Why nobody should be surprised by the Liberal Democrat showing in Witney

The main story of yesterday’s by-election for David Cameron’s former Parliamentary seat in Witney has been an apparent Liberal Democrat surge.  It was a good result, but it is one that should suprise nobody – because in recent months there has been a consistent pattern of strong Liberal Democrat results in areas where they are […]

A vote for soft fascism

Yesterday’s vote to leave the EU is a leap into the unknown. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the winning side hasn’t a clue what happens next.  No exit strategy, no negotiating brief.  Only a vague perception that “we have taken our country back”, and a lot of noise and fury about immigration;  a vote distinguished […]

Brexit and the politics of irrationality

A few miles from where I am sitting, something altogether disturbing is about to happen.  There appears to be every sign that, in the South Wales valleys, thousands of people in one of the most deprived areas of the UK – one whose Less Developed Region status under EU rules means that it is a […]

Joining the dots? Labour’s State of the Economy conference

Yesterday in London, the Labour Party held its State of the Economy conference, in which more than 700 Labour members came together for debate on the Party’s economic policy for the next election and beyond. It’s remarkable that this event should have happened at all.  Economic policy has long been untouchable, forged by the professional […]

The Duncan Smith resignation: fundamentally shifting the economic debate

With the departure of Ian Duncan Smith from the Cabinet, commentators are spending much time and effort analysing how the balance of politics within the Conservative Party has changed.  However, the text of Duncan Smith’s resignation letter raises some absolutely fundamental economic questions – and these have big implications for Labour too. The key paragraphs […]

2016 could be a great year for Labour – if the Party lets it

As the year turns, the political commentators are preoccupied with Labour’s apparent difficulties.  It’s hard to remember that in any normal times it would be the Tories that would be on the ropes.  There are three key issues on which the Tories are, potentially, in the most serious trouble: On Europe, the Tories remain as […]

Hilary Benn and the allure of business as usual

As oratory, Hilary Benn’s speech in the House of Commons winding up for the opposition on the Government’s motion on Syria was something very special.  The uninhibited passion was something that mainstream debate has lacked for a long time, especially from the Labour benches.  It was greeted by applause from both sides of the House, […]