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by Ella Whelan
Monday, 30
September 2019

Get real. Politicians were never morally superior

This morning as I was buttering my toast, the usual Radio 4 background noise on, something that Nick Robinson said pricked my ears. When quizzing home secretary Sajid Javid, Robinson asked whether or not a prime minister had to be above the rest of us — instead of being like one of us.

Boris Johnson

Of course, Robinson was alluding to the alleged behaviour of our blonde, boyish — perhaps badly behaved — Boris Johnson. The allegations of 20-year-old knee-touching will likely haunt ministers for the next week or so. But it was this suggestion from Robinson that a prime minister should be seen to be above the rest of us — a role model of morality — instead of being an equal citizen that made me stop chewing. ...  Continue reading

by Ella Whelan
Tuesday, 17
September 2019

What happened to diplomatic etiquette?

Watching the pictures of Xavier Bettel circulate on Twitter last night, it struck me how much the etiquette of international diplomacy has changed. On the one hand, it’s a good thing, surely, that the public are getting to see the inner workings and dynamics of our leaders’ relationships with foreign nations. After all, within the Brexit vote was a challenge to remedy the lack of transparency within European politics.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel

But reading the celebration on Twitter of Bettel’s smug nod to the empty lectern at the press conference Boris Johnson had chickened out of, it felt less like transparency and more like a different kind of political pantomime. ...  Continue reading

by Ella Whelan
Wednesday, 11
September 2019

Sorry Diane, you have to put up with Alan Sugar

I was disappointed to see my MP, Labour’s Diane Abbott, claiming to have reported Alan Sugar to the Twitter bosses for being repeatedly nasty about her online. This has always struck me as the adult equivalent of telling on someone — the aim is to silence the person once and for all by having them reprimanded or removed from Twitter altogether.

Diane Abbott in July (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

As victims of online abuse go, Diane Abbott is probably the world-record holder. She gets an inordinate amount of disgusting racist and sexist abuse. It’s also true that Lord Sugar seems to have a rather pathetic obsession with the Labour MP, posting stupid poems about her shacking up with Corbyn and cracking jokes about her mathematical abilities.  ...  Continue reading

by Ella Whelan
Wednesday, 4
September 2019

Should MPs do what they’re told?

In among last night’s caterwauling of queasy-looking Johnson supporters and indignant anti-Brexit MPs, one quote stood out. Ian Blackford, the Scottish Nationalist Party leader and chief Brexit hater gave more away than he perhaps realised when he declared: “The Prime Minister has tried to rob the people of their power. Now it’s our time to rob him of his.” What Blackford meant was that Johnson’s move to prorogue Parliament had robbed power away from Parliament, and now that Parliament was going to steal the power back from the Prime Minister by undermining the executive.

Edmund Burke

This is not just a parliamentary parlour game. Blackford’s point raises an important question about the nature of British politics: who holds the power in a democracy? True, Johnson’s move to prorogue was a sore reminder to all republicans (myself included) that the monarchy still plays an outdated roll in political decision making. But it is difficult to listen to Remainers complain about the Prime Minister abusing democracy when their motives are to stop a democratic mandate in the shape of Brexit. The real question here is, how much power do MPs truly have, and how should they use it? ...  Continue reading