for the new-era of political and social thought regarding human nature, the state; and society. Relative to Trump, Hobbes cooked-up an intriguing assessment of human behaviour and its categorisation. One of these categorizations of the ‘vainglorious’- people who have unwarranted and ‘obsessively delight’ in their personal flattery. Often, Hobbes noted, people of this sort had a bleak understanding of themselves and the issues fronting humanity. Hobbes assessed that these people were delicate and revel in a conflated authority and power. Such people were prone to moral corruption and differed from the ‘confident’, as the vainglorious are vulgar and unrepenting.


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The people of Charlottesville demonstrate their solidarity following the deadly white supremacy protests. Such solidarity was lacking from President Trump’s initial responses. Some called this a soft endorsement to racism by Trump.


Locke adapted this theory: he suggested that if such a man enter power, the office would further erode him and his morality. But here is the instrumental argument: these people, as leaders, are extremely susceptible to the flattery of his supporters and his opponents’ critics. Often, such support would result courtiers having a detrimental effect on a leader’s policy- distorting it to its worst moral and political inclinations. Arguably, such a trait is visible through Trump’s political support- particularly from some white supremacy movements. His messaging taps into a dangerous reality- some of his close ex-advisors such as the ex-chief executive of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, have alternative world views that coalesce with the technology-based phenomenon of ‘accelerationism’. Although not directly involved with such a tendency, Bannon’s eagerness to utilize this medium of communication to spread alternative politics highlights the risk of rapid technologicalization in spreading misinformation- something which is undoubtedly reflective of the neo-Nazi proliferation of campaigning on the internet we are seeing now.

Accelerationism has been reappropriated by radicals, particularly the far-right nationalist groups. The term refers to fast and radical change of social and political orders, that initially originates from broader economic theory.

Neo-Nazi accelerationism has in many cases, stemmed from the failure of an attempt for groups to use the political system as a means to provoke racism and enforce such policy. Most groups, despite their political endorsement of Trump, see him as a president that is an ‘outsider’ – meaning he is likely more open for adopting vaguely similar messaging. Following the ‘Unite the White March’ in 2017, participation in such movements drastically fell- indicating that these means of white-nationalism had by-gone. Instead, the accelerationism process has been adapted- which has seen more murders and attacks carried out on the basis of the core ideas relative to white-supremacy and racist thoughts.

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The white-nationalistic ideas have overstepped racial lines- Jo Cox was tragically murdered by a man pleading to “bring freedom to Britain”.

Rather than be political, the movements are now dangerously violent. The Christchurch Mosque attack in New Zealand was done on racial and provocative ideological grounds; a similar attempt was stopped in Norway, and internal terrorism is becoming more of a threat based off of right-wing radicalism (according to TIME Magazine, AUG 19, 2019). But more than ever, these attacks are being linked to the obsessive online activities of groups, who through an instantaneous medium, can hit wide coverage across the world. These ideas, ideologies and messages are more accessible, and play an undeniably imperative role in the fostering of terrorism on the basis of hatred. The internet has highlighted the flaws of politics and its institutions. If technology is rapidly increasing, so to will the volume and expansion of these groups’ core values. And if global governments are struggling now- how will they adapt feasibly enough to counter future threats?

This question above all needs an answer, as ‘accelerationism’ is arguably the new face of deadly racial and nationalistic hate crimes in developed countries across the world. It needn’t take another travesty to realise this- lives depend on it.

A Brief Examination of Locke’s early principles in Britain today.

John Locke arguably set the scene for modern political thought- but how influential are his ideas in Britain-and indeed the world-today?


The ideas and concepts surrounding John Locke have unsurprisingly formed an impactful political debate over how immediate and modern his ideas on property, law and state of nature are today. Coupled alongside separated government, there are glimmers – or sharp bursts- of Lockesian thought in 21st century Britain.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Locke’s works is his focus around natural law, particularly when these ideas arguably form heavy bonds with his other fundamental principles. First, it would be plausible to tackle the important nature of divine law in his work- to better found a potential argument about Locke in modern sentiment. Divine law, as widely covered, refers to the words that God has invested into scriptures and entrusted writers; and is fundamentally not universally understood, but in turn influential. Natural law is relevant in the sense that it represents moral traditions and duties- a key bonding element of human interaction and behaviour.

Such ideas can be used to explain the relevance of both in regards to the politics of gay-rights, particularly in the early corridors of the 2010s. Being gay was a violation of both the divine teachings of God and the peoples’ duties, relative to natural law. This link, albeit ambiguous, has perhaps been reflected in opposition to gay rights by prominent Conservative MPs- Thatcher implemented Section 28 in her government’s Local Government Act, and proceeding the 2013 Gay Marriage Act, a significant number of Conservative MPs voted against their government’s motion.

