Talking Politics
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    By Edward McMillan-Scott

    Angela Merkel’s stay at Chequers for David Cameron’s birthday today will probably be the last time the two leaders get together before the British prime minister presents his renegotiation demands to all EU leaders in December.

    It remains unclear exactly what those demands are. In his speech at the conclusion of the Conservative party conference, Cameron hardly mentioned the EU, saying only that Britain was not interested in “ever-closer union”.

    It’s also doubtful how receptive Merkel will be to those demands. The two recent books about Cameron – Cameron at 10 by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon and Call Me Dave by Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott – are threaded with references to Cameron’s not always straightforward relations with Merkel, and in particular her disdain for his decision to quit the mainstream and dominant conservative/Christian Democrat European People’s Party (EPP) of which she is the senior figure.

    The decision to quit was a pledge in his

    Read More »from David Cameron shouldn't rely on Angela Merkel to save his EU reforms
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    Social media is disconnecting the Labour party from the majority of voters, Tristram Hunt suggested in a speech last night.

    The MP, who resigned from the shadow cabinet following Jeremy Corbyn’s election, claimed Labour’s digitally-based “new politics” of “Twitter-led mobilisations” and “perennial demonstration,” was making the party lose touch with the electorate.

    “There is a risk, I think, with what we might call ‘algorithm politics,” he told an audienceat Sheffield University.

    “What the algorithms which underpin our digital lives do is take information about us and fire similar information back at us.

    "Google’s skill at offering you what it knows you like is now directing you towards what you want to hear, from people like you. And I think this is radicalising political opinion amongst the congregation – from left to right - emboldens group-think and disconnects the hyper-engaged from the sentiments of the wider electorate.”

    Now this may well all be true, although quite why Hunt believes

    Read More »from What does Tristram Hunt really know about connecting with voters?
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    By Sadiq Khan

    Let’s start where David Cameron and I agree: more people should be given the chance to buy a home of their own. I’m sure that the prime minister believes that just as strongly as I do.

    But that’s where we part company.

    I’m committed to building the new, affordable homes – to buy and to rent – that Londoners need. Not just new properties for the wealthiest Londoners, or overseas investors, but homes for those on average and low incomes.

    Cameron’s record on housing is one of absolute failure. Over the past five years, he as prime minister and Boris Johnson as mayor have overseen a growing crisis in housing for Londoners. On their watch, home ownership in London has fallen from 53% to 48% – fewer than half of Londoners now own the home in which they live. This is not surprising when the average deposit paid for a home in London has hit £100,000 – up from £66,000 five years ago.

    That wouldn’t be as much of a problem if there were enough secure and affordable tenancies available

    Read More »from Ignore Cameron's rhetoric. The Tories are the party of falling home ownership
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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


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