Talking Politics
  • Here’s a quandary. As things stand, Labour are increasingly likely to need SNP support in order to form a government in May.

    A hung parliament is by far the most likely outcome according to the betting markets, with some polls suggesting the SNP could overtake the Lib Dems as the third largest party at Westminster.

    However, while a Labour/SNP coalition would be highly popular in Scotland, it would be deeply unpopular outside.

    According to two new polls released this week, the possibility of a coalition between the two parties sharply divides opinion north and south of the border. On the one hand one new poll out today finds that such a coalition would be the first choice among a clear plurality of Scots, including almost one in five Labour supporters.

    However, a separate poll released over the weekend suggests that such a coalition would cause deep resentment in the rest of the UK. According to Yougov, almost six out of ten people in the South of England and around half of those in the

    Read More »from A Labour/SNP coalition would damage both parties
  • It’s now been over three months since the launch of Labour’s anti-Green party strategy.

    The unit, set up by shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan was designed to reverse the leakage of Labour supporters to the Greens and win back more votes from Labour’s left. So how is it going?

    Well since the unit launched, support for the Greens has actually gone up.

    Nationally the party is now regularly polling ahead of the Lib Dems, with support among younger generations especially high.

    The party is also building support locally. In the Green’s only parliamentary seat in Brighton, they have gone from being one point behind Labour to ten points ahead. While much of that support has come from former Lib Dem and non-voters, the number of former Labour voters planning to vote Green in the constituency has almost doubled since June.

    The party’s ability to translate this support into votes is also improving. Last week they revealed that they have more members than either the Lib Dems or Ukip. It is this

    Read More »from Why Labour's anti-Green strategy isn't working
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    There’s a gigantic hole in Ed Miliband’s speech on voter registration - and much of the media coverage surrounding the “scandal” of the coalition’s reforms.

    Let’s be clear - this really is a scandal. Politics.co.uk has already reported on the problems caused by the transition to individual electoral registration, which is threatening to benefit the Conservatives’ hopes of winning the general election.

    The problem is, it’s not the 2015 election which is at stake. As next to no-one has mentioned in the reporting on Miliband’s speech, it’s the 2020 election which is actually going to be affected.

    That’s because the government saw this attack coming and has already acted to try and negate it as much as possible.

    It’s doing so via a very simple step. Anyone who disappears from the register since the last canvass under the old system will be automatically carried over to the new register for 2015. Those million voters who have vanished, many of which are students, will all still be

    Read More »from There's a gaping hole in Ed Miliband's voter registration speech
  • By Jane Fae

    How we laughed, this weekend when Fox News security ‘expert’ Steve Emerson made his ludicrous claim that Birmingham was a “Muslim-only city”. But strip away the laughter and what remains is a deeply dangerous thesis, rapidly gaining purchase in the US as established fact, that Europe is being progressively colonised by Muslims following some Islamic master plan.

    With the repetition of this absurd canard by Nigel Farage yesterday, again on Fox News, it is now clear that this myth is spreading. It has jumped the Atlantic pond and, unless we are very careful, is about to infect our own politics with the same toxic mix of half-truth and downright ignorance.

    Emerson’s central claim, made in a slightly less-publicised interview on Fox on January 7th alongside host and conservative commentator Sean Hannity, is breath-taking in its scope. He told Hannity:

    "Throughout Europe, Sean, you have ‘no-go zones’. When I was in Brussels a year ago when I asked the police to take me to the

    Read More »from The myth of Muslim no-go areas is being used to turn us against one another
  • At some point David Cameron acquired a reputation for being a skilled frontman for the Conservative party.

    Quite how he acquired this reputation has long been a mystery to me. Rather than being a slick operator, Cameron often comes across as evasive, prickly and borderline robotic in his public performances. Despite his reputation for confidence he is apparently terrified of debate and scrutiny. One of Cameron’s first acts as prime minister was to cancel regular Downing Street press conferences, while one of his last acts has been to effectively kill off the general election debates altogether.

    Quick to anger, with a tendency to bark at people rather than talk to them, Cameron is in reality a decidedly weak public face for his party. If he has acquired a different reputation it is because of the even greater paucity of his opponents rather than any actual skill of his own.

