London Tories Running Scared of London Mayoral election

The Tory bid for the 2020 London Mayoral Election is a doomed prospect; one that is getting consistently worse as the big-hitters within the party continue to run from the nomination.

Indeed, the nominating period has been brought forward to allow the successful candidate to spend considerable time on the campaign to achieve recognition in the city. Getting their voices heard is vital since incumbent Sadiq Khan has considerable resources with a city-funded press team for the mayor’s office, giving him an inbuilt advantage in the race.

The Tory campaign was always going to be lacklustre considering their dwindling support in London and formidable opposition from Khan, but the campaign – which is already considered a lost cause and so starts with favourable expectation management – is heading from a managed failure to national embarrassment due to the unwillingness of big-name Tories to consider standing.

The only MP considered to have a hope of victory was Justine Greening – who surprised many by declining to stand. Greening was seen as the saving grace for the nomination, due to her prominent anti-Heathrow expansion stance and pro-remain credentials. Her resignation from the front-bench in January also means she has no conflicting professional loyalties to prevent her from standing (although her wafer-thin 2017 majority may have influenced the decision).

By ruling herself out of the nomination, Greening is, therefore, an indictment of the dire state of the Tory mayoral bid and was seen as the final nail in the coffin – until speculation began about James Cleverly.

James Cleverly ticks less political boxes than Greening, as he is a prominent Brexiteer and voted for Heathrow expansion. However, his work in the London Assembly and for Boris Johnson gives him considerable experience in local London politics, and his recent promotion to deputy-chairman of the Conservative Party would provide the necessary national party backing and name recognition a successful candidate would need. The issue is that he has now also declined to stand for the nomination.

Other big names have also defied pundits by hastily ruling themselves out of the race. Former minister Ed Vaisey has declined (endorsing Greening who also subsequently declined), while former Chancellor George Osborne has also ruled himself out of the race – meaning he’ll have to make do scraping by on his eight current jobs.


Moving onto who is actually standing for the nomination; the first (and only) Tory MP to throw their hat into the ring is Andrew Rosindell (MP for Romford). Rosindell has very little name recognition, voted to expand Heathrow and is a vocal Brexiteer – a toxic political combination for a party already on the backfoot. Rosindell is known primarily for his dog-whistle leaflets (unhelpful considering the legacy left by Goldsmith’s 2016 campaign) and for being trolled by Newsnight. He is far from the inspiring candidate the Tories need.

The other serious declared contender for the nomination is Andrew Boff, leader of the Conservative Group in the London Assembly. Boff is another largely unknown candidate, but an important player in the London Assembly with the vital experience of critiquing Khan that comes with the job. However, since the Assembly has largely failed to be heard across London his candidacy does not constitute a real challenge for Khan.

The final notable outsider candidate is Shaun Bailey, another London Assembly member who has heavily criticised Khan over his political weakness on knife crime. Bailey is also a BAME candidate that could help overturn the xenophobic legacy left by the Goldsmith campaign. However, again he is politically unknown and lacks political experience (having only been elected in 2016).


With almost no big-names left to declare, the London Tories face a dire situation. CCHQ will have wanted a politically and personally diverse range of well-known candidates to choose from. Right now, their frontrunners are two unknown men named Andrew. The fact that this contest has been defined by who isn’t taking part in it rather than declared candidates is certainly a bad sign. With big names fleeing the field the Tory mayoral bid just went from underdog to certain failure.

The FLA is a growing threat that we must address

In recent years, an insidious trend has begun to return to British politics – the emergence of an organising and unifying British far-right. The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) has emerged as a unified protest group for the far-right, growing from several football supporter’s groups that oppose the perceived extremism of Islam and Islamification of the United Kingdom. The group has pulled in significant support, with Tommy Robinson a vocal supporter, and prominent members of political parties, such as Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom and UKIP leader Gerard Batten, speaking at rallies and events.

The group is not organised as a modern political party, but rather as a protest group of significant size. A brief examination of their website sees the immediate statement that the group does not accept any form of terrorism and holds a commitment to “Being inclusive and acceptable to all colours, creeds, faiths and religions”. Their actions and their evident platform suggest otherwise.

Their platform revolves primarily around a ‘fight’ against the perceived victimisation of the British people (who, it should be noted, are almost exclusively white in the eyes of this group) by Islam and communism; Luke Bailey of I news, who attended a FLA and Far right rally, noted the repeated links made by key speaker Anne-Marie Walters to a conspiracy of Islam and global Communism to “criminalise you [the British people]”. The FLA point to stories of migrant crime and the growth of extremist Islamic groups, many of which are exaggerated or simply false, as justification for the growing fight against radical Islam, which they themselves use as the justification for racially motivated attacks and criticism of all those of the Islamic Faith. Similarly, the group significantly opposes the current incarceration of Tommy Robinson, describing it as an attack on free speech. Robinson, currently incarcerated on a thirteen-month sentence for parole violations and contempt of court, remains an affiliate of the FLA and an apparent ‘martyr’ of the Far-right.

