Brexiteers and the ruse of the latté drinking cosmopolitan

Conjuring the image of the latté or cappuccino-drinking cosmopolitan is one of the most tired political ruses in the English-speaking world. Why is it back in vogue again in the Brexit era?   [dropcap]W[/dropcap]ednesday night, the pro-Brexit provocateur Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted a link to a Guardian article about a leaked Home Office plan to deter EU immigration, and commented: “You can almost hear Guardian hacks worrying about who will be serving them their skinny lattes in a few years time…” … Read more

Does Labour’s jump in the polls prove moderates were wrong?

  I’ve been banging on about Labour heading for electoral disaster since Jeremy Corbyn first looked like he would win the 2015 Labour Party leadership election. In 2015, I agreed with Tony Blair when he wrote in the Guardian: “If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation.” It seemed a given to me that Labour, having chosen a person with no experience and with … Read more

What the Labour party can learn about unity from Christian ecumenism

Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis met in Rome to discuss and pray for closer ties between the Anglican communion and the Roman Catholic Church. I was on retreat in Rome with an ecumenical group of young Christians over the course of the week, and on Wednesday, we had the privilege of joining the Archbishop and the Pope for a joint Anglican and Catholic vespers service. It was extraordinary and incredibly moving. As a Christian … Read more

The perfect poem for Labour’s anti-semitism row

Those following the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party will be aware of the recent suspension of Momentum vice chair, Jackie Walker. Following an investigation into comments she made on Facebook about Jews and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, she’s been reinstated into the party. The Walker incident, and similar incidents, have opened a fierce debate about the Left and anti-Semitism, and where anti-Zionism crosses the line into racism. But let’s step back from the intensity of the frontlines of this … Read more

LPNI members standing in #AE16 against party’s wishes

Here’s my quick take on Labour Party members in Northern Ireland standing in May’s Assembly elections against the explicit orders of the NEC and party leader. Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC have said that, for the time being, Labour in Northern Ireland can’t stand in elections. Frustrated with years of being told to wait, a group of eight run-away candidates have decided to break rank and stand in the May elections—albeit as the Labour Representation Committee, but clearly linking the … Read more

Rehabilitation revolution? The Tory mission to change the prison system

Michael Gove promises “wholesale change” of the prison system. Is his reform agenda One Nation Conservatism in action or just more empty social-justice rhetoric from the Tory government?   The prison service is in crisis and getting worse. As a report from Nick Hardwick, the former chief inspector of prisons, shows, more prisoners were murdered, committed suicide, self-harmed or assaulted in 2015 than in 2010. “It cannot go on like this,”  he said.  The report, published last July, quoted an … Read more

The CND and the movement trying to stop Trident’s renewal

I took a break today from RTÉ’s coverage of the general election to head down to Trafalgar Square and check out the CND’s #StopTrident rally. Here’s my report. I’m an instinctual multilateralist, but last night I had pints with a friend who passionately believes the UK should give up its nuclear weapons. So today, after a morning spin class and a light lunch, I decided to brave the freezing cold and walk down to Trafalgar Square to hear the case … Read more

Corbynism: what’s on and what’s off the table?

If straight talking, honest politics is what Jeremy Corbyn brings to the leadership of the Labour Party, then what he and those he’s promoted into senior positions have said matters. What makes moderates like me uneasy, however, and why many moderates have left the party in large numbers, is that what Corbyn and those around him have said—and what they have and have not supported—is often way outside mainstream political thinking. Support for the IRA. Opposition to intervention in Kosovo. … Read more

Syria Still Dreams of Freedom

Rejecting the choice between Assad and ISIS, Syrians living in the UK argue a third way is possible, and seek support in reclaiming the dream they rose up for in 2011: a democratic and free Syria.  [dropcap]B[/dropcap]efore conflict overcame his native country, Amer Masri left Syria to study genetics in Edinburgh. “You know, like Dolly the Sheep,” he jokes. Living in the UK, he learned about democracy, and what it felt like to have the freedom to speak out, something … Read more

Saturday Labour roundup: Corbyn, Syria, and potential mutiny

On Monday, I said that this would be Jeremy Corbyn’s worst week ever, and it has been, and next week will be worse again. That’s the pattern. It was a week defined by Chairman Mao’s little red book, Livingstone blaming Blair for the 7/7 terror attacks, McDonnell’s endorsement of the IRA’s “ballot, the bullet and the bomb” approach to Irish unification, Syria, a looming by-election, and, no surprise, internecine strife. As the week ended, it was clear, that as it … Read more

It’s going to be a bad week for the Labour Party

CUSHTY CORBYN: This week that will be the true test of Corbyn’s ability to fight off his opponents in the PLP. Anger and defiance on the right of the party is growing, but Corbyn remains the overwhelming first choice for the Labour grassroots, with 66% of members backing him.

