Tony Hall's successor as BBC director general faces a radically changed media landscape

A hostile government, competition for young audiences and stripping over-75s of their free TV licences are just some of the challenges.  The in-tray for the next director general of the BBC is already piled high. Tony Hall did a good job in stabilising the ship after the crisis caused by the Jimmy Savile revelations, and he has presided over the
| News |

Brexit: UK immigration will 'put people before passports', Johnson tells African leaders

PM’s light-on-detail speech at investment summit extols benefits of trade after EU exit Boris Johnson has promised that the UK’s new immigration policy will put “people before passports” as he used his first set-piece speech of 2020 to extol the benefits of trade with post-Brexit Britain to a major gathering of African leaders. Addressing more than two dozen African presidents and prime ministers in an opening speech to the UK-Africa investment summit in London on Monday, the prime minister
| Boris Johnson |

Sajid Javid has made clear the UK’s Brexit position. So why do so many think the government is bluffing?

The Chancellor’s rhetoric isn’t a surprise but the government has yet to match that commitment in reality.  Sajid Javid has spooked British businesses by telling the Financial Times that: “There will not be alignment [with the European Union], we will not be a rule-taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union
| News |

Britain must open a new chapter in its relationship with Africa

Economic growth in African countries has triggered a global race for influence. Britain cannot afford to be left behind Africa is the coming continent. Its population is predicted to double to 2 billion people over the next three decades. That growth will mean enormous opportunities for business and investment, but will also create huge challenges around sustainability and the environment. An Africa focus is therefore essential, particularly for a post-Brexit Britain. As the UK rethinks its standing in
| Global development |

Brexit’s next chapter: The ‘impossible’ deal

Author:  Sun, 2020-01-19 23:39 BRUSSELS: With just two weeks to go before Brexit, European diplomats are preparing for the next phase — intense negotiations to hammer out a future with the UK after its EU divorce. Brussels is braced for new rounds of Brexit battles, aware that a bullish Prime Minister Boris Johnson is feeling reinvigorated after a decisive electoral victory in
| News |

What now for the humbled Liberal Democrats?

Exclusive: Five Liberal Democrat MPs are considering standing for the leadership as intense divisions emerge over Jo Swinson’s leadership and the party’s future direction. When it became clear to Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson that she had lost her seat at last month’s general election, she didn’t cry. At least not in front of anyone. Instead, the first question she
| News |

Evening Call: I am really starting to hope I was wrong about Brexit

I’ve spent years yelling at anybody who cares to listen that Brexit was a bad idea. If it turns out that I’m right about that, I won’t find any comfort in the fact. In the grip of insomnia a few nights back, I realised something important: I really, really want to have been wrong about Brexit.
| News |

How a 40-year-old Welsh folk song reached number one in the UK singles chart

An independence campaign group in Wales pushed the song up the charts. Why now, and what does it tell us about modern Britain? Every now and again, a song comes along that really “captures” the moment. It may be an unexpected lyric that encapsulates a deeply suppressed feeling (take, for example, Katy Perry’s iconic “do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”).
| News |

The Conservatives are finally developing a serious plan to stop Scottish independence

As well as forging a new unionist narrative, the government is expected to spend lavishly in Scotland.  Theresa May was an authentically unionist prime minister. Rare was the speech that failed to mention her love for the four nations of the UK and she was of course a staunch opponent of Scottish independence. Despite the rhetoric, though, May
| News |

Will Sadiq Khan endorse Keir Starmer for the Labour leadership?

Both former human rights lawyers, both hailing from Labour's soft left, Starmer and Khan have known each other for more than 20 years. Before the ballot opens next month, the Labour leadership election is a contest for endorsements. Keir Starmer has won the support of Unison, the UK’s largest trade union; Rebecca Long-Bailey has the backing of Momentum and
| News |

UK channels aid budget as it seeks closer ties with Africa post-Brexit

£395m trade boost is aimed at countering China’s spending on the continent Britain has unveiled plans to channel part of the £14bn aid budget through the City as it seeks to exploit the global reach of the finance sector to boost investment in Africa. Details of the £395m package were announced by the international development secretary, Alok Sharma, ahead of a high-level UK-Africa investment summit next Monday. Continue reading...
| Business |

What Labour leadership candidates are telling the grassroots – and why

The statements circulated by the contenders to local parties reveal much about how they intend to win - and the post-Corbyn Labour Party's political consensus. With nominations from MPs and MEPs in the bag, the five Labour leadership candidates to have reached the second round of the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn must now woo trade unions, affiliated socialist societies, and
| News |

The government has wasted vast sums on unbuilt hospitals - but PFI is a hard habit to break

