British Politics

Out with the Old, In With the New

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Cameron out, Theresa in.

The new Prime Minister has named her first cabinet: Phillip Hammond as chancellor, Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and the surprise of the day, Boris Johnson as the new Foreign Secretary.  Aside from Boris (this is debatable), there are no heavyweights in the new cabinet. No Osborne, No Nicky Morgan, and bye bye to Michael Gove who is rumoured to have clashed with May. Interestingly, Theresa has chosen to depart from the usual cabinet appointment method where the Prime Minister would include the heavyweights in his or her government. The reason behind this is that Prime Minister will have the full support of the party and it will unify the government. By not appointing the big beasts in her cabinet, Theresa May is making a statement that her appointments are different to the usual ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ in politics. Instead she will have the heavyweights as backbenchers, whether this will be something for her worry to about…we shall see. Most importantly Theresa May has placed Brexit backing MPs in positions that will be key to Brexit negotiations (as previously mentioned Boris as foreign secretary, David Davis as the Brexit minister and Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary). She also gave her former rival, Andrea Leadsom (who backed Brexit), the Environment Secretary job.

Compare it to Cameron’s Cabinet

The remainers vs brexiters, Theresa chose to include more of the brexiters in her cabinet to reflect the outcome of the referendum.

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While many are celebrating Theresa May being the second female prime minister, some are criticising that it is still not good enough-it is an improvement of one.

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The number of black and minoritiy ethnic MPs in the cabinet, like women it is an improvement of one and not reflective of the population in this country. Priti Patel, joins Sajid Javid in the Cabinet.

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The old vs the young. Cameron’s cabinet commpared to Theresa May’s was younger with 13 out of 22 cabinet ministers in their 40s.

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Many have criticised Cameron’s government for being elitist this includes Nadine Dorries Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire. She described Cameron and George Osborne as “two arrogant posh boys” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others”. It looks like Theresa May wants to move away from that.

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So who is in?-the newbies, the people who got a promotion and the unlucky who got demoted.

Boris Johnson- BREXITER

The former London Mayor was considered as the frontrunner to takeover Cameron, only until Michael Gove backstabbed him and run for the Conservative Leadership. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Boris worked as a journalist before coming into politics and has written for the Times, the Spectator and the Telegraph. As much as Boris is a popular figure, he is also a controversial one. He was forced to apologise for his comments in 2002, referring to Africans as “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” . He has also been scrutinised for insulting Turkey’s president, commenting on Obama’s ancestry and more. America, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Sweden…the list goes on and on but in short, the world thinks we have lost it in him being the Foreign Secretary when he has offended so many leaders, diplomats and countries.

A map of countries he has offended:

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Phillip Hammond-REMAINER

The former foreign secretary is seen as the ultimate safe hands in government and someone Theresa May will be able to rely on. Mr Hammond has been a MP since 1997, joined the cabinet as Transport Secretary, then he became the Defence Secretary and he is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Amber Rudd-REMAINER

One of the Tories’ rising stars, Amber Rudd won a marginal seat from Labour back in 2010. After being on the backbenches, she was promoted by George Osborne serving as his Parliamentary Secretary and was appointed as the Energy Secretary in 2015 and is now the Home Secretary. Unlike many in her party, Amber Rudd is committed to tackling climate change and her appointment was respected by environment groups.

The others…

Many thought that Jeremy Hunt would not survive May’s reshuffle, however he lives to fight another day. Jeremy Hunt is to continue with his controversial reforms of the NHS and there may be more industrial action if he plans to go ahead and impose contracts on doctors. His next challenge is taking on the consultants. As for Liam Fox, this is a political revival for the Brexiter, from backbench to one of the most important positions that can be held currently as International Trade Secretary. He will be responsible for negotiating trade deals beyond Europe, an argument that the Brexit Camp said was a benefit of being outside the EU. Michael Fallon, remains as Defence Secretary and is one of the few that kept his job. Justine Greening has been promoted to Education Secretary (was International Development Secretary) and will be replacing Nicky Morgan. A bit of history made by May’s reshuffle, Liz Truss is the first female Justice Secretary and will be replacing Michael Gove. Chris Grayling, one of May’s biggest supporters is the new Transport Secretary and was previously the Leaders of the House of Commons and justice secretary. Greg Clark previously the communities secretary has now taken over the defunct Business, Industry and Skills (it is now Business, Energy and Industrial energy, Theresa May has merged the energy and business departments together). Patrick McLoughlin previously the transport secretary and is now the Conservative party chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Alan Cairns and David Mundell remain unchanged. The newbies are Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire, Damian Green, Andrea Leadsom and Priti Patel. Sajid David, is one of the few left associated with Old Downing Street, he has moved down from Business Secretary to Communities and Local Government.

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So who is out?-Those who were shown the door, those who “resigned” and those who did not want the job no more

It has been called one of the most ruthless reshuffles in recent times with nine sackings and resignations. Theresa May sacked a number of Cameron’s closest allies which includes George Osborne, the former Chancellor and axed Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan and John Whittingdale. Stephen Crabb resigned from his role as Work and Pensions Secretary “in the best interests of my family” and Theresa Villiers the former Northern Ireland Secretary resigned.

Theresa May’s government

Theresa May’s cabinet has had a change of direction and its a big one. From sacking big names, to surprising us all of with Boris as the Foreign Secretary (Osborne was not a surprise) and abolishing the Energy and Climate Change department. Then merging energy with business and having veteran right-wingers Liam Fox and David Davis in Brexit related roles. One thing is for sure, Theresa wants us all to know that the Cameron era is in the past. She wanted us to know that she had a clear out, she has moved in and she has thrown out what she does not want or need. May’s appointments highlights that she is determined in repairing the damage caused by the referendum. Theresa’s cabinet gives us a hint of the government she wishes to lead: Tory unity, “Brexit means Brexit”, climate change sceptics and that Tories do go to state schools.