    If Cameron was genuinely the political asset he is made out to be, he would have little to fear from debating

    Read More »from PMQs Verdict: Cameron runs scared of the debates
  • No matter what, David Cameron is intent on getting the snoopers’ charter onto the statute book. The prime minister seemingly has only one stock response to any terror attack and that is to demand the government be given access to our online communications.

    Usually, it is unhelpful. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, it is despairingly stupid and counter-productive. 

    The same thing happened following the Woolwich murder. The security industry sparked into life with its usual message. Lord West, former first sea lord and security minister, demanded the return of the snoopers charter. Former reviewer of terror laws Lord Carlile joined him. John Reid, former home secretary and G4S ‘group consultant’, followed them into the TV studios. The same sad game was played over again.

    As security sources made clear, it would not actually have made any difference to the Woolwich killing. That didn’t matter. It was the only response the authorities seemed interested in. It’s quite clear that this is the

    Read More »from Does Cameron have any response to terror which doesn't involve the snoopers' charter?
  • The MoD's nonsensical faith in depleted uranium

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    By General (rtd) Sir Hugh Beach

    A week after US A10 gunships thought to be armed with controversial depleted uranium (DU) ammunition were deployed in Iraq in the fight against Isis, the UK government opposed a fifth United Nations resolution intended to mitigate the risks from past uses of the weapons in the country. Given the international opprobrium attached to the use of depleted uranium weapons, their renewed use in the country may achieve little more than a propaganda coup for the extremists’ cause.

    The UK, together with the United States, France and Israel, has been one of four countries which has consistently opposed the United Nations General Assembly’s resolutions. Last year’s was supported by 150 countries and primarily called for further research on the weapons’ potential health and environmental risks, and measures to facilitate studies - such as the release of targeting data. For the first time, and in response to Iraq’s call this summer, the resolution also called for the

    Read More »from The MoD's nonsensical faith in depleted uranium
  • Britain's betrayal of Syrian refugees

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    By Sarah Teather MP

    There can be no doubt that 2014 took a terrible humanitarian toll on people around the world. The epicentre of this was the ongoing conflict in Syria. More than 70,000 people were killed, whilst Syrians became the largest refugee population in world for the first time.

    2015 is just a week old, but we have already seen two worrying trends for Syrians fleeing the violence of war: first, an increase in restrictions imposed on those seeking to settle in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon; and secondly, even more refugees boarding boats and taking risky journeys in the Mediterranean.

    The UK has a role to play in reversing these trends, but the government’s unwillingness to go beyond tokenistic offers of resettlement is having the opposite effect.

    Our approach to the conflict should be threefold: work with countries which can influence the situation on the ground to find lasting peace in the region; ease the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Syria’s borders through

    Read More »from Britain's betrayal of Syrian refugees
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    Instead of protecting our young from the evils of sexual exploitation, we are blaming them for it. No wonder an MP’s campaign to remove the term ‘child prostitution’ from the statute book is struggling to gain traction.

    Ann Coffey is trying hard. She’s the Labour MP for Stockport whose report on child sexual exploitation, Real Voices, shone a light on the depths of the problem. Removing ‘child prostitution’ from legislation was just one of its many recommendations; she’ll be pushing for it in amendments to the serious crime bill going through parliament this winter.

    "There is no such thing as a child prostitute," she told MPs earlier this week. "Only a sexually abused or exploited child." The term ‘prostitute’ implies an element of complicity, a consensual contract between two equal parties. Coffey doesn’t like it one bit. Neither does the minister, Karen Bradley, who said in her response:

    "I want to be absolutely clear that children who are sexually exploited, whether for commercial

    Read More »from We're all to blame for child sexual exploitation
  • There are plenty of people out there who will use today’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdoto to show Islam is incompatible with European values. The 18,000 people protesting against the supposed Islamisation of Europe in Dresden this week will undoubtably feel vindicated. The columnists on right and left who insist Islam is an innately authoritarian religion will cite the attack as further proof that it is a hostile force introduced to Europe by a laissez faire immigration system.

    Today’s attack has nothing to do with Islam. It’s to do with free speech. Everywhere there are lunatics and bastards. It’s said that you can criticise Catholicism without triggering a Catholic terror attack and that is generally true, although it’s worth remembering this remains a relatively recent development. However, we do suffer attacks by right-wing fascists with some regularity and most of these claim to defend the traditional religions and races of Europe.

    The last was by Anders

    Read More »from Charlie Hebdo attack: This is not about Islam - it's about free speech

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