The somewhat ridiculous nature of their platform, however, is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is their organisation and growth. On alone, there are several petitions to the government to free Robinson, varying in support from several thousand signatories to over 600,000.

A recent march in London drew an estimated 15,000 supporters, seeing violence and aggression towards police and only a few hundred counter-protestors. Their rhetoric on social media, which paints the ‘working man’ as the victim of multiculturalism, Europe and the malevolence of elites finds significant success in drawing support from those who feel left behind by neoliberalism and multi-culturalism, with support for the movement growing daily. In no uncertain terms, what we are witnessing is the rise of an organised and extreme political movement; one that espouses rhetoric of victimhood, racism and violence.

Regardless of your opinion of the state of British politics today, the rise of an organised far-right poses a significant threat to the peaceful democratic processes and social cohesion that has been constructed for decades in this country. Yet the government seems not only sceptical of response but passive in allowing the growth of this movement. The Conservative party, though occasionally commenting from their PR wing about the issue, hides behind the issue of Brexit to shed their responsibility to this serious issue. It is thus the job of the opposition and the left to respond to, and to stop, this growth of racism and nationalism that is continuing to grow in this country. Already, the Labour party, as well as grassroots organisations including Stand up to Racism, have begun to address and fight back against the growth of the far right. Senior figures in the Labour party, including John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, have called for parliamentary debate on the growth of the FLA and the far-right, whilst Stand up to Racism have been instrumental in counter-protesting the demonstrations of the Far-right.

But to truly address this, more support is needed. The Left must continue to raise the issue of the growth of the far right to the national rhetoric, else create the possibility that the growth of such an insidious and organised movement goes unnoticed. Counter-demonstrations, such as the one organised against the planned 14th July march to free Tommy Robinson, not only show the far right that there is organised opposition to their movement, but helps to highlight that the people are opposed to such racist and nationalist political sentiments. Make no mistake – the growth of the Far-right is an issue that must be taken seriously. The FLA represents the most serious attempt at an organised far-right movement in Britain since the disintegration of the BNP, with an unprecedented 15,000 people in attendance for the march held on June 9th. If the government is too busy hiding from responsibility under the guise of Brexit negotiations, a theme that continues to recur since the referendum, then it is the job of the Left and the opposition to respond, undermine and challenge the growth of the FLA and the Far-right movement. Such sentiments have no place in the 21st century, our country or indeed modern politics itself; it is our job to fight them.

Refugee Crisis Threatens Collapse of German Government

The Christian Union. A staunch alliance of the CDU and CSU, the bastion of German conservatism that has dominated the Bundestag since the days of West Germany. Yet last week, a fracture emerged; the refugee crisis threatened to devour this special relationship, initiating the collapse of the coalition. Horst Seehofer, the CSU leader and Interior Minister, demanded migrant holding centres in response to public backlash against Merkel’s open border policy. An agreement for a 48 hour screening of migrants to send them back to their country of registration calmed this heated rift in the political sphere. Yet this split in German politics threatens to turn German policy away from the open borders they have sought to sustain. And it has the power to transform migrant policy across the continent – bringing down Schengen with it.

Germany has absorbed more refugees than any other EU nation since the wave of Middle Eastern and North African migration began. With 12mn Germans expelled from Eastern Europe following the fall of the Nazis, Merkel has sought to recreate the culture of acceptance that enabled these Germans to settle elsewhere. Yet with over 1mn people having flooded into its borders, Merkel’s belief in ‘Wir Schaffen Das’ – We Can Do It – is being placed under increasing strain. And since they enter largely through the Southern States, it is this geographical asymmetry in disruption caused by migrants that has fuelled the divide in the Christian Union.

German law forbids the two parties from competing in the same states – with Merkel’s CDU taking the Northern regions, leaving the South to the CSU. Yet it is these Southern states who have been most hostile to refugees, and are most susceptible to the anti-immigration rhetoric of the AfD. Seehofer resigned as Minister President of Bavaria following a 10% slump in the 2017 election, a result of voter dissent with the influx of migrants. Merkel’s open border policy was causing serious damage to her ally’s electoral performance, driving Mr Seehofer towards a nationalist, anti-immigration solution to refugee integration.

