Blog Archives

Are Boris and Donald playing ‘The Great Game’?

A Sunday Times allegation that nine wealthy Russians have donated to Britain’s Conservative Party is leading some to suspect that disturbing evidence is being withheld at this time in order to safeguard its election prospects. Two expatriate oligarchs named, former allies of President Putin, are now British citizens. As David Slinger asks, (Gloucester Citizen, 2811.19) “Do we have a democratic right to see the reports?”

Would publication of the parliamentary report – which has passed security checks – shine a spotlight on the bankrolling of their party by disaffected millionaire Russian oligarchs?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has – to date – refused to publish the findings – thought to present evidence of covert Russian attempts to influence the outcome of 
the referendum and 2017 general election gathered by UK intelligence.

David Fromkin (Foreign Affairs) once wrote that the history of Britain’s participation in ‘The Great Game’ (see Kipling) ‘gains interest and possible significance from the American decision in our own time to contest Russian expansion on much the same battlefield’. Despite a temporary parliamentary setback pictured above, is the ‘Game’ afoot and will America – as usual – expect British diplomatic, intelligence and military support when required?

The US government is understandably apprehensive as Russia is increasing its influence in the Middle East and has also been co-operating with China – the latest move being a partnership in a $55 billion pipeline which the WSJ sees as ‘challenging the economic and strategic clout of the U.S’.

Work on the Power of Siberia pipeline project

Richard House wonders why opposition parties haven’t made the report a major general election issue, as it is ‘potential dynamite for the whole Brexit cause’.

Foreign Policy mentions ‘pervasive reports—never quite conclusively denied by the Foreign Office—that during Johnson’s time as foreign secretary, direct oversight of MI6, the foreign intelligence service, was quietly moved out of his portfolio because of his rather startling ‘Russian connections

If the report does cast significant doubt on the narrow referendum result to leave, Richard House adds, the whole legitimacy of Brexit would be thrown into doubt and the Tory Party would be in total meltdown.

 

 

 

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Will the next general election be the last under First Past the Post?

On Saturday, as the campaign for proportional representation gathers strength in Britain, Richard House draws attention to a statement by his MP, David Drew (right):

I’ve long supported electoral reform, which is why I’m backing the Make Votes Matter campaign for proportional representation.

I’m one of 20 or so Labour parliamentary candidates, along with Polly Toynbee, Billy Bragg and others, who’ve signed this letter published in The Guardian today.

We must now commit to reviewing the voting system, especially as the Brexit crisis has tested our constitution to near destruction and left millions feeling unrepresented at Westminster.

We must lead the way to a democratic rebirth – transforming the current political paralysis and creating a democracy that works for the many, not the few.  We call on Labour to pledge that the constitutional convention will review the voting system in the forthcoming manifesto.

The following day Reuters reported that about 20,000 people campaigning for proportional representation rallied in the centre of the Georgian capital Tbilisi

They are demanding an early general election because the parliament had failed to pass a planned electoral reform, an immediate move to full proportional representation, scheduled to happen in 2024.

The main opposition parties joined forces to demand an earlier vote to be held by proportional system, the resignation of the government and the creation of an interim government. Activists put locks on parliament’s gates in a symbolic gesture and pitched tents around the building.

A search reveals that of the 43 countries within Europe, 40 use some form of proportional representation to elect their MPs and according to the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, some form of proportional representation is used for national lower house elections in 94 countries.

Why doesn’t ‘democratic’ Britain already have proportional representation?

  Time for change

 

 

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Corbyn’s conditions have been met: 28 EU member states give assurances that the No Deal option is off the table

 

Labour decided to agree to an election during an hour-long shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning at the party’s headquarters in Westminster.

The Financial Times switched to tabloid mode:

“Labour bowed to the inevitable”

“Boxed in’ by the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National party move to trigger a snap poll Jeremy Corbyn supports December poll despite gloomy forecasts”

“Jeremy Corbyn has faced accusations of dithering in recent weeks over how to end the Brexit impasse”

“He felt compelled to jump off the fence”

Not so: Jeremy Corbyn was able to agree to an election because assurances had been given by all 28 EU member states that the No Deal option was off the table. This fact was stated in a video embedded in an article focussing on the reactions of Labour’s back-bench rebels.

In the video, Corbyn delivers his thoughtful and well-considered decision in a manner sharply contrasting with these media offerings.

 

 

 

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Dave: 50% fair all round?

david cameron pmqA minimum 50% turnout in union strike ballots  and a 40% mandate is proposed – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34241810.

In fairness,  should David Cameron advocate this as the norm for general elections?