Who is Keir Starmer trying to impress with his New Leadership?

Rupert Murdoch is one of the most influential and powerful men in global politics. Many would go as far as to call him a Kingmaker, and they’d be right. When it comes to British politics, receiving the endorsement of his newspapers (The Times & The Sun) counts for an awful lot.

When Tony Blair was elected as Labour Leader in 1994, he and his team of media-savvy advisers very quickly got to grips with what needed to change within their party so they could become an election-winning machine. It was a case of “Out with the Old” and “In with the New (Labour)”.

Before Blair’s leadership, Labour had been a party hostile to the likes of Murdoch and big corporations. But under Blair, the Labour Party learnt how to be accepting of Capitalism and they embraced a new way of thinking about politics and ideology. 

They were no longer the party which opposed Thatcher’s Capitalist ideals. Instead, they welcomed her legacy and sought to carry on championing businesses and freedom rather than seeking to push a socialist agenda. 

Blair knew he had to ditch all the ”far-left” nonsense. Otherwise, the electorate wouldn’t be swaying from the Tories. Likewise, Murdoch was also getting fed-up with John Major’s Government. Rupert was becoming increasingly impatient over John Major’s inability to push forward policy and implement the type of change that Rupert wanted to see. 

And if there is one thing politicians around the world have learnt is that if you want the top job, then don’t upset Rupert. Blair knew precisely that, and as Rupert Murdoch changed the political allegiance of The Sun from Tory to Labour, that was when Tony Blair realised that victory was almost inevitable. 

Fast-forward twenty years, the Tories are in power, and the Labour Party, having just got rid of Jeremy Corbyn and elected Sir Keir Starmer, are now attempting to repeat the same makeover that Blair did two decades ago. 

Keir Starmer’s motto, Under New Management/Under New Leadership, is a blatant attempt at trying to not just show the electorate they are the right party for Government. But, also demonstrate to Rupert Murdoch they are worthy of his backing. 

Glossary

Anybody can read a text, journal, article, essay, blog post etc. But that doesn’t mean they’ve understood the context. Below are a list of key terms and phrases often used when talking about international politics.

International Organisations

NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries. 

UN – The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

EU – The European Union is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. 

WTO – The World Trade Organization is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.

G20 – The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union.

ICC – The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. 

War / Conflict

Intifida – It’s an Arabic term for uprising or rebellion. It is a key concept in contemporary Arabic usage referring to a legitimate uprising against oppression.

West Bank – The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by Israel to the south, west and north.

Gaza Strip – The Gaza Strip, or simply Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Hamas – Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist militant organization.

ISIS – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, officially known as the Islamic State and also known by its Arabic-language acronym Daesh, is a militant group and a former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam.

Taliban – The Taliban or Taleban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organisation in Afghanistan currently waging war within that country.

Boko Haram – The Islamic State in West Africa or the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād and commonly known as Boko Haram, is a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.

Al-Shabaab – Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a terrorist, jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa.

Al-Qaeda – Al-Qaeda is a transnational extremist Salafist militant organization founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abdullah Azzam, and several other Arab volunteers during the Soviet–Afghan War.

Lashkar-e-Taiba – Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest Islamist terrorist organizations in South Asia. It was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal with funding from Osama bin Laden.

Hezbollah – Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s paramilitary wing is the Jihad Council, and its political wing is the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc party in the Lebanese parliament.

Nobel P*ss Prize

The President has always been keen for people to see him as an international peacemaker. But, let’s not forget this is the same man who threatened Kim Jong-Un on Twitter with ‘all-out war’, assassinated a top Iranian General. Oh, and according to John Bolton (Former US National Security Advisor), Trump tried sweet-talking China into helping win re-election.

Some have already suggested that because he hosted this historic diplomatic event with Israel, Bahrain and UAE, Donald Trump is now somehow worthy of receiving Nobel Peace Prize. Ridiculous.

