Only radical social liberalism can save our democracy | Letters

Michael Meadowcroft, Tony Greaves, Philip G Cerny, Andrew Gore, Ian K Watson and Shirley Williams on the political landscape after the resignations of eight MPs from the Labour party and three from the Conservatives

Your criticism of the seven Labour MPs leaving the party (These resignations are a mistake. But they are also a warning, 19 February), fails to take into sufficient account the trauma of abandoning the political affiliation that has nurtured them and, in earlier times, given them a purpose. It is the fact that these seven MPs have felt the need to abandon over a century of that heritage between them that is the real warning. Corbyn, McDonnell, Lansman and the left ideologues that now dominate Labour were right in perceiving that the social democratic consensus has had its day. Indeed it is this analysis that provokes the regular statements that the current party structure is broken. But the problem for the seven Labour vanguard MPs is their self-confessed identification as social democrats and, whether they like it or not, they are the inheritors of the mantle of the SDP whom Ralf Dahrendorf famously commented, almost 40 years ago, were “promising us a better yesterday”.

At the heart of the current political dilemma is the almost universal acceptance of the terms left and right, which condemns parties to place themselves on this out-of-date, two-centuries-old spectrum. Having analysed the problem correctly, those now controlling Labour then made the fatal error of moving in the wrong direction. The real political gap today is for a firmly anti-Conservative party that is pragmatic on the economy, believing in “the market where possible and the state where necessary” and is internationalist, committed to worker co-operatives in industry, civil liberties, devolution, taxing land values, the promotion of local communities and electoral reform.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

Whatever Meghan does, she’s damned. Let’s not repeat history | Zoe Williams

The level of scrutiny the Duchess of Sussex receives is devoid of human feeling. This vilification must end

Last month I nominated Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as a hate figure for the nation in 2019: the person we all need to get us through a difficult time, like your cousin’s girlfriend who waxes her eyebrows and yammers on about yoga at the start of a fraught Christmas. As I then explained about a million times on Twitter, I was joking: I do not hate Meghan, or even consider her vaguely hateful. I could no more despise the woman than I could flick through the pages of a magazine and take against a salt-and-pepper male model with a watch on. She wasn’t the point; the point was that society quests ceaselessly for an enemy, and if you’re going to have one, at least let it be one who probably won’t care.

This was right in an ambient, premonitory way, but I was wrong to think it was funny. The poor woman is being vilified round the clock – this week for having the audacity to have a baby shower with her friends in New York. It has gone beyond the point of mattering what her personality is like, were anyone in any position to know: she would have to be so thoroughly bad to warrant this level of scrutiny, so devoid of human feeling, so malicious in every intention, that the media’s daily censure wouldn’t be enough. We’d have to paint her yellow and black like a bee.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

UK museums should be honest about being stuffed with stolen goods | Alice Procter

Institutions need to be transparent about their legacies of imperialism and theft – and confront the issue of repatriation

Museums are in crisis. In the past, their social role has been taken for granted – they’re spaces for preserving objects and educating the deferential public that comes to admire them. It’s a tidy, completist dream: wouldn’t it be nice to see the whole of human history, free and open to all?

Related: Museums grapple with rise in pleas for return of foreign treasures

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

New York is right to ban hair discrimination. Now how about the UK? | Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Many British black people are targeted on the basis of their hair, but now there is a precedent for dealing with this

New York City’s new legal guidance on discrimination based on hairstyle is a thing of beauty. It points out that “there is a widespread and fundamentally racist belief that black hairstyles are not suited for formal settings, and may be unhygienic, messy, disruptive, or unkempt”, and deems natural hair textures that are tightly coiled or tightly curled, and black hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, braids, fades, and afros, a protected racial characteristic. This means that is now illegal to target black people based on their hair or hairstyle at work, school or in any public place – and if you do, you may get fined.

In a country where our elected representatives think it’s OK to describe ethnic minorities as having a “funny tinge” on live television, it appears that British conversations around the nature of hair texture and hairstyle discrimination, and how they intersect with race, are rudimentary at best. But now is the perfect time to consider the experiences of those of us living in Britain with kinky-coily hair, and whether Britain should introduce similar laws.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

The resignation of three Tory MPs is a dire warning to the party | Andrew Gimson

The Conservatives cannot afford to decline into a sect which drives out its moderate wing

If the resignation of Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen means the Tories are becoming a narrower and less tolerant party, it is a disaster. The Conservatives cannot afford to decline into a sect which drives out all those who are unable to subscribe to whatever its stern, unbending ideology happens to be at any particular moment. It must remain a broad church within which a continuous and never finally settled argument about doctrine can take place. Only then is it able convincingly to offer its services to the nation as a party of government.

