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Questions Of The Day (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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Migration is nowadays an example of that old joke about two men being chased by a bear. "We'll never outrun him." "I know, but I only have to outrun you." Pritti understands that Britain (and Denmark) merely have to be less liberal than the competition. The present brouhaha began when Frau Merkel decided to be more liberal than the competition, which would have been fine except Germany is in the middle of a continent composed of countries with relatively open borders. [Memo to Pritti: surely Danish migrants must have mostly come through Germany. Why can't they return them to the last country that doesn't actively persecute migrants as per International Law?]

But anyway it's a race to the bottom between liberal populists. Populist liberals. Liberals afraid of populists. Populists subsidised by liberals. Liberals pretending to be populists. Populists pretending to be liberals. We've seen all these combinations tried out in recent electoral politics. It's very confusing to the various electorates but in my estimation Pritti is just the man for the job.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick Harper wrote:
Why can't they return them to the last country that doesn't actively persecute migrants as per International Law?

There is no international law to do this. There is no legal requirement for a refugee to declare in the first country they managed to escape to, which does not persecute refugees. Further, as we are no longer part of the EU, there is no administrative arrangement, such as the Dublin Agreement, which would require a refugee's application to be processed in the first EU country that they arrived in. It is just not the case that Britain could now enforce these returns.

What Brexit has done is to stop asylum seekers going to an EU country, becoming a refugee in that EU country, let's say Italy, and then exercising their free movement rights under EU law to come to Britain. This was a popular route, as it was both legal and safe, and for those reasons not at all newsworthy. Now free movement has gone, the asylum seeker whose ultimate destination is Britain will have to try to get here direct.
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Mick Harper
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The problem with international law in this area is:

a) it was mostly framed in the highwater days of the 1940's and 1950's when there was no mass economic migration, refugees were overwhelmingly European displaced persons and asylum-seekers were mostly fleeing from the Soviet jackboot and served as great propaganda fodder
b) there is no practical enforcement procedure to ensure everyone keeps to the rules
c) anyone who suggests it is time to reframe the 'laws' to reflect current realities is a fascist hyena.

I do not think your EU strictures are particularly relevant. Legal migrants have no special reason to come to Britain. If they are free to live anywhere in Europe there are plenty of better countries than ours. Even if they do, as you say, they present no great problem. Illegal migrants do have a good reason to come to Britain wherever they find themselves in Europe because we don't have ID cards. As we know from thousands of them hanging around Calais et al, they weren't allowed to come here in EU days and they will presumably continue to come in, as best they can, whether we are in the EU or not.

And how do they 'get here direct'? If they are not coming from another EU country that surely means by air and I can't see that being viable.
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Mick Harper
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Swaziland is in an uproar. The 'last absolute monarch in Africa' is/is not on the way out and, either way, everyone is calling for democratic reforms. I know nothing about Swaziland (e.g. I didn't know it is now called Eswatini) but I do know that every single 'democratic' government in Africa has so far been a disaster. He may be an absolutely rubbish monarch, Eswatinians, but think very carefully about your next step.
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Mick Harper
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I was pleased by the Batley & Spen result. I never know who I'm rooting for until the result is announced and I experience a rush of (admittedly moderate) emotion. This time it was a feeling of relief, presumably because I want a bit of stability in the main opposition party.

Two post-it notes. There was reference to homophobic slurs against the Labour candidate. First time I've ever heard of these being aimed at a woman politician. And then there are the Muslims. Offer them an independent candidate who is demographically perfect and they will vote Labour like they always do. Offer them a rabid, atheistical, ultra-Marxist Scottish joke figure and they'll vote for him rather than Labour. Very AE of them.
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Grant



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Batley and Spen is the bellwether sounding the end of the Labour Party. They’ve already lost the white working class vote. Now Galloway has shown how easy it is to take the Muslim vote: criticise Israel and stand up for Kashmiri Muslims.