Whilst the ‘Deutschland Drama’ between Merkel and Seehofer has never been short of conflict, such political rumblings remained merely background noise as Merkel rose to the premier of Europe. Yet now, the enormity of the divide on the migrant issue has shaken the conservative bloc. Seehofer is symbolic of German nationalism, imitating the AfD in his belief that “Islam does not belong in Germany”. Threatening to take Merkel’s insistence on open borders to the German Constitutional Court, Seehofers’ alignment is moving further from traditional conservatism and towards radical nationalism in an attempt to appease voters. The resolution for a 48 hour screening is but a temporary peace in a long war. Courting Merkel’s foes including Orban and Putin, Seehofer has proven a thorn in the Cabinet whose actions imperil the solidity of the Conservative bloc, ever since its last brief split in 1976.

If Germany does succumb to Seehofer and the AfD’s pressure, the post-war European project for freedom of movement is at risk of total disintegration. Unilateral German action could ignite a flame of border controls across Europe. Both Italy and Austria have threatened border controls following the Interior Ministers demands, with Austrian premier Sebastian Kurz declaring “full confidence in Seehofer’s words”. Schengen has been symbolic of European unity, replacing a fractured continent from centuries of war with an integrated system of peace. Yet the shock of the refugee crisis is the most significant test of European harmony to date.

The survival of Schengen rests in Germany’s hands. Whilst Germany may not yield the dominance it used to, its actions still send shockwaves across the continent. This test of the Christian Union, the backbone of German politics, is not yet over. If borders are tightened in Germany, the founding European principle of freedom of movement may crumble. Political struggle in Germany has the power to determine the future of European unity; only an open and accepting stance can protect it.

With Theresa May teetering on the brink of collapse, its time for Labour to capitalise.

Four weeks ago I gave Theresa May six weeks left as PM. Now it looks like she won’t even get that. With the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis (and the subsequent resignation of the few remaining senior Brexit ministers), and the impending decision of the 1922 Committee to oust the Prime Minister, there is only one option for the country. And sadly for “Brenda from Bristol”, there has to be “another one”. In other words, we need a General Election…

For those who (rightly) thought Cameron was incompetent, Theresa May takes that to a whole new level. She called a General Election which she was confident she’d win by a landslide, lost her majority and has now seen SIX Cabinet resignations in 249 days. To quote the official Labour HQ line, “That’s one every six weeks”. Whether this is the most incompetent government in history is up to you to decide, but the Tories have been lurching from crisis to crisis ever since they were elected in 2010. Universal Credit, the Bedroom tax, Brexit and the reemergence of Tory sleaze are just some of the various scandals and messes that the Tories have managed to create in eight years.

And yet, perhaps its fair to say that the failure of Labour to capitalise on these crises epitomises what is currently wrong with British politics. Sadly for those who don’t like Corbyn or Labour, they are the only option. While you may think they’re a bad option, they’re the only option you’ve got if you want rid of Tory corruption and austerity. It was thought that in the election last year that Brexit would be the most important topic, and yet it was mostly disregarded by voters. But now, in July 2018, it is the Tory-made Brexit that is going to topple their own government.

Before Davis resigned, it was already news that the 1922 Committee already had 40+ letters out of the 48 needed from Tory Backbenchers to trigger a leadership contest. Now it would seem that the ‘Domino Effect’ will occur and see that target being reached. In this event, the Tories will elect a new leader, be it Mrs May once again, or the more likely ‘Brexit candidate’ (Rees-Mogg, Boris and Gove strike me as the most probable options). And once this happens we’ll be back to the summer of 2016, when the Tories had elected an unelected Prime Minister. And as we all know, this led to a General Election less than a year later.

This is what must happen again. As we approach the most crucial stage of the Brexit talks, we need to have an elected leader who has a mandate. Theresa May didn’t have a proper one considering her utter catastrophe of an election. The electorate should be given the choice between a Labour Brexit (whatever that is) and the equally unclear Conservative Brexit. Chances are that Brexit will once again be forgotten about in an election however, with Labour expected to fight an Anti-Austerity campaign once again. This is bound to resonate with the British people more than the Conservatives.

However, Brexit will come into it far more than last year. And this is why Labour MUST sort out its Brexit policy. While the two extremes of the argument (The Lib Dems with their campaign to stop Brexit and UKIP’s Hard Brexit) not expected to win people over, this is Labour’s opportunity to show that not only do they offer a far more “Strong and stable government” than Theresa May’s “Coalition of Chaos”, but that they can offer a compromise. Leaving the EU as an institution to please Brexiteers as much as is possible, and keeping some of the benefits to please Remainers.

But that is an issue for another day. One of the main comments I’ve had while talking to residents in my home town is “I wouldn’t vote for Corbyn” or “I don’t want Corbyn as PM”. That’s all well and good, but think of it this way. Vote for Labour because we want to properly fund the NHS with a feasible spending plan. Vote Labour to end austerity. Vote Labour to help the working class and the poorest in society, not the rich. If you don’t like Corbyn, bare in mind the alternative is the lying Tories. There is no alternative, because we live in what is effectively a two-party state. However there simply is no appetite for a new Centrist party fronted by rich ex-Tories like George Osbourne and Blairites like Blair himself. They would only split the vote and lead to more Tory government. So Labour are the only alternative to the Conservatives.