A new report by the National Audit Office finds that Liverpool will wait another five years to use its new hospital. But with huge spending pledges on the NHS, will PFI rear its head again? At last year’s Conservative Party conference, Boris Johnson committed to building “40 new hospitals” in England over the next ten years. The Institute for Fiscal Studies
| News |

Rebecca Long-Bailey to compete with Keir Starmer for TSSA Labour leadership nomination

The Corbynite transport union will ballot its members on whether to support Keir Starmer or Long-Bailey, in a blow to the latter. Good news for Rebecca Long-Bailey: the shadow business secretary is one step closer to securing her first affiliate nomination of the Labour leadership race. Bad news for Rebecca Long-Bailey: she has failed to win outright the nomination of
| News |

Rebecca Long-Bailey misses out on TSSA Labour leadership nomination

The Corbynite transport union will ballot its members on whether to support Keir Starmer or Long-Bailey, in a blow to the latter. Good news for Rebecca Long-Bailey: the shadow business secretary is one step closer to securing her first affiliate nomination of the Labour leadership race. Bad news for Rebecca Long-Bailey: she has failed to win outright the nomination of
| News |

How Labour leadership candidates should answer the Scotland question

Labour’s problem over recent decades is that it has largely been dragged to a position of constitutional reform more by a fear of nationalism than coherent advocacy of reform. Since all the Labour leadership candidates are English, it is perhaps inevitable that they might stumble over the Scottish question. But as Boris Johnson issues a bald "no" to Nicola Sturgeon’s request for a
| News |

China launching ‘most intense attack’ on int’l rights – Human Rights Watch

By Peter Hutchison China is using its economic and diplomatic might to carry out the “most intense attack” ever on the global system for protecting human rights, a leading campaign group said on Tuesday, sparking a furious response from a Chinese official. Human Rights Watch made the allegation in its annual report, launched at the United Nations headquarters in New York two days after executive director Kenneth Roth was barred from entering Hong Kong to release it
| Defence & Foreign Policy, Politics & Protest, SinoBeat |

Boris Johnson’s Tory opponents seek refuge as select committee chairs

Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark are among those seeking new power bases as Tory resistance to the government takes shape. One of the ways in which Jeremy Corbyn’s internal opponents reconciled themselves to his leadership – or didn’t – was to seek election as the chairs of select committees. Under any other Labour leader, Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn and Rachel
| News |

First Thoughts: Climate change deniers, a royal debacle and the tyranny of open-plan offices

Even if half the planet’s population were burning, the global heating deniers would still blame a left-green conspiracy. Climate change deniers, with Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspapers and TV channels to the fore, have an explanation for the unprecedented fires that devastated large parts of Australia. It’s all the fault of the greens. “Ecological religious fundamentalism”, to quote a columnist for
| News |

Lisa Nandy is no longer a Labour leadership dark horse, she is one of the favourites

*/ At a party meeting in Lewisham last night, the Wigan MP enthralled Labour members.  Mark the date. Yesterday was the day the momentum shifted. Around midday, Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy won the backing of the National Union of Miners –  a hugely resonant endorsement that also takes her closer to advancing to the next stage of the contest
| News |

Why Lisa Nandy is defending free movement

The Labour leadership candidate moved to dispel impressions she is the candidate of migration controls in a speech this afternoon. Is Lisa Nandy the leadership candidate of tougher immigration controls? That’s the question Labour MPs and members are asking of the ascendant Wigan MP this week – and she has sought to answer it conclusively in a speech at the RSA this afternoon. 
| News |

Four things we learned from this week’s PMQs

How interventionist can, or should, the government be? That is the biggest strategic question facing Boris Johnson.  Boris Johnson is in an interventionist mood – but for how long? Gill Furniss, the Labour member for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, opened with a question that exposed the political and economic challenge facing the Conservative Party in this
| News |

Leader: The return of the state

Electoral incentives are leading the Conservatives to revise their fundamentalist faith in free markets. The Conservatives are more electorally dominant than at any time since the Thatcher era, but they do not enjoy a comparable ideological dominance. At last year’s general election they endorsed policies typically associated with their political opponents: increased public spending, a higher minimum wage and borrowing for state
| News |

British Airways-owner slams Flybe rescue

Author:  AFP ID:  Wed, 2020-01-15 10:48 LONDON: British Airways parent IAG on Wednesday attacked the UK government over its last-minute rescue deal of no-frills carrier Flybe. Employing around 2,000 people, British airline Flybe has failed to turn around its fortunes since it was purchased one year ago by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic.
| News |

Evening Call: Brexit is happening – but why do we have to be happy about it?

