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.
Scotland’s place in the EU was one of the key issues in the 2014 referendum campaign and at the time there was much talk of Spain vetoing Scotland’s potential membership of the EU in order to quell secessionist feeling in Catalonia. However now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, the Spanish government appear to have acknowledged the situation has changed and have now said that Spain wouldn’t block an independent Scotland from joining the EU post-Brexit. Although the political dynamics of this situation would appear to favour the pro-independence camp, it would be foolish to think that independence was now the pre-determined course of Scotland.
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.
The UK voted to leave the European Union around 9 months ago and since the result became clear to the whole country the SNP have said that the referendum vote was a “material change in circumstances” from 2014 and thus could be used to justify another referendum on independence. I happen to agree that this is true but I have also been cautious when it comes to the issue of independence. As someone who would like to see Scotland as a self-governing nation-state I was wary of rushing into another vote as failure a second time around would take the issue off the table. The SNP have been walking the line between caution and agitating for another plebiscite, and evidently Westminster is taking note.
When same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales in 2013, many people who cared about LGBT celebrated as if the fight for equality had taken a massive step forward. This was the right thing to do because it was an important day in the British LGBT rights movement. However there were some people who only took a passing interest in the cause of LGBT rights, and mistakenly believed that this was the final battle. This perception was false. There are a number of issues that affect LGBT people in British society, and one of these issues was the stain on the character of those men convicted of homosexual acts before the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 decriminalised such behaviour. After a long campaign, this injustice has been rectified.
Automation is changing the labour market and policy-makers are having to address this change. With the prospect of mass unemployment resulting from widespread automation, we need to come up with innovative ways to keep money in people’s pockets. One such proposal is a universal basic income (UBI) which would provide everyone in a society with enough to live on irrespective of whether they are in employment. It appears that this policy may soon be introduced in the British Isles.