Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the north-east of the country and has a somewhat fractured relationship with the government in Baghdad. Relations between the two authorities is much better than under Saddam Hussein, although this is a very low bar, but there remains a perception in Erbil that the Iraqi central government is both corrupt and incompetent. It is this perception that last week resulted in leading politicians announcing that the region would hold a referendum on independence from Iraq. This development is something that I have long argued for and could be a game-changer for the Middle East.
One of the most inspirational movements of political history was the movement for female suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a struggle by a disenfranchised group that sought to radically transform how the existing political order functioned, and succeeded despite the fact that none of their group were in the corridors of power. Men and women came together to rectify an injustice that in modern discourse could only be conceived of as a thought experiment rather than as a serious policy proposal. Thankfully in democratic countries this arbitrary distinction has been removed, but the campaign for women’s suffrage can, in my view, easily compared to the struggle for Kurdish liberation. On the surface this may seem like a bit of stretch but hopefully this article will convince you of my case.
The Labour Party is in a strong position after this election but that must not be taken for granted. The party’s support is at its highest level for a number of years and this was in spite of an incredibly hostile print media response to senior Labour figures. Hopefully the influence of The Sun, The Mail and other papers of their ilk is one the decline but in the short-term they shall still be around. Let’s face facts, Labour lost the election because they didn’t win the most seats or get the most votes. But if Labour is to build on the successes that it did have at this election then it needs to understand what happened and think quickly about the future.
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.