An impressive achievement, yes, indeed. However, to suggest this cancels out the President’s overtly belligerent attitude when dealing with foreign powers, on top of his gross neglect of minorities and the inability to enforce strict measures to help combat one of the deadliest pandemics this century. Well, it’s frankly insane. I don’t understand how one ‘good deed’ is suddenly worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?

There are diplomats and top civil servants who have dedicated their entire lives to diplomacy and foreign affairs. Donald Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t even understand the first thing about foreign policy. He has never had a plan, just the ability to exercise his thoughts in less than 280 characters.

Trump is not a diplomat, politician, leader and especially not an international peacemaker. He’s a one time failed businessman who was bailed out by a Russian mobster, a reality TV star who got dropped by NBC, and now he spends his time moonlighting as a professional appeaser.

Rule Breaking Britannia!

Despite the UK Brexiting back in January, we are still going through our transition phase in which complicated matters such as Free Trade Agreements, immigration and customs arrangements need to be cleared up. 

And even though Britain has recently managed to secure a free trade agreement with Japan, Boris Johnson and his Government are still facing a great deal of criticism from MP’s, the commentariat and even former Prime Ministers over the introduction of the Internal Markets Bill.

What is the Internal Markets Bill? 

It’s essentially a bill being proposed to the House of Commons which seeks to update the laws currently governing the UK internal market. In essence, creating new principles to go alongside existing ones. 

The reason for proposing this bill is so that after the Brexit transition period ends, the UK will have managed to set up internal arrangements for trading between the four UK nations. 

What is the problem with this current bill? 

The British Government has stated the bill is being used as a measure to preserve the UK’s territorial integrity. However, the EU slammed the bill, saying that it broke international law. 

When addressing the matter in the Commons, Brandon Lewis (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) said the bill would break international law in a specific and limited way. 

And he’s right! It will do so by overriding section four of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. 

According to the Institute for Government: “The bill would give ministers powers to make regulations about state aid and customs procedures for trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and would allow ministers to make regulations inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

This, unfortunately, breaches Article 4 of the withdrawal agreement, which says the UK must use primary legislation (main laws passed by the legislative bodies of the UK, including the UK Parliament.) to give full effect to the Withdrawal Agreement in domestic law. 

But it is worth noting the UK would only be in breach of these laws if such powers were actually used. 

Will the Internal Market Bill Pass?

Last night MP’s backed the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263. So, yes, the bill has passed, but only its first hurdle. And even though Boris Johnson’s backbenchers didn’t let him down, he still isn’t without his critics. Former PM’s and several Tory MPs have warned that by breaking international law, it damages the UK’s stance on the world stage. 

Former Prime Minister, Theresa May posed a question to the Government about the matter saying: “The Government is now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the Government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?” 

Unsurprisingly, Mrs May has the same concern as everyone else. If the Government are choosing to break ‘international law’ and going back on what they agreed with the EU, only a few months ago, then how can they be trusted with signing agreements further down the line? 

Point Of View

With Boris Johnson’s hefty majority in the House, it was unlikely the bill would be stopped in its tracks. However, it will face more scrutiny from MP’s in the Commons today, and in terms of getting through the Lords, well there is nothing to say they couldn’t stop it from being passed. 

I wasn’t all that surprised when I first heard Brandon Lewis say the Government would be “breaking international law”. I suppose if you look at this governments track record, breaking international law is undoubtedly something the rebellious Dominic Cummings is looking to tick off his bucket list. 

In terms of what it does to Britain’s reputation on the global stage, well, I’ve always been of the firm belief that we must stand on principle; otherwise, what do we stand for? Are we to become a nation that says one thing and does another? 

Countries from all over the world look at a nation like Britain as a leader in diplomacy. Now that we are on the verge of breaking international law, how are we then supposed to stand up to countries like Russia and China when they breach the rules? 

Britain is about to transition onto the global stage. It should be an opportunity for us as a nation to stand tall and forge new relationships, however unless the UK can present itself as an honorable ally then how do you expect people to trust us?

