The global fight from LGBT rights has largely moved away from the Western hemisphere and is now developing countries are increasingly the battleground of equality. One such area is the African continent, where only one nation-state, South Africa, has legalised same-sex marriage. Additionally, in parts of Africa homosexual acts can be punished by execution or mob violence can spontaneously erupt against LGBT individuals. When African countries make headlines in this area we often see reports of religious fundamentalists talking about how it is unnatural to be LGBT or inciting violence against sexual minorities. However in the last week we have something encouraging from Botswana.
Because Parliament is in recess most political news has moved into two distinct categories: commentary on reports that were going to come out anyway or political gossip and speculation. One story that is gaining popularity in some parts of the press is the idea of outspoken Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg launching a leadership to replace Theresa May as Tory Party leader. If such a bid was successful Rees-Mogg would also become Prime Minister, the third of which in two years. People began to talk about how ‘funny’ the idea of a Rees-Mogg premiership would be but the notion of the MP for North East Somerset becoming Prime Minister should jolt the Left out of any complacency that they may have slipped into after May’s failure to form a majority government at the last election. A side note is that all references to Rees-Mogg’s voting record come from TheyWorkForYou.com.
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.
A few weeks ago Theresa May announced that there would be a general election, despite previously saying that there wouldn’t be, and is now out on the campaign trail endeavouring to lie her way back to power. The Tories currently have a poll lead that, whilst shrinking, at this point still puts them on course to win a handsome majority on 8th June. If the Left is going to successfully stop the Tories, it needs to strategically work to prop up anti-Tory candidates. Given my own radical views this is hard for me to say, but unfortunately we haven’t got the luxury of time.
The Conservatives entered government in 2010 on a manifesto pledge to reduce government bureaucracy and restore decision-making power to the people. Indeed the word they used was ‘localism’ which was evidently a repackaged way of calling for more decentralised government. And I’m here to say that I actually agree. I think that power should be returned to the people and a good thing to do would be to massively decentralise power away from Westminster. A good place to start would be the government departments who oversee devolved administrations.
In recent years Labour has always found itself in a difficult position when it comes to trade union disputes. On the one hand a parliamentary political party has to try and represent all people in society, but its roots in the trade union movement make condemnation of strikes a betrayal. An example of this confusion was in relation to strike action by junior doctors. Some Labour MPs condemned the scheduled strikes but others said they would be standing on the picket line with them. Clearly a party of the Left cannot condemn strikes but endorsing all industrial action, from a perspective of pure realpolitik, risks alienating voters, a majority of whom are not unionised. This isn’t just a problem for the UK Labour Party, all left-of-centre parties need to reconcile these two positions if they seek power through the parliamentary route. It’s important that we get this right.
Yesterday junior doctors in England announced another strike against the new contract the government is seeking to introduce. This new strike was scheduled to begin on 12th September and would last for five days. The logic behind the strike is that this will be a more powerful message to the government because NHS trusts will have less time to prepare mitigation strategies than the strike in March. Furthermore the strike would last for the whole working week and therefore the disruption will be greater. Evidently the government didn’t get the message because this afternoon the BMA announced additional five-day strikes in October, November, and December.