Images:  www.bbc.co.uk  www.independent.co.uk

What Is Going On In Europe?

 

The European elections illustrated the change in European Politics. This shift in European politics has been described as a new wave of nationalism. However it was not only the political right that had success at the ballot box, the radical left saw a rise in support. It was certainly a wake up call for mainstream parties in Europe.

In the UK, UKIP had won 27.5% of the vote and had 24 MEPS elected. It was the first time that a party other than the Conservatives or Labour has a won an election in the UK in a hundred years. Labour came second with 25.4%, followed by the Tories and Lib Dems lost all but one of their seats. It was not only in the UK, there was a rise of the far-right, anti-EU Parties and anti-austerity groups from the left across Europe. In France, the National Front (FN) won 25% of the vote whilst President Hollande’s socialist party vote share was 14%. In Greece, the far left anti-austerity party, Syriza won for the first time in Greece. Also the country’s extreme right party, Golden Dawn, who was third behind Syriza and New Democracy did well in local elections. In Austria, the far right Freedom party took around a fifth of the vote and in Hungary, the neo-fascist Jobbik took 15%. In Denmark, the anti-immigration party, Danish People’s Party won. The hard left party, Sinn Fein did well in Ireland but in Germany it was otherwise. Angela Merkel’s party The Christian Democrats had an expected victory but Europe’s most powerful state saw its return of Eurosceptics with its first Neo-Nazi MEP.

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(Pictures above- http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21603034-impact-rise-anti-establishment-parties-europe-and-abroad-eurosceptic-union)

So the question is, why has this happened? What has happened in Europe? Why has there been a shift from the centre to extreme right and the hard left?

After five years of cuts, austerity and economic hardship across Europe, the European Elections highlighted the disenchanted voters who chose to support fringe parties instead of mainstream parties. There is a feeling across Europe that mainstream parties have failed to deliver on economic stability and prosperity in Europe. The weak recovery in Europe has given populist parties the platform to blame foreign direct investment and favour domestic workers and firms, anti-immigration regulations and state capitalism. These nationalist parties often tend to dislike supranational organisations like the European Union, World Trade Organisation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. This is because of the belief that supranational organisations such as the EU interfere with the fundamental principle of national sovereignty.

Whether individuals voted for the hard left or the far right, the European Elections 2014 brought about historic results and is set to have an impact in national politics across Europe.

Peter Hain, former Cabinet minister, was quoted in the Daily Mail: “Whether we’ll have a majority , which I will fight for along with every other Labour Party member, I don’t know because it’s very, very hard to win a majority now in British Politics because we’re not in a two-party system, which we had for generations. We’re in a multi-party system”

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(Former Labour cabinet minister, Picture: Graeme Robertson)

This illustrates the sudden change that UKIP has brought about in in British Politics recently. Peter Hain, claimed that Labour would not be able to win a majority due to the success of UKIP, supports the view that there is a rise of nationalism in Britain and across Europe. Other prominent Labour MPs have argued that the rise of UKIP is the result of working class voters leaving the party in support for UKIP and other far right parties. Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves warned about the loss of Labour support at the recent European elections.

“The Labour party came into existence to give a voice for ordinary working people.

“What I saw… were middle class, public sector, well-educated young graduates voting Labour, but the people who the Labour Party was set up to help, abandoning us.”

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(Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chief Secretary to the treasury, Picture:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27753398)

It can be argued that the common held view that immigration and the EU are the results of the rise in nationalism, can be disputed. This is because the rise of radical parties could also be a sign of disappointment in long-term traditional centre left-right politics. The mainstream parties have either failed or compromised to have strong policies on key areas like the the economy and immigration.

As highlighted by the rising star of Labour, Rachel Reeves warned activists, at an event at Queen Mary University of London: “ Our very raison d’être will be threatened if the working people, who the Labour Party have got to be there for, and got to be a voice for, start to drift away because they don’t see us as the answer”

Politics in recent times has shifted to the centre, where in the past what distinguished parties like the Conservatives and Labour is now hard to find. This failure in the mainstream parties differentiating themselves, has provided far right and far left parties the opportunity to capitalise on disillusioned voters. Therefore it is up to Cameron, Miliband, Clegg and other leaders of mainstream parties in Europe to find convincing solutions to the problems EU citizens face today.

Although there has been a rise in the votes for radical parties in the 2014 European Elections, they did not do well everywhere. For example Netherlands’ Greet Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party did not do as well as expected as well as Finland’s Finn Party. Furthermore, the Pro-Europe parties still control about 70% in the European Parliament, though this is a fall from 80% in 2009. In the European Parliament, the parties of the right range from the Britain’s euro-reformist Conservatives to far right groups like Marine Le Pen’s FN. Groups in the European Parliament must have 25 seats and consist of seven nationalities, which the second requirement is often difficult to meet. Nigel Farage refuses to form an alliance with Marine Le Pen, as he views her as anti-Semitic and racist. Likewise, Marine Le Pen feels the same way about Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn. It is unclear whether there will be a alliance between the European far right parties because of this.

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(Picture above- Marine Le Pen, leader of National Front)

Whether the economic recovery will push Eurospectism into the background or the radical parties will continue to be at the forefront, it is too early to know. One indication would be national elections. In particular, Britain’s upcoming General Election 2015.

During the time Great Depression of the 1930s authoritarian regimes in Italy, Germany and Spain arose, there may be similar worrying trends to come if the European economy does not continue to pick up.

What are your thoughts? What is going on in Europe?