The Nuclear Option

Hinkley Point is a bad deal for Britain. Investment should focus on renewable and strategic nuclear projects, as well as smarter use of energy. 

Cynics might think the green light for Hinkley Point C, a new nuclear power station partly financed by China, has something to do with Mrs May being forced to sit on the naughty step at the G20 summit in China. After numerous delays, and a pause in the approval of the project in July, construction of the project was finally given the all clear on September 15th. Concerns that circulated around British security in stake in what it considers ‘critical infrastructure’, lead to new safeguards on the project being constructed by Électricité de France (EDF), a French state-owned firm, (using £6 billion in Chinese money). Britain now has a share in all future nuclear projects, and a promise to change it’s approach to control of critical infrastructure. EDF also cannot pull out of the project before completion without British consent. In doing this, Mrs May has likely eased tensions with China – a cash pot of future investments – and France; who she needs to appease to make looming Brexit negotiations easier. Continue reading

Match Fixing

Boundary changes aren’t gerrymandering, but the Tories are still getting an unfair advantage.

Jeremy Corbyn can’t seem to catch a break. In addition to lagging in the polls and having to fight off a leadership challenge from rebellious backbenches, news broke recently that the proposed boundary changes for 2018 could result in his seat vanishing entirely. Jokes about train carriages aside, there are many arguing that the boundary reviews amount to gerrymandering. After all, Labour are the ones who are set to lose out as a result – and badly at that.  Continue reading

Colourblind

Britain should not think it’s above the racism seen in the US. 

Robert Winder, in his very Britishly titled book ‘Bloody Foreigners’tells the enthralling story of the rich tapestry of the thousands of foreign people and ideas that have settled and shaped Britain ever since mankind tracked into Europe from Africa. Our medieval architecture was created by the French; our royal family has German blood in their veins; our banks and shops are Jewish; our language a concoction of Germanic and Latin (with a sprinkling of Indian and American). Our food is anything but British, with tea from China and curry from India. A quintessentially English song of royalty was composed by the German George Frideric Handel. The book speaks of how the Empire stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the trenches of the First World War; and alongside us against Hitler. It was they who came here to help us rebuild our charred cities and bombed out buildings. It was Britain which soldiered on alone against Hitler and Nazism. The story of the Second World War is one of an epic struggle of freedom and tolerance against the forces of racism and oppression. Britain couldn’t possibly be a place of racism and intolerance.

Perhaps this is the reason many Brits scoff at the Black Lives Matter UK movement. A Buzzfeed report on the July 2016 Black Lives Matter march in Birmingham pointed to a dismissal of the issue. After all, the UK isn’t like the US. The brutality and social struggles minorities face in the US aren’t like the ones minority groups in the UK face. Britain couldn’t possibly be as barbaric and unwelcoming as that. Continue reading

Who Watches The Watchmen?

The sad state of press bias

Most people form their views from the media. Unfortunately for the electorate, the media is bogged down with their own biases, making reliable information hard to come by. British papers exaggerate, demonise, and fan the flames of hot button issues. One common cry is the harsh way the media treats Mr Corbyn, with the biased BBC and Murdoch press working tirelessly to discredit him. As this blog has discussed in the past, Mr Corbyn isn’t entirely blameless in the failure to reach out to voters. As Professor Steven Fielding of the University of Nottingham pointed out in Left Foot Forward, a left-leaning political blog, the electoral strategy of Mr Corbyn is backwards.

That doesn’t make the claim of media bias untrue. Ed Miliband knew the feeling of the media’s sharp tongue well. There has almost always been more papers which support the Tories in circulation than support Labour. This was true in 1945, where just over half supported the Tories, and 35% of papers in circulation backed Labour. And it’s true today. There was a marked shift against Labour since 1974, it swung in favour of Labour under Tony Blair, and swung back against Labour in 2010 (only 15% of the papers in circulation backed Gordon Brown versus the 71% that backed David Cameron). Continue reading

School’s Out

Grammar schools aren’t the way to better schools.

Theresa May’s ascension to the highest office in the land has gotten many optimistic that new grammar schools are just on the horizon. Ms May, after all, backed plans to expand the grammar school within her own constituency, and supported parents having more choice of academically selective schools.

The debate surrounding the existence and expansion of grammar schools has been a hallmark of Education Secretaries since the 1960s, despite moves by governments to close these institutions. Lady Thatcher oversaw more grammar school closures than Labour’s Tony Crosland. Tony Blair’s best attempts to draw a line under the issue in 1998, with a compromise of allowing the maintenance of existing grammar schools but preventing the creation of new ones, has done little to silence the debate surrounding their reintroduction; a debate made all the more pressing by a grammar school in Tonbridge, Kent opening up an annexe ten miles away in October 2015. Many current grammar school are already expanding their intakes, and the decision at Tonbridge may encourage other satellites by existing grammar schools. The move may be a popular one. 51% of British adults support the idea of allowing new grammar schools to open, according to polling company ComRes. Continue reading

The Shadow Of Iraq

Chilcot finally sheds some light on the fateful events of March 18th, 2003.

In 1999, the Blair Doctrine was declared in front of a Chicago audience. If intervention could do more good than harm, nations should go to war. That speech was given in the context of the Kosovo conflict, but the ideas also underpinned Blair’s rationalisation for Iraq. As Jason Ralph has argued, Blair sincerely believes that the war, which was presented as an act of collective security, was a continuation of the internationalist doctrine he laid out.

Blair still claims going to war was the right thing to do. At an inquiry in 2010, he said when giving evidence:

It’s a decision. And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam’s history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he had caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programmes or is that a risk that it would be irresponsible to take? The reason why it is so important … is because, today, we are going to be faced with exactly the same types of decisions.

He declared the same things post Chilcot. Its a view coloured by the post 9/11 world, as Mr Blair argued himself. It’s a view that persists in drone strikes on would be terrorists. The nightmares of children who grow up fearing blue sky in that section of the world is a small price to save lives tomorrow.

Of course, the costs of the Iraq war are much greater. Since Britain marched to war in 2003, with the press on Fleet Street beating the drum, body counts climb. Innocent blood was spilt on the sands of the region, and millions were forced to leave their homes. 179 British military personnel are dead. Iraq has been thrown into the abyss of instability. ISIS rose from the ashes of al-Qaeda in the American prison of Camp Bucca, Iraq. The removal of infrastructure in the Iraqi government, even in the face of sectarian violence, made a vacuum militias were all too happy to fill, in regions left behind. The war stoked the flames of new conflicts that would tear nations apart. When Mr Blair spoke to troops in 2003, he claimed it was a defining moment of our century. He was right about that.

Continue reading

Blinkered

Labour’s membership are skewing the party away from the views of its voters.

British politics is entering turbulent times. Nowhere can this turbulence be felt more strongly than within the Labour party. A string of resignations and a thumping vote of no confidence has sent the party into a tailspin. Mr Corbyn has dug in as leader and refuses to resign. Continue reading