Is it just me, or is there something ever so slightly sinister about all this festival of joy stuff? There’s a 1988 Doctor Who story in which the Doctor and his companion Ace land on a planet with an authoritarian regime obsessed with eliminating sadness by, essentially, killing anyone who experiences it. This story – which is
| News |

Watchdog confirms Grayling’s probation privatisations have failed

A report released by the government’s probation watchdog has said that the publicly-owned probation services are better than those which former justice minister Chris Grayling outsourced to the private sector. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prison’s report said that the publicly-run National Probation Service (NPS) is “in general” better than privately-run Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). According to Justin Russell, Chief Inspector of Probation: “In general, the quality of case supervision
| Left Foot Forward, Gauke, HMIP |

The Deaths of Gig Workers Are Not Freak Incidents, but the Result of a Brutal Business Model

The gig economy has begun the new decade with yet another death. On Friday 3 January, an Uber Eats and Deliveroo rider was stabbed after an altercation with a car driver in what has become an all too familiar scenario over the last few years. Colleagues of the rider have since come forward as victims of  similar attacks , and only last May, an  Uber Eats driver was beaten to death  while attempting to stop his scooter from
| Articles, Uncategorised, gig economy |

Evening Call: Five candidates apiece for Labour's leadership and deputy races

Clive Lewis alone doesn’t make the next stage.  It’s on! The parliamentary stage of the Labour leadership contest is over and five candidates have won the 22 nominations from MPs/MEPs required to proceed to the next round. They are, with their number of nominations in brackets: Keir Starmer (89) and Rebecca Long-Bailey (33), the two widely seen as the frontrunners; as
| News |

In Full: Hong Kong judiciary has set up ‘task force’ to deal with large number of protest-related trials, says top judge

Hong Kong’s top judge said on Monday that the judiciary has set up a task force to examine how the courts can cope with the sharp rise in criminal trials related to the ongoing citywide protests. Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the legal year on Monday, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said the newly formed task force will look into “how best and how expeditiously” to handle the increased caseload, including the possibility of judges sitting for extended
| Hong Kong, Law & Crime, Politics & Protest |

Labour figures are starting to embrace the idea of a second independence referendum

A series of senior Labour figures have backed Scotland’s right to a second independence referendum. Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish is among those arguing the party’s current position on a referendum amounts to “voting against democracy.” McLeish, the party’s former leader, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “It’s important that you cannot keep voting against the idea of an indyref2 because you’re voting against democracy”. He argues that Labour “should
| Left Foot Forward, Movement Politics, indy ref 2 |

Why Labour’s leadership election is not a battle of left and centre

The risk for Corbynsceptics is that they allege Labour lurched to the left after 2015 – when the true source of the divide is more fundamental. The aftermath of December 12 th disastrous result for Labour has already shaken down to a standoff: between those who think you can have Corbyn’s approach without Corbyn, and those who say you need to
| News |

UK economy stalls as Brexit, political worries hit manufacturing output

Author:  AFP ID:  Mon, 2020-01-13 11:37 LONDON: Britain’s economy has stalled, official data showed Monday, as Brexit and political uncertainty contributed to slashing manufacturing output, heaping pressure on the Bank of England to cut interest rates. Gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent in November, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. It grew
| News |

What should we expect from this year’s mayoral elections?

Only Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram and Manchester’s Andy Burnham face a less stressful path back to office than London’s Sadiq Khan. Sadiq Khan has formally launched his campaign to be re-elected as London’s mayor in Kingston, a Liberal Democrat redoubt. It will be the second preferences of Liberal Democrat voters that will prove decisive in the May election, although no one really expects that
| News |

The child and the well: can ancient wisdom show Hong Kong a way through an uncertain future?

Suppose a man were, all of a sudden, to see a young child on the verge of falling into a well. He would certainly be moved to compassion… [“今人乍見孺子將入於井,皆有怵惕惻隱之心”, translation, D.C. Lau] So pondered Mencius, two and half millennia ago. Seven months in, and Hong Kong’s slow-motion topple into the well remains unattended. The government is nowhere to be seen, the Chinese Communist Party is ever more staunch in its support of the government’s complete absence of policies,
| Opinion, Politics & Protest, China Extradition |

Is Russian Imperialism in Syria, with its Vast Human Toll, a Vanity Project for Vladimir Putin?

