At the start of August Theresa May announced that her government would seek to end the ban of grammar schools. The policy itself is a clear rejection of studies that show that grammar schools do not improve the educational outcomes for working class students. The justification for this policy is that, just like a capitalist marketplace, competition is king. Another example is in the case of universities, and what the government is trying to do is pit universities against each other because according to their flawed philosophy competition trumps co-operation. This philosophical approach is dangerous because it opens the door to commercialisation and consequently social mobility breaks down.
The first US presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump just finished and there are some important things to note. The debate was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and was hosted by NBC News hose Lester Holt. I don’t normally commend the media on occasions like this, because they are shit, but I have to congratulate Holt on asking legitimate questions and sticking to policy substance. It’s worth pointing out that he let a lot slide during the debate itself but again his performance was much better than I expected. Having covered debates in the past I am aware that perception is everything and irrespective of who I believe did better, my opinion is largely irrelevant. Nonetheless here’s my initial take on this evening’s events.
A few hours ago Jeremy Corbyn won re-election as Labour leader with an increased majority. In 2015 the Islington North MP won in a landslide with 59.5% of the vote, and in this election he won 61.8%. His raw vote increased from just over 250,000 to over 313,000 votes. But this is no time for triumphalism. If the more right-wing sections of the Labour party genuinely want to unite and take the fight to the Tories then there is one area to focus upon: policy. The policies of Corbyn have been framed by the press as unbelievably left-wing that would lead to the creation of a Marxist-Leninist hell-hole. In reality many of his policies are standard centre-left stuff that these MPs should love.
A few days ago former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders went on Morning Joe on MSNBC to explain why he believes people should be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. He has received criticism from those on the Left who believe he’s ‘sold out’ and Clinton loyalists who bemoan his lack of sycophantic fawning. Sanders claims that the current Democratic platform is “the most progressive in the history of the Democratic Party”, and even said this line in his speech at the DNC. Normally I let this go because you could argue that FDR’s policy programme was much more progressive in many areas, but the Democratic Party was a different animal back then and many Democrats still supported segregation. But this blog post isn’t about Bernie Sanders, its about how ideology is a powerful tool that can be used to shape how people think about certain issues.
Elections for the city council of Berlin produced some interesting results than need to be unpicked. The overarching trend was that the biggest two political parties in the city, the SPD and the CDU, lost a significant number of seats and that the anti-refugee far-right AfD picked up a number of seats and entered the city council for the first time. Thankfully no political party has agreed to work with the AfD in a coalition, both at a local and a national level, which has essentially locked them out of power. The good news is that the overall outcome of the election, in relation to the new administration, is a shift to the Left.
Plans to strengthen the Labour Party’s stance on racism, and specifically anti-Semitism, have been proposed the Jewish Labour Movement to drive this social disease out of the party. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith have endorsed the plans which will likely mean that the proposals will be agreed to at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool later this week. The philosophical basis for this change obvious but the other aspect of this is about how the current rules of the party turn people off about politics.
UKIP recently held it’s leadership election, the result of which will be announced at their conference in Bournemouth later today. The party’s contest has largely been overshadowed by the similar process that has been going on in the Labour Party, but infighting has also turned the party from a political force influencing the nature of British discourse into an idealess vacuum. This is precisely the time for all political parties to strike, thus banishing UKIP into the annuls of history.