Perhaps the main issue for Labour other than Brexit and the anti-semitism issue is the fact that the aforementioned “Blairites” subscribe to the “anyone but Corbyn” view. MP’s such as Chukka Umunna and John Woodcock have opposed Jeremy Corbyn at every turn, shouting him down and effectively aiding the Tories. This has led for calls for many Labour MP’s (Woodcock and Kate Hoey in particular) to be deselected. Now, I’m a big believer that Labour is, and should remain, a broad church, with left wingers and centrists. However the key to this would be party unity, and sadly we don’t have that. If the moderates who are vehemently opposed to Corbyn actually backed him, they’d be real assets and we would be doing far better than we are. I agree that they are entitled to their views, but we must all come together as one united party. Because the real enemies here are not each other, but they are the Conservatives. Left wing supporters of the party must stop the abuse of the moderates as well. I’ve seen many examples of left wing trolls attacking our own MP’s and this is appalling. We are a movement. A community. A collective entity of passionate political activists looking to create a better world. We have a duty to this country to stick together and fight the Tories.

What the country does not need now is uncertainty and unelected leaders. The Conservatives have a duty to call an election now. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but we need to sort out the issue of governance immediately. In Brussels right now, Barnier and co. will be licking their lips at the prospect of continuing negotiating with this awfully weak Tory government. They will be doing the same if its an unelected one should Theresa May be ousted.

Therefore, in order to get the most possible Brexit, being delivered by an elected team of competence, its time for another General election, whether people want one or not. Theresa May is finished, and Corbyn must seize this opportunity to finally rid the country of the Tories and bring about a sensible Brexit and end to Austerity.

And remember the options. Face more years of austerity, chaos and scandals with the Tories, or Vote Labour for a better future, For the Many, Not the Few.

Follow me on Twitter for more political opinion and news @James_Barber10

High court rule against Gender Neutral Category on British Passports

The High court has ruled against Elan-Cane who appealed to the court to have a gender-neutral category on British Passports. This step has been taken in only a handful of countries across the world, including Germany, Australia, Malta, India and Pakistan.  

‘Gender’ is the central component of Elan-Cane’s argument. An acceptance of gender identities outside of the binary is growing, as have movements which have allowed them to be passed into law. Formal equality is central to all contemporary liberal movements, and thus it makes sense for gender non-conformity to be embraced the same way homosexuality and women’s rights have been in the past.

Opposition to the notion of gender neutrality often comes down to either bigotry or a lack of information about gender non-conformity. For many, this identity cannot be real as it does not fit into their prescribed narrative of people being easily defined.  Human nature has always depended on categories; cognitive schemas translate to societal labels and boxes, thus it is natural to try and create binaries, with gender being a prime example. The gender-specific binary is based upon the idea that human sex is a binary, i.e. you are either male or female, you either have a penis or a vagina. This link is abundantly clear in arguments against transgender people and has been supported by the ONS’ decision to rule out a possible separation of sex and gender in the next census.

However, the sex-specific binary does not necessarily exist the way that human nature, and therefore human society, desires it to. Whilst the majority of the population are born with either a phallus and testis or a uterus and ovaries, 1.7% of the population have a combination or absence of both forms of sexual organs. In this instance, if even the sex binary which people in society are categorised proves to be arbitrary, the argument against the inclusion of gender neutrality in legislation and legal documentation is weakened.

The official argument of the High Court and Home Office is that the policy regarding gender recognition is ‘administratively coherent’ and ensures national security. With the nation’s security and the ease of administrators being considered, it would make sense that accurately presenting someone’s sex or gender on a passport would ensure both of the concerns of the Home Office are addressed. Confusion around sex, gender, and appearance cannot only cause distress for the holder of the passport but without the existence of a gender-neutral option will cause problems in the processes that are argued to be ‘administratively coherent’. Whilst it is a very traumatic and distressing thing for people who do not conform to the gender binary to do, they are able to put their biological sex into the binary choices provided. Those who are intersex and do not belong on the binary for biological sex are forced to give inaccurate information.

By refusing to provide a gender-neutral category on British passports, the High Court and Home Office have undermined a key function of a passport; accurate identification.  Elan-Cane said that they were not seeking special treatment by pursuing this case, but were instead simply attempting to be treated like human beings. No person should be put in a position where this basic right is up for debate in a courtroom, but that is what the establishment and their institutions have achieved through their obsession with sexual and gender binaries.