Radwan Zyada | – ( Middle East Monitor ) – Russian President Putin made a surprise visit to Damascus [on January 7], during which he met Bashar Al-Assad, not at the Rawda Palace or the People’s Palace, where the latter customarily receives his guests, but rather at the headquarters of the Russian forces in Damascus. This is not the first time that Russian President Putin has insulted his Syrian counterpart. There was a famous incident at the Khmeimim
| Russia, Syria |

Evening Call: How the “Boris bus” became a white elephant

This man is negotiating Brexit. Some years ago, back when Boris Johnson was still London’s comedy mayor, rather than Britain’s tragedy prime minister, he came up with the spiffing new wheeze of bringing back the Routemaster. This particular bus, familiar from the background of a hundred movies set in swinging London, differed from yer bog-standard double-decker in two important
| News |

Labour has no easy answers. But its radical policies must stay

Jeremy Corbyn's successor must be able to win back the working-class communities we have lost, both Leave and Remain – or we face another decade of Tory rule and the devastation it will bring. At the dawn of the last decade, we saw a crushing defeat of Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, ushering in a devastating era of Tory-led austerity. It was the
| News |

Boris Johnson needs to decide what he actually wants out of Brexit

The government is approaching the next phase of the Brexit talks with a series of objectives that can’t be reconciled with each other. Is power-sharing on the way back in Northern Ireland? The British and Irish governments have brokered a deal that could restore government at Stormont, but both major parties need to agree for the accord to hold. What's
| News |

Why a Downing Street spokesman will sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the SDLP

The nationalist party’s appointment of Westminster commentator and former civil servant Matthew O’Toole to its vacant seat in South Belfast says much about its ambition for the 2020s. Co-options to the Northern Ireland Assembly – the process by which vacant seats are filled by direct appointment rather than a by-election – are never noticed at Westminster. The most recent, however, has
| News |

Brexit bill progress is ‘nail in the coffin’ of the union, nationalist MPs say

The Scottish National Party have said Johnson’s Brexit bill is the “final nail in the coffin” for the broken union, with Scotland now facing being dragged out of the EU against their will by a government with no mandate in their country. The bill was rushed through Westminster yesterday, Thursday 9 January, at its Third Reading on Tory votes, despite 90 per cent of Scottish MPs opposing the bill and Scottish parliament withholding consent.
| Brexit & Foreign Policy, Brexit, Brexit deal |

Of Flying Mice and Corseted Courtesans

Berlin. Spurred more by ethnographic fascination than by the pursuit of artistic uplift or even a desire for quality entertainment, I hatched a plan to brave that most Germanic of seasonal obligations: taking in Johann Strauss’s operetta Die Fledermaus over Christmas. A friend from London was also in Berlin and when I floated the possibility of buying tickets for the batty hijinks on offer at the Deutsche Opera he sent this email shot across my bow:
| articles 2015 |

Russia and Syrian independence

Russian President Putin made a surprise visit to Damascus, during which he met Bashar Al-Assad, not at the Rawda Palace or the People’s Palace, where the latter customarily receives his guests, but rather at the headquarters of the Russian forces in Damascus. This is not the first time that Russian President Putin has insulted his Syrian counterpart. There was a famous incident at the Khmeimim Air Base, the video of which was widely circulated on social media platforms when the
| Article, Asia & Americas, Europe & Russia |

Why devolution could return to Northern Ireland tomorrow

After a three-year impasse, the British and Irish governments have agreed a deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont. But will the parties play ball? Devolved government in Northern Ireland could return as early as tomorrow after the British and Irish governments agreed a deal to restore power-sharing after a three-year absence. Speaking on the third anniversary of the resignation
| News |

Why devolution could return to Northern Ireland

After a three-year impasse, the British and Irish governments have agreed a deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont. But will the parties play ball? Devolved government in Northern Ireland could return as early as tomorrow after the British and Irish governments agreed a deal to restore power-sharing after a three-year absence. Speaking on the third anniversary of the resignation
| News |

Evening Call: Is Keir Starmer moving into pole position?

Labour looks to its other comfort zone. Strange, in its way, how quickly things can change. Only a few days ago, it felt like Rebecca Long-Bailey was the  one to beat  in the Labour leadership race. She was, after all, the candidate of the left, Corbyn and McDonnell’s anointed successor – even if, whatever her talents, the shadow business
| News |

Spain’s new government could play an outsized European role

If it overcomes domestic instability, the Socialist-Podemos coalition can reshape the EU. Its opponents call it the “Frankenstein government”. The centre-left Socialist (PSOE) and hard-left Unidas Podemos (UP) parties that will make up Spain’s first coalition government since the pre-Franco era hold only 155 of 350 parliamentary seats and relied on eight additional parties to win a vote of confidence on
| News |

Brexit is happening right now. Why aren't we paying attention?

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill will complete its passage through the Commons today – what does that mean and why is it being sidelined in the media? Brexit is a process, not an event. How else can you explain the three and a half years of torturous wrangling that have dominated British politics since the 2016 EU referendum? Within that
| News |

Why it’s absurd to hail the return of the “Roaring Twenties”

For the UK, the 1920s were a decade of profound economic pain and political conflict. The current decade may be little better.  The 2010s were the decade without a name. Though the last ten years were hardly uneventful – the Syrian civil war, the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote – no succinct label ever
| News |