LGBT people across England, Scotland and Wales have been getting married for up to four years now but marriage equality has still yet to be achieved in Northern Ireland. A number of separate attempts have been made to legalise the practice through legislation at Stormont, but so far all have been unsuccessful. These attempts include one vote where a majority of MLAs backed same-sex marriage but didn’t pass because of a unionist petition of concern. However it does appear that political leaders in Northern Ireland are beginning to change their tune as public opinion has shifted. Although the existing dispute goes largely down green and orange lines, some unionist politicians seem to be softening their stance.
This morning the UK wakes up to another terrorist incident. Last night a suicide bomber detonated his device at the entrance of Manchester’s Victoria Railway Station, which affected people leaving a concert by the US pop star Ariana Grande at the nearby Manchester Arena. According to Greater Manchester Police 22 people, including children, have been killed with a total of 59 people also being injured, although it is possible that this number will rise in the coming hours. In the past I have attempted to write these pieces from a distance so that we can let cool heads prevail, and I shall endeavour to do so here. However, I would be remiss to omit that whilst I am not a Mancunian by birth, Manchester is now my city and as such this may prove difficult.
The Conservatives called this general election because their polling suggested that they would win a landslide victory, with some polls putting Tory support at close to 50% and Labour’s support hovering around 30%. No matter what Theresa May says about Brexit or “strong and stable leadership” it is clear that the election was called for her own political purposes. It was therefore widely thought that manifesto week would be a formality where the Tories are characteristically ambiguous and thus would maintain their lead. The popularity of Labour’s policies and the surprise announcement about Tory changes to pensions and social care have cast doubt on the idea of a coming landslide. The media is now changing their emphasis to focus on the Tory own goal.
Last week the draft manifesto was leaked and following this sneak peak the national press was chomping at the bit to see how many of the policies revealed in the leak would make it into the final cut. Yesterday we got the answer. Labour has embraced a new level of radicalism which will differentiate the party from the Conservatives. At a speech in Bradford, Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the Labour Party’s general election manifesto and it is full of left-wing policies that will seriously address the root cause of many of the socio-economic problems that face the country.
Theresa May is very hard ahead in the opinion polls and it is widely expected that the Conservatives will win a landslide majority in the upcoming general election. Following the leak of the draft copy of the Labour manifesto much media attention has been placed on the comparison between Labour’s detailed plans for the country and the Tory platitudes marching out of the mouth of Theresa May. The PM is now appearing to put some meat on the bones of Tory priorities and has done so by making a pitch for Labour supporters in the party’s heartlands.
George Galloway is an outspoken politician and broadcaster. He was a member of the UK Labour Party but was expelled from the organisation in 2003. He later became the leader of RESPECT and was elected as the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 on the RESPECT Party ticket. He is now an independent candidate for Manchester Gorton in the upcoming UK general election. The general election will take place on 8th June. We sat down with Mr Galloway at his campaign headquarters in Levenshulme for the second of this interview series. This is what he had to say.
In the 2015 the DUP and the UUP formed an informal electoral alliance whereby the parties agreed not to run candidates in certain constituencies so as not to split the unionist vote. The result of this, in collaboration with some other local factors, was that unionist candidates in two constituencies, namely Fermanagh and South Tyrone and East Belfast, defeated non-unionist incumbents. However, in the last few days it was announced that the DUP and the UUP will not pursue such a pact in the upcoming general election. This needs to be exploited by the republican movement before the opportunity passes.