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by Paul Embery
Friday, 24
January 2020
Debate
13:27

OK Lisa Nandy, I’ll give you my vote

With the Labour leadership contest now well advanced, I guess it’s time for members and supporters of the party — of which I am one — to nail their colours to the mast. So I do so today — though I’m afraid with all the enthusiasm as it is possible to muster when you hold the view that none of the contenders truly recognises the scale of the calamity that befell the party in December, nor has demonstrated the brave and bold thinking necessary to reconnect us with the millions in our one-time heartlands who have given up on us.

Rebecca Long-Bailey

She is continuity Corbynism, wedded to a manifesto that was rejected emphatically and, like many of the party’s more hardline activists, too heavily focused on fighting to recast the Labour party in her own image rather than rebuilding the Red Wall. A ‘one more heave’ approach would spell doom for Labour. Anyone who thinks our support has reached a nadir in our traditional strongholds had better think again. In some of the constituencies that we managed to retain, our majority is now wafer-thin. Without a significant change of direction, some of these places will fall next time out. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 16
January 2020
Debate
17:30

Leavers, not Remainers, deserted Labour in 2019

Did Labour really lose the support of as many Remain voters as it did Leave voters at the general election? That explanation is being bandied about by some within the party who are anxious to deflect criticism over the suicidal second referendum pledge and create the impression that things would not have turned out any better had Labour stuck to a commitment to honour Brexit.

I’m certainly no psephologist, but I’ve had a bash at analysing some data.

In absolute terms, the theory may be correct — just. A major YouGov poll carried out after the election showed that Labour managed to hold on to 79% of those who voted Remain at the referendum and then Labour at the 2017 general election, whereas the figure for Leave voters was just 52%. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 9
January 2020
Reaction
11:09

Why liberals can’t understand English pride

A YouGov poll for ITV Central has found that people across the Midlands are more likely to identify as English than as British.

In the poll, which covered the East Midlands and West Midlands regions, 33% considered themselves more English than British, and only 18% the opposite.

The sense of Englishness was heightened among those who voted for Brexit (45% more English versus 11% more British) and within the C2DE (mainly working-class) social group (36% versus 14%).

Liberal commentators would have us believe that this swelling perception of English identity is a threat, causing some to prophesy a return to the 1930s if it isn’t checked. But, as with other of the nationalist movements that have emerged in Europe over recent years (and, in truth, the rising sense of Englishness can hardly be described as a movement), it has nothing in common with the virulent, aggressive, expansive nationalism we saw back then, and has its roots instead in a feeling of alienation and neglect, a desire among a buffeted and disorientated populace to protect what they have (or once had). To misidentify it in this way will only serve to strengthen it. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Wednesday, 1
January 2020
Reaction
14:00

Race is a bad way to target a scholarship — black or white

I’m not actually a huge fan of initiatives, however well-meaning, that target individuals according to their skin colour. At a time when society has apparently never been more certain of the need to break down racial barriers, we seem, in many respects, to be doing everything possible to build them up. Indeed, so obsessed are many of today’s socio-political influencers with race, it strikes me that they would do well to be reminded of the injunction by Martin Luther King that people should be judged not according to the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

So I have some sympathy with the leaders of two top private schools – Dulwich and Winchester – in their decision to reject a large donation from a former pupil, Professor Sir Bryan Thwaites, who had intended for his money to fund scholarships for disadvantaged white boys. I can well imagine, upon being notified of the gift, their sharp intake of breath and the question immediately forming in their minds: why only white boys? ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Friday, 22
November 2019
Reaction
11:49

Now the Illiberal Democrats ban Catholics

A political scandal broke earlier this week — though if you blinked you’d have missed it. Not so long ago, the story would have commanded column inches across the national press and extensive comment over the airwaves. Instead, however, there was next to nothing. Quite simply, the reason the story passed by virtually unnoticed is that our society has changed so fundamentally, and so quickly, that scandals of this type are just not considered major news anymore.

In a nutshell, the Liberal Democrats deselected an election candidate on the grounds that he is an orthodox Roman Catholic. You read that right. Rob Flello (right), the Lib Dem candidate for Stoke-on-Trent South — a constituency he represented as a Labour MP for twelve years before defecting — was suddenly dropped after party bigwigs became aware of his traditional views on same-sex marriage and abortion — views that happen to be entirely consistent with mainstream Catholic thought. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 14
November 2019
Reaction
14:49

Labour must come to its senses over Freedom of Movement

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has called on Labour party leaders, ahead of their ‘Clause V’ manifesto meeting at the weekend, to defy calls to commit to an extension of free movement. If those leaders are wise, they will pay heed to him.

Its enthusiasm for free movement – indeed its laissez-faire approach to immigration policy generally – has been one of the principal causes of the disconnect that has emerged between the party and its traditional base over the past two decades. In fact, no policy decision has served more to highlight the increasing divergence between, on the one hand, the party’s middle-class, urban, liberal, cosmopolitan leadership and activist layer and, on the other, its one-time core working-class vote across post-industrial Britain. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 7
November 2019
Debate
07:00

We should defend the right not to wear a poppy

The Irish footballer James McClean has released what now seems to be his annual statement explaining why he won’t be wearing a special jersey displaying the poppy when his team takes to the field this Remembrance weekend. Cue the usual volley of criticism and abuse that is directed at anyone who exercises their right in the way that McClean has done. I find it distinctly unsettling.

Let me explain. I always wear a poppy. Not, admittedly, from the day of the launch of the annual poppy appeal – which, in the spirit of this age of commercialism, seems to take place earlier with each passing year – but certainly in the few days leading up to Remembrance Sunday. I don’t consider myself more virtuous than someone who doesn’t wear one. For those of us who do so, it is usually just a simple, understated act that allows us, for a short period, to open the door to that dead world of the past and commemorate the sacrifice of our forefathers. ...  Continue reading

by Paul Embery
Thursday, 24
October 2019
Reaction
09:36

MPs can’t be crybabies

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick revealed on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday that some MPs had been in tears during Saturday’s parliamentary sitting, apparently overwhelmed by the “political and emotional pressure” of the occasion.

Fitzpatrick’s revelation is an illustration of the extent to which the Commons chamber is no longer just the beating heart of our democracy, but something resembling a therapy workshop in which MPs seem increasingly eager to relay their own personal tales of woe. I have to say I find it all a bit feeble.

There was a time when parliament was stocked with tough, worldly and resilient men and women who had often experienced their own personal hardships and tragedies — some had even seen the horrors of war — but chose not to go on about it. ...  Continue reading