Pride And Paranoia – The Putin Influence

Progress ‘What’s the definition of the Soviet Union?’ ‘Well, it’s where the workers pretend to work, and the bosses pretend to pay them.’ Of all the many jokes about the Soviet times that I heard during the three years that I lived in St Petersburg, this was probably my favourite. Why? Because that one short punch line tells you all you need to know about why so many Russians are so deeply cynical about rules, systems and institutions. Continue reading

Opaque Election Campaign Financing Threatens British Democracy

The Guardian The Electoral Commission’s decision to refer Leave.EU donor Arron Banks to the National Crime Agency for investigation has come not a moment too soon. Since February 2017 I’ve been asking the commission to do more to investigate how Banks’s money was spent during the EU referendum and, more recently, why he has refused to disclose the source of his money to the commission and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. On Thursday that call was answered, with the commission’s director of political finance and regulation, Bob Posner, speaking of suspicions that “money given … came from impermissible sources” and that Banks “knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided”. “Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed,” he said. Continue reading

Bring Together Cosmopolitans And The Communitarians To Avoid US-Style Culture Wars

(Photo credit: The Times News Syndication) The Times The news of a so-called “Make America Great Again” bomber targeting 11 different addresses of high-profile liberal Americans should serve as a stark warning to all Western democracies about the dangers that US-style culture wars can pose. These barbaric acts might be rare, but it would be wrong to dismiss the direct link between such extremism and the increased political polarisation taking place either side of the pond. Continue reading

Monday’s Budget Is The Tories’ Moment Of Truth - Will They Bring Our Divided Country Together, Or Will They Continue To Deepen The Splits?

South Wales Evening Post This year’s Westminster budget comes with the Westminster parliament in a state of disarray. Thanks to Tory in-fighting Theresa May has spent two years negotiating with her own party rather than with the European Union. Her scrambled ‘Chequers’ plan fails to solve the issue of the Irish border, and it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of forming the basis for our future relationship with Europe.  Continue reading

To Win The Next Election We Need To Show Communitarians That We Genuinely Share Their Values And Priorities

House Magazine It’s fair to say that my party came out of the 2017 general election on a high. We went into the campaign with low expectations, but Jeremy Corbyn’s energy, an inspiring manifesto and a clear, socialist anti-austerity message took us to 40% in the polls. Yet we still came second. And despite the shambles of the Conservative’s Brexit negotiations, the polls have barely moved an inch since. We should now be 20 points ahead, so why aren’t we? And why is our politics in this worrying state of paralysis and deadlock? Continue reading

Austerity Has left councils At Breaking Point, Westminster Must Give Them The Money They Desperately Need

Theresa May claims to not have a magic money tree, but whenever she raids the back of the sofa she always comes up with the money she needs: there was the £1bn she found for Northern Ireland and then the £20.5bn for the NHS. Well now she needs to go back to that sofa and find the money for local government because without the resources they need councils are teetering on the cliff edge. Continue reading

How To Oust The Tories And Reunite Our Deeply Divided Country

LabourList Britain is currently both polarised and paralysed. Our entire political system has fought itself to a standstill. This weak and divided Tory government is in disarray over Brexit, and parliament is in stalemate. Rees-Mogg and Johnson are doing all they can to pull us further towards a ‘no deal’ cliff edge – the type of Brexit that would run our economy into the ground, hit our public services even harder and ignite the bonfire of workers’ rights that Dominic Raab and his cronies could, until recently, only dream of. The sooner we get a Labour government, the better. Continue reading

This is the biggest threat to democracy we've ever faced in Britain

Independent This month, draft findings of the Electoral Commission’s investigation into Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit referendum campaign, were leaked, revealing Vote Leave of being guilty of breaking electoral law, on multiple accounts. They are expected to face the most hefty fines in the watchdog’s history. Then there was Cambridge Analytica, the disgraced big data company that was using misappropriated Facebook data to sell elections to the highest bidder and saw Facebook receive the maximum fine of £500,000. Then who could forget Nigel Farage's Leave.EU – the unofficial Brexit campaign bankrolled by the infamous insurance tycoon Arron Banks – which was recently found guilty of "multiple breaches of electoral law", fined £70,000 and referred to the Metropolitan Police for suspected criminal offences. Continue reading

Why I Am Defying My Party Whip And Voting For The Lords Brexit Amendment

This week the House of Commons will be asked to determine the type of Brexit our country seeks. Will MPs back a sensible lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that instructs Theresa May to negotiate a deal keeping Britain inside the European Economic Area, or will we risk a bad deal such as a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement which would do nothing for our services industries and lead inevitably to a hard border in Ireland? Or, worse still, will we allow the government’s profound incompetence to take us over the cliff edge into a "no deal" scenario, where tariffs and non-tariff barriers destroy the jobs and livelihoods of the very people we were elected to represent? Continue reading

With The EEA Vote, The Lords Can Set Theresa May On The Right Brexit Path

The House of Lords has so far responded in a robust, rational and highly effective manner to the government’s EU withdrawal bill. But the most important test of the peers’ resolve is yet to come. On Tuesday an amendment to the withdrawal bill will be tabled in the Lords that, if passed by the Commons, would commit the government to keeping the United Kingdom in the European Economic Area (EEA). Continue reading