Seeing through the illusion to the reality of Johnson’s policies

As we enter 2020, all the signs are that his 80-seat majority all-powerful, all-conquering position is an illusion. Boris, that exploiter of illusion par excellence is sitting astride a seemingly impregnable illusion, while we continue to wonder who is the real Boris. Meanwhile all beneath his considerable backside is shifting sands. He is busy “getting Brexit done”, while he is being bluntly made aware by the EU that the price Britain could pay if he does not compromise will be very great, mostly recently the exclusion of the City from Europe. It appears that he has ruled out an extension, and has ruled out the single market and customs union, and yet presumably hopes to force some middle ground from the unyielding Europeans under time pressure. At home, the ERGites will pressurise him not to concede and if necessary to … Read more

British Russophobia gets another airing with the poisoning of a spy

British russophobia once again grips politics British russophobia has had a good airing once again in UK politics, this time over the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the quiet cathedral city of Salisbury. Remarkably quickly, Putin has been accused and found guilty and a massive effort made to secure backing from Western allies for a verbal counter-attack, in contrast to previous murders of exiled Russians and others from Eastern Europe. One might legitimately ask why. History of Russophobia Ramping up Russophobia has a long history. In the 19th Century, politicians were much occupied by what they thought was the threat to Britain’s hold over India by the advance of the Russian Empire under the Tsars. Hence the support for the “Sick Man of Europe”, the declining Ottoman Empire. Russia was seen as expansionist and authoritarian. So … Read more

For Britain under Brexit global politics is exposing her weaknesses for all to see

Welcome to the brave new world of post-Brexit global politics, a world where Britain’s power and influence is already much diminished. What is being experienced is very far from what was promised, but not much realised by the British public, for whom world affairs is not something in which it takes much interest. Historically, public opinion is far more focused on domestic matters like the cost of living, the economy, housing, the health service etc., and has only got involved in foreign affairs in times of national crisis such as the outbreak of war. The outbreak of the First World War was one such example. Thus foreign policy is left to politicians, and often to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. The arrival of a serious crisis can therefore be a shock, and it is therefore possible, in the post-Brexit … Read more

How the Ukraine conflict requires mature statesmanship

The collapse in relations between the West and Russia over the Ukraine conflict reads like a textbook example of how nation states get sucked into a conflict which creates its own dynamic from which neither side seem able to extricate themselves. It makes a fascinating case study were it not also that the consequences of a false step would be lethal. It is ironic that this is happening in the centenary of the First World War, also involving the same main participants. At its roots lie some very similar causes, and neither side once again look able to climb down without serious consequences. It might be useful to look at the different perspectives involved. Putin and Russia For Putin, the authoritarian President of Russia, there are various schools of thought as to his policy. He is probably foremost a patriotic … Read more

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