Theresa May looks so weak because she has been attempting to hold her party together. She is not herself of a sectarian disposition: an accusation which can more justly be levelled at Jeremy Corbyn. She is a pragmatist, who hopes she can persuade the vast majority of her backbenchers to support a pragmatic Brexit deal, even though it does not conform in every particular to the different and mutually incompatible things they would like in an ideal world to see.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

The Independent Group will only succeed if PR is their central policy | Catherine Mayer

If they are serious about fixing ‘broken politics’, they should join us in backing a fairer voting system

• Catherine Mayer is co-founder of the Women’s Equality party

Optimism isn’t just a state of mind. It’s a political choice – one we all need to take. The animating ideal of progressive politics and equality movements is the belief in the possibility of a better future. So I observe the new and swelling Independent Group of MPs with curiosity, sympathy and a good deal of scepticism. I understand that eight Labour MPs felt they could not remain in their old party. I am not at all surprised to see three moderate female MPs defect from the Conservative party this morning to join their ranks. I do not underestimate the emotional toll of such decisions.

Luciana Berger has shown extraordinary fortitude in the face of relentless abuse; anyone who still doubts the reality of Labour’s problem with antisemitism needs look no further than a tweet from her former colleague Ruth George, the MP for High Peak, suggesting that the state of Israel might be among the backers of the new group (something she has since withdrawn). Anna Soubry’s efforts to steer the Conservatives away from the self-inflicted disaster of Brexit have earned her death threats. No wonder that in every statement given by these MPs, one phrase recurs: politics is broken.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

Javid’s decision on Shamima Begum demeans his office by playing to the Tory gallery on Shamima Begum | Sonia Sodha

The home secretary’s political ambitions are shamefully exposed by this playing to the gallery

Politics has always, to some extent, been the art of combining doing what’s right with doing what’s in one’s own political interests. It would be naive to pretend otherwise. But in recent months – with a weak prime minister desperately trying to cling on to power, and senior Tories hungrily eyeing the top job – it feels like naked political ambition is shaping real-world outcomes more than ever before.

Nowhere is that more evident than in Sajid Javid’s decision to revoke Shamima Begum’s British citizenship. In trying to position himself as Theresa May’s successor, the home secretary is signalling to the tabloid press just how tough he is on national security and immigration. Perhaps, as a son of immigrants, he feels he has more to prove.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

Honda’s closure? It’s down to government failure to champion electric cars | Rosie Rogers

Workers in UK plants like Swindon should be at the forefront of the global shift to building cleaner vehicles

Honda’s announcement that it is closing its Swindon car plant has brought with it a very human tragedy, with thousands of job losses expected, and many more throughout the supply chain. As the rancorous debate about the role that Brexit played lingers, what might be drowned out is that, in an era of climate emergency, these are the workers whose skills and know-how we so desperately need.

Transport emissions remains the UK’s biggest source of greenhouse gases. Unlike other polluting sectors, like energy, which have seen significant drops in emissions, our transport emissions have only dropped 2% since 1990. If we’re to tackle climate change we desperately need to deal with this. And a big part of solution is electric cars.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

Despite the slaughter in Yemen, Britain is still chasing arms sales | Andrew Smith

Defence contractors are in Abu Dhabi this week for the Middle East’s biggest arms fair – supported to the hilt by UK ministers

A Khaleeji bagpipe band, a colourful aircraft display, a performance by the Armenian Military Orchestra and a big show of support from the Emirate royal families. These were some of the touches at Sunday’s opening ceremony for the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex 2019) in Abu Dhabi, the Middle East’s biggest arms fair.

It’s a decadent and distasteful celebration of militarism and weaponry. Missiles, rifles, tanks, helicopters and warships are on display for anyone that can afford them. More than 100,000 people will attend this week, including representatives from all of the world’s biggest arms companies and military delegates from 57 nations. Among those looking to do business is the UK government, which has sent a team of civil servants to support UK arms company reps in doing as much business as possible. Particularly with the uncertainty of Brexit on the horizon, they will pull out all stops to cement sales.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article

How to cure the shopping addiction that’s destroying our planet | Radhika Sanghani

I went cold turkey on buying clothes – and learned that it will take more than taxes to slow the march of fast fashion

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who cares about the environment. I’ve recycled for as long as I can remember, I’m on my way to having a plastic-free kitchen and I always try to take public transport instead of driving. But until last year I was guilty of unknowingly contributing to 1m tonnes of waste a year, more carbon emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined, and microplastics ending up in the ocean – just by buying new clothes.

A cross-party report has found that people today buy and discard clothes faster than ever, and it means we get rid of more than 1m tonnes of clothes a year, with £140m worth going to landfill every year. The implications of this are so bad that there have been recent claims that the fashion industry can be listed alongside the oil industry as one of the five most polluting industries in the world.

Continue reading…

Please follow and like us:

Click here to see original article