Russia-West Relations In The Age Of Fragmentation

The world is arguably more fragmented and polarised than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War. The wave of optimism and internationalism that swept all before it in the 1990s has given way to a rising tide of nationalism. The seemingly unstoppable forward march of liberal democracy has been halted in its tracks and forced to retreat, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the forces of tribalism, nativism and authoritarianism. Putinist Russia is at the vanguard of the zero-sum game mind-set that has come to define this age of fragmentation that has driven the rise of Trump, Orban, Le Pen, Salvini, Bolsonaro, the Brextremists, and a plethora of nationalist parties such as the AfD and the Sweden Democrats. Disdain for multilateralism and international organisations is the red thread that runs through and between every one of these individuals and the movements that they lead. To them, compromise, moderation and pragmatism are dirty words. Continue reading

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

Statement On Junction 41

Commenting on a report produced for the Welsh Government into the monitoring of vehicle emissions between Junction 41 & Junction 42, which includes the option of closing the junction as a possible way to reduce pollution and meet legal requirements on emissions, Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said,   “It is deeply disappointing to see a fresh threat to close junction 41 emerge. Last time the proposals were widely rejected by the local community, who came together to fight, and win, a long and difficult campaign to keep the junction open. 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

New book: 'Spirit of Britain, Purpose of Labour' published

Download the book here Our country is more polarised than at any time since the Second World War – by age, education, place and wealth - but above all by values. On one side of the Great Values Divide we have the Cosmopolitans – typically university educated, urban, highly mobile and confident in the modern, globalised world. On the other the Communitarians – often non-graduates who value familiarity, security and community, and have experienced the profound changes of the last 40 years as loss.  The EU referendum deepened these divides; the 2017 General Election entrenched them. 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