Ian Taylor

Cocky Johnson faces dilemmas

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Britain finally left the EU at 11pm on 31 January, signalling the ease with which Boris Johnson can now get his way in parliament following the Tories’ big election win.

Johnson was thwarted in his attempt to secure a special Big Ben bong to mark the occasion. However, his government has big ambitions. Johnson wants to shift the political landscape of Britain.

He sees being hard on immigration and law and order as key, leavened with gestures towards “rebalancing” London and the regions.

Labour leadership contest is not the key

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The current battle to lead the Labour Party stands in sharp contrast to the leadership contests in 2015 and 2016 when Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature electrified the campaigns.

Corbyn was both the most left wing Labour leader in history and the most popular with the party membership, which swelled to more than 500,000, making Labour the biggest political party in Europe at a time when Labour-type parties elsewhere in Europe are in crisis.

His victory in 2016 came despite two-thirds of the shadow cabinet resigning in an effort to bring him down.

What's in store from a Johnson government?

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The Tory election victory transformed Boris Johnson from a prime minister who could barely win a vote in Parliament to one who can, for now, do as he pleases. It is a grotesque prospect. Johnson is a serial liar, a product of the ruling class who, until the morning of 13 December, lacked the respect of many in it.

As recently as October, David Cameron compared Johnson to a “greased piglet that manages to slip through people’s hands”.

Yet the meaning of Johnson’s victory for his class was clear. “Hedge funds enjoyed a bumper payday”, the Financial Times reported.

Break the Tories on the streets

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Boris Johnson, within weeks of taking over as (unelected) prime minister, has outraged everyone by suspending parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline. Ian Taylor analyses the forces at work around Johnson, while looking for signs of strength on the left to take the Tories on.

Boris Johnson challenged MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit to a showdown by suspending parliament for up to five weeks from the week of 9 September.

It meant MPs must move to topple the government the week of 3 September. The move wrong-footed Labour, Lib Dem and Tory opponents who had been groping towards a strategy to prevent no deal without backing Jeremy Corbyn and called their bluff. Crucially, it invited the 40 or so Tory MPs opposed to no deal to fall on their swords.

Germany’s Hidden Crisis

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Germany dominates Europe, so news in April that German business confidence had fallen for a seventh month in eight and that the government had halved its growth forecast for 2019 to 0.5 percent suggests there is more than Brexit weighing on Europe’s economic prospects.

The German working class remains Europe’s most powerful. Yet Germany’s equivalent of the Labour Party, the SPD, is in spectacular decline after entering one coalition after another with conservative chancellor Merkel and, between time, making a wholesale attack on welfare provision.

An Inconvenient Death

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The US and British invasion of Iraq in March 2003 killed millions and entrenched a cycle of violence and Islamophobia which continues to shape events.

The war was justified by Iraq’s supposed possession of “weapons of mass destruction” though none were ever found. Two million marched in London in protest in February 2003.

Brexit: Very little confidence in the Tories

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Theresa May survived the attempt to get rid of her from within her own party in December. But it was a sign of her abject weakness that she won the no-confidence vote by promising to go before the next scheduled election.

The fact that 200 Tory MPs backed her did nothing to resolve the crisis her government, her party and the British ruling class face over Brexit. It merely ruled out a switch of Tory prime minister for at least a year, unless May is ordered out by Tory grandees, and confirmed most MPs have no stomach for Britain to leave the EU with no deal.

May's government hits the rocks

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As the government appears to be heading for a no-deal Brexit, Ian Taylor reports on the conflict at the heart of the Tory party, and the dismay and anger this has caused among its big business backers.

Theresa May’s attempt to resolve the issue of British capitalism’s future relations with its biggest trading partner, the EU, plunged the government into crisis in mid-July.

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