On the morning of 28th October, 1931, Britain woke up to one of the most remarkable political events in British history.
Seeking approval for a bizarre coalition of Conservatives, dissident Labourites and Liberals, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald had gone to the country just two years into a Parliament. Having jettisoned his former party (Labour) whom he had led into government in 1929, MacDonald’s ‘National Government’ received a stunning mandate from the electorate: the parties making up the government won an astounding 67% of the votes and 90% of Parliamentary seats. The Tories alone won 55% of the national vote and 470 out of 615 seats, the last time that any political party has won a majority of the national vote.
By Olivia Hanks
Richard Murphy is in some ways an unlikely figure. A tax expert and former accountant, his views are resolutely anti-establishment: asked on air in 2012 to name the greatest threats to democracy, he responded “Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young”. Yet despite having some vociferous critics (as you would expect for someone whose raison d’être is forcing the wealthy to pay their share of tax), his influence is now being felt: as the architect of country-by-country reporting, which requires corporations to publish figures for every country in which they operate so that it is clear when profit has been moved into low-tax jurisdictions, he has helped to create a framework for taxation transparency worldwide. Country-by-country reporting has now been adopted by the OECD and the EU.Continue Reading
By Tara Gulwell
Sadiq Khan really put his foot in it last week when he tweeted out his intended speech for the 2017 Scottish Labour Conference. The section that read “There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race and religion” created a fierce backlash on social media. He was forced to clarify that he was “not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted – but […] we don’t need more division and separation.” But the damage was already done, and Khan’s controversial comments (coupled with some missteps by Corbyn and Dugdale) hung over the conference like the smell of rotten egg.
by Olivia Hanks
“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.Continue Reading
by Olivia Hanks
All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.
2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.
by Tara Gulwell
Content warning: mentions death row and execution.
Arriving at Angola prison is a bit like realising the horror film you’ve been watching is actually a documentary. Suddenly a landscape that was far removed from my own experience was coming into focus before me as I arrived at the gates. I’ve had family members who were imprisoned or have gone through the criminal justice system, but this was Angola. This was the Alcatraz of the South, one of the most violent subjects of intense fascination in American mythology.
by Rob Harding
We have an image problem, you and I – yeah, you and I. Us. Lefties. Radicals. The chances are – if you’re reading this site – that you’re fairly left-wing. You’re a general believer in the doctrine of ‘don’t be a dick to other people’ with the sub-clause of avoiding ‘fuck you, got mine’, even if our specific approaches to doing so differ. I’ll be speaking in very general terms in this article, because I have 1000 words to work with.