Why Dominic Cummings' lockdown breach matters

The actions of Dominic Cummings in breaking the lockdown rules is the big news story of today. It will also have a long-term impact on politics and on the Tory party. The sad truth is that politicians lie all the time. In this respect they are not so different from all other people, who mostly also lie on a daily basis. Many of these are harmless and inconsequential untruths, and generally designed to avoid social awkwardness. In our normal lives we rarely give every scrap of

To beat the Tories back a #PeoplesVote, Labour

Corbyn wants to beat the Tories. The way to do that is to back a vote on the terms of May's Brexit deal. I understand Jeremy Corbyn's unwillingness to seek nothing less than a general election. He wants his party to be in government and therefore keeps pushing May to resign. Unfortunately that won't work. Ministers or Prime Ministers don't resign just because you keep telling them to. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn thinks badgering the government about an election is pressure; it's no

Brexit endgame

How will Brexit end? When will Brexit end? These are not easy questions to answer. Any analysis of Brexit quickly runs up against many different uncertainties. No country has ever left before - so there is no precedent to follow. The UK's political system is not used to dealing with sudden changes to the constitution. There is almost no agreement between or within political parties, commentators or the public about what will happen, when and how. What is for certain though is

9 reasons to #StopBrexit

Why should Brexit be cancelled? Here's all the reasons, from one to nine. A People's Vote is the name for a 'ratification referendum'. Since there was no real clarity in 2016 what the vote to leave meant, it makes sense that once negotiations are concluded the final decision goes to the people. In such a referendum there must be the option to remain in the EU. Article 50, which triggered the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, is fully revocable. Here are 9 reasons why Brexit s

A tale of two crimes

Vote Leave broke the law. So did some fracking protesters. Who goes to prison speaks volumes about UK politics This tale of two crimes tells us much about the current state of politics in the UK. There are two fundamental principles to the constitution in the UK. One is that the Westminster parliament is the land's sovereign political authority. The other is that the rule of law applies equally to everyone, irrespective of social status, religion or political beliefs. The arr

The Conservatives: party of the political centre ground?

The Conservatives are floundering. They are fighting amongst themselves, proving unable to deal with the task of Brexit negotiations and their membership & voters age steadily. In an attempt to breath some life into her party Theresa May is making an extended pitch for more support. She, and her advisers, are trying to reposition the Conservative Party as moving into the mythic 'centre ground' of British politics. This is where, famously, British elections are won and lost. D

Can the Conservative Party survive Brexit?

Can the party survive in its current form, or will Brexit send it spinning into the political abyss? As the Conservative Party meet for their annual conference, this year in the Midlands city of Birmingham, a question is hanging over the whole affair: are the Tories doomed? Britain all but invented political parties, in their modern form. The precursor to the Conservative Party (or Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full name) was the Tory Party. The Tory party a

Democracy under threat – a UK-US comparison

Is democracy actually in worse shape in the UK than the US? The US has some serious political problems. Donald Trump is an incompetent and populist President with the potential to do real and lasting harm to his own country, as well as to the rest of the globe. He mocks disabled people, lies about nearly everything, cosies up to dictators and is a racist, misogynist dunce. His administration is under investigation relating to allegations of collusion with the Russian governme

Why did Boris Johnson resign?

In the space of 24 hours David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned from Theresa May's government. Why? The loss of two of the most senior ministers in her government constitutes a serious blow to May's already dented authority. Cabinet ministers rarely resign without good reason, and quite often the reason is that they are being forced out for some failure, either personal or professional. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd tried to cling on for a week until it became clear she co

Heading for the Brexit cliff edge

The terrible handling of the Brexit negotiations are making a 'no-deal' scenario more likely In the Commons today David DavisI said the argument over the 'Brexit bill' is likely to go on for the "full duration of the negotiation". If this is true it means that the UK is heading for 'no-deal', i.e. crashing out of the EU. Michel Barnier has made clear, and has been backed to the hilt by every one of the 27 countries involved, that there are 3 separation issues that must be sor

Labour and Brexit: not believing in leaving?

