Talking Politics
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    By Anna Turley

    The mothballing of our steelworks in Redcar is a huge blow to Teesside. Generations of men and women of steel have forged the modern world - from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium. But steelworkers here now feel at the mercy of that modern world, powerless to survive in a global market without a government that is willing to back them.

    My heart goes out to all the workers and their families who lost their jobs this week. There are thousands more people affected in the local area - those who work on the ports, carry the coal, supply the gas, wash the overalls and feed the workforce. It is absolutely devastating for our community and the local economy. For many people, steelmaking is all they, their fathers and their grandfathers have known.

    It is the government’s duty to step in and secure the steelworks so that we do not lose the industry on Teesside for good. The industrial marvel that is Redcar blast furnace cannot be allowed to collapse

    Read More »from If David Cameron believes in the "northern powerhouse" why has he abandoned the Redcar steelworkers?
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    Of all the speeches Jeremy Corbyn could have made, this was the most predictable and the most useless. There was no thematic content, no idea unifying what he was saying, no quality in delivery, no attempt to speak to the public outside the hall, no plan for the future and no sign he is prepared to work with the media to communicate his appeal more widely. It was the speech of someone who either doesn’t care or isn’t capable of speaking to anyone outside of his immediate supporters.

    Corbyn’s first and worst mistake was to spend so long attacking the media. He started by mocking the inane tabloid attacks he’s been subjected to, from Chairman Mao bicycles to his supposed support for a meteorite to destroy the earth. This was actually quite funny. It was the right tone – some gentle poking. It could even have been a moderately effective tactic discouraging the more hysterical press coverage.

    But then he returned to the theme halfway through the speech with a lip-spittled attack on the

    Read More »from Corbyn's speech confirmed the main argument of his critics
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    By Peter Reynolds

    Our organisation, Clear, has been mobilising its members as never before to lobby their MPs in advance of the cannabis debate in parliament on October 12th.

    There are honourable exceptions, but most responses have been unhelpful, dismissive and completely failed to deal with the arguments put forward. Most MPs are indoctrinated with the false reporting churned out by the press, scared stiff of the subject and not prepared to look any deeper.

    Usually, from both Tory and Labour MPs, the responses parrot the official Home Office line. Most are too lazy to inform themselves about cannabis and the facts of the UK’s current £10 billion per year policy. This vast sum comprises a futile waste of law enforcement resources and the loss of a huge amount of tax revenue.  It provides funding to organised crime, including human trafficking, and does nothing to prevent any health or social harms around cannabis. If anything it maximises these harms, endangering health, communities and

    Read More »from MPs' letters show how little they understand cannabis policy
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    “I warn you this is not my usual rant, they get me into trouble and I’ve promised Jeremy to behave myself,” said John McDonnell yesterday in his first major speech as shadow chancellor

    True to his word, it was a far better-behaved McDonnell that appeared before the Labour conference this morning.  Gone was the bombastic left-wing rabble-rouser seen at so many of Corbyn’s campaign rallies. In its place was a calmer and more consensual approach.

    He urged those on the right of the party who had refused to serve in the shadow Cabinet to “come back and help us succeed,” while seeking to reassure the public that a Labour government would “live within its means”.

    But while the style was different, the message was essentially the same.

    Right at the start of the speech he dismissed calls to take a more centrist economic approach.

    “Here’s some straight talking,” he said referencing the party’s new slogan.

    “At the heart of Jeremy’s campaign, upon which he received such a huge mandate, was the rejection

    Read More »from John McDonnell's 'straight-talking' will only take Labour so far
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    By Jon Sparkes

    With terms like ‘social justice’ and 'tackling inequality’ being used by all main political parties in recent years, and the political rhetoric increasingly shifting to the need for addressing the 'root causes’ of social issues, one would be inclined to believe that homelessness, one of the most acute forms of poverty, is in decline. Troublingly, this is not the case.

    Recent government figures show that 13,850 households were accepted as homeless between April and June of this year - a rise of 5% across England and 10% in London compared to the same time last year. This makes a total rise of 36% since 2009/10. The proportion of households becoming homeless due to the ending of a private tenancy was 30% (4,130 households) across England and 38% in London (1,690 households).

    Rough sleeping has risen by 55% since 2010 and by 14% in just the last year. On any one night in England in 2014 more than 2,700 people slept rough. But this is only a snapshot and the actual figure is

    Read More »from Government must act now to stop rise in homelessness
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    Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conference defeat on Trident effectively ends the attempts to prevent a like-for-like replacement to the nuclear weapon system. Just 0.16% of the trade union vote and 7.1% of the constituency Labour party vote backed a debate. For the trade unions, it’s a jobs issue, not a moral or military one. For most constituency parties, it’s an irrelevance - a throwback to the 1970s

    Without a debate, Labour remains officially committed to supporting a replacement. Pro-Trident frontbenchers, like deputy leader Tom Watson or shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, can now vote with the vast majority of Tory MPs for renewal. With the Lib Dems reduced to just eight MPs, anti-Trident Labour MPs don’t have a chance of killing it off at the main ‘gateway’ decision stage, even when you add parliament’s 56 new SNP MPs to the equation.

    The debate over Trident’s successor is dead. Britain will almost certainly have a continuous at-sea nuclear weapon until the 2040s, at the cost of about

    Read More »from Corbyn's Trident defeat means Britain will break international law
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    By Susan Munroe

    The promised resettlement of 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years is a triumph of people-powered policy. The British public made its sympathy for Syrian refugees clear and the government listened.

    The odyssey of Syrian refugees will not end when they reach these shores however. Many will be torture survivors and their arrival in the UK will be the start of a long, hard psychological journey, confronting and processing their traumatic experiences at the hands of a murderous government and vicious armed groups.

    The prime minister has promised that torture survivors will be prioritised for resettlement and we estimate conservatively that at least 2,000 of the arrivals will fall into that category. They will need specialist psychotherapeutic support if they are to experience again the miracle of an ordinary life.

    We know this from our experience of working with adults and children who are torture survivors from other conflict zones such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda

    Read More »from Torture survivors must not be abandoned once they arrive in the UK


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