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by Paul Embery
Wednesday, 1
March 2023

What happened to the anti-war Left?

This once reliably vocal faction has gone quiet

As Labour prepares for government, Keir Starmer has cracked down on dissidents and fringe groups within the party. More insidious, perhaps, is the decline of what was once a reliable and vocal faction: the anti-war Left. At the weekend Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South and stalwart of the Labour Left, questioned the Ministry of Defence over its failure to provide Ukraine with used Apache helicopters in the country’s “hour of need”. This came days after John McDonnell, shadow chancellor under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, argued in a piece for Labour Hub that “a refusal to provide the weapons the Ukrainians need” would mean that “the chances of the Russian invasion succeeding are significantly increased”. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Monday, 2
January 2023

Could Labour really become the party of law and order?

The Opposition will need more than new slogans to become serious about crime

Since time immemorial, every political party which aspires to government has pledged to clean up the streets. Knowing as they do the extent to which crime is a touchstone issue on the doorstep, opposition leaders are usually desperate to present their party as being on the side of the law-abiding majority and more committed than the other lot to making our communities safer. 

Yet in spite of the endless promises over many years by politicians of every stripe, lawlessness and disorder remain widespread, court sentencing an open joke, clear-up rates atrocious, and the police too absent from our neighbourhoods and seemingly more interested in virtue-signalling than they are the business of preventing and detecting crime. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 24
November 2022

Labour would be wrong to celebrate Momentum’s demise

The campaign group tapped into some popular issues

Momentum never had much affinity for the Labour Party. Created as the successor organisation to the grassroots campaign that propelled Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership in 2015, many of its leading lights and foot soldiers had spent much of their political lives attacking Labour relentlessly and, in some cases, actively working against the party.

Often they were well-trodden members or fellow travellers of far-Left grouplets, such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, and were used to articulating their ideas to small audiences of like-minded activists during evening meetings in draughty council buildings or university lecture rooms. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Tuesday, 25
October 2022

Nigel Farage’s latest relaunch has a fatal flaw

Seeking to build a populist movement on libertarian economics is a fool's errand

Tories everywhere had better watch out: their old bête noire is on manoeuvres. Nigel Farage, brimming with fury at the abandonment of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget and subsequent takeover of the Conservative Party by “globalists” and “Remainers”, scents blood.

“This party is now dead, and it needs to be replaced,” railed Farage, before issuing a call to arms for “national household names” to help him build a new “centre-right movement” that will, among other things, fight globalism, stand up for the little man over the big corporations, and prioritise national resilience over just-in-time supply chains. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Wednesday, 21
September 2022

Labour is right to embrace the national anthem

The party has a patriotism problem — and Keir Starmer knows it

If the decision were theirs alone, would the massed ranks of delegates attending the Labour party conference next week really wish to have the King saved, whether by God or anyone else? Most likely not. Which is why many among them will be more than a little unsettled at the leadership’s decree that the event be opened with a rendition of the national anthem.

The chances are that even Sir Keir Starmer himself wouldn’t exactly die in a ditch to ensure any monarch was long to reign over us. He was, after all, once captured on film professing his own republican sympathies.

But the decision to have conference sing the anthem is, if nothing else, shrewd politics. Let’s be frank: we all know that Labour has a “patriotism problem”. Millions of voters still view the party, not without reason, as being populated by anti-British, “progressive”, citizen-of-the-world types who sneer at any demonstration of patriotic sentiment. This perception is especially prevalent among voters in Labour’s old Red Wall constituencies, whose support the party must regain if it is ever to win power again. And Starmer probably understands that it is among these working-class communities that monarchy enjoys some of its highest levels of affection...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 21
April 2022

Banning Russian players from Wimbledon is morally wrong

It's unfair to make citizens pay for the crimes of their nation’s rulers

The news that the All England Club has barred Russian and Belarussian players from competing at this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships comes as no great surprise. Not because the decision was in any way wise or ethical; but simply because it is the latest in a series of decrees by bodies and institutions apparently so determined to parade their virtue on the Ukraine crisis that they are even prepared to go to the lengths of making innocent Russian and Belarussian citizens pay for the crimes of their nation’s rulers.

The absurdity of some of these sanctions has been such that one could be forgiven for assuming the stories were made up. There was the decision of the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra to remove the works of Tchaikovsky from one of its concerts; the university in Milan which cancelled a course on Dostoevsky (the decision was later reversed); authorities in Canada who pulled vodka and other Russian products from the shelves of local shops; the opera which banned a Russian soprano because she wouldn’t submit to its demand that she issue a statement condemning Putin; the orchestra which scrapped a performance by a Russian piano prodigy. The list goes on. Even a primary school in Warrington got in on the act, terminating lessons on Russian culture. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Friday, 1
April 2022

Don’t turn the Ukraine refugee crisis into a new normal

Ultra-liberal immigration policies are domestically divisive

No issue has, over recent years, more tested the patience of ordinary voters — or thrown into such sharp relief the ideological chasm between them and the political elites — than that of immigration.

At the turn of the century, the spectacle of the National Front spewing hatred in England had become largely a thing of the past. While nobody could, of course, claim that racism had been abolished, the issues of race and immigration had certainly become less of a dividing line in our society than ever before.

Ultra-liberal immigration policies, and a turn in the public stocks for anyone who opposed them, followed. Hyper-progressives set the tone and tempo of this enormous social change. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Friday, 10
September 2021

The myth of Blue Labour Boris

Economically and socially, the Prime Minister remains an instinctive libertarian

That’s it! True conservatism is dead. Boris Johnson, closet pinko, has ditched the Tories’ traditional low-tax, small state philosophy and, in its stead, adopted some kind of Blue Labour agenda.

Can this be true? Well, certainly it is the case being made by some Right-wing commentators in the wake of the hike in national insurance contributions and the resulting inevitability that the tax burden will hit its highest-ever level.

Assuming that these commentators are referring to the distinct Blue Labour movement, and not using the term as some loose pejorative, I for one don’t buy the analysis. While it is undeniable that the Tories have, over the past couple of years, adopted a kind of “radical on the economy, conservative on culture” Blue Labour posture — to great effect, it must be said, across much of working-class, provincial England, as the 2019 general election showed — there is little evidence that they “get it” instinctively or that the messaging will ever translate into reality. ...  Continue reading

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