breaking news from the world of ideas

by Aris Roussinos
Tuesday, 22
November 2022

Can Labour outflank the Tories on immigration?

Keir Starmer should not squander this open goal

Keir Starmer today vowed to the CBI that a Labour government would “help the British economy off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here”. It is, like his recent complaint that the NHS recruits too many foreign workers instead of training up British staff, an obvious ploy to reassure disenchanted Tory voters that Labour is worth a chance in power.

After all, a couple of years ago I suggested here that Starmer’s obvious road map to Number 10 involved outflanking the Conservatives from the Right. The notional pursuit by both parties of the average British voter, whose statist and redistributive economic views are coupled with a distaste for unchecked immigration and experimental identity politics, made this the obvious gambit.  ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 11
November 2022

Will there be a ceasefire in Ukraine this winter?

All sides are hinting at peace talks — but the obstacles may be too great

For us Europeans, Armistice Day has a certain edge this year. For the first time in many years on our home continent, soldiers lie huddled in their trenches, sheltering from the munitions rained down on one another in such vast quantities that both the United States and Russia have outsourced their production to their respective Korean allies. The risks of a global conflagration have not been greater in any of our lifetimes; the prospect of rationing of heat and electricity looms as the cold winds begin to whip in from the East. But in Ukraine itself, as the war smoulders towards its first anniversary, is there a prospect of a winter ceasefire? ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Monday, 7
November 2022

Pensioner Britain has run out of ambition

Why would the Tories build for a future their voters will never see?

Towards the close of life, ambition naturally wanes. So when two years can be considered the reasonable maximum lifespan of your time in office, a distaste for long-term thinking may be understandable. Even still, the mere suggestion that one of Rishi Sunak’s first decisions during his turn at Britain’s rotating premiership would be to review the status of Sizewell C, the planned nuclear reactor in Suffolk set to provide up to 7% of the country’s future energy needs, was not a reassuring one. 

While we should be relieved that Number 10 has swiftly come out to quash the rumour, that it had any currency at all — and that it seemed so plausible — highlights the greatest challenge facing Britain. The anti-growth coalition is real, and it extends to within the Tory government. No wonder that even members of Sunak’s cabinet worry he will preside over only economic contraction and managed decline. The contrast with Labour’s ambitious pledge to secure clean energy self-reliance through nuclear and renewable power by 2030 is stark. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 28
October 2022

Is Putin scaling down his war aims?

Targeting Ukraine's power infrastructure may be a tacit admission of defeat

As the seasons change, the war in Ukraine has entered a new phase. Following a series of major reverses the Russians are digging in, in the hope that the autumn rains will bog down any further Ukrainian counter-offensives, perhaps allowing time to train and equip their newly-mobilised conscript army for a second push next spring.

In the meantime, Russia’s attention has shifted towards knocking out Ukraine’s electrical grid from the air. Over the past three weeks, waves of cruise missile and Iranian Shahed drone strikes have battered Ukraine’s power infrastructure, damaging or destroying around 40% of its power network, leading to blackouts and outages across the country, including western cities hitherto barely affected by the war. In his nightly address last night from a blacked-out Kyiv, standing next to a downed Shahed UAV, Zelensky asserted: “We are not afraid of the dark. The darkest times for us are not without light, but without freedom.”  ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 21
October 2022
Off grid

Rishi’s right: Britain needs to rule beneath the waves

The Tory MP warned years ago about Britain's underwater vulnerabilities

Back in 2017, the little-known backbench MP Rishi Sunak wrote an interesting paper for Policy Exchange, warning of the vulnerability to Russian sabotage of Britain’s vital undersea infrastructure, from communications data cable to oil and gas pipelines. As he cautioned: 

A successful large-scale attack upon UK undersea cable infrastructure, whether at sea or on land, is an existential threat to our security. The next Strategic Defence Review should specifically consider the risks to Britain’s security from attacks on its undersea cable infrastructure and ensure steps are being taken to mitigate this risk and that our maritime assets are sufficient to the task.
- Rishi Sunak

In the event, the strategy paper which accompanied the 2021 Integrated Review promised “a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance capability, improving our ability to protect our underwater critical national infrastructure and improving our ability to detect threats in the North Atlantic.” What this actually means, it turns out, is the doubling of Britain’s newly-planned Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Ship fleet from one to two vessels, announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier this month. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 14
October 2022

Europe’s top diplomat is blackpilled about the future

Josep Borrell had a stark warning for the continent

It’s been a big week for Josep Borrell, the European Union’s most senior diplomat. In two historic, borderline apocalyptic speeches this week, Borrell laid out a stark vision of Europe’s threatened place in a world of growing insecurity and competition between states, grappling with a reality the continent’s leaders have until now been too slow — perhaps fatally slow — to apprehend.

Channelling Edward Gibbon’s famous opening lines from the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Borrell remarked across both speeches that “Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. Everything works. It is the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that humankind has been able to build,” but “the rest of the world is not like this.” Indeed, “Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden… Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden.”  ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 30
September 2022

Putin’s annexations may just be the beginning

Autocrats abroad appear to be following the Russian leader's lead

While it is a tiresome tic of liberal analysts to compare every world event to the dark 1930s, it must be said that in one respect the events planned for today genuinely threaten to return our continent to the worst days before the great global cataclysm. This afternoon, the Russian Duma is set to recognise the annexation of Ukraine’s partly-conquered provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. This is no no doubt a means to ward off any further Ukrainian counter-offensives — already threatening Russia’s meagre gains in this war — by making them at a stroke of a pen an assault against Russia itself. ...  Continue reading

by Aris Roussinos
Friday, 23
September 2022

Hard times call for flat beer

Real ale may be the solution to Britain's CO2 shortage

If there’s an overall theme to the events of the past few years, it’s the proof that the increasingly interconnected global economy has embedded within it new vulnerabilities to sudden unexpected shocks. A crisis at one end of the world may have unpredictable results at the other, leading to shortages in completely unexpected areas. And among the unintended costs of the rising energy prices brought about by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a threat to Britain’s millennia-old social lubricant: beer.

In bad news for drinkers of commercial lagers, brewers have warned this week that the country is facing a beer shortage, as supplies of CO2 needed to give lager its gaseous fizz have suddenly dwindled. Why? Because commercial CO2 production is a byproduct of the fertiliser industry, and industrial producers of ammonia are shutting down their production due to rising wholesale gas prices. ...  Continue reading

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