Labour leadership: Beware the muddled middle

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn is mobilising the left of the Labour Party

I've been off on a course for a week or so and feel rather detached from the news of the day.

Still, I can't help noting that the Labour leadership has been having an attack of the vapours.

Commentators, both well-meaning and mischievous, have been playing the role of maiden aunt to our fainting heroine, alternatively rushing around shrieking about the shame they are bringing on the family, and waving under their nose, Blairo (patent expired) "the stronger acting smelling salts" to bring them to their senses.

What has caused this alarm could be summed up in a crossword clue: "Exclamation of surprise, party ends in trash" (Cor! Bin).

The possibility that the next Labour leader will be the old stalwart of the Islington left, Jeremy Corbyn.

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German muscle threatens European solidarity

  • 16 July 2015
  • From the section Europe
A woman holds a tree branch with a Greek flag tied on it during a rally in support to the Greek government
Greece feels it has been harshly treated

This is not the end of the drama for the European Union. Perhaps, the passion play we are witnessing is just the prologue to tragedy.

Tragedy, after all, depends upon the blossoming of flaws that undermine an otherwise noble character.

Read full article German muscle threatens European solidarity

Greek debt crisis: Mr Varoufakis's exit stage left

  • 9 July 2015
  • From the section World
Yanis Varoufakis leaves the Ministry of Finance after resigning with his wife Danai on his motorbike
Yanis Varoufakis rides off after resigning as minister of finance - with his wife behind

A few hours after his surprise resignation, I chanced upon Yanis Varoufakis sitting in a cafe surrounded by friends.

His exit raises questions that go far beyond Greece, to the heart of Europe's future, so naturally I wanted a word.

Read full article Greek debt crisis: Mr Varoufakis's exit stage left

Cameron is not asking the big question on Islamic State

  • 2 July 2015
  • From the section UK
The wreck of the Number 30 double-decker bus is pictured in Tavistock Square after the 7/7 London bombings
Hundreds of people were injured and 52 died in attacks in London on 7 July 2005

The continued rise of violent, anti-Western, Islamic fundamentalism is one of the defining challenges of our time.

There is no lack of emotive words and stirring phrases from politicians around the world - it is questionable if they have a coherent strategy to counter it.

Read full article Cameron is not asking the big question on Islamic State

Confederate flag: Why it is so potent in the US

Confederate flag

The whole family was astounded by what we found in Tuskegee.

The town in Alabama is important in American history for several reasons: the university founded by Booker T Washington is there, so was the all-black air force squadron and it was the site of an awful medical experiment on black men.

Read full article Confederate flag: Why it is so potent in the US

Could the EU fall apart completely?

  • 18 June 2015
  • From the section Europe
EU flag

The European prime ministers and presidents who gather in Brussels next Thursday will face two separate crises.

Simple, eh? But their plight is a lot more serious than that.

Read full article Could the EU fall apart completely?

Why we should all be worried by Mr Cameron's muddle

David Cameron

Generosity of spirit is a virtue and one should perhaps give the prime minister the benefit of the doubt, and presume he is telling the truth.

But accepting that his briefing to journalists at the G7 - at which he was reported as saying ministers would have to back him on EU reform or quit - was about the behaviour of ministers right now before any reforms have been negotiated, rather than in a future referendum on the UK's membership of Europe, leads to some worrying conclusions.

Read full article Why we should all be worried by Mr Cameron's muddle

Could Rand Paul inspire the UK government?

Senator Rand Paul
Rand Paul has created a stir in the US

Senator Rand Paul has caught the world's attention and infuriated his own party by taking on one of the most powerful forces imaginable - the US security apparatus.

Behind the drama there are deep currents, a tale of sex, drugs, violence and conservatism.

Read full article Could Rand Paul inspire the UK government?

Tory MPs keep powder dry on Europe for now

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi , German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron take part in a meeting during a European Union extraordinary summit
David Cameron is set for talks over reform of the UK relationship with the European Union

The UK's future direction for at least a generation hangs precariously on an uncertainty, balanced on the tip of the unknown.

I am talking of course about the planned referendum on the EU.

Read full article Tory MPs keep powder dry on Europe for now

Are Labour tribes readying to go to war?

Ed and David Miliband
David Miliband is among those who has criticised his brother's campaign

"Some of those gimmicks - that tombstone, whatever idiot thought that up I do not know!"

I was talking to the former Mayor of Crawley in Sussex, John Mortimer, in the town's Labour Supporters Club about the vexed question of what went wrong, and where Labour should go next.

Read full article Are Labour tribes readying to go to war?