A few days ago German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that she may drop her opposition to a vote on marriage equality after she said at a debate that her party was discussing the issue at length. At this same debate Merkel argued that she favoured a conscience vote on the issue. Almost all the Chancellor’s political opponents support marriage equality and after her announcement sought to gain political capital from her decision. They pressured for a snap vote on the issue and, much to my surprise, she permitted one.
When Theresa May took over as Prime Minister she spent a great amount of time trying to convince people that the Conservatives were the party of working people. Naturally people like myself laughed in her face because all of her policies tell the complete opposite story, but for many the message was believable. However within a few days of the Queen’s Speech, this narrative has been undermined the Tories’ own actions. The Conservatives and the DUP voted in lockstep to maintain the public sector pay cap at a 1% annual rise which, in practice, is a pay cut.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is often lauded in the Western press as an example of a strong national leader that proudly stands up for socially liberal values. This was most notably demonstrated by the approach many organisations took to her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, much to the opposition of other EU states. However for advocates of LGBT equality there has always been a black rain cloud above Mrs Merkel when she is described in such glowingly positive terms as she and her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have always opposed the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The news yesterday was that the CDU may change this position.
One of the main issues that the Republicans campaigned on in the 2016 election, both at the national and the state level, was the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Speaker Ryan recently announced what the Republicans in the House will seek to replace Obamacare with and it was Draconian to say the least. Many expected that Republicans in the Senate who had taken more moderate positions on healthcare reform like Susan Collins (R-MA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would mean that the Senate bill would be less extreme. In a remarkable turn of events the Senate bill is even more harsh on the poor and provides a massive handout to the wealthiest individuals in America. But thankfully the Senate bill has hit a snag.
Coal India is the largest coal mining company in the world and produces 82% of India’s coal every single year. However due to the declining cost of solar power in India the company has announced that 37 mines are going to close on the grounds that they are “financially unviable”. This round of closures amounts to Coal India closing around 9% of the total number of mines that the company operates, and as a result will significantly reduce the amount of coal being extracted per annum. The important aspect of this development, and the growing commercial trend, is that companies are beginning to notice that fossil fuel extraction is, in many cases, more costly than investing in green technology. This needs to be promoted and celebrated as much as possible.
The general election result caught many by surprise but when it became clear that the Tories would fall short of a majority all media attention turned to the prospect of the Tory-DUP agreement to keep the government going. This went into overdrive when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron ruled out any coalition or agreement with the Conservatives. With all other MPs in parties openly hostile to the Tories, with the exception of the DUP, the Conservatives found themselves backed into a corner but there remain problems with what they wish to achieve.
Theresa May is, to quote George Osborne, “a dead woman walking” and today’s Queen’s Speech perfectly exemplified this fact. May had initially intended that the announcement of a date for the speech would be a way of gaining leverage on the DUP but this did not happen and as a result there is not yet a formal arrangement in place to prop up a Tory minority government. Because of this political uncertainty the speech was devoid of serious proposals other than vague statements about Brexit that could be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s views of the EU, and a notable absence of proposals that were in the Conservative manifesto. Continue reading →