Bojo’s new Rule of Six and COVID slogan is there to protect Granny

Summer is over. Some of us went on holiday. Others went in our masses to the south coast and crowded Brighton beach. We made the most of not having seen our mates in over three months. We reverted to our local pub trips and went back to day drinking in the park. However, whether we like it or not that period of sunshine, booze and being able to elbow a group of 20 mates is coming to an end. 

Boris, now panicking at the rise in cases, is now having to conjure up a new slogan and rule to help combat the increase in COVID-19 cases. 

What does this new ‘Rule of Six’ actually mean? 

From Monday, social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England. This comes amid a steep rise in COVID-19 cases. The new rule applies to people in private homes, indoors and outdoors, and places such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and public outdoor spaces. 

However, there are some exemptions. It won’t apply to schools, workplaces, or COVID-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports. 

According to the BBC, It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200. The new rules – which come into force on 14 September – mark a change to England’s current guidance.

A constant criticism of the government over the past few months has been about how some of the rules have been unclear. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was even reported saying that a piece of feedback given to him by the police was that “we needed the rules to be super simple so that everybody knows what they are”. 

Is it a Dark Winter ahead?

One would hope not, but if we’ve learnt anything from this pandemic, then it should be never to worry about three months down the line. Instead, just focus on the here and now. The government’s scientific advisory committee has spoken about how the next 4-6 weeks will be a pivotal period in trying to control the virus. Especially if we don’t want to have the winter we’ve all been dreading. 

Can we follow the rules, though? If you think back to March, we weren’t all that brilliant at following them when the government first implemented social distancing and banning mass gatherings. We all nodded and continued to ignore their advice. Next thing you know… LOCKDOWN. If we don’t take this new rule seriously, as of following Monday, the same could happen again. 

So remember, hands, face, space…

Wash your hands. I mean that shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember to do it after you go to the toilet, before you eat, after you eat, maybe when you come in from having been outside. If your hands are dirty, then wash them. 

Cover your face. This one goes explicitly to all you Libertarians out there who are acting like a bunch of prima donna’s complaining about how wearing a face mask is “clamping down on your liberties and freedoms as a human being”. Just wear a bloody mask, or Granny won’t make it through Christmas. 

Make Space. Again, stay 1 metre apart from people. To be fair, this one is a bit tricky when you are trying to do it, but nobody else in your Sainsbury’s Local appears to show the same courtesy. 

Three rules. All of which are very easy to follow. But the question is, how many of you are actually bothered?

Trump’s 2020 campaign started back in 2016

I don’t feel incredibly excited about Tuesday, 3rd November. It should be a day where we look forward to kicking out a misogynistic, dictator appeasing, xenophobic President. However, there is nothing spectacular about Joe Biden’s campaign, that reassures me he is the man to replace Donald Trump in the White House next year.

We’ve got to remember why it is people voted for Trump in the first place. They were fed up with the status quo, something which Biden still very much represents. They were fed up with electing politicians who only cared about the interests of liberal America. And finally, they appeared to want somebody who could communicate policy, ideas and leadership in an elementary capacity.

Trump’s two-year-old slogans and dangerous rhetoric are why he is where he is. It’s got nothing to do with ingenious policy ideas. It’s all about working the algorithm. It’s about playing on the emotions of the electorate and offering a solution to growing concerns such as terrorism, China, immigration and traditional American values. In simple terms, his campaign was all about providing American’s a gateway back to a time they used to be familiar with. He made them fall in love with conservatism and fear progressivism.

But after four years of early morning tweeting and belligerent narcissism, have American’s had enough? Well, recent polling would suggest the mood has swung back in favour of the Democrats. Since the beginning of the year, Joe Biden has been ahead in most national polls. On most occasions, he’s had a 10-point lead over his Republican opponent, hovering in recent months around the 50% mark. Though as we all know, you should never put a great deal of faith into the national polls.

Yes, they provide you with a useful guide as to how widespread the candidates are across the country, but it’s not always the best means of predicting an election win. Just look at Hillary. Back in 2016, she was leading in the polls and even won 3 million more votes during the election and still lost to Trump. All because of the electoral college system, which goes to show winning the most votes doesn’t always mean winning the election.

