The Johnson leadership bid tilts towards Trump as Brexit looms

The row over the British Ambassador to the US, coming just after a public debate between the leadership challengers to the Tory Party succession has been instructive as to the likely direction of play. Leadership elections, especially when a party is in power, can give useful clues as to the new coalition, in party-political terms, that is being assembled, the personalities and the likely policies in particular. The resignation of Darroch after the leaking of his confidential memos is not surprising. His role was compromised, we do not yet know by whom, but fingers of suspicion are being pointed to the well-oiled dirty tricks dept of the Brextremists and their overseas fellow travellers. Nothing hurts like the truth, they say, although I wonder if Trump knows the meaning of the word, so wrapped up as he is in narcissistic fantasyland. … Read more

No deal Brexit is giving Britain a political nervous breakdown

It’s interesting to hear from the ex-head of the UK intelligence service, MI6, that Britain is going through a “political nervous breakdown“. People might be forgiven for thinking “me too” over this national psychiatric diagnosis, such has been the ongoing paralysis in government and Parliament as a result of the Brexit impasse. He went on to criticise the quality of political leadership by the leaders of the main political parties and point to how the country has been left bitterly divided, the damage the crisis is doing to Britain’s global reputation and the risk being taken with the British economy. Senior government officials get to observe political leaders at close quarters and Sawyers is not alone among past senior officials in questioning the quality of judgement being shown and having anxiety about the direction in which the country is being … Read more

Now is the age of the hyperleader of reactionary populism

Today is the age of the hyperleader whose power rests on a superbase of mainly online social media supporters, which is partly eclipsing traditional politicians. To understand the power and appeal of reactionary populism, and therefore what Brexit is about, one needs to get the nature of this largely male beast and its ability to manipulate its following, and the challenge it poses to representative democracy. What are hyperleaders? Trump, the Five Star movement and also Salvini in Italy, Modi in India, and to an extent Farage in the UK, for example, are hyperleaders, according to Paolo Gerbaudo, drawing immense empathy and loyalty from their followers, often charismatic, demagogic some might say, very outspoken, often outrageous, presenting themselves as outside the political establishment, claiming to represent the “ordinary person” against the perceived remote and corrupt political elite. They present themselves … Read more

The Tories are choosing an election winner to leave the EU

To clear the decks was a term in naval warfare, when objects were removed or tied down before battle. It looks like the Tories are clearing the decks for electoral warfare to fix Brexit through a General Election. There is probably now no other way forward and the crunch point for a final decision is fast arriving. There is an eerie unease, like we’re all waiting as the Tory leadership contest reaches its climax when the membership must make their choice, and it looks like they want an election winner. It might seem like something from another less democratic era that the choice of the next Prime Minister is being left to 120,000 mainly older, male, white and predominantly South-East England voters, but from another perspective the nation is being presented with one alternative choice for its future, on which … Read more

The politics of scarcity in a time of rapid change can be toxic

Today the politics of scarcity sees a major change in social policy The observer of political trends might be curious about the mega-whammy apparently happening from today, the changes to “welfare entitlement” being introduced in the UK. On 1 April a whole raft of changes are occuring, that will probably have a major impact on the bottom percentile of the population, while in the same week the top rate of income tax comes down from 50% to 45%. The contrast is stark, and deliberate. It might be even more curious a phenomenon when we put this into the context of the renewed focus on the troubles of the Eurozone and the continuing signs of the deep and growing recession in the South as Cyprus joins the “PIGS” countries subject to the dictates of Northern-led austerity. Both in the UK and … Read more

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