Talking Politics
  • image

    Of all the various predictions of a left-wing disaster following the election of Jeremy Corbyn, few commentators noted the effect he might have on the Tory party. His election has dragged the Conservatives to the centre, and dragged the centre to the left. It produced today’s extraordinary speech from the prime minister, in which he finally lived up to the moniker ‘heir to Blair’.For the first time he is genuinely moving his party to the centre – as his hero did – rather than just paying lip-service to it.

    This was the best speech David Cameron has delivered as Tory leader. It was one of those rare speeches which managed to accomplish several things at once. It painted a meaningful portrait of the kind of country Cameron was trying to create, assisted his internal allies while diminishing his enemies, boxed the Labour party into a corner and created an election-winning message for 2020. Cameron made the most of every opportunity offered to him by the general election win and Corbyn’s

    Read More »from Cameron's speech shows how Corbyn is making this a more left-wing country
  • image

    By Tim Farron

    Theresa May’s claim yesterday that Britain cannot have a cohesive society which includes a certain level of immigration is yet another depressing escalation in rhetoric from the Conservatives.

    The prime minister has already branded refugees escaping the horrors of civil war and traversing the Mediterranean as a ‘swarm of migrants’ but this new language from May is pushing the debate around immigration to dangerous new levels.

    The language, which conflates refugees and other migrants, and the lack of understanding about immigration, risks pitching communities against each other while demonising people who contribute so much to our country.

    James Kirkup on his Telegraph blog summed up the Home Secretary’s tirade nicely:

    “Immigrants are stealing your job, making you poorer and ruining your country. Never mind the facts, just feel angry at foreigners. And make me Conservative leader.”

    Theresa May’s speech is based on ingrained prejudice and does not relate to the government’s own

    Read More »from It's Theresa May - not immigrants - who's really damaging Britain
  • image

    Over my years covering London politics I have watched literally hundreds of speeches by Boris Johnson. Pretty much all of them have melded into one. Normally the relationship between the content of Boris’s speeches and the event he has been asked to speak at is so loose as to be non-existent. Whether he’s speaking to a room full of Sikhs, or the Conservative party conference, the message and the jokes are almost always the same. If I never hear another gag about selling cake to France again, it will be too soon.

    So it was striking that he chose yesterday to deliver what was the most coherent, intellectually interesting and persuasive speech he has ever made. It was at turns amusing, politically cutting and strategically smart. There were even a few new jokes. And after a week of almost entirely content-free speeches apparently designed to assist the onset of the viewers’ afternoon nap, it was refreshing to listen to somebody who actually had something to say and knew how to say it.


    Read More »from Boris Johnson shows why it's far too early to count him out
  • image

    The Super Furry Animals on fighting the ‘smug’ Tories, Welsh independence and Jeremy Corbyn

    It’s telling that the main stories from this year’s Conservative party conference have been about what has taken place outside the conference 'safe zone’ rather than inside.

    Whether it’s 80,000 anti-austerity protesters marching on the streets, a small number of anarchists spitting at delegates or Jeremy Corbyn packing out Manchester cathedral, it’s been the Tories’ opponents who have grabbed the headlines, rather than the Tories themselve.

    So last night I took a trip away from the conference bars to Manchester University where the People’s Assembly Against Austerity were holding a benefit gig with Charlotte Church and the Super Furry Animals.

    Before they went on stage. I sat down with Cian Ciaran and Guto Pryce rom the Super Furries to ask why they had chosen to become part of the growing anti-austerity movement.

    Cian: I found out about the People’s Assembly about three years ago trawling the

    Read More »from The Super Furry Animals on fighting the 'smug' Tories, Welsh independence and Jeremy Corbyn
  • image

    The weird thing about this conference season is how happy it is. The Lib Dems were all pleased as punch, as if nothing had happened since the last time they got together. Labour had this frenzied sense of joy electrifying the conference, not because they thought they were going to win – almost none of them really think that – but because things were chaotic and remarkable. And the Tories… Well, the Tories won the election. They actually improved the share of the vote for a governing party and secured their first majority since 1992. They’ve earned the right to be pleased with themselves.

    They’re trying to be understated about it, although it must be said they’re not doing a very good job of it. Michael Gove told delegates he found commentators’ mistaken predictions of a Labour coalition “hilariously” wrong. In the bars of the conference centres, there is a background hum of guffawing and back-slapping. But dig beneath the happiness and there is very little political content here.