Despite this, the media attention caused by this case has made more people aware of the identities that exist outside of binaries and the constant discrimination which they face. With more attention resulting in more pressure on the government, real changes can be made to improve the lives of those who face discrimination as a result of ignorance.


The Labour Party Faces New Divisions Over Sex Work

Framed as an attempt to cut down on online sex trafficking, the pair of bills commonly known as the FOSTA-SESTA package became law in the United States in April this year. In essence, this new law was made to crack down on the advertisement of sex work online which in itself has been met with controversy on all sides of the political spectrum.

In the last week, the dispute has moved to the United Kingdom after a group of MPs, headed by Labour’s Sarah Champion brought the debate to Parliament. Ms Champion is openly in favour of the Nordic Model (the criminalisation of the purchase of sex), and wants to pressure the UK government to bring this model to Britain. Even Jeremy Corbyn himself has spoken out in favour of the this model. Divisions within the Labour Party over the issue are growing and many are calling on their leadership to speak out against the proposals and back full decriminalisation of sex work. Whether this actually happens or not, remains to be seen.

A key argument against Ms Champion’s proposals is that the criminalisation of sex work will just drive the industry underground, thus putting sex workers themselves at risk. It is naïve to think that any amount of regulation could completely eradicate what is a well-established industry. The internet plays a vital role in the safeguarding of sex workers. In a study undertaken by Beyond the Gaze, it was found that three quarters of sex workers identified the internet as an important factor in their safety. Through taking their work online, there is access to vital support systems and the ability to vet clients prior to meeting them. The idea then that getting rid of online advertising platforms would protect sex workers from exploitation is misguided to say the least.

In countries such as Greece where sex work is heavily regulated, many sex workers now practice illegally leaving them at the mercy of pimps and trafficking gangs who seek to exploit them. This is a real world example of how criminalisation is not always the best option. The aftermath of the law passing in the US has been the exact opposite of its supposed intentions leading to sex workers being pushed back onto the streets and back into the hands of those who exploited them. For those on the left who hold workers’ rights close to their hearts, this should be a real wake up call.

Sex work in itself is a complex industry and no two workers join the industry for the same reason. There is no denying that exploitation exists and no one calling for decriminalisation is arguing that. The idea, however, that a change in law would somehow ‘save’ those forced into the industry is very wrong. Even survivors of sex trafficking are arguing against the proposed changes and find it bewildering that very few of those in power are choosing to consult them. No industry is without exploitation, such is the nature of capitalism but to make potentially dangerous changes to the regulation of an industry without consulting its workers is dangerous.

Terminology is also important when discussing this issue. A transcript from the parliamentary debate appears to show Labour MPs Jess Philips and Sarah Champion forcing the use of the term prostitute as opposed to sex worker. The sex industry is broad and though there are some who refer to themselves as prostitutes, there are many who do not. In a model motion that is being put to CLPs across the country it is noted just how many different roles are included in the term sex worker. It is not the job of those outside of the industry to decide which is correct. This again is an example of how little dialogue there has been between those within the industry and those in positions of power.

For self-proclaimed feminist MPs to constantly use the argument that they are in some way ‘saving women’ by working to legislate against sex work is again damaging. Regardless of an individual’s thoughts on the morality of sex work, the industry exists and to introduce a law that would be harmful to sex workers of all genders is in no way going to ‘save women’. This rhetoric is far from helpful and takes attention away from the real problem at hand.

The Labour Party in the United Kingdom has historically prided itself on being the Party of the workers; indeed the clue is in the name, so to speak. For many, this fact is fundamental to the debate. As put in a recent article for LabourList, ‘it is self-evident that workers should be the ones to determine how best to improve their working conditions’. The sex industry exists and where an industry exists so do workers who must be protected. The Labour Party must recognise this and treat the industry just like any other. It must listen to the workers, and work to strengthen their rights.

Socialist Sanchez can clense Spain’s rotten political scene

It was only last year when Pedro Sánchez, the new Spanish PM, won back his role as the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). No one in his party or anywhere in Spain could ever imagine that months later he would be named prime minister. The former right government were swamped by indignation from a Spanish society completely disgruntled by corruption cases in within the Popular Party.

Mariano Rajoy, who served as PM for seven years, struggled all this time to shield himself from the stain of corruption but was unable to endure the political anger after Spain’s highest criminal court found his party had benefited from an enormous and illegal contracts scheme, known as the Gürtel case. Mr Rajoy was forced out with a successful no-confidence motion and Pedro Sánchez now leads the Spanish government with just 84 deputies (176 are needed for a majority) and he is doing so despite being the first prime minister in Spain’s history who is not also a deputy in Congress.

Sánchez resigned from his seat two years ago because he refused to take part in Rajoy’s investiture session. He did not want to follow his party’s decision to abstain from the vote but he did not wish to vote against his party either. It was a draining and bloody feud that divided the Spanish Socialists deeply and saw Sánchez expelled as the leader of the PSOE.