What is the point of Labour's position on Brexit? It's hard to tell what Labour really thinks about Brexit. Or at least it's been hard to tell, until Barry Gardiner let slip that the Labour's stated policy position is "bollocks". That situation is that while (1) the Labour Party campaigned to remain in the EU, (2) the referendum vote went against them. What has been tricky has been reconciling these two opposing realities. Leaving the EU will be detrimental to the country as

Syria: does parliament get to decide?

Whose decision is it whether the British military is sent to intervene in the Syrian civil war? There is credible evidence that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has used more chemical weapons against the town of Douma. This has led to renewed calls from many British journalists and British politicians to take military action in Syria. This also brings back into the spotlight a question central to the exercise of democracy in the UK: is it the government or parliament who

The illusion of control

After Brexit, decision-making power might return to London, but much influence and political power will be lost in the process. There's an excellent long article by Sky News's political editor Faisal Islam published today. I've clipped a short section which I think illustrates my point better than I could. (1) If Brexit really does happen, there will be a lot of choices which will be dressed up as having been made in London but that just-so-happen to be the carbon copies of

UK gov wants to cut-and-run on EU budget

Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the UK is not prepared to honour budget contributions after Brexit How very un-British! In the press conference that Brexit Secretary David Davis gave with Michel Barnier on 31st August he set out a very eye-opening aspect of the UK's negotiating stance on Brexit. Elements of the EU budget we promised to pay for in 2016, say, but wouldn't need to actually be paid for until 2020, we would duck out of paying. This is a really bad, stupid po

Post-Brexit laws: confusion reigns

Given the opportunity to actually decide the legal direction of the country, the Brexiteers are clueless 'Take back control'. It's a powerful slogan that evoked a sense of the frustrated ambition, and a yearning for justice. A lot of debate during the 2016 referendum campaign focused around issues of legal sovereignty and the democratic deficit that membership of the EU entailed. Although most of the people who voted leave doubtless cared little for the constitutional dilemma

The Billion Pound Brexit divorce bill

The EU expects the UK to pay billions to leave - because those are our dues Newspapers report today that the UK government is willing to stump up something in the region of £36bn to leave the EU. The figure comes as a potential surprise because of the bullish stance taken by the Brexit secretary David Davis, as well as Boris Johnson and others in the government who had claimed the UK would pay little or nothing to leave the EU. The Union's negotiator had claimed a figure near

Post-Brexit blueprint

We're looking backwards, when we need to be looking forwards. The post-Brexit choice are currently presented is as Option A, and Option B. Are you backing the 52%, or the 48%? What is needed is an approach that addresses the needs and desires of the 100%, or at least tries to. Option A is an extreme Tory Brexit, an attempt to conjure up the world of pre-1972 before Britain joined the EEC. Option B is to try to go back to before June 2016 and pretend that the referendum hasn't

UKIP's dishonesty on immigration

Making life harder for EU migrants means two things: more pressure on labour, and increased Atlanticism. Migration - specifically immigration - is not an issue that deserves to be getting the wall-to-wall media coverage given to it in recent days, weeks, months. You could be forgiven for imagining that that Britain was experiencing level of immigration like that of Lebanon, where 1 in every 4 is a Syrian refugee. There are parts of the UK where pressure is being put on servic

High Court Derision

Gina Miller's victory in the Hight Court highlights the failings of politicians, not the judiciary. The decision handed down by the High Court today could not have been clearer. In the ruling summary the judges lay waste to the government's position: The court does not accept the argument put forward by the government. There is nothing in the 1972 Act [the 1972 European Communities Act] to support it. The outcome was wholly predictable. The outrage at the ruling from the Mai

Russia, Putin and the West

Putin's Russia projects an image of strength. The opposite is true. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Such was Churchill's assessment of Russia and its interactions with the outside world in 1939. The immediate context of his pronouncement was the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact, one of the most outlandish and surprising agreements on world history. Perhaps little has changed since then - Russia's actions today seem still to stretch the boundaries of normal un