Last week, two articles highlighted the most important strategic decisions facing Labor (“Quash talk of a Labor deal with SNP now, 2015 elections team urges Starmer”, News, and “A Lab-Lib pincer movement is the most effective way to strike fear into conservatives,” Commentary).
Fortunately for the party, the dilemma depicted in the first can be reversed by forming a progressive alliance, as discussed in the second. With more than a dozen SNP seats vulnerable to Lab-Lib-Green co-operation, a Britain-wide anti-Tory progressive alliance in the next election would also have the considerable advantage of allowing Labor to restore a Westminster presence in Scotland.
Llantwit Fardre, Mid Glamorgan, Wales
Andrew Rawnsley is right. A Lib-Lab pact is not just desirable, but necessary, if the goal is to defeat the conservatives. At present, the Liberal Democrats appear to be marginally centre-left social liberals, while Labor are centre-left social liberals.
In short, their goals and desires are no different. They both want to end more than a decade of outrageous conservative rule and so they need to pull themselves together and come together. In marginal remote seats, the Liberals or Labor would have to step down to give the Tory challengers the best chance of victory. It seems blindingly obvious and yet the unions, the hardliners, the Labor left and the Liberal Democrat right hesitate. They should focus on the big picture – overthrowing a corrupt and immoral (not to say incompetent) conservative regime. Pure ideology must be diluted for the greater good.
How to abolish student debt
The expected interest rate on student loans is outrageous, but that’s not the fundamental problem facing young people (“‘My future was stolen from me’: 12% interest rate on student loans condemned as outrageous », News). With so many people going to college, many 18-year-olds believe they’ll be doomed to second-rate careers if they don’t attend. They feel compelled to go to college and thus go into depressing debt.
There are far fewer jobs for graduates than graduates, so if the number of university places were cut in half, young people could find themselves in the same jobs, but starting three years earlier and debt-free. Society should decide which graduates it needs and in which subjects and should provide free tuition and maintenance, as was the case before. It would cost money, but so would forgiving student loans for the many people who don’t get the career benefits they expect from college.
Siding with Heard
I strongly identified with Martha Gill’s article (“#MeToo is over if we don’t listen to ‘imperfect victims’ like Amber Heard”, Commentary). In college, my friends and I were united by our belief in the importance of the #MeToo movement. Suddenly, I find myself isolated as these same people turn on Heard in the cruellest way, choosing to believe the information they gleaned from TikTok videos.
As a teenager, I loved Johnny Depp movies, but as soon as Heard accused him of domestic violence in 2016, the sparkle faded as every woman was the victim of male assault and sexual harassment.
Yet in 2022, I find myself somehow alone, afraid to defend Heard against my friends, who see her as a liar and a manipulator. If I disagree, other women see me as a “bad feminist”, so ready to believe any woman’s testimony that I represent exactly what sexists think of us.
Heard may be an imperfect victim, but we need to stop expecting victims of domestic violence to fit some angelic ideal. Social media is spreading a simple and dangerous narrative of the Depp/Heard trial that proves appealing even to young women most at risk of similar violence.
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Benefits of the NI Protocol
It seems to me that the real reason the Tories want to end the Northern Ireland Protocol is that it shows how beneficial it is for UK NI-based companies to stay in the EU single market ( “Truss rejects US plea on Northern Ireland protocol”, News).
Every report that shows how businesses and ordinary citizens in Northern Ireland want the protocol to stay in place must send shivers down the spine of Brexit ideologues such as Truss. If this were to turn into a wider movement for the UK’s reintegration into the European Economic Area and the Single Market, while remaining outside the EU as an institution, I think a big number of people on the “mainland” would support him.
Llandovery, Dyfed, Wales
Globalization has failed us
Will Hutton argues that the curtain falls on the Thatcherite experience (“The food crisis is what happens when global supply chains collapse. We may have to get used to it”, Commentary, ).
The massive environmental damage caused by global supply chains is a major driver of global warming, but has never been considered by mainstream economists. British governments have been all too willing to rely on massive imports of vital food at low prices for at least 50 years and if Putin’s ruthless economic embargo on the raw materials the West depends on leads to a reindustrialisation of manufacturing food in the UK and beyond, it wouldn’t be before its time.
Hunt’s hidden agenda
Rachel Clarke is unconvinced of Jeremy Hunt’s sensible plans to abolish preventable patient deaths in the NHS (“It’s going to hurt…”, the new review).
I agree with Clarke that Hunt’s plans are a manifesto for leadership – all Tories want the NHS privatized and the photograph of Nye Bevan on the article highlights the contrasting ideologies very poignantly . We dropped Bevan, but his role model must prevail.
Crosshills, North Yorkshire
Try your luck with holograms
There’s a simple solution to Jude Rogers’ ambivalence about attending new Abba shows (“I want to see Abba…but it might kill the magic,” Focus) — she should send in her hologram.