It is obvious Sánchez has an iron will. He is proven to be resilient and perseverant when all the odds stood against him. He is going to need that will if he is to govern until 2020. In his first interview since his inauguration on June 2, Sánchez said that the decision not to call early elections is founded on the need to “normalise” the country’s political life but his opponents claim he is going to try to implement his own policies even though doesn’t have the parliamentary majority.

There is no rule for what should happen after a no-confidence motion but surely his first job should be trying to repair the social and institutional damage done by the corruption of the former PP government so we are ready for a more stable general election in the future. His time won’t be easy. The Catalan crisis is still unsolved. His government is going to have to accommodate the very different demands of the parties that backed his motion and in a party level, he needs to convince the socialist supporters that he is the right candidate for the job. PSOE is showing signs of recovering in the polls but still far away from the Popular Party despite all the corruption, despite everything else.

Internationally it is a good opportunity for Spain to find its place after years of non-existent presence from Mr Rajoy. A firm believer in the European Union, Sánchez has assembled a strongly pro-European cabinet to the delight of Brussels. His economic minister is a former budget general director for the European Commission and his foreign minister is a former head of the European Parliament.

The new government wants to push for deeper integration in Europe and sees France, more than Germany, as it’s best ally to deeply reform the migration policies and tackle the so much needed reform of the euro. Spain is looking forward to strengthening its position in the EU, especially with Brexit around the corner. The final goal is to show the EU that Spain can be a reliable member ready to become the voice of the European south. His orders to welcome in Valencia more than 600 refugees was not only a humanitarian duty but also an opportunity to show the EU his government is the complete opposite of Italy’s new populist leaders. A change of air in the Spanish rotten political scene. Only time will tell for how long the new prime minister will be able to hold onto power for but for now, it is good news to be able to smell something more than corruption in Spain.

Reinstating Jared O’Mara is a disgrace

On June 9th 2017, Labour learned they had pulled off a nationwide shock. A big name casualty of the night was Nick Clegg, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Many credited his betrayal of students, in a University town, as a key factor in his defeat. It was a brilliant result for Labour, who snatched the constituency with Jared O’Mara as its candidate.

On 25th October 2017, O’Mara was suspended from the Labour Party after making sexist, racist and homophobic comments in the past. Ironically, he was made a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee shortly after becoming an MP. In 2004, he said on a music website that singer Michelle McManus only won Pop Idol “because she was fat”. He also made comments including referring to gay men as “poofters” and “fudge packers” and said that a jazz musician should be “sodomised with his own piano”. To further show his disgusting attitude, he has been accused of being foul-mouthed to a woman he met on a dating app, Sophie Evans. Evans said these comments “aren’t broadcastable”. 

We can of course question how he’s been reinstated, and indeed we will. The real question is how did he become a candidate in the first place? Clearly the vetting procedures that Labour conduct normally have not been followed. 

Labour has a responsibility to the country and Sheffield Hallam to select the best possible candidate. This is blatantly not the case. It has been rumoured Labour believed the seat unwinnable at the time of selecting a candidate and with this belief and the short time it would seem O’Mara was not vetted properly. Granted, the comments were posted a long time ago when he was young, but that is no excuse.

Since his election, O’Mara has still not given his maiden speech, he doesn’t meet his constituents, and he barely attends Parliament. He has still not even asked an oral question. Since his ‘apology’ on October 23rd, he has not spoken publicly in his constituency and doesn’t hold constituency surgeries, a real necessity of an MP’s job. A press statement released in December 2017 claimed he was on ‘medical leave’. This has however been disputed by many. His website also claimed that he was busy with residents casework, and while in some cases this is true, he hasn’t put in the work overall that an MP should.  He’s not deserving of the office of MP. He’s not deserving of the chance to serve the country. And he most definitely is not deserving of the chance to represent the Labour Party. 

A local resident told The Peoples News that “Outside of the scandals, I don’t think there is much to say.” The resident cited the fact O’Mara has “Never made a maiden speech” and “has some appalling views”. This, coupled with the fact he’s made very few parliament visits shows that it’s not just his backwards views that are the problem here, but also the fact he’s a genuinely incompetent MP who has let his constituents down.

His reinstation is pure cowardice from Labour. Labour fear losing the seat.  They know expelling O’Mara might simply cause him to resign his position as MP, causing a By-election. This by-election would gain national coverage and end up playing into both the Tories and the Lib Dems hands. With most students back home and a slim majority, the Liberal Democrats would be in prime position to retake the seat. Instead, Labour will keep hold of the seat until the next General Election and hope O’Mara makes the difference in key votes to redeem himself.