My worry is that Democrat’s and Liberals around the world will get into a complacent attitude, where they form an impression that somehow the tide is changing and that Trump’s time is up. If that becomes the case, well then, I won’t be feeling sorry for them.

What you must remember is that despite winning the 2016 election, Donald Trump has since never stopped campaigning. Every press conference, summit meeting, interview, world leader visit, national tragedies and philanthropic gestures have all been part of the Trump 2020 campaign.

Honesty is the best policy for the BBC

Twitter is a minefield for BBC beration. When ‘Defund the BBC’ launched their campaign in mid-summer, it took them less than a week to reach around 30K followers and it now has around 95K supporters. So with such a growing appetite for a reformed BBC, we have to ask ourselves what is it culturally that the BBC seems to let us down on?

In terms of their political coverage, I feel as though the corporation could do more to push some of their political shows to feature more commentary from regional journalists, activists and even regular folk from beyond the Westminster Bubble.

I can’t see anyone being delighted with the current incumbents of the Beeb’s political team. Everyone has had their criticism of Andrew Neil, Nick Robinson, Andrew Marr, Emily Maitlis and Lewis Goodall. They don’t always get it right, and in this day and age of every man and his dog wanting to make passing remarks, there is a sense that you simply cannot please everyone. That being said, maybe it’s not necessarily the political team which needs shaking up.

Honesty is a big issue. In particular, the transparency surrounding the sort of guests the BBC has been inviting onto programmes to make comments. For example, there have been multiple occasions where a doctor or teacher has appeared on Newsnight, and the BBC has failed to report that they are Labour activists. It doesn’t take much to be able to present the facts or even seek out a non-politically charged teacher or doctor. All this shows is a lack of research from BBC producers and just downright laziness.

Nor is it merely in the realms of current affairs where the BBC is continuing to c*ck up. But now, they have started removing and censoring comedy shows that contain material which may offend audiences. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you think Little Britain is culturally insensitive, but what I would say is listen to what stars like Idris Elba are saying.

Idris Elba has criticised the public service broadcaster for censoring programmes following Black Lives Matter campaigning. He believes that even outdated attitudes to race found in older TV shows should be aired and understood. If we start airbrushing these shows from iPlayer, then we are technically attempting to censor history.

There are a lot of future generations of scriptwriters, stand-ups and producers who can learn from the mistakes of the past. It is important to highlight these matters, but if we can’t come to be at ease with them, then how do we move forward?

The recent news that was on every radio phone-in show was the BBC’s decision to ban the lyrics of ‘Rule, Britannia!’ from being sung at the Last Night of the Proms. A decision which, I should say, they’ve now U-turned on. Now, I’m going to be honest. I can’t stand that hymn, so to be quite frank, they’d have been doing me a favour if they hadn’t done so.

No matter what connotations these lyrics may have to our colonial past, we should be considering their intentions and the manner in which they are being sung above anything else. I don’t for one minute believe that any sane-minded individual singing ‘Rule, Britannia!’ or ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is really interested in re-enslaving former colonies or wanting to hark back to the times in which those anthems were written.

Put it this way, if Stormzy is allowed to chant “F*ck Boris” live on the BBC, at Glastonbury, then a bunch of poshos in the Albert Hall should be allowed to have their little sing-song as well.

The Battle to save London’s local cafés

We all have a local coffee house that plays an instrumental role in our day-to-day lives. It’s there for us when we are at the most sluggish stage of our morning. It sorts us out with a bacon butty and a decent cup of tea, usually for just under a fiver.

It’s a much-needed pit stop as we venture to work every morning, but since COVID has turned our 9-5 society upside down, we no longer have a need to stop by our local café. In fact, at all possible costs, we have become a society keen on avoiding the grubby greasy spoons. Mainly out of fear for their surfaces potentially being riddled with COVID-infused coffee stains.

It would be foolish of me to try and speak on behalf of the nation’s cafés. I can, however, relay the concerns of one owner, who just happens to run my local café.

