Nancy Platts Takes a Dangerous Populist Turn

Nancy Platts helps no-one by over-stepping the line from vigorous campaigning to populist attacks on officials.

Last week, current Brighton and Hove City Council Leader Nancy Platts wrote a piece on opposition to the forced academisation of Moulsecoomb Primary School.  Carried in both Brighton & Hove News and Brighton & Hove Independent,  she mixes a laudable concern that the voice of the local community be heard with a nasty populist attack on the civil servants involved in the process.  This is a dangerous path to venture down, especially in our current toxically populist political environment in which the Institute for Government has found ‘an unprecedented rise in the number of political attacks on civil servants’.

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Review: Why We Get the Wrong Politicians – Isabel Hardman (2018)

Isabel Hardman’s Why We Get the Wrong Politicians offers a clear and lively explanation of the parliamentary system’s working in both theory, and in practice. I recommend it for all those with an interest in why our system seems to be mired in crisis, regardless of existing levels of knowledge: she offers clear explanation of the systems workings for those unfamiliar with the detail of our parliament, along with insider knowledge and accounts of how it actually works, and why.

The Peterborough by-election depressed me.  The top two candidates were so patently unfit for public office that it really made inescapable the growing feeling I’ve had that our political system is in crisis. 

I turned to Isabel Hardman’s well received 2018 account of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians.   This had been sitting on my shelf for a few months, seemingly awaiting just such a moment of total loss of confidence in the system from me, so I note here I have the first edition hardback.  It has since been updated and issued as a paperback, with an updated Brexit section and preface on ‘how it’s just got worse’, and I would like to read these further thoughts from Hardman.

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Perilous Prognostification? Updated Prediction for Brighton and Hove City Council Elections in May 2019

Brighton Politics Blogger is back in the saddle, sort of predicting the results of the local elections in Brighton and Hove in a couple of weeks.

I agree with the overall thrust – I think it unlikely that there will be a majority administration.  I don’t get a sense that anyone who is not already a committed supporter or member is feeling anything positive about either Labour or Tories as parties at the moment.  Nationally the two main parties are commanding dwindling support, with both parties losing the support of many of their 2017 General election voters. I see no reason to think this is any different locally, and plenty of anecdotal evidence of disaffected members in both.   

Continue reading “Perilous Prognostification? Updated Prediction for Brighton and Hove City Council Elections in May 2019”

The Bearable Lightness of Leaving Labour

Leaving Labour

Three weeks ago I left the Labour Party.  When the split that formed The Independent Group was announced, I looked in my heart and knew it was time to go.

I’ve been involved in the Labour party all my adult life and the party has been the central pillar of my political identity.  In July last year I ran for candidacy in my ward for the local elections in May this year. I’ve previously run as a Labour candidate n Brighton and Hove, back in 2007, and the difference in the experience of the process this time was significant. Continue reading “The Bearable Lightness of Leaving Labour”

Overall Prediction for Brighton and Hove City Council elections in May 2019

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I promised a local election prediction in my 2019 post, and I have been meaning to write one.  I’m writing it now as it’s already become reality thanks to Cllr Anne Meadows defection today.
Here’s the top line – a minority Conservative council following the Brighton and Hove City Council elections in May.
I’m not going to go ward by ward here now, but I predict both Tories and Greens will take a couple of seats from Labour.  This would be true based solely on the national politics of Brexit. Assuming an extension, Labour’s dishonest sophistry and fudge satisfies no-one outside of the hard core. The Greens have a clear remain line that will take seats from Labour in Preston Park and Hanover at least, and the Tories are likely to gain from a clearer leave position in some of the less central areas.  If we crash out or leave with a Conservative brokered deal then the position remains largely the same – Labour will be punished for not taking a clear remain line or supporting a second referendum, but won’t see any gain from Brexit supporters.  Add in the unpopularity of Corbyn amongst large groups of traditional voters and you don’t even need the malign incompetence of the local Momentum group to see Labour as likely to lose ground here in May.
As Niels Bohr supposedly said ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’, and these are febrile times with the parties suddenly becoming fissile.  So I don’t stake too much on this. However there is now no way I can see for Labour to gain a majority, or even retake control in the city.

Brexit, the Moral Identity of the EU, and the Return of the International

Late last year, Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister, was ridiculed for his contribution to the Brexit debate.   Abbott’s article for The Spectator in October, ‘How to save Brexit’ set out the basic point that not being prepared to walk away with no deal weakens the UK’s negotiating position, but then pushed a simplistic vision of the glories of a Britain trading under WTO rules.  So far, so usual edge of plausibility forgettable Brexit dream.

However, it was something he said in a later interview with Brendan O’Neill that caught my attention (the Brexit discussion starts from 47 mins in). In setting out why the EU would never give the UK a good deal he went beyond the usual strategic reasons of discouraging others from leaving, to move on to ‘theological’ territory; because the EU sees itself as a ’morally superior alternative to nation states” leaving is ultimately immoral, a going backwards, an atavistic return to the anarchic world of a warring states system.

This is an astute point I have not seen made that often.  The usual moral framing of the Brexit debate is to do with either sovereignty, or trade and economic impacts.  Yet it is precisely from this belief in the EU’s transcendence of the nation state that the EU derives its moral identity and self-image as a uniquely legitimate international actor. And, it is this self-image that in turn builds leaving into more than a damaging political and economic blow, to become an immoral act. Continue reading “Brexit, the Moral Identity of the EU, and the Return of the International”

George Moody Candidate Statement – Preston Park Labour Shortlisting

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Campaigns Officer, Preston Park

 We must harness the vision, creativity and energy of a rejuvenated party, unapologetically committed to socialist values, to transform our city.

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The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 3: Geographical Distribution.

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Part 2 established the existence of a social fabric linking foreign policy think tanks across Europe.  In this section I first highlight the significant contribution this makes to the possibilities for EU foreign policy, before then mapping more explicitly the geographical distribution of this network. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 3: Geographical Distribution.”

The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 2: The Policy Institute Network

In this post I start to map out the network of policy institutes involved in the EUGS.

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In part one I outlined why the process involved in the formation of the European Union Global Strategy was important.  Having identified a significant role for think tanks in this process, I now begin to map out the relationships between these think tanks by looking at the interlinkages between their governance boards. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 2: The Policy Institute Network”

The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 1: The Importance of the Process

EUGS FlagThe Importance of the European Union Global Strategy Process
The European Union Global Strategy, Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe. A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS ), was welcomed by the European Council in June 2016.  The strategy aimed for a ‘step-change’ in the European approach to security and defence.  The rapid and coherent follow up action[1] is widely seen to reflect ‘a new seriousness in Europe about strengthening our joint foreign and security policies’.  One year on in June 2017, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), noted that in security and defence, ‘more has been achieved in the last ten months than in the last ten years’. Continue reading “The Network behind the European Union Global Strategy. Part 1: The Importance of the Process”