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Showing posts from January, 2015

After Mariupol

Russia is refusing to back down in Ukraine.

All out military force is being used in order to support the declared Russian military objective that Ukraine be defeated and divided. Civilians are being deliberately targeted and the attacks on a major power station and other industrial operations is a clear attempt to destroy the Ukrainian economy.

Put simply, the Russian Federation is engaged in a huge act of aggression against a peaceful neighbour. Despite sanctions, and despite increasing economic weakness Vladimir Putin stands defiant.

In Britain, the evidence of state sponsored murder of a British citizen is now revealed and is both clear and overwhelming. 

Russia is seeking by overt aggression and covert subversion to attack the West. The astonishing lies put out by the Russian propaganda machine are feeding a frenzy of anti-Western hatred. Some countries- including Greece- have been severely compromised by a large scale and long term Russian espionage penetration. Russian espionage act…

The Next Coalition and the fight for Liberalism and Reform

The UK opinion polls are volatile and extremely difficult to read. it has become a cliche that the next election is both uncertain and very open. The only certainty is that the chances of a hung Parliament seem very high. In fact in the face of such uncertainty I can claim no special knowledge ahead of the result. Yet I think that there are actually some significant shifts which are now on the political agenda.

There is still a chance that at the last gasp either the Tories or more likely Labour can snatch a single party mandate under the current system. Nevertheless although Labour have an advantage in that it takes far fewer votes for them to win each seat, there remains the imponderable of what impact any SNP surge might have on their overall total. For what its worth, I think that, as in the referendum itself, and as so often before, the SNP confidence will prove highly misplaced, and what might be a quite promising result of -say- 15 seats will be deemed a relative failure and the…

Fighting the New Cold War

A piece in today's FT by Ivan Krastev, suggests that far from backing down, the Putinist government in Moscow may be considering stirring up trouble for the West on a new front: the Balkans. Given the nihilist Russian position on Syria, which has essentially destroyed that country, it is quite possible that Putin could meddle in the region, with some attempt to reward Serbia's more friendly position to Russia by dismembering Bosnia. Yet the economic crisis of Russia is causing a rapid erosion of Russian soft power, and the collusion of corruption, which Krastev identifies as the primary source of Russian leverage is dwarfed by the attractions of European integration. Although Russia is now seeking public spending cuts- with the glaring exception of defence spending, the economic situation in Moscow is looking increasingly bleak. That Putin has a weak grasp of economics has been obvious for some time, and thus he fails to understand the serious and permanent damage his policies…

The Monarchical Problem

Talking about the Monarchy in Britain is generally a bit like talking about the weather. No matter how odd it might be, it is simply there, a fact of life. It may seem a rather foolish institution, but it has survived into the twenty-first century for two reasons: the strength of character of Elizabeth II, sanctified by her long reign; and the lack of appeal of an alternative presidential system. This second is usually expressed as "you wouldn't want [insert the name of a party politician who is widely disliked, but nonetheless popular on their own side] as President now would you?".

There usually follows some bunkum about the monarchy being "good for tourism", as though the important constitutional role of head of state should be decided by backpackers or overweight Americans in leisure wear. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Queen remains both respected and popular, and for as long as she remains on the throne, the future of the system she embodies is la…