    Read More »from Tories are jubilant but there's no heart to their conference
  • image

    By Natasha Dhumma

    The wave of reported knife crime that has dominated London newspapers this summer has now got Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith behind calls to increase the use of stop and search. The Metropolitan Police have also indicated they plan toincrease their use of the tactic.

    According to these voices, the decline in stop and search over the past three years has led to young people feeling invincible and without fear of being caught possessing knives. Not only is this completely unsupported by the evidence, it echoes a policing blunder from our recent history from which, it appears, lessons have not been sufficiently learnt.

    In 2008, Operation Blunt 2, an anti-knife crime initiative was launched in London with the backing of London Mayor Boris Johnson. Under Blunt, the rate of Section 60 searches, which do not require an officer to have reasonable suspicion that an individual has done anything wrong, skyrocketed, and tougher sentences were introduced.

    Read More »from Police must reject reactionary calls to increase stop and search
  • image

    There is a very telling moment in Owen Bennett’s account of being spat at at an anti-Tory demo in Manchester yesterday. It’s not when the Huffington Post reporter is actually spat at. There are always aggressive lunatics on protests. They don’t indicate anything wider about their movement except that it, like all other movements, has its fair share of idiots. It comes afterwards, when police had separated him and fellow journalist Kate McCann off from a section of the crowd.

    As Bennett recounts:

    “I shouted out that we were journalists, and flashed my National Union of Journalists issued-press card. They didn’t leave us alone, apparently we were fair game. I deserved to be spat on, according to more than one person in the crowd. The police told Kate and I we needed to move out of the area or we would ‘get lynched’. I didn’t doubt it. The crowd was getting larger, and angrier.”

    Similar accounts came in from a variety of journalists attending the conference, most of them not writing for

    Read More »from Hatred of the press is reaching toxic levels
  • image

    Zac Goldsmith was today chosen as the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate, with a whopping 70% of the vote.

    The details of the result were less impressive for the party however. Just 9,000 people took part in the ballot, fewer than half of the number who took part in the previous contest which selected Boris Johnson and a tiny fraction of the numbers who have joined Labour in London since May.

    This does suggest that enthusiasm for the green-minded Goldsmith among Tory members is not quite as strong as the headline percentage suggests. Could his support for extending charges against motorists and his opposition to airport expansion have turned some Tories cold?

    At the very least it doesn’t bode well for the Tories’ activist base in London.

    However, in some ways the poor turnout is unsurprising. Unlike Labour’s recent mayoral contest which contained four big names, Zac always looked like a shoo-in against his relatively unknown rivals. In a closer, more high-profile contest, we would

    Read More »from Five reasons why Zac Goldsmith will be difficult for Labour to beat
  • image

    For the first time in a long time, the censors are on the back foot. Efforts to ban secular campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking at Warwick University have been reversed. Then this week, feminist campaigners Caroline Criado Perez and Julie Bindel pulled out of the Feminism in London conference in protest at efforts to no-platform fellow panellist Jane Fae. We are seeing the first signs that the tide is turning in the free speech debate. Event organisers are finally coming under as much pressure from free speech defenders as they are censors.

    (Quick declaration of interest: I went to Warwick for my MA, I’m close friends with Perez and Fae regularly writes for this website. None of that has any bearing really, but it’s worth mentioning because online censors – from the Corbynistas to the safe spaces lot – struggle to accept that anyone holds opinions for any reason other than self-interest. I might as well beat them to it.)

    The Warwick debate started just like all the other travesties

    Read More »from Feminist backlash against the censors shows tide turning in free speech debate
  • image

    For all the faults of his conference speech, Jeremy Corbyn has achieved one very important thing: he brought party conference back to life. The Brighton centre is hosting the most exciting party conference for the last twenty years. There is debate – real, full-blooded political debate – everywhere. In the conference hall, the fringe, the bars, the hallways, the streets. Corbyn said he wanted to turn this place into a festival of politics and he has succeeded.

    For years – since Tony Blair at least – conferences have been dead places. The decision-making power of members over party policy was stripped away. Campaigning and debate were replaced by something akin to a trade fair. Charities and lobby groups set up stands (not unlike the ones, I should probably mention, has all over this conference). Lobbyists prowled the corridors looking to secure a few minutes with a junior minister which they could write up to the boss to sound more impressive than it really is. Too many

    Read More »from Corbyn has brought party conference back to life


(1,628 Stories)