There is a chance expulsion would not have caused a by-election, O’Mara would stay for the rest of his term as an independent, but it would seem the Labour Party will not take that risk.

Personally, I think that it would be less damaging to lose the seat than allow a vile misogynist back into the party. Sheffield Hallam CLP is rumoured to have plans to deselect O’Mara and not even the most moderate in the party could complain there. He’s breached the Code of Conduct, he’s disrespected the party, he’s disrespected parliament, and to be quite frank, he’s a disgrace to the country. Labour has shown that they are willing to look the other way at homophobia and sexism if you have political power. Considering their opposition to the appointment of Toby Young, Labour are now hypocrites and I’m appalled by the decision. You’d be lucky to find anyone who does agree with his reinstatement. 

Labour must set a precedent. Misogyny, racism, homophobia etc have no place in the Labour Party, nor in society on the whole. We must stamp it out, and the first step in doing this is by deselecting Jared O’Mara. 

“Corbyn is a Brexiteer for one reason, to help workers”

As the debate surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and his views on Europe are debated in the media, it’s worth discussing how he’s arrived at this position. Rather than lobbying the leader of the opposition, who has no majority in the Commons, it might be worthwhile asking and understanding how the Tory’s and Labour have arrived at Eurosceptic views.

Consider the core of Corbyn’s political plan. Nationalisation of key industries, trains, energy, water etc. Jeremy Corbyn realises the European Union law enforces competition within all such industries. As member states brace themselves for such changes and begin to implement neoliberal reforms, see, Corbyn stands to see himself on the right side of history once again. Although national ownership isn’t forbidden, private companies often undercut the state in the bidding for franchises or contracts to provide public services in a competitive tender. Subsequently slashing wages, eroding their rights and providing a lower standard of public service, in order to make it profitable. Few would argue that the quality of service in Germany, France and Spain on the railways is not value for money, at least now while it’s in the safe hands of the state but under EU law contracts must be on offer to private companies and go to the cheapest provider. Neoliberal laws that would hold back Corbyn’s

Secondly, free markets often lead to the exploitation of workers, to increase profits, costs must be lowered. Corbyn, a long-standing advocate of worker rights, said this in 2017, “What there wouldn’t be is the wholesale importation of underpaid (EU Migrant) workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry.” Not only does Corbyn see the single market as a method of exploiting British workers, but also EU workers. Particularly in low-skilled industries, where advertising agencies attract workers from low-pay countries. This is an area of much debate, and whether EU migrants have genuinely caused a decrease in the wages of U.K. workers is something I could not judge on, as many reports have shown the impact has apparently been minimal. The principle remains.

The problem is, Brexit in any form will make us worse off, and we live in a globalised world, so it’s unrealistic to expect to cut ourselves off completely from the single market. Yet, EU rules will allow Corbyn to implement a socialist agenda, something that otherwise would’ve been difficult.

Two steps left, three steps right.

How will the right utilise Brexit then, for decades now just as Margret Thatcher had envisioned successive governments have stripped workers of their rights, and the ‘free market’ has depressed wages, in the United Kingdom wages still haven’t recovered to pre-crisis levels, the EU has in many cases intervened to support citizens. In the same instance as Corbyn will be free from EU rules, so will the Tory’s, expect deregulation like no other, I quote Charles Koch, ‘Restaurants should be permitted not to force employees to wash hands, if they display this is the policy openly.’ Bon Appetit. The Tory’s will continue to implement a vision of business free from government oversight, as citizens, as consumers, that should worry you.

Such policies of deregulation led to the Flint Water Crisis, and will lead to the next crisis and the one after that. Don’t be surprised if we crash out of the EU without a deal, a crisis would inevitably follow, and shock therapy would likely be used again. For example, in a recession, a government often asks for concessions from the electorate, i.e. Further cuts to public services, to ‘cut the debt’, which has ballooned, by the way. Or tax cuts for business designed to ‘attract investment’ and ‘stimulate the economy.’ Such policies lead to further transferring of wealth to the elite, fulfilled by all too willing Conservative representatives, who often have conflicts of interest in such cases.

Analysis comparing the vote share of the Leave vote in U.K. Counties and the Strength of the Import Shock in such counties shows direct correlation between one another, which gives basis to Corbyn’s argument that Free Markets have a negative impact on workers.

Corbyn supports Brexit for the right reasons, it doesn’t necessarily make it the right decision. Unfortunately, we live in a globalised world and we do need companies to invest in our economy and our people, leaving the single market and customs union will have a negative impact on our economy, which is the great deliberation.

Corbyn may yet leave the Tory’s to implode as part of his cunning plan, but the road to socialism is, ironically, filled with pot-holes.

Why Neoliberalism seeks to undermine Democracy.

