Posts

Showing posts from March, 2016

The blind fury of the Euro-sceptic Tories

Embed from Getty Images
Iain Duncan Smith was not one of those ministers we heard serial encomiums about when he was actually in office.  A former backbench rebel against John Major, he was thrust unprepared into the leadership of the Tory party, from which role he was ignominiously ousted by his fellow MPs a couple of years later.  He is now, of course, the best Work and Pensions Secretary we've ever had, a reformer of remarkable quality who has sacrificed his career in order to warn the Tory party of the dangers it faces under its current evil, election winning leader.

Mr. Duncan Smith's past and present are useful fables on the wider problem of the Conservative party as a whole.  He was elected as a leader in what became a two-way contest against Kenneth Clarke.  Clarke was by  far the most experienced of the two, as well as having a popularity in the world outside the Tory party.  He may have been a consummate politician,  but he also had character and an appeal as a "…

A land where they punch people at political rallies

Look I don't want to go too far with this analogy.  It's flawed and there really are many variables, but you know, as someone who teaches the morphing of Weimar Germany into the Third Reich, the whole violence at political rallies thing obviously raises a few disconsonant tremors.

The Trump rally in Chicago had to be cancelled because protestors violently disrupted it.  Not Trump's fault you might say.  And you'd be wrong.  A couple of days earlier, at another Trump rally in North Carolina, one of his supporters socked a protestor firmly in the face.  And wasn't it Trump who calmly noted that "I'd like to punch them in the face, I really would" when referring to protestors who dared disrupt his meetings?

It's no great surprise that if you deal in the politics of populist hate and demonise whole sections of the population, then you might get throw-back in your political meetings.  Hate isn't easily contained. And what starts in a campaign can e…

EU Remainers need to take Tony Blair's advice

Embed from Getty Images
He’s the subject of a new, savagely attacking book by TomBower, but sometimes it is worth remembering Tony Blair’s strong points.  The most obvious of these is that he was one of the twentieth century’s most successful electoral politicians, the Labour Party’s most successful ever leader, and an undoubted driver of social liberalisation.
It is his election winning expertise that is most pertinent when we consider his recent intervention about the EU referendum debate.  In an interview with Nick Robinson on Friday’s “Today” programme, Blair urged the pro-EU (or “Remain”) campaign to adopt a far more positive and enthusiastic stand.  Implicitly criticising the emphasis on negative results if we leave (what the “Out-ers” have dubbed “Project Fear”), Blair said that he wanted to see “passion” on the side of those campaigning to stay.  Indeed, in his interview he showed once again how well he can articulate his cases, outlining a cogent and clearly heart-felt belief…

Re-Defining the western consensus

Embed from Getty Images
Donald Trump's startling success in the current Republican primaries is starting to hit home and spark a tranche of "we could have a president Trump" articles.  None of them make for happy reading and they're not intended to.  Trump is the horror story that most liberal observers of politics - whether that be liberal-right or liberal-left - hoped they wouldn't have to witness.  Could it be that the "pax occidentalis" that has held since the end of the Second World War is about to come apart?

Trump is an easy to recognise trope of the populist nationalist variety.  He shares none of the internationalism of any of his post-war predecessors.  His candidature hearkens back to the days of Warren Harding, but with an added nastiness.  His victory would bring to the White House a man who is perfectly capable of bringing the old international, American protected consensus crashing down.  Anne Applebaum considers this disaster in her Wash…