Naked Nigel, the God Kek and modern politics

Nigel Farage makes his farewell leader's speech to the UKIP conference Image copyright Getty Images

Nigel Farage raised a laugh to the last - going skinny dipping the evening after his valedictory speech at the UKIP conference. Gone, but he shouldn't be forgotten - there are valuable lessons from his career for those who want to understand the US presidential election.

First, look at that ability to defy convention, make jokes and generally look as though he is having huge fun.

In an age when most politicians are buttoned up, walking a tightrope set up by a media longing for a pratfall, where honesty is defined as a gaffe, and deviations from their norms are ruthlessly punished, there is considerable appeal in a politician who cheerily waltzes through the minefield whistling.

But if it was that simple every one would do it.

Something important has happened.

Read full article Naked Nigel, the God Kek and modern politics

Labour must stop fighting old battles

Media captionMr Corbyn and Mr Smith respond to a suggestion that neither appear able to unite Labour

When I think of Labour's civil war, an image comes to mind of two skeletal generals, sitting at a table on a battlefield, pushing pieces across a board, re-enacting past conflicts, oblivious to the sounds of a real battle all around them.

Or, less extravagantly - two tramps fighting in a ditch over a broken watch, which neither knows how to mend.

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Italy's constitutional conundrum

  • 9 September 2016
  • From the section Europe
Matteo Renzi Image copyright Getty Images

The Italian political system is a joke. Quite absurd. Not my judgement but that of the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Laws are made at a snail's pace and there have been 63 governments since the war, many lasting just a few months. That's why he's called a referendum to streamline the whole system, and give more power, to, yes, you've guessed it, the prime minister.

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Brexit: EU's growing impatience over UK's lack of clarity

Lake Como
Image caption Business leaders, bankers and politicians met at Lake Como in Italy

The view from the calm shores of Italy's Lake Como is clear - Mrs May needs to hurry up and make it plain what Brexit means, apart from Brexit.

There's a growing impatience within the EU about the lack of clarity and lack of sense of urgency from the British cabinet.

Read full article Brexit: EU's growing impatience over UK's lack of clarity

What could Brexit mean for the UK's farmers?

A tractor in a field Image copyright iStock

If Brexit means farmers cannot get the foreign workers they rely on, or it hits efficiency, could more production switch abroad?

"Lets go and see the celery rig," says John Shropshire.

Read full article What could Brexit mean for the UK's farmers?

What does 'Brexit means Brexit' mean?

A union jack umbrella in front of the Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

Is the new prime minister's slogan as firm and unambiguous as it first seems?

"Brexit means Brexit". "We are all Brexiters now."

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The new divide: Hard or soft Brexit?

A union flag flies in front of the Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

How might Brexit change the existing landscape of British politics, and how might the main political parties position themselves?

With the thunderous explosions from the referendum vote still ringing in our ears, Read my thoughts on the new battle lines being drawn up.

Read full article The new divide: Hard or soft Brexit?

Politics snagged on society's sharp divides

  • 30 June 2016
  • From the section Brexit
Leave and Remain supporters Image copyright ALAMY/REUTERS
Image caption Are there now two distinct tribes in the UK?

The referendum has carved our country into two camps, sharpened existing divisions, and created some new ones.

Scotland against England. Young versus old. Class against class.

Read full article Politics snagged on society's sharp divides

Brexit: The story of an island apart

  • 25 June 2016
  • From the section Magazine
The Union flag and the European Union flag on a beach

Our little archipelago of isles on the outer edges of a huge land mass has often thought of itself as rather special, even before it was the centre of an empire that changed the world.

As so often, Shakespeare put it best: "This precious stone set in the silver sea/ Which serves it in the office of a wall/ Or as a moat defensive to a house,/ Against the envy of less happier lands,/ This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

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Is the world turning its back on free trade?

  • 16 June 2016
  • From the section World
Lord Randolph Churchill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lord Randolph Churchill denounced free trade

Which politician has captured the curve, summed up a growing mood, in a ferocious speech?

"Your iron industry is dead, dead as mutton. Your coal industries, which depend greatly on the iron industries, are languishing. Your silk industry is dead, assassinated by the foreigner. Your woollen industry is in articulo mortis, gasping, struggling. Your cotton industry is seriously sick. Your shipbuilding industry, which held out longest, is come to a standstill."

Read full article Is the world turning its back on free trade?