By the next election or two a genuine Islamic party will have removed Labour’s last chance of holding office
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Mick Harper
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Not likely. Every single Muslim in Britain will recognise that a 'genuine Muslim party' would a) be ruinous for Muslims in terms of native backlash and b) win no seats. Whereas at the moment they can use their numbers (and their political skills, however dubious) to ensure plenty of Muslim MP's, councillors, mayors, cabinet ministers etc etc, in both parties. They are like the Irish in America.

But you are nearer the knuckle about the Labour Muslim vote. So long as Labour is looking over one shoulder for anti-Semitism, it can't look over the other shoulder for Muslims, without careering off the road. But to say it's Labour's last chance of holding office is a bit premature. These are all tactical not structural problems. But only if the Left are thoroughly squelched because the Left don't care about Labour getting into office unless it is controlled by the Left, and if it is controlled by the Left it cannot get into office. That's a structural problem.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Grant wrote:
Batley and Spen is the bellwether sounding the end of the Labour Party. They’ve already lost the white working class vote. Now Galloway has shown how easy it is to take the Muslim vote: criticise Israel and stand up for Kashmiri Muslims.

By the next election or two a genuine Islamic party will have removed Labour’s last chance of holding office



Surely if Labour won, in a "Red wall seat" despite having lost the working class and the Muslims, it is good news, after all, they must have got their votes from somewhere. Maybe their traditional vote held, as they opted for the oldest trick in the book, fielding a close relative of a popular MP that had passed in unfortunate circumstances?
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick Harper wrote:

But you are nearer the knuckle about the Labour Muslim vote. So long as Labour is looking over one shoulder for anti-Semitism, it can't look over the other shoulder for Muslims, without careering off the road. But to say it's Labour's last chance of holding office is a bit premature. These are all tactical not structural problems. But only if the Left are thoroughly squelched because the Left don't care about Labour getting into office unless it is controlled by the Left, and if it is controlled by the Left it cannot get into office. That's a structural problem.


Not sure. Labour always has had to build a broad church of left and right, that is down to tactics. The structural problem is that there are fewer working class voters, and as Labour reaches out to other groups such as Muslims, LGBTQ community, it is alienating its core support. It's also finding that each of these other groups have their zealots, and appeasing these folks is far more difficult than solving any left/right divide.
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Boreades


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Grant wrote:
By the next election or two a genuine Islamic party will have removed Labour’s last chance of holding office


Would there only be one Islamic party?
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Mick Harper
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Labour always has had to build a broad church of left and right, that is down to tactics.

It always is a broad church, as are all major parties in democracies that operate first past the post. You make it sound as if someone is in charge of the process.

The structural problem is that there are fewer working class voters

The structural problem is people employing such impossible-to-define terms as 'working class' for analytic purposes.

and as Labour reaches out to other groups such as Muslims, LGBTQ community, it is alienating its core support

Yes I agree this is the crux, it generally is. See above re broad churches. The Democrats in the US figured they could make a coalition-of-minorities work; Donald Trump figured they couldn't.

It's also finding that each of these other groups have their zealots, and appeasing these folks is far more difficult than solving any left/right divide.

And that's why. But it goes back to your 'working class'. As soon as you think you have identified your target voter you discover they are not so much a target as a playing field. Even when you've got a tight grouping -- you instance Muslims and LGBT -- you discover that George Galloway or the Lib Dems can effortlessly outbid you. They've got bows and arrows, you've only got big guns.
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Mick Harper
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Would there only be one Islamic party?

Israel gives you the answer. The Muslims there are 20% of the electorate and could dominate politics (in a holding the ring sort of way) but cannot form a party. (They sometimes manage 'a list'.) Even though Muslims in Israel, one would have thought, have a far stronger identity of interest than British Muslims do.

Again, look to the Irish in America. They were hardly down the gangplank before they were dominating New York and New England politics. But note: this had nothing to do with benefiting the Irish (or immigrants or the poor or drinkers) but everything to do with benefiting a few Irishmen. You see entirely the same pattern when Pakistanis set to in English mill towns.
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Grant



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This business of giving the NHS the George Cross is a good example of what I believe is now called “jumping the shark.” What’s going to happen when people realise that 90% of NHS workers have never seen anyone with Covid and have had the easiest year in their career?
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Mick Harper
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The last time this happened was (I think) when