Neo-Liberalism has always been thoroughly unattractive to the voter. In normal times cuts to the public sector, choosing to reform the tax system to be more regressive and getting less for your tax money at the expense of corporate profits would never get into government but in a crisis can be delivered to government, as the UK knows only too well.

During times of crisis, Neoliberalism breeds mistrust amongst people in elected representatives through its many outlets in the media. By portraying the state as bankrupt, neoliberal institutions such as the ECB and IMF have implemented constitutional reform in countries, normally on the matters of debt, to reduce and limit the ability to borrow for public spending.

For example, in Greece and Italy, the Budget deficit must not be more than 3% of GDP per annum. This is a fundamental mechanism to enabling neoliberalism to come to fruition, representatives are portrayed as corrupt and inept to make economic decisions, hence power is transferred to market institutions, such practices are taken to lock-in neoliberal governance.

A look back on history shows financial bail-outs are key to understanding how neoliberal policies are applied in democracies. The Structural Adjustment Programmes implemented during the 1980’s coincided (incidentally) with the debt crisis in the developing world. The IMF provided finance for debt, in return for the restructuring of the economy, and cementing of neoliberal governance in such countries. Such policies included, the privatisation of national industries, removing subsidies in agricultural and focusing on export-led growth, the result being the vicious exploitation of such states and its people by Transnational Companies.  The ECB has used similar means in the modern-era, where during the period of the Greek debt crisis bail-outs were used to implement constitutional reforms because during normal times neoliberalism cannot garner the consent for it policies through democracy. In the UK, for example, there is little support for policies of austerity, and in addition, there is growing support for public ownership, for example, 89% of Brits, want to renationalise the railways. The last few years have seen the NHS being tipped to breaking point, through underfunding and in other public services it is worse still, all because of loyalty to an ideology. The Conservative government effectively used the crisis of the global financial crash to deliver policies that without the scaremongering about debt and overspending would have been vastly unattractive.

The Greek debt crisis of 2010 shows how Neo-Liberalism uses crisis to undermine democracy. A report analysing how leading mainstream media outlets reported on the Greek crisis showed that the blame was laid squarely on two factors. Overspending and malpractice of the state. Journalists argued that the Greek state had been living beyond its means, public spending was overly generous, as was its pension system, they deemed corruption to be rife. This is fundamental in how neoliberalism works, it allows the ideology to breed mistrust amongst voters in democracy, for who do you blame when your pension has disappeared, or you cannot access money at the ATM, the state of course. Representatives are left as the enemy and the cause of the crisis.

The central belief of neoliberals in the Mont Perlin Society was that the market was always more efficient in its allocation of resources than the state. Neoliberals during the latter half of the 20th century saw representatives having to cater to the various demands of the electorate, often promising increases in public spending. Which explains the view of neoliberals that the problem with the dominant political system in the ‘West’ was democracy itself. Buchanan saw the promises to increase public spending as an encroachment on the freedom of the individual, hence, his resolution to a conflict between democracy and ‘freedom’ is to always rule in favour of ‘freedom’.

The encroachment he saw was that rich men, and it was men he referred to, would end up paying for such public services through higher taxation, he saw it as a discriminatory, as did his bankrollers, the Koch brothers. Charles Koch, in particular, was a devoted neoliberal and its noted that he asked Buchanan to study Vladimir Lenin’s tactics of rule, including the methods used to oppress the masses and then apply it to the Libertarian cause. Consider then that, Ordoliberals (a strand of neoliberalism), were opposed to democracy as they thought representatives and officials were prone to corruption, they saw representatives doing the bidding of special interest groups following the collapse of the Weimar Republic. Yet the Koch brothers and other neoliberals have lobbied representatives for decades, to implement neoliberal policies, one of the Koch brothers even tried his hand at the US Legislature himself.

Although there is no definitive figure to sum how much Charles Koch has given to advance his cause, he funded James Buchanan’s Centre for Study of Public Choice, lobbied representatives for decades and in 2016 alone, the Koch brothers announced they had a $900 Million kitty to spend on the campaign. How to explain this? Neoliberals have exploited democracy and its representatives during times of crisis, this idea that during times of financial distress, neoliberal policies are a necessity. Yet, that is the key revelation, because during normal times such policies are rejected, no one votes to receive less for their tax money.

Democracy is a political system that gives power to the people, for all its flaws, quite simply it is a political system that can bring about change. Neoliberals know this, Buchanan and co. saw representatives bring about desegregation because that was the will of the people, to put it bluntly, democracy is an obstacle to neoliberal policies. Yet, in 2018 most major economies are neoliberal. Take for example in Italy where they are resisting change, the discourse and commentary on the crisis has begun, Jean Michel Barnier called the Italians ‘corrupt.’ This then is the incompatible relationship between democracy and neoliberalism.