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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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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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Lotte in Weimar – Thomas Mann’s Hope for a Humanist Culture against Barbarism

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Just a few steps farther, Frau Councillor! Down this corridor, no distance at all from the stairs. We have had to renovate very thoroughly, since the visit of the Don Cossacks, at the end of 1813: stairs, chambers, passages, salons, and all. Maybe the renovation was long overdue; anyhow, it was forced upon us by the violent, world-shaking course of events. They taught us, perhaps, that it is precisely violence that is needed to produce all memorable and historic moments. Yet I should not give the Cossacks all the credit for all our improvements. We had Prussian and Hungarian hussars in the house as well – to say nothing of the French who came before them! (Mann, 1968, [1939], pp. 17-18) Continue reading Lotte in Weimar – Thomas Mann’s Hope for a Humanist Culture against Barbarism

Keeping the Enlightenment Spirit Aloft – Faraday’s Democratising Science

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Recently I was in Derby and, arriving early to an event, I popped into the Derby Art Museum. There are two famous paintings on the wall next to each other by the Derby enlightenment painter Joseph Wright – one celebrating the new Newtonian physics and the other celebrating the dangerous work of the blacksmith as a heroic figure. Wright’s painters are a reminder that the Enlightenment was not just in Paris or other national capitals but that its intellectual ferment had a broader social reach.  Continue reading Keeping the Enlightenment Spirit Aloft – Faraday’s Democratising Science

Veteran Protests in Croatia

By Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac

‘Minister Matić and his deputy Vesna Nad insulted me personally’, disabled Croatian veteran Đuro Glogoški informed waiting veterans and reporters outside the Croatian Ministry of Veterans on 19 October 2014 (http://www.braniteljski-portal.hr/Novosti/Hrvatski-branitelji/Prosvjed-branitelja-Koliko-ponizenja-moramo-trpjeti). The wheel-chair bound veteran representative had gone to see the veterans’ Minister Predrag Matić about the problems of disabled veterans. Matić is himself a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But veterans object to Matić as ‘one of them’, part of the Croatian establishment, enjoying ministerial perks and betraying their interests, and are demanding the Minister and his deputy resign.

The incident has triggered other veteran organisations, informally led by a former special police commander Josip Klemm, to camp in protest outside the Ministry of Veterans for the last month. The protesters claim that a systematic campaign is being waged against veterans. The protests became particularly tense after the sad death from natural causes of one of the disabled veterans camping out.

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Where things stand – Rochester and Strood

By Mathew Goodwin 

A new poll in Rochester and Strood provides further insight into Ukip’s evolving support ahead of this crunch parliamentary by-election. 

Today we have a new and fourth poll from Rochester and Strood, this time from Lord Ashcroft. The past three polls each gave Ukip a comfortable lead of 9, 13 and then 15 points. My hunch was that the new poll would show the race to be slightly tighter because of three factors. First, Lord Ashcroft polls (and others) in battles like Heywood and Middleton tended to underestimate Ukip support. Second, since the earlier batch of polls the Conservatives have been turning up the volume on their negative coverage of Mark Reckless, the Ukip candidate. And, third, Ukip are not used to being in the lead. It was plausible that a young party might take its foot off the pedal.

The latest snapshot does suggest a reduced Ukip lead of 12 points but the basic picture remains the same: a strong lead for Ukip, a difficult second for the Conservatives and David Cameron, and a distant third for Labour -a party that held this area of Kent as recently as 2010. If these snapshots turn out to be accurate on November 20th then Nigel Farage’s party will be handed their second seat in the House of Commons -and in the 271st most Ukip-friendly seat in the country.

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Analysing exploitation and resistance: the centrality of class struggle.

By Andreas Bieler 

In my recent article ‘Transnational Labour Solidarity in (the) Crisis’, published in the Global Labour Journal and freely downloadable here, I assert three key claims: (1) the importance of a historical materialist approach to analyse exploitation and resistance; (2) the significance of understanding the structuring conditions of global capitalism; and (3) the centrality of class struggle defined broadly. In this post, I will provide an overview of the main claims.

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The enduring presence of the now parked ‘Go Home Van’

By Roda Madziva and Vivien Lowndes

Following our blog published on 10th February, which featured the ‘Go Home Van Campaign’ as ‘evidence’ of the deepening and expansion of the immigration enforcement regime, we have now conducted an empirical study with migrant support organizations, refused asylum seekers and those without legal leave to remain, generating their views on the impact of this high-profile campaign. Although it has been almost a year since the vans have been taken back to the garage, preliminary findings show that their presence continues to reverberate in the lives of many migrants. While the official withdrawal of these infamous mobile objects could have publicly marked the end of the campaign, many migrants have continued to experience violence and stigmatization in other forms and in different settings. In addition to the increasing community level checks and harassment of people suspected of having an irregular status, the migrants we interviewed cited reporting centres as hidden sites where people are consistently bombarded with the language of ‘Go Home’. Individuals are also being routinely searched and harassed, and having mobile phones with cameras being confiscated in order to ensure that what happens in these securely guarded places does not leak to the outside world.

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