When The Independent Group was riding high after eight Labour and three Conservative MPs quit their parties in February, one older hand warned its enthusiastic young recruits: “It won’t always be like this.”
A cunning rat leaves a sinking ship. Yet it’s a striking feature of today’s Conservative Party that so many are scrabbling to stay aboard their listing vessel instead. Amber Rudd and the ever versatile Matt Hancock have even converted to the cause of a crash-out Brexit, despite previously warning it would be the economic equivalent of scuttling your own fleet at Scarpa Flow.
Across the UK today, in one hundred and eighteen cities, towns and villages, young people are walking out of their schools and colleges to demonstrate for action against climate change. It’s the latest in a series of school climate strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg. These demonstrations, emerging spontaneously and spreading virally, have had a dramatic impact on politics around the world but they are also a phenomenon that needs explaining. They beg the question: why have young people taken the lead on climate action?
Some have suggested that the founder of WikiLeaks, who recently was sentenced in Britain to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail seven years ago, should be viewed as a heroic defender of press freedom and the public’s right to know. But Julian Assange is no hero.
The European election campaign has so far been all about the Brexit Party. Seemingly out of nowhere, Nigel Farage’s new anti-EU project has rocketed to the top of the polls – the latest YouGov poll has it at 35 per cent – picking up bags of media attention on its way, leaving concerned pundits scratching their heads at this insurgent force in British politics.
I remember quite vividly the first time that I met Jeremy Corbyn. It was at a Labour Party drinks reception in the early summer of 2018, in the stifling heat of a rather stuffy and uninspiring events space in central London.
I never thought “voter suppression” would be a phrase that I’d ever associate with British politics. Unfortunately, the events witnessed on European Election polling day, which left registered European citizens unable to vote, leave me struggling to find the adequate words to describe how much of a mess it was.
Five days after the UK was meant to leave the European Union, and with exactly one week to find a way out of the Brexit mess that has been entirely beyond her for the last three years, Theresa May has had a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn.
Brexit is a black hole. For the past three years, it has been swallowing up politicians’ attention, parliament’s time, public money and the bulk of the news agenda. And it’s far from over.
We’re facing a critical moment in history. Our politics are deeply divided, inequality and insecurity is rising, and the planet is burning. States and markets are failing us. We need a vocal and effective civil society more than ever before. But if organisations like Oxfam are to fulfill our potential we need to change fundamentally.