Tony Blair's warning to Labour evokes memories of Michael Foot

Tony Blair and Michael Foot Image copyright PA

Tony Blair's warning to the Labour Party not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, which consigned it to 18 years in opposition, brought back memories of Michael Foot, its leader at the beginning of that lost decade.

Michael Foot died in 2010, aged 96. At his death, he was hailed by some as one of the great figures of the 20th Century Labour movement, even if others remembered him rather less generously as a disorganised and weak leader out of step with the times.

Mr Foot did, though, resemble some modern-day politicians in one respect: he graduated in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford.

He first stood (unsuccessfully) for election in 1935, before going on to become a hugely successful and influential journalist and author.

He was also a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and built a reputation as a formidable orator and parliamentarian.

Read full article Tony Blair's warning to Labour evokes memories of Michael Foot

Cameron channels Blair in extremism fight

  • 21 July 2015
  • From the section UK
David Cameron Image copyright PA

David Cameron's major policy speech on the challenges posed by Islamist extremism has been hailed in some quarters as a nuanced intervention in a complex and sensitive area, as well as attracting criticism from some others, including parts of the British Muslim community.

The prime minister's speech is interesting in a number of ways, including the light it inadvertently sheds on the ongoing political challenge posed by the growth in extremism in the last decade or more.

Read full article Cameron channels Blair in extremism fight

The forgotten conflicts

Rubble in Aleppo, Syria Image copyright Getty Images

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a significant proportion of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars in the Middle East.

By far the most numerous victims of violence in these conflicts were Muslims.

Read full article The forgotten conflicts

The educational struggle faced by girls around the world

Malala Yousafzai Image copyright Reuters

Occasionally stories break through that give a graphic sense of the enormous educational struggle faced by children, particularly girls, in many parts of the world.

For example, the shooting in the head of Malala Yousafzai - an advocate for girls' education - in 2012; the Taliban murder of 132 schoolchildren in an attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2014; and the abduction by Boko Haram of some 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in the same year.

Read full article The educational struggle faced by girls around the world

Ethnic minorities make their mark at Westminster

Sajid Javid Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sajid Javid is business secretary

David Cameron said in a speech last November that he wanted to see an ethnic minority prime minister to prove "Britons of all backgrounds can achieve".

Only time will tell whether he gets his wish.

Read full article Ethnic minorities make their mark at Westminster

The women whom science forgot

Dorothy Hodgkin Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dorothy Hodgkin: The "Oxford housewife" who won a Nobel Prize

A quick web search for the world's most famous scientists lists, among others, Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Alexander Fleming.

One of the few women to receive a mention is Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who basically discovered radiation and helped apply it in the field of X-rays.

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Does extremism threaten Hungary's standing in Europe?

  • 11 June 2015
  • From the section Europe
Activist and sympathizers of the far-right party Jobbik, in white, show up at a campaign event of the Hungarian left-wing opposition parties in Budapest Image copyright ATTILA KISBENEDEK
Image caption The nationalist Jobbik party has attracted considerable support

European Union leaders face many intractable problems: what to do about Russia, the growing Islamist threat within and beyond its borders, and last but not least the populist backlash shaking the political landscape in a number of countries.

In this last respect, Hungary, and the rise in political extremism there, is a case in point.

Read full article Does extremism threaten Hungary's standing in Europe?

Business as usual for Egypt and the West

Meeting between President Obama and General Sisi Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US renewed military aid but expressed concerns about "Egypt's continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials"

The renewal of US arms shipments to Egypt has come in spite of the fact some observers say the country is worse under President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi than it was under its former leader Hosni Mubarak, who lost the support of the Americans during the 2011 popular uprising.

The United States has given significant military and economic assistance to Egypt during the past four decades.

Read full article Business as usual for Egypt and the West

Election 2015: What to look out for in last 48 hours of campaign

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is launching a "two-day dash" from Land's End to John O'Groats

After a seemingly endless election campaign there are just two frenetic days left before voters decide who should be given the keys to Number Ten. It's certainly a nail-biting time for the exhausted political classes.

The party spin doctors will be on high alert, shepherding their political charges from one campaign event to another in the last hours. Nothing like a last-minute mistake, big or small - an unscripted phrase, a real or perceived policy misstep, an embarrassing TV moment - to undo all the weeks of hard campaigning.

Read full article Election 2015: What to look out for in last 48 hours of campaign

Does the UK remain a world power?

  • 16 April 2015
  • From the section UK
Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher Image copyright PA
Image caption Blair and Thatcher: International figures

Is the UK's role on the world stage a decades-long story of managed decline, including the orderly withdrawal from a once vast empire?

Or is it the story of a medium-sized power whose standing in the world reflects the new global reality?

Read full article Does the UK remain a world power?