Talking Politics
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    As expected, Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour party. If you’ve been reading the press recently, you’ll know this is the start of the total annihilation of the Labour party. Internal opposition to his leadership from the party’s MPs will tear it apart. And if it somehow limps to the election with a hard-left programme, it will be destroyed at the ballot box. But things might not be that simple.

    Firstly, Saturday’s overwhelming result will dampen any Labour effort to oust Corbyn in the short term. His mandate is simply too strong. He won in all three constituencies – members, trade unions and £3 supporters. He didn’t just beat the 50% threshold on first preference votes, he trampled all over it. Corbyn won 59% support on a 76.3% turnout. The only negative was that he didn’t win first preference votes in the first stage among members –but it was 49%, so one imagines he’ll live with it.

    Corbyn quickly reached out across the party. He had clearly spoken with Ed Miliband on

    Read More »from Why Jeremy Corbyn will do better than you expect
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    By Dr Helena Wray and Eleonore Kofman

    The misery of thousands of children separated from a parent because their British mother or father cannot meet onerous financial conditions (principally, a minimum income of £18,600 pa) for the sponsorship of their non-EU partner to live in the UK, was revealed this week.

    As has covered, a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England shows the income requirements, which were implemented in 2012, are not only cruel but fail to meet their stated objectives: they do not reduce reliance by migrant partners on public funds and they do not enhance their integration.

    British citizens and residents who need to live in the UK or who simply prefer to live in their own home with their life partner must choose between separation or exile, either of which may be indefinite.

    The financial requirements are part of a sustained attack on the rights of citizens to live in the UK with their family members if the latter are not citizens of a European

    Read More »from How the UK does all it can to keep non-EU partners separated
  • By Nathan Debrowski

    Jeremy Corbyn is in many ways riding the same progressive, anti-austerity wave that has carried politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Syriza and Podemos to the top of the polls. But even if he has energised and excited his party’s base like few other British politicians, is the country (and the world) really ready for his rock-the-boat style of policy-making?

    While many voters and pundits have focused on Corbyn’s economic policies, few have ventured to apply the same effort to his foreign policy and it’s there that my own nascent Corbynmania ground to a screeching halt.

    Recently, Corbyn said he believed it wrong for Poland to have been allowed into NATO. Understandably his comments that the country “should have gone down the road Ukraine went in 1990” received a particularly negative reaction. According to Corbyn, NATO is a Cold War institution that should have been torn down in conjunction with the Warsaw Pact in 1990. In an article for the Stop War Coalition published

    Read More »from Jeremy Corbyn's naive foreign policy would put Europe in danger
  • By Natalie Bloomer

    When Sarah met her husband in London four years ago, she couldn’t have been happier. He was an old friend of her brother, knew of her difficult past and promised her a brighter future. He also assured her they would sort out her immigration status. She was an undocumented immigrant from Algeria, but he was a British citizen.

    For a while they were happy, but then she became pregnant and everything changed. Her husband’s behaviour became angry and controlling. Several months into her pregnancy he threw a hoover at her. After the birth of their son, things got worse. She wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone other than her mother and sister. When she fell pregnant for a second time she was attacked again. This time she decided to leave, but was terrified her husband would find her and take her son away, as he had threatened to do many times.

    Desperate to find somewhere to escape to, Sarah approached a number of refuges, but because of her immigration status she was turned away

    Read More »from No refuge: How benefit rules leave immigrant women at the mercy of their abusers
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    For three years we’ve had a law banning people on low incomes from living with their husband or wife, if they’re from outside the EU.

    It’s not called a ban, of course, it’s called an income requirement. But that’s what it is. Any Brit who earns less than £18,600 is not entitled to live in their home country with their wife or husband if they happen to be a non-EU citizen. The threshold rises to £22,400 if they have a child and again by another £2,400 for any additional children. The benchmark is 138% of the minimum wage. Almost half the adult UK population don’t earn it.

    It hits those couples who meet outside the UK hardest. In cases where they’ve been living for years in countries with much lower incomes than the UK, it’s obviously hard for them to fulfil the requirement when, as they often do, they decide to come home to raise their kids. Usually they have to split up. The UK citizen comes home, starts work and after a year or so will have the evidence needed to convince the Home

    Read More »from How immigration policy brutalises British children
  • By Keith Porteous Wood

    While religious leaders are as entitled as anyone else to express their views about the Assisted Dying Bill - about to be debated in Parliament - there is no doubt the media give the opinions of “faith leaders” disproportionate prominence.

