One of the few things that Donald Trump has been able to do as US President is unravel many of the environmental protection measures enacted by the Obama Administration. This is profoundly important as the United States is one of the biggest polluters in the world and therefore any attempt to genuinely tackle climate change would need the support of the US government. The nature of this problem requires countries across the world collaborating, and if the US chooses to neglect its duty to the rest of the globe it falls to we the people.
Two of the UK’s education trade unions have decided to become one larger organisation. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) will merge into a new organisation named the National Education Union (NEU). The NEU will represented around 450,000 teachers and other education workers. It will be officially formed on the 1st September 2017, and on doing so will become the largest education workers union in Europe. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the general secretaries of the ATL and the NUT respectively, will share the role of NEU general secretary.
London has been rocked by a terrorist incident that took place close to the Palace of Westminster. The Metropolitan Police have closed the roads surrounding of the Palace and are treating the situation as the scene of two terrorist incidents. The House of Commons was sitting at the time and Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle suspended the session and ordered that the Commons Chamber was locked down. Prime Minister Theresa May was evacuated and Downing Street later confirmed that she was unharmed. The session of the Scottish Parliament has also been suspended following the news out of London.
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently had an important election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on the campaign trail in order to get the BJP elected as the next government of the country’s most populous state. Evidently the BJP’s electoral strategy and message was spot on as the PM’s party 312 seats out of 403. The scale of the party’s victory is best illustrated by comparing the results to the last UP election in 2012. In 2012 the BJP won only 47 seats and garnered 15%. However in the latest election they were the recipient of a 24.7% swing, and thus were swept into power with a significantly higher number of seats than the 202 majority required to single-handedly govern. The results of this will be a the stoking of ethno-religious tensions and the radicalisation of discourse as a consequence.
In the last few months there has been much talk of the rise of right-wing populism, but in the first test of 2017 these forces have failed. The far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) led by Geert Wilders has not only failed to win enough seats to become the next Dutch Prime Minister, his party finished second overall. The polling going into the final days of the campaign had shown the PVV dropping off in support and so this result shouldn’t have been overly surprising. However, the other noteworthy thing about the vote is the fragmentation of politics that has implications for future elections.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today announced that she will seek to deliver a second referendum on Scottish independence due to, in part, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Sturgeon has said that she will introduce a bill at Holyrood to hold a second referendum, before asking for a vote in the House of Commons on a Section 30 order that will allow the vote to be held. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the SNP of “tunnel vision” when it comes to the issue of independence, but the move by the First Minister is incredibly interesting to me in terms of timing and strategy.
Politics is seen in a negative light in the eyes of many people for a number of reasons, and one of the most widespread perceptions is the idea of politicians promising a laundry list of things in manifestos before doing the opposite when in power. The Tories have a terrible record of doing this over the last seven years but the Budget announced a few days ago provides another such example. If the Tories are going to be beaten there needs to be a coordinated strategy calling them out for this hypocrisy as well as messages put out about how the Budget is appalling for ordinary people.