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Iran and the Downward Spiral of Transatlantic Relations

Written by Azriel Bermant & Wyn Rees

Image credit: Public_Domain_Photography (pixabay.com)

The United States and Europe find themselves in a growing crisis with Iran. The US is funnelling military assets to the region following a series of incidents that have caused damage to petroleum tankers in the Persian Gulf. Although Iran has denied involvement, many suspect that Tehran has been the instigator of these attacks. Adding fuel to this combustible picture is Iran’s signal that it will breach the threshold on nuclear enrichment that was imposed by the 2015 nuclear agreement. President Trump has indicated that he does not want war but others in his administration see things differently and crises have the potential to escalate beyond the designs of rational policymaking.

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A free vote: This May be the lifeline Theresa needs

Written by Thomas Eason

Political turmoil has become something of a feature in British politics since the Brexit referendum. Time and time again Prime Minister Theresa May has faced down calls for her resignation and speculation about her suitability for office. Yesterday, the Prime Minister presented her draft Brexit deal to Parliament, creating a major political backlash that appears to present her greatest leadership challenge yet. After a gruelling few hours answering questions in Parliament about the Brexit deal, it’s clear she is unlikely to get her way in the Commons. In this chaotic context, there has been speculation over whether May will give her MPs a free vote – a vote in which MPs are allowed to vote without instruction from party managers. In this blog I explore how a free vote could impact May’s future as PM and argue that it might just be a much needed lifeline for the Prime Minister.

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Corbyn’s critics must go back to their social democratic roots

Written by Steven Fielding. 

It is a year since Jeremy Corbyn unexpectedly denied Theresa May a Commons majority. According to his supporters the 2017 general election vindicates Corbyn’s leadership: had the campaign been longer, they argue, he would have ended up prime minister. Whatever its merits, Labour members have taken this interpretation to heart and given those closely identifying with Corbyn a majority on the party’s national executive committee. As Labour prepares for its ‘democracy review’ this body has the power to entrench Corbynism for a generation.

All this has left shell shocked those unconvinced by Labour’s new management. Immediately after the election, one they predicted would be disastrous for the party, most were struck dumb. But recently some have expressed concern over Corbyn’s response to the Salisbury attack, anti-semitism and Brexit. Such random acts of criticism have however not diminished the Labour leader’s support: in fact the more he is attacked the more Momentum’s membership increases.

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Does Brexit really realise the ideals of JS Mill?

Written by Helen McCabe.

Boris Johnson’s Valentine’s-day speech intended to make a ‘positive’ case for exiting the European Union.  It was not exactly a love-letter to the EU and ‘Remainers’.  Rather it was an oratorical bouquet, intended to persuade lovelorn anti-Leavers to end their attempts to ‘frustrate the will of the people’.

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Taking over schools is taking over the heart and minds of the next generation: The case of Hungary

Written by Ksenia Northmore-Ball.

Whoever, in a given society, controls the content of school textbooks is in the highly privileged position of shaping how the next generation of citizens views the world. As the American Pulitzer-winning journalist and historian, Frances FitzGerald has said, school textbooks “tell children what their elders want them to know.” School textbooks take a special position in that they command unquestioning authority. The younger the school children reading the books, the less equipped they are to question the content – in other words, school children are the ideal captive and impressionable audience. Any ambitious political leader, movement, or regime with a strong guiding world view will ultimately desire to influence and control the education system, particularly the content of school textbooks. In a liberal democracy, one hopes that a plurality of social and political actors can influence this content.

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Mohammad Bin Salman’s Ambitious Moves: Order or Disorder in Saudi Arabia?

Written by Khurram Shahzad Siddiqui.

A headstrong 32 years old Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman known colloquially as MBS caught the attention of international media in April 2015 when King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud made him the defence minister and Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN) as a crown prince, making him first in line to the throne of Saudi Arabia. The first step MBS took as a defence minister was to make a pan-GCC coalition with other Arab states and launch air strikes on Yemen in March 2015 after Saudi backed President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was forced into exile by the Houthi rebel movement. This was the first move by MBS to show his authority to the other powerful princes of the House of Saud, like Prince Muqrin, Director General of Al Mukhabarat Al A’amah (Saudi Intelligence Agency) and Mohammad bin Nayef (MBN) crown prince, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the Council for Political and Security Affairs. By this move MBS flexed his muscles to the Arab World in order to make Saudi Arabia a key regional player and conveying a direct message to Iran of his power.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton is just a historical safe space

Written by Steven Fielding.

That most peculiar of demographic groups – left-wingers and liberals who like musical theatre – has keenly anticipated the opening in London’s glittering West End of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit Hamilton. Reader, it is here! Those who can afford to travel to the capital and have enough cash left over for the price of a ticket, are apparently in for a treat.

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