Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The madness of self-identification in a political party

Image result for transgender logosWhile one can guarantee that on the streets of British provincial towns, it is not exactly an issue high on most people’s agenda, it is clear that, on Twitter and in the political bubble that is Westminster politics, the tricky area of trans politics has in recent months taken a huge step into the limelight.

Last week, Labour, for the first time, declared that people who declare themselves to be trans should be accepted as such within the party, without question. Obviously it is not intrinsically “trans-phobic” to have concerns about the fairness or viability of a mechanical process, but that is exactly the charge now being levelled at anyone in that category. And such criticism is, in most cases, because people genuinely see that such a policy is open to abuse.

Like activist David Lewis who, to draw attention to the potential for abuse, declared himself a woman but only “on Wednesdays” and put himself forward to be Women’s Officer in his local CLP. Satire, yes, but an important point – who is to say he is any less worthy of consideration than someone who says he is a woman five days, or seven days a week? Where do you draw the line?

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Turkey’s democracy is crumbling

My new piece for Progress is about the sharp decline of Turkey as a functioning democracy (okay, it's never been perfect, but it's really headed down the wrong road now). Most interestingly, at least one journalist has recently been noting the marked similarity between President Erdogan's populist positioning and that of a certain party leader over here...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The shame of Barnet - losing a council because the voters think you're racist

Image result for welcome to barnet imagesThe general consensus of the UK media is that Labour did not achieve the result it needed to in the local elections last Thursday. As largely expected, it had lukewarm results in London overall and disappointing results outside.

But the most significant result of the night was surely that in Barnet, where the Tories in midterm, in London, actually regained a council that they recently lost to No Overall Control.

The reason? Unsurprisingly, the Jewish voters of Barnet, surely the council with the highest Jewish contingent in Britain, turned away from Labour in droves. Because they were fed up with Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism, two years after the Chakrabarti report. And, as the Jewish Chronicle’s Stephen Pollard pointed out:

Crucial point about Barnet is its not just Jewish Labour voters who have been disgusted by the party's handling of its antisemites - it's non Jews too.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Why McCluskey tried to bully moderates last week and why it didn't work

Wes Streeting (left), one of the five MPs attacked by McCluskey, among the
group who escorted Ruth Smeeth MP to the hearing of Marc Wadsworth,
who left her in tears at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report
A week ago, the leader of Britain's largest union, Unite, decided to wade into the anti-Semitism debate with size 10 boots on and have a very personal go at five named MPs. Essentially, he clearly hadn't got the memo from Corbyn where he accepted that the party really did have a problem with anti-Semitism and tried to cling onto the idea that it was a "smear", whipped up to destabilise the Dear Leader. He then went further, saying these MPs would be "held to account" (translation: deselected). It was a serious misreading of the gravity of the situation, in terms of both media and the party's representatives.

Firstly, kudos to the MPs concerned: Chris Leslie, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, Neil Coyle and Ian Austin. All five of them are people I have met at least briefly over the years, and they are all decent and politically sound, especially on this touchstone issue (yes Ian, I have moved on from the time you bawled me out over Gordon's laptop, or whatever it was).

You should all be proud to wear this threat as a badge of honour - you are being singled out, essentially, for defending Jews. Good on you. Right now, people need to stand up and be counted as a matter of honour.

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