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31.12.09

The left and the web

The convincing portrait painted by James Crabtree of a possible future Cameron government having to “square up to a turbocharged swarm of pissed-off progressives with laptops” reminds me of my blog claim, post Moir-gate, that the left will need no vanguard to stay alive.

I also note that Ray Takeyh writes in the Washington Post today:

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27.10.09

Nick Clegg either doesn’t believe in the EU or isn’t really a politician

It is difficult to overstate the strategic importance to the EU of Turkey. So, a sense of regret and concern should be felt across the union when Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister, says of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s Holocaust denying President, that “there is no doubt he is our friend.” But Europe has not been awash with such sentiment in recent days because, as Philip Stephens argues, Europe has clung to the past as Turkey has turned east.

Must Europe wither? It surely shall if we do not wake up and smell the coffee and move on from the navel gazing and introversion that have marked recent years. Tony Blair suggested three years ago that the big distinction in politics was between open societies and those which were closed. “If you take any of the big motivating debates in politics today”, argued Blair, “each essentially has, at its core, this question: ‘Do we open up? Albeit with rules and controls, or do we hunker down, do we close ourselves off and wait till the danger has passed? Is globalisation a threat or an opportunity?'” The EU has chosen to hunker down, to close itself off, not just to Turkey but to a world that is hurtling towards a G2 in which there is no place at the top table for Europeans.

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30.07.09

The revolution may be televised but it won't be spun

The Strange Death of Tory England was declared by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in 2005 and Matthew Engel saw no signs of rebirth in Norwich North:

“The voters of Norwich North could hardly have elected anyone who was more of an obvious recruit to the old politics”.

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30.07.09

The revolution may be televised but it won’t be spun

The Strange Death of Tory England was declared by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in 2005 and Matthew Engel saw no signs of rebirth in Norwich North:

“The voters of Norwich North could hardly have elected anyone who was more of an obvious recruit to the old politics”.

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14.06.09

One of Obama’s moments of decision

Donald Macintyre wrote yesterday:

“Assuming that (Benjamin) Netanyahu does not take the world by surprise tomorrow, confront his nationalists head on, pledge a total settlement freeze, and commit himself to a Palestinian state during his premiership, then the American response will be all-important. Tomorrow night will be a crucial test for the Israeli Prime Minister. The day after, an almost as crucial one for the President of the United States”.

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14.06.09

One of Obama's moments of decision

Donald Macintyre wrote yesterday:

“Assuming that (Benjamin) Netanyahu does not take the world by surprise tomorrow, confront his nationalists head on, pledge a total settlement freeze, and commit himself to a Palestinian state during his premiership, then the American response will be all-important. Tomorrow night will be a crucial test for the Israeli Prime Minister. The day after, an almost as crucial one for the President of the United States”.

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03.06.09

China and contested modernity

I think I am noticing something of a theme in the Economist of late. On 28 May they noted:

“How times change. When George Bush’s treasury secretaries first visited China, Wall Street was booming, America’s economy was growing and the president’s emissaries routinely lectured their Chinese hosts on the need for freer financial markets and a more flexible yuan. But as Tim Geithner, the current treasury secretary, prepares to make his maiden trip to Beijing on May 31st, Wall Street is synonymous with greed and failure, America’s economy is on its knees and it is the Chinese who have been doing the lecturing. With America’s budget deficit soaring and the Fed’s printing presses running at full speed, China is complaining loudly of the risks that inflation and depreciation pose to its huge stash of dollars, and arguing for an alternative to the greenback as the world’s reserve currency”.

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20.05.09

Must Europe wither?

The point of Roger Casale, which I highlighted in my last post, seems all the stronger in light of an observation made by Martin Wolf today.

“The relationship between the US and China will become more central, with India waiting in the wings. The relative economic weight and power of the Asian giants seems sure to rise. Europe, meanwhile, is not having a good crisis. Its economy and financial system have proved far more vulnerable than many expected. Yet how far a set of refurbished and rebalanced institutions for international co-operation will reflect the new realities is, as yet, unknown”.

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22.02.09

Is my mind occupied?

“Equality and justice are the only ends of socialism, everything else is means”. This sentence from Roy Hattersley probably gets as close as any sentence to capturing the fundamental essence of my political beliefs. These are beliefs that stretch back to Immanuel Kant via Roy Hattersley, an acolyte of Tony Crosland, who was an advocate of the “democratic equality” propagated by John Rawls, and Eduard Bernstein, the Marxist revision who argued that “Kant was not cant” and upon whom Crosland self-consciously modelled his thought. This constitutes a fertile heritage of moral and political philosophy on the nature of equality and justice and the application of these concepts to politics. So it came as rather a shock on Friday night to be told that I might have to liberate myself from a mental occupation by this heritage if I am to properly understand and take forward my stated objectives: equality and justice.

Alastair Crooke provided this revelation in a talk he gave to City Circle on his new book ResistanceThis book argues that the heritage from which my politics flows is one in which individualism remains “the organisational principle around which society, politics and economics are organised”. My social democratic views might seek to humanise markets and the individualism upon which markets are based. But, ultimately, they accept them. In contrast, it is argued, political Islam rejects markets in favour of a world view that insists upon a primacy for “human beings behaving to one another with justice, equality and compassion”.

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