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

A response to identity politics needs to unite not divide

A characteristic of today’s western political divides has been the rise of identity politics, who you are politically and who and what you identify with*. In particular this has seen the growth of political tribalism that is different from traditional party politics and even cuts across it. Such people are often angry and hostile towards traditional cosmopolitan liberalism and seek to take back control, as with “America First”, exit from the EU or Islamaphobia. Many observers have been baffled by these movements, seeing them as irrational, foolish and impractical, and have been bereft of effective responses other than trying to deny them their victory. Instead the response has been to abuse and denounce them, which has simply fuelled the anger and caused them to double-down behind their cause. In the case of Trump and Brexiters, this would relate to white, … Read more

The liberal crisis posed by Trump, Brexit and authoritarian nationalism

President Trump’s visit to the UK this week, like his NATO meeting, has characteristically stirred up massive controversy and been met with widespread demonstrations. Rather than diplomatically mute his approach, he revels in controversy, the “Great Disruptor”. People may detest what Trump does and who he is, or be incredulous about what is happening and be like rabbits in the headlights, but that may be uncomfortably beside the point. A major shift in global politics is in the making, a polarisation between liberalism and authoritarian nationalism, a liberal crisis. What is important to do is to step back from the controversy and look at the broader trends, of which Trump is a figurehead as well as a leader, as seen in the UK and elsewhere. An age of reaction Both in the US and in Europe, the post-Cold War liberal … Read more

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