Thursday, 4 August 2016

State of Play

We live in interesting times! - and frankly, worrying times. My nightmare scenario involves

Trump winning the US Presidency (though losing it may bring its own problems - he's already talking about a conspiracy to 'steal the election' from him!)

The Labour Party in Britain opting for purity over power, and re-electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader of a dysfunctional opposition. That might increase the chances of the Scots moving closer to independence as Tory hegemony over Westminster extends beyond the short term.

Sarkozy or Le Pen winning the French Presidency....

Today I will summarise the state of play in the various UK party leadership elections.


Owen Smith is challenging the incumbent Jeremy Corbyn for leader. Edible voters (Labour Party members; Registered supporters (who signed up and paid during a brief window in July) and Affiliated Supporters (members of affiliated trade unions, socialist societies and other affiliated organisations who individually sign up as affiliated supporters before next Monday) - will be sent ballot papers (Members only) and an email with instructions on voting electronically - from 22nd August. Ballot papers must be returned (or online voting completed) by noon on 21st September. The result be be announced immediately prior to the start of the Labour Conference the following weekend.

Owen Smith's website can be accessed at http://www.owen2016.com

Jeremy Corbyn's website can be accessed at http://www.jeremycorbyn.org.uk 


The favourite to succeed Nigel Farage was disqualified because computer problems meant his online application was only successfully received minutes AFTER the deadline closed. (you couldn't make this up! - but serves as a warning to any students submitting essays or eTMAs (OU) close to the cut off time!!!)

The candidates are

Jonathan Arnott - an MEP for North East England. Aged 35

Phillip Broughton - a former UKIP candidate in the parliamentary seat of Hartlepool

Lisa Duffy - A Cambridgeshire councillor , who is a party organiser. She is a former chief of staff for Patrick O'Flynn - a UKIP MEP. If she wins, he will be HER deputy.

Bill Etheridge - 46 year old who is both an MEP and a Dudley councillor.

Diane James - an MEP for South East England - an admirer of Putin.

Elizabeth Jones - a member of UKIPs NEC and the deputy chair of UKIP in Lambeth.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A new approach to politics

I am seeking to start a debate about the future of politics - not just in the UK (where I made this video) but in other democracies.

Please submit any comments - either on this blog - or directly to me at washminster@me.com

Monday, 18 July 2016

Today in The Lords

Last week turned out to be a little busier than expected. So no predictions rom me - but you might be Interested in the first three questions in the Lords this afternoon -

Baroness Mobarik to ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to bring together all communities following the result of the European Union referendum.
*Baroness Deech to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to clarify the conditions for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.
*Lord Tyler to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the stage, or stages, at which Parliament’s authority should be sought as part of the negotiation for leaving the European Union. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

This week in the Lords

As employers (and employees) have known down the centuries - job security enhances independence. This also applies to the House of Lords. There's no de-selection if a Peer speaks his or her mind - upsetting the party hierarchy. As a result the House of Lords is harder to manage - and questions can be direct and embarrassing, especially for the Government.

The full business for this week can be found on the parliamentary website - www.parliament.uk but I'd like to highlight some matters which will be coming up.

Today, in the 30 minutes of oral questions - subjects relevant to my home city of Milton Keynes come up. One is about continuing the centuries old practice of printing master copies of Acts of Parliament on vellum. This is done in Newport Pagnell. The other question concerns when the Government can terminate a rail franchise where it has failed to provide the service required. This is about Southern Railway - which used to provide a service through west London onto Croydon from Milton Keynes.

Tomorrow a question will be put by Lord Roberts of Llandudno about how the government intends to fulfill its promise to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020.

On Wednesday Lord McKenzie of Luton will ask how the government intends "to address the causes of the increase in the number of council tenants in receipt of Universal Credit who are in rent arrears"

Thursday will see a debate on the case for tackling the causes of poverty in the UK.

The Investigatory Powers Bill will be considered in Committee (of the whole House) today and on Wednesday

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Crossing the Atlantic

I've just returned from a stimulating conference in Plymouth. It began on Independence Day, in the city where the Pilgrim Fathers last left the British Isles as they headed for America.

The conference was organised by the Transatlantic Studies Association - and it was their 15th Annual Conference. The Association brings together many disciplines - so we had a wide menu of workshops - which ranged from literature to history, through International Relations and on to politics. There were also keynote lectures each day. We began with a roundtable involving representatives from sister organisations (I took part on behalf of the American Politics Group). I found the whole conference incredibly stimulating. The conference programme is available here. Recent events - the Brexit vote - dominated discussions and conversations around the conference, as did the upcoming elections in the USA. Delegates came from across Europe and from Canada and the USA.

We also had a dinner at the National Marine Aquarium - which had a fantastic backdrop with fish swimming around as we ate and listened.

Details of the Transatlantic Studies Association can be found at http://www.transatlanticstudies.com