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25.04.13

Syria: Where is the International Brigade?

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this week.

There is much to enjoy and admire in the New Statesman centenary issue. I read of George Orwell taking a bullet through the throat, as he fought in the Spanish civil war. And that John Gray thinks: “For the foreseeable future, no one will rule will world”. The transition from the G7 to the G20 reflected the passing of power to the global south and talk of the G2 denotes the centrality of China and the US but maybe G-zero is more apt in a world without predominant power.

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09.01.11

The globalised middle: social justice is key to more easing, less squeezing

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

Tony Blair made adaptation to globalisation a Labour leitmotif. Yet the existence of the “squeezed middle” is a symptom that he did not finish the job. Today’s globalisation is more about the rise of Asia than was the case when Blair became party leader. Easing the squeezing requires better adaptation to this Asian age.

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29.12.09

Yes, we still can (but leadership and disciplined support are needed)

The striking thing about the most powerful person in the world, as he approaches one year in office, is how, err, lacking in power he appears.

Disappointed and, according to Mark Lynas, insulted by the Chinese in Copenhagen.  A Health Care Bill that isn’t yet on the statute; is much delayed on his original timetable; and, by his own admission, is only “nine-tenths of a loaf” – some would say that half a loaf is nearer the mark and it comes with lashings of pork barrel whatever way you look at it. An Afghan strategy that even he doesn’t seem wholly convinced by and the backdrop to which Andrew Sullivan commented upon by saying:

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17.04.09

A week is a long time in politics, but four years is a very short time

“A week is a long time in politics, but four years is a very short time”, as Michael Barber once told Tony Blair’s Cabinet in a misquotation of Harold Wilson. Alistair Darling will be hoping that the first part of this is true and that next week’s Budget allows the political focus to move on from the Damien McBride-affair. This affair has undermined the momentum that Gordon Brown built at the G20 conference and Darling will attempt to recapture this.

However, he might reflect upon the second part of Barber’s observation, as he draws up his Budget.

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10.04.09

We should all be worried about David Cameron, not just the Foreign Office

The Foreign Office is worried about David Cameron, apparently. It is “most concerned about the effects Cameron’s anti-EU European policy will have on the UK’s chances of effecting outcomes”, the Guardian claims. Labour Councillor Bob Piper has also spotted this claim reported on the Sky News website.

We should all share the concerns of the Foreign Office. It is only in and through the EU that the UK can best serve our national interests and values. Bizarrely, Tory MEP Roger Helmer describes it as “indefensible, humiliating and wrong” that David Cameron has not yet fulfilled a promise to form a new grouping in the European Parliament with other parties that have been described as “openly and unashamedly racist and homophobic”. This promise suggests an inability to understand modern British values, let alone take them forward within the EU.

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03.04.09

Obama should read the FT, as well as give it interviews

Barack Obama may have granted his first UK interview to the FT. But, may be, he should read the FT a little more carefully. In particular, if he had of been following Martin Wolf’s column more closely, then he may not have stalled when responding to the question that Nick Robinson put to him yesterday.

“Unfortunately, no consensus exists on the underlying causes of this crisis or on the best ways to escape from it”, as Wolf notes. Robinson suggested to Obama that one’s views on the underlying causes of the crisis go a long way to determine one’s views on the best way to escape it. France and Germany are supposed to blame the crisis on “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” and so see its solution in a new global architecture of regulation. The UK and the USA are the citadels of “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” and are taken to be more attracted to fiscal stimulation. Thus, Robinson asked Obama to comment on the dividing line that he constructed between France/Germany and the UK/USA.

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31.03.09

The global citizenry still need governments to cooperate

“While government cooperation has declined”, writes Paul Collier in a fascinating article in the RSA Journal, “there has been an acknowledgement that global problems can only be addressed by common responses”. Gideon Rachman provides illustration of this decline in government cooperation in today’s FT. “If you look at Mr Obama’s top priorities, you get a sense of just how little the Europeans are prepared to give him. More help in Afghanistan? Most Europeans will do the bare minimum. A co-ordinated fiscal stimulus? Sorry, Europe is out of cash as well as troops”. If this really is the “most pro-American European leadership in living memory”, as Gordon Brown recently told a joint session of Congress, they have a funny way of embracing “the president that Europeans hoped and prayed for”, as Rachman correctly describes Barack Obama. It seems to me that European leadership presently provides more support for the thesis of Collier than that of Brown.

“Fortunately”, however, as Collier writes, “while the ability of governments to cooperate has declined, the ability of citizens to cooperate has increased. The Obama campaign was a spectacular demonstration of this at the national level, but there are examples internationally. It may be that cooperation at the level of civil society can be a substitute for that between governments in introducing common responses to global problems”. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an example given by Collier to support an argument that has much commonality with David Miliband’s thinking on the – apologies for the jargon – “we can” generation. Essentially, this is about citizen-centric policy on a global scale, which is all very exciting, but apologies for layering jargon upon jargon.

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30.01.09

The immense power of human vanity

Lionel Barber, FT editor, thinks that one of the most underrated events of the past year was “the G20 summit in Washington featuring the leading industrialised nations as well as Brazil, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia”, because it “lay bare the new political constellation in the world, with power shifting to east of the Euphrates”. This video gives a funky illustration of this power shift and the exceptional nature of our times. Faceback is citied in the video as an illustration of the role of technological innovation in making our times exceptional. Mark Zuckerberg of this social networking site has been described by Barber as the person that he most admires in the media. “He is cool, understated, and possessed of a brilliant business focus and an understanding of the power of human vanity”. To what extent is the eastwards political power shift driven by technology and to what extent is technology driven by human vanity?

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30.01.09

The immense power of human vanity

Lionel Barber, FT editor, thinks that one of the most underrated events of the past year was “the G20 summit in Washington featuring the leading industrialised nations as well as Brazil, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia”, because it “lay bare the new political constellation in the world, with power shifting to east of the Euphrates”. This video gives a funky illustration of this power shift and the exceptional nature of our times. Faceback is citied in the video as an illustration of the role of technological innovation in making our times exceptional. Mark Zuckerberg of this social networking site has been described by Barber as the person that he most admires in the media. “He is cool, understated, and possessed of a brilliant business focus and an understanding of the power of human vanity”. To what extent is the eastwards political power shift driven by technology and to what extent is technology driven by human vanity?

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