Covering the previous year. Older editorials are part of Past Issues.
Faint-Hearted Phil. December 2017
In the short term, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s latest budget is designed to keep himself and the Prime Minister in their jobs, while placating their unruly backbenchers. In the medium term it has its eye on winning the next general election. Instead of the badly needed radical change of the sort offered by Labour, Hammond simply applied sticking plaster to the deep wounds caused by austerity and Brexit.
Corbyn On a Roll. November 2017
Fear of a Corbyn Labour government was ubiquitous at the Tories conference. With Philip Hammond and other senior Tories warning that Corbyn would take the country back to the 1970s, a favourite theme of the Tory supporting Daily Mail. The 1980s Thatcher government did more damage to the economy and to working class communities than Labour, burdened with cripplingly high oil prices, did in the 1970s.
Brexit Divisions. October 2017
The vote to leave the European Union has thrown a spanner in the works of the British political machine. Labour and the Tories are divided over Brexit. Only the Liberal Democrats are united. But their support for Britain remaining in the EU and calls for a second referendum on the final deal go against public opinion. Opinion polls show that voters, both leave and remain, simply want the whole exercise to be completed as quickly as possible.
Brexit Blues. September 2017
Theresa May’s gamble on a landside majority in June’s general election was a Titanic disaster. She failed to get the mandate she wanted to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She even lost the pre-election majority she had. Consequently, May and her Brexit ministers, shocked by the election result, are floundering like fish out of water. It is fourteen months since the June 2016 referendum resulted in an unexpected vote to leave the EU. Yet no progress has been made with the EU’s three pre-trade negotiations demands.
They’re All Corbynites Now! July / August 2017.
The election was a personal triumph for Corbyn. Labour MPs who had poured scorn on him as leader and undermined him at every opportunity, have undergone a Pauline conversion. Many of their seats which were forecast to fall to the Tories, were retained with increased majorities. The majority of elderly voters continued to support the Tories. But this was more than compensated for with a huge surge in support for Labour from relatively young voters.
Corbyn’s Comeback, June 2017
On the eve of the election campaign the Tories held a lead over Labour of around 20 points. But as Harold Wilson once said, “a week is a long time in politics.” Within a few weeks the political landscape changed as Labour successfully switched the focus from Brexit to the bread and butter issues of falling living standards, the desperate housing shortage, and the crisis in the NHS and social care.
Trusting Theresa May. May 2017.
‘Trust Me, I’m A Vicar’s Daughter’ could be the message. But the overwhelming support of MPs for Article 50 wasn’t enough. She wanted complete obedience from her congregation in the chamber of the House. She claimed, bizarrely, that the country was united following the referendum result, but that parliament was divided. She accused Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP of attempting to sabotage the Brexit negotiations and of threatening to oppose a final deal.
Corbyn’s major problem as leader derives from his desire to unite the party as much as possible. This is unachievable and he should therefore concentrate on setting out his own views, and also be more firm with shadow cabinet members who step out of line.
Testing Times For Corbyn And Labour. March 2017
The loss of the marginal seat of Copeland to the Tories was immediately added to the long-running story that Labour is doomed under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The fact that the Tories had been a strong second to Labour in every general election since 1983, when the seat of Copeland was created, was not deemed to be relevant. Labour’s share of the vote, on the other hand, had declined in each election from a peak of 58.2% in 1997 to 42.3% in 2015.
May’s Fantasy Brexit. February 2017
Over the six months since the UK voted to leave, Theresa May has been constantly accused of vagueness about the government’s plans for the UK’s future outside of the EU. In spite of her firm delivery, couched with threats to turn the UK into a low tax haven unless her demands are met, there is still a lot of vagueness and flights of fantasy about her aspirations.
Corbyn: Could Do Better. December 2016 – January 2017
Jeremy Corbyn’s performance at Prime Minister’s Questions has improved in the weeks since his re-election. He is more abrasive and aggressive, and carries a confident swagger. And yet, he continues to let Theresa May off the hook. Her false accusations about Labour and the NHS, the last Labour government’s profligacy and its responsibility for the 2008 crisis, go unchallenged. But Corbyn is not helped to counter these accusations by his backbenchers who remain fixed to their seats with an air of indifference. One could suspect that they are more keen to defeat Corbyn than to weaken and eventually defeat the Tory government.
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