I went in for a morning coffee and, while the owner was opening up shop, we had a little chat, like most people do, about COVID. He proceeded to tell me how, after running the Riverside Cafe (Lambeth Pier) for 11 years, he’d never hit such hard times. The owner talked candidly about how, on average, he used to get around 2,000 customers a day. Now, he says he’s lucky if that number reaches 100.

Keeping up with the rental payments on the café is proving to be an ordeal, and it’s even resulted in the poor guy having to dip into his savings accounts and even university funds. As I perched myself on the bar stool, I sat there gazing around at the photos on the wall. It appeared as though this café was a famous little nest for politicians getting their morning brew. The pictures ranged from John Prescott and Nick Clegg to a smattering of A-list celebs and actors.

This little old shack that sits peacefully on the corner of Lambeth Bridge will be my go-to coffee and breakfast pit stop, for as long as they are up and running. Because when the Government talks about trying to get people back to work and seeks to restore society to normality, this is what I believe they are trying to get at.

It’s about small, independently-run coffee stores, eateries, burger vans and market stalls. Their business relies on footfall. They need the 9-to-5 city worker, taxi driver or construction manager to stop in for breakfast and lunch – otherwise, what’s the point? Cafés like the Riverside Lambeth will collect cobwebs, and very soon they will blend into all the other boarded-up shops that have fallen at the hands of this wretched pandemic.

So, if you don’t want to wake up one morning and see that your local café or bakery isn’t opening its doors, then do what you can now. We might all still be working from home, but that doesn’t stop us from walking a few hundred yards in our slippers to grab a bacon bap and a cup of tea. You never know, if enough of us do it, we may just save them from closure.

Extinction Rebellion: Why do they Rebel?

Why do they Rebel? They say it’s because the current system of governance is corrupt, unfit for purpose and that it fails to address the issues currently facing our generation.

We’ve all seen the videos on social media. A group of in-experienced teenage activists take to the roundabout at Trafalgar Square and attempt to bring London to a standstill. They do so in the name of Climate Justice. But these groups; Extinction Rebellion, Animal Rebellion and now Beyond Politics, are they not just using a cause’ as a justifiable means to wreak havoc on the streets of London?

Before the world became obsessed with COVID and staying locked up indoors, Roger Hallam and Extinction Rebellion were encouraging people to go outside and “fight for our future”. They believe the Conservative Government isn’t doing enough to prepare for the tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, as well as combatting against the risk of social and ecological collapse.

As a collective, they feel as though the most effective way to lobby is via the means of nonviolent civil disobedience. This has consisted of road blockades, but also activists chaining themselves to the gates of parliament, glueing their hands to the side of a London Underground train and covering the streets of Whitehall in ‘fake blood’.

In their eyes, all of these methods of activism are well justified and effective. Now I certainly agree with the latter. It’s incredibly effective, especially if their goal is to whip up a media frenzy about their latest escapade. But justified. Nope, sorry.

I’ve always believed there are two types of politics. On the one hand, you have the activists, lobbying groups and collectives who are campaigning and pushing their agenda. Meanwhile, on the other side, you have the administrators. The MP’s, Lords, Civil Servants. Their job is to assess all the issues currently facing our country and prioritise them as best as they can to reach a consensus in which the majority of the population is content with.

So, as Extinction Rebellion takes to the streets today, remember they do indeed have their place in our political debate. They have been a handy vehicle in lobbying the conversation of climate change. However, what that doesn’t mean is that they have the right to go around terrorising party HQ’s, blocking ambulance’s, police and fire engines from doing their job as well as preventing hard-working individuals from getting to work.

We all worry about the future of our planet. But instead of trying to become the modern-day ‘Suffragettes’, why can’t XR and Beyond Politics focus on arranging meetings with parliamentarians and members in the House of Lords? And on top of that, why don’t they consider putting forward candidates to stand in the next election?

Roger Hallam has created a movement, which has the potential to become a force for good and potentially change. However, I worry that he is quite happy with it being the vehicle of nuisance and disruption.