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Protestors campaign against the repressive, and now revoked, section 28.

Yet, it is hard to subscribe to Locke’s influence in modern respects over such a link in natural and divine law. Such ideas reflect a by-gone age of interpretations about moral duties, and they also demonstrate the vast inconsistencies in the works of Locke. It could therefore be of substance to suggest that Locke’s ideas regarding the premise of natural law is wholly moulded and entrenched in a older age. If this is to be the case, it should be underlined that urges regarding Locke’s influence as a catalyst for modern equality movements are desperately out of shape. Socially, gay rights is certainly prominent on the contemporary agenda, and of current relevance in the recent LGBT celebrations. Locke therefore, cannot be regarded as a stockbroker with an investment into modern politics- as the composition of interpretations relevant to natural and divine law today have arguably diverged on a grand scale since his time of writing.

The debate regarding Locke’s purchase on natural law has also been consumed with discourse relative to the clarity of his ideas of natural rights, which opens-up an interesting triadic between God, duty and preserved rights- such as freedom. Freedom was by accounts, the centrepoint of Locke’s philosophy, with fundamental chains locked between the intellectual capacity of humans to think rationally, and to obtain information to build identities associated with the wider institutions of the world. This has been labelled the ‘democratization of the mind’, to which he believed was spread in an egalitarian composition through the creation of humans- every one possessed such an ability that would aid their development as rational individuals. However, many believe he failed to adequately outline how one, through the material they had available to them, would adhere to God’s sanctions on life and duty. This in many respects is dependent upon the premise of the close relationship between divine reason and natural reason. The assumption that these variables draw upon similar distinctions is rather vague and possibly naive. It suggests Locke thought so confidently in the similarities of divine and natural reason that natural law (as affirmed by its close relationship to God) could not appear as arbitrary or as a potential loan to dystopian ideals, which would conflict with someone’s self-preservation.

Those who voted for Brexit on the basis of immigration, arguably were not self-conserving- they followed if anything, an arbitrary trail of political decision making.

In terms of modern relevance, this ambiguity may be indicative that such a position is broadly incorrect, and in some cases, discredits the potential of social struggles in shaping rational thought. It could be argued that issues over poverty, unemployment and immigration are interesting characteristics that are not applicable to the rational inquiries of Locke.

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Can the examination of political institutions, like Locke suggested, be critically examined if public perceptions of its adequacy are conflated with resentments about public life?

The conflation of social issues in the Brexit campaign for example, may be a symbol of this inadequate shaping of modern behaviour by Locke. Immigration played an important part in the Brexit debate, and if we take Locke’s natural law, which centres around self-preservation and the self-preservation of others; we can deduce that the ‘immigration’ vote centred around an abstractionist rational pursuit by some to vote against the interest of others. This is arguably a negation of the principle of natural law- as it can be interpreted as a direct action to expunge or violate against someone’s ability to own and invest in property. In terms of a rational prescriptive, this is uncommon as those who voted for Brexit on the basis of immigration, arguably were not self-conserving- they followed if anything, an arbitrary trail of political decision making. This is a potential example that suggests the lack of distinction in Locke’s philosophy for the human potential not to be rational, and to be insufficient in separating respectable materials and ideas from widely discredited ones. This in turn is relevant to the moral and social values that have perhaps elapsed since Locke. Economic depravity, resentment in the political system and a general discontent with public life may mean that his ideas simply cannot be present in today’s contemporary status-quo. The institutions of public life have vastly adapted, and so to has the composition of ideals in a largely developed social and economic time.

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“ASK ME MY THREE MAIN PRIORITIES FOR GOVERNMENT AND I TELL YOU: EDUCATION, EDUCATION AND EDUCATION”

This allows for a potential vacuum in his thoughts: were his ideas simply limited to the age in which they were written, or are they not definitive enough to be applied to the contemporary life of today? My mind, although fresh to such sensibilities, is partial to to the idea that Locke’s concepts on rationality are vaguely distributed today. Blair won in part down to his ‘education, education; education’ slogan (who doesn’t want better schools for their children?). And arguably, we have seen past Conservative party phrases such as the ‘long-term economic plan’ (2015-16) be shrewd components of political campaigning. But these examples rely upon vaguely associated ideas of Lockean thought and they are hardly binding enough to advocate for a clear presence of his thought today. 

Yet with many things in political discussion, it may all come down to one’s bearing of issues through their democratized processes of thought.