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13.02.11

Egypt: The UK should always stand up for fundamental rights

Krishnan Guru-Murthy blogged last Thursday of an interview he had conducted with an Egyptian foreign ministry official:

“I didn’t need a diplomatic decoder to work out what he was really saying : “Britain doesn’t matter, who cares what it says?” Out on the streets they don’t have a much higher opinion of Britain with our mother of parliaments and democratic history – the refusal to back the protesters, the following of the Washington line, the use of almost exactly the same phrases as Mubarak about orderly transition, the need to avoid chaos, the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood and the need for broad based government – it has not exactly left London looking like a beacon of democratic hope. So here we are – 21st century democratic revolutionary thinking spreading across the middle east and Britain isn’t much liked by anyone on any side. That’s a tricky place to be for a declining world power.”

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03.11.09

Can UKIP save Labour? Or can Labour save itself?

Given that the Guardian now report that David “Cameron faces Eurosceptic backlash after Czech Lisbon treaty decision”, it seems an apt moment to revisit this question: “Could UKIP still save the day for Labour?”

Perhaps confounding expectations of what the Spectator would be like with Fraser Nelson as editor, James Forsyth at Coffee House has been quick to man the trenches on Cameron’s behalf and insist he “hasn’t broken a pledge on Europe”. Such activity from someone, who is, among “the leading commentators”, according to Danny Finkelstein, to well “understand what the Cameron team are trying to do” might suggest that this team is worried that UKIP could indeed save the day for Labour.

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23.07.09

Leszek Kolakowski RIP

Top stuff from Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian today, which alerted me to the death of a great man, Leszek Kolakowski, whose description of social democracy was one that Denis Healeymuch liked and which I do too:

“An obstinate will to erode by inches the conditions which produce avoidable suffering, oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy”.

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02.07.09

Côte d'Stupid

John Vidal writes absurdly in the Guardian:

“Wags in Cumbria are now calling the stretch between Millom and St Bees the Côte d’Atom – the greatest concentration of nuclear facilities in the world outside Chernobyl”.

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02.07.09

Côte d’Stupid

John Vidal writes absurdly in the Guardian:

“Wags in Cumbria are now calling the stretch between Millom and St Bees the Côte d’Atom – the greatest concentration of nuclear facilities in the world outside Chernobyl”.

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18.06.09

Realities that suggest a positive way forward for Labour

Some political realities need to be acknowledged if Labour is to move forward. These are:

First, Gordon Brown will lead Labour into the next General Election. The reaction (or, at least, non-resignation) of other leading figures in the party – particularly, Peter Mandelson, Alan Johnson and David Miliband – to James Purnell’s resignation finally confirmed this.

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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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06.05.09

Why is the UK attitude towards Thatcher so different from the US attitude to Reagan?

30 years since Margaret Thatcher’s election as PM. I enjoyed BBC Parliament’s coverage. But David Willetts is a Thatcherite no more. Boris Johnson is. Maybe, if he is to find the ambition for London that Philip Stephens says he still lacks, it will be a Thatcherite ambition. This at a time when The Spectator, the magazine that Johnson used to edit, of course, is urging David Cameron to live up to what they see as Thatcher’s legacy:

“The challenge for David Cameron is huge. If, as seems likely, he becomes Prime Minister next year, it will be his task to ensure that future generations do not look back on the years 1979-2009 as a blip — an aberrant resurgence — in the otherwise steady decay of a once great nation”.

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27.04.09

What will Garry Cook say now?

Garry Cook is executive chairman of Manchester City. In spite of the support of the Gallagher brothers, this is a football club whose claims to be “massive” are often joked about by their more successful neighbours, Manchester United. City’s argument was given somewhat more substance when Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai Prime Minister, bought the club a few years ago and started pumping his millions into it. This did not stop Human Rights Watch describing him as a “human-rights abuser of the worst kind”. Obviously, this charge related to his time as Thai Prime Minister, rather than an excessive application of the “hairdryer treatment” so beloved of footballing changing rooms. When asked about this alleged abuse, Cook responded:

“Is he a nice guy? Yes. Is he a great guy to play golf with? Yes. Does he have plenty of money to run a football club? Yes. I really care only about those three things. Whether he is guilty of something over in Thailand, I can’t worry … I worked for Nike who were accused of child-labour issues and I managed to have a career there for 15 years. I believed we were innocent of most of the issues. Morally, I felt comfortable in that environment”.

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19.04.09

Why did the right nation turn left? And will it turn back?

“After twenty per cent of conservatives voted for Obama”, wrote Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian yesterday, “the Republican party was left in tatters”. But it really isn’t so long ago – not quite five years – since John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge in The Right Nation, a book described as having a “Tocquevillian quality of informed impartiality”, chronicled the structural reasons in American society and politics for the conservative ascendency.

These reasons, argued these writers for The Economist in 2004, explained “why the Republican Party has won six of the past nine presidential elections and controls both houses of Congress, why every serious Democratic candidate for president supports mandatory sentencing and welfare reform, why the cultural capitals of Hollywood and Manhattan remain the exception and why the much disdained “flyover” land that lies between them is the rule”. The cultural capitals are Democratic citadels and this is the America which European visitors are most familiar with. The explanation for the conservative ascendency exists in the “disdained “flyover” land”, however.

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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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