breaking news from the world of ideas

by Tom McTague
Monday, 20
March 2023

Why the DUP’s rebellion matters

The rejection of the Windsor Framework is more than a symbolic vote

So, the DUP says no — again. Jeffrey Donaldson, the party’s leader, confirmed today that he and his seven colleagues in Parliament will unanimously vote against Rishi Sunak’s “Windsor Framework” when it is presented to the House of Commons later this week. In doing so, the Northern Irish crisis slips quietly into a new phase from which it will be even harder to escape.

In one sense, the DUP’s announcement matters little. The party has a total of eight MPs. With Labour already committed to supporting the new arrangement, Sunak’s grand bargain is now the settled will of Parliament. For this reason alone, the deal marks an important moment in recent British history. Whether the DUP supports the deal or not, we are not heading back to 2019 with its endless “meaningful votes” and the rest. The die is cast. The sea border has been drawn. Britain has moved on. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Monday, 20
March 2023
Off grid

Portland stages a funeral for the death of face masks

Attendees will gather to mourn the end of 'public health'

Today, at 4:30 Pacific Time, a group calling itself Mask Bloc will gather in the courthouse square in Portland, Oregon dressed in black, with masks, to mourn the official end of mask requirements in healthcare settings in Oregon.

Mask Bloc’s tweets are now protected, but the gathering invited protesters to “”Wear funeral black, wear your mask, bring signs” to lament “the end of infection control in OR”. It’s billed as a “funeral” for “public health”.

The meaning of “public health” in this context, though, merits a moment’s reflection. Portland is, after all, a city whose drug and homelessness problem is well-documented. Overdose deaths were already climbing in 2020, a change attributed to the pandemic. But following the 2021 passing of Ballot Measure 110, with 58.8% support, which decriminalised the use of hard drugs, overdose deaths both in Portland and across Oregon rose by 41%. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Monday, 20
March 2023

Olaf Scholz is all talk, no tank

The Chancellor's €100bn military promise hasn't materialised

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the immediate reaction of almost every Western country was to pledge a new focus on defence, including significant increases in military spending and a reduced dependency on potentially hostile nations. Poland, for example, has decided to move forward with nuclear power and push its defence spending from 2.4% of GDP (already the third highest among NATO states) to 4%, making it the most formidable military power on the old continent. Even smaller and traditionally non-aligned states like Sweden and Finland altered course, applying for NATO membership and closer ties to the US and its allies. ...  Continue reading

by Bethany Elliott
Monday, 20
March 2023

Vladimir Putin goes on the road

Russia's President made trips to Crimea and Mariupol this weekend

“The criminal always returns to the crime scene,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak. The ‘criminal’ in question was Russian President Vladimir Putin and the ‘scene’ was Mariupol, the Russian-occupied city in southern Ukraine which he toured on Saturday night. 

Discussions of both Putin’s criminality and freedom of movement are particularly apt at this time. Just the day before his journey to Mariupol, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of “individual criminal responsibility” regarding the forced transfer of children from occupied Ukraine.  ...  Continue reading

by Philip Pilkington
Monday, 20
March 2023

Are we about to enter a full-scale banking crisis?

The international monetary system is looking increasingly shaky

When is a banking crisis a banking crisis? These past few days we have seen the failure of multiple banks. The action started with Silicon Valley Bank and soon spread to Signature Bank, making those two the second and largest bank failures in American history respectively. Significant pressure has also been felt on other institutions, like First Republic.

However, the crisis has now gone international, with UBS agreeing an emergency rescue deal with Credit Suisse. While Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank had their own idiosyncrasies in the tech sector — with oversize deposits held by venture capitalists in the former and cryptocurrency exposure in the latter — Credit Suisse was simply a normal international bank with some structural weaknesses. ...  Continue reading

by UnHerd Staff
Saturday, 18
March 2023

Lionel Shriver: Insensitivity Reader

The author explains why she's determined to keep offending people

If offence is against the rules, what hope is there for radical writing? Join world-famous author Lionel Shriver to discuss the decline of in-your-face fiction and the sinister rise of sensitivity readers…


by James Billot
Friday, 17
March 2023

Alastair Campbell: I wish Iraq had never happened

Tony Blair's former press secretary came close to expressing regret

Speaking to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, Alastair Campbell has indicated that he wished the whole sequence of events had never happened. The former press secretary to Tony Blair said on the Rest is Politics podcast that the invasion was one of those things that “you wish it never happened”.

“It’s one of those things that you just put into the category that you just wish it had never happened,” he said. “You wish that you knew that Tony Blair and the government had never been put in that position.”

The comments struck a different note from Campbell’s previously defiant statements. Seven years after the invasion, he said that he stood by “every word” of the Iraq War dossier, insisting that Britain ought to be “proud” of the country’s role in the war. Bedevilled by claims that the war was illegal, he then gave an Oxford Union speech explaining why the government had chosen to invade.  ...  Continue reading

by William Nattrass
Friday, 17
March 2023

Is the West breaking its jet taboo on Ukraine?

Both Poland and Slovakia have agreed to send planes

In a surprise move, the Slovak government has announced that it will supply 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Bratislava has been mulling sending the planes for weeks, but appears to have been spurred into action by Poland’s announcement yesterday that it would send four of its own MiGs to Ukraine in the coming days, with more to follow. 

As the first two nations to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia have crossed another of the West’s previously stated red lines in arming Kyiv. The question now is whether their initiative will lead other Western powers, capable of supplying more advanced planes, to follow suit.  ...  Continue reading

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