    This week a motley crew of them signed a letter opposing the Bill which featured in practically every major media outlet.

    For some reason these religious leaders tend to be treated as possessing a moral acuity denied to the rest of us. As a result I fear many will have subconsciously imagined the letter carried an extra authority simply because it carried the imprimatur of some archbishop, imam or rabbi.

    Despite acknowledging significant dissent from former Archbishop George Carey, the letter gave the impression it broadly echoed the views held by the faithful the signatories purport to lead. But does it?

    In reality a poll by YouGov found that only 18% of the public who identified as belonging to a religion opposed “the legalisation

    Read More »from Assisted Dying Bill: Church has no right to deny their flock dignity in death
  • Is the trans inquiry just a fig leaf?

    By Jane Fae

    Ground-breaking stuff? Or a fig leaf designed to head-off pressure for real change?

    As one of its first projects in the new parliament, the women and equalities committee is inquiring formally into the issue of equality for trans folk. Today they’ve been taking oral evidence.

    But why? Why now? And why bother? Surely trans people have arrived. Not just all the froth, from Vanity Fair to Loose Women, about Kellie Maloney and Caitlyn Jenner.  Surely we’ve reached the famous ‘transgender tipping point’, announced so confidently to the world from the front cover of Time magazine last year by trans actress Laverne Cox. Surely the women’s committee has better things to do with its time.

    The first and most obvious reason is that, for all the positive headlines, progress on the trans front has been patchy and piecemeal stuff. For every heart-warming story of trans acceptance on the part of the public, there are behind-the-scenes stories of discrimination, harassment and abuse. We’re not

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  • There’s a rumour going round that any Syrian child brought to the UK under the refugee programme announced by David Cameron yesterday will be deported when they turn 18.

    It’s the product of Paddy Ashdown, former Lib Dem leader, who yesterday tweeted: “Minister in the Lords just confirmed refugee orphans and children brought in under Cameron’s scheme will be deported at age 18.”

    He made similar statements on the Today programme this morning, saying the government position had changed overnight. He wasn’t quite right the first time and he certainly wasn’t right the second time, but he’s raising something important which we rarely talk about: how Britain treats young refugees when they turn 18.

    First, what did he get wrong? Well, they won’t necessarily be deported at 18 and it’s unhelpful to suggest otherwise. Secondly, there was no change of position overnight.

    During the Lords debate, Lord Wallace asked:

    “When we hear about the fact that we will give priority to vulnerable children including

    Read More »from The deportation game: What happens when refugees turn 18?
  • By Steve Moore

    Over the past few years campaigners for drug reform in the UK have drawn some meagre encouragement from the emergence of post-prohibition policies in a few US states, as well as Uruguay and Portugal.

    All were heralded as long overdue progressive alternatives to the approach adopted by successive British governments. But until now it has been easy for ministers and officials to dismiss US innovations as a product of libertarianism at odds with our culture. And anyway, when was the last time a UK policy was implemented because it worked in Montevideo, Lisbon or Anchorage?

    But in recent weeks a more significant development has emerged in the Republic of Ireland. It’s harder to ignore and could even get some attention from a somnolent Labour party. I got my first glimpse of it during an event in Dublin last Friday led by Labour minster for justice Aodhán O'Ríordáin.

    If a candidate of O'Ríordáin’s calibre was standing in the UK Labour party leadership race, Jeremy Corbyn might

    Read More »from The man who made Ireland fall in love with drug law reform
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    David Cameron’s announcement in the Commons yesterday that the UK will accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees seems impressive. It puts us behind France and Germany but is a much bigger number than expected.

    But when you scratch the surface, it starts to fall apart.

    Cameron’s promise is for 20,000 people over the course of this parliament. That means we’re taking at most 4,000 a year. That must surely be considered the absolute minimum the government could have promised given the scale of the crisis.

    The refugees will almost certainly be taken under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme (VPR), which was designed to funnel people considered vulnerable by the UNCHR’s Gateway programme through a British mechanism. The use of VPR, rather than the UNHCR programme, means the UK can restrict the refugees to Syrian nationals.

    But why should we? Reports coming in yesterday detail how boats full of Eritrean women and children are being intercepted in the Med. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to help?

    Read More »from Why we should be suspicious of Cameron's Syrian refugee announcement


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