Left Unity conference debates joining Corbyn’s Labour and dissolving the army

Despite an acknowledgement of common cause, Left Unity, the party that last year tabled a motion to recognise the “progressive potential” of ISIS, decides not to formally dissolve and join Labour. Left Unity, a far-left political party set up with the help of filmmaker Ken Loach, debated today whether to dissolve and join Labour. The party, set up in 2013, stood candidates against Labour in May, but since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory, Left Unity has experienced mass resignations. Noting … Read more

Syria is not Iraq: Labour can reclaim principled intervention

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ast Sunday, Labour MP Jo Cox, the former head of policy at Oxfam, co-wrote a piece for the Observer with Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell, arguing that British forces could help achieve an ethical solution in Syria. They lay out a threefold plan placing civilians at the heart of a British response to the humanitarian crisis which includes a role for military intervention in Syria. The article, and Cox’s subsequent speech in Parliament, were brave considering she is an MP in … Read more

Do urban Gaeltachts produce a compromised Irish?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he creation of urban Gaeltachts in Belfast and other Irish cities should be regarded as one of the greatest language revitalisation projects ever undertaken. As a leading University of California linguistics professor puts it, ‘I know of no parallels to this achievement anywhere else in the world’. The urban Irish-language movement has largely coalesced around Irish-medium schools, known as Gaelscoileanna. That’s certainly the case in Northern Ireland, where 5,000 pupils attend one of 39 Irish-medium schools. There are plenty of … Read more

Could Labour open up a Pandora’s box by standing in Northern Ireland?

If elected leader of the Labour Party, Andy Burnham could allow candidates in Northern Ireland to stand for election. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI) unanimously endorsed his candidature for leadership only a week after Labour’s catastrophic loss in the General Election. In a press statement from 15 May, the local branch’s Executive Committee said they made the decision in part because Burnham “has loyally maintained his support for Northern Ireland CLP’s campaign to … Read more

End Tweedism now! Professor Lawrence Lessig and the campaign to end political corruption

In 1945, the world had very few democracies. Millions of people across the free world had just fought and died to hold back a bloody tide of totalitarianism; standing in the bombed-out ruins of Western civilisation, my grandparents’ generation, frequently called the Greatest Generation, set out to rebuild the institutions of democracy where they had been destroyed and spread the gospel of democracy to countries where it was lacking. It believed the world needed democracy and that democracy could fix … Read more

Anatomy of an English Defence League demonstration

  While out on a jog this morning I received a text from my wife, “There’s some crazy racist demonstration at the Blackhorse Road station”. That’s right, I remembered, the English Defence League is in town. I had received a flyer earlier in the week asking residents of the area to attend a counter-protest organised by Unite Against Fascism and We Are Waltham Forest. I turned myself around and headed over to the tube stop to check out what the … Read more

Voting and Belonging: Why Voting for Labour Matters… to Me

At a party in east London recently an American, here on a temporary student visa, put a question to me after I told him I had been out canvassing for Labour. “What’s that like, being American and getting involved in British politics?” You never get used to these questions as an immigrant. They seem innocent enough but they call into question the very sense of belonging you’ve worked so hard at creating over the years. I was born and raised … Read more

Can Northern Ireland afford to gamble on corporation tax?

Chancellor George Osborne will devolve corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland if our politicians can show they are able to manage the financial implications of such responsibility. He seems to be measuring their preparedness by the outcome of the current talks process, though it’s not clear just how much progress he needs to see before his decision. Nonetheless, signals coming from DUP and Sinn Féin indicate a deal is in the making, meaning the long sought after powers could be … Read more

Christians on the Left host food poverty debate

The number of food banks is on the rise in Northern Ireland. According to Advice NI, the number of food banks in Northern Ireland has increased from two in 2011, to at least 14 in 2014, and Trussell Trust reports distributing more than 11,000 free food parcels this year. Churches have taken a lead in mobilising volunteers, distributing food parcels to those in need, and working with charity and statutory organisations to get people the support they need to improve their circumstances. … Read more