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John Major at 25: the best ex-Prime Minister we’ve ever had?

Written by Mark Stuart.

Twenty-five years ago this weekend, John Major was supposed to be celebrating his greatest political triumph. For the previous month, he had been campaigning around the country, and had just discovered that he had unexpectedly won the 1992 General Election, confounding the opinion pollsters, who had predicted a victory for Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party. Prophetically, however, when Major commented to his wife Norma that his Conservative Government had been re-elected, she had fallen fast asleep. Almost immediately, Major’s Second Government had fallen flat. Continue reading John Major at 25: the best ex-Prime Minister we’ve ever had?

With Syria missile strikes, Trump turns from non-intervention to waging war

Written by Ben Rich.

The United States’ unilateral missile strikes against a Syrian airforce base are a dramatic escalation of its participation in that country’s civil war. The US government has attacked a Syrian government asset for the first time.

The attack also marks Donald Trump’s first major foreign policy test as US president. It represents a 180-degree shift from his previous position of opposing intervention in Syria. And the sudden about-face sends a worrying signal for how his administration may handle future crises in international relations. Continue reading With Syria missile strikes, Trump turns from non-intervention to waging war

Emmanuel Macron faces a really big problem if he becomes French president

Written by Ariane Bogain.

Currently riding high in the polls, Emmanuel Macron, the self-styled “beyond left and right” candidate for the French election, has been tipped to become the next president in May.

But if he does, will he actually run the country? This question might sound odd but the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority. Continue reading Emmanuel Macron faces a really big problem if he becomes French president

Why Community Participation Works: The Inclusive Housing Strategies of Humanitarian Organizations

Written by Ladylyn Lim Mangada.

In November 2013 Super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) displaced 4.1 million people. More than one million houses were destroyed. The economic damage was estimated to be 14.5 USD billion. Tacloban City, the largest urban center and hub of the Eastern Visayas region suffered catastrophic damage. 28,700 houses were totally damaged and 17,600 were partially damaged. Of those damaged houses, 90% were in low-lying coastal areas and were primarily occupied by informal settlers or the urban poor. The rebuilding of settlements in Tacloban has proven to be a protracted and contentious process. This short article argues that it has been essential for survivors to be involved in a transparent process of ‘building back better’ in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. Continue reading Why Community Participation Works: The Inclusive Housing Strategies of Humanitarian Organizations

The Scottish and UK governments should beware the Ides of March

Written by Simon Toubeau and Jo Murkens.

Whispers of betrayal have been circulating since January, when the Prime Minister delivered her strident speech at Lancaster House. But the daggers were finally drawn a fortnight ago- poignantly timed and served with a Shakespearean twist. And, as it came to pass during the fall of Caesar, both camps feel betrayed.

Theresa May- soaring in popularity, victorious in driving the Brexit bill and on the cusp of triggering Article 50- was suddenly betrayed by nationalist grumbling in Scotland. Indyref 2.0. is on the table. The plot lead by the rebellious Tartan faction has grown in fervour with every broken promise. The promise of continued access to the Single Market and of working with the devolved administrations.  Continue reading The Scottish and UK governments should beware the Ides of March

Debating the British Empire’s ‘legacy’ is pointless – this is still an imperial world

Written by Ibtisam Ahmed.

As the march towards Brexit rekindles arguments over British nationalism and the strength and merits of the union between England and Scotland, the mass of conflicted feelings over the British Empire is naturally bubbling to the surface again.

In the UK itself, two main tendencies are in full flow. On the one hand is an unease with nostalgic nationalism and imperialism: notions like the much derided vision of “Empire 2.0” from the trade secretary, Liam Fox, come across as either shocking and distasteful or the natural progression of reclaiming a proud historical heritage. On the other is a more upbeat sort of post-colonialism: March 13 saw celebrations for the 40th Commonwealth Day, and the UK is preparing to host the 2018 Commonwealth heads of government meeting. Continue reading Debating the British Empire’s ‘legacy’ is pointless – this is still an imperial world

Jeremy Corbyn’s first 18 months: a damning report card for the Labour leader

Written by Tom Quinn.

It has been 18 months since Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as leader of the Labour party, promising “a new kind of politics”. In September 2015, he pledged to build on the enthusiasm generated among his supporters during a leadership contest that saw him start as rank outsider before sweeping to victory on a left-wing wave.

The intervening period has not been kind. Corbyn’s tenure has been marked by factional conflict, parliamentary revolts, frontbench resignations and electoral weakness. Hardly anyone now believes Labour can win the next election. Despite the early optimism of his supporters, Corbyn already looks like being one of the most ineffective and unpopular opposition leaders in the post-war era. Continue reading Jeremy Corbyn’s first 18 months: a damning report card for the Labour leader

Brexit causes anguish on Gibraltar

Written by Andrew Canessa.

Gibraltar was the first to declare its vote in June’s EU Referendum, returning a 96% vote in favour of Remain. But rather than set a trend for the night, Gibraltarians watched with nothing short of horror as the UK voted to Leave.

Gibraltar joined the European Economic Area with the UK in 1973 and will leave the EU with it. At a little over six square miles, this small territory is utterly dependent on the flow of goods and people across the border with Spain, not only for its prosperity, but for its survival. So Brexit is causing no small amount of concern among residents of what is colloquially known as the Rock.

We have been collecting the life stories of people on both sides of the border for several years in order to trace how a Spanish speaking population with strong kinship and cultural ties to Spain became so identified with Britain and its culture. Continue reading Brexit causes anguish on Gibraltar

The Commonwealth and Britain: the trouble with ‘Empire 2.0’

Written by Stan Neal.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, its new international trade secretary is talking up the potential of trade with the 52 nations that make up the old British empire. Some have even dubbed Liam Fox’s meeting with Commonwealth leaders to discuss trade “Empire 2.0”.

There is an irony here. It comes at a time when populist critiques of the economic consequences of globalisation are frequently combined with nostalgia for Britain’s imperial past. But these views neglect the fact that the British Empire was itself a key agent for economic globalisation and the mass movement of migrant workers in the 19th century. Continue reading The Commonwealth and Britain: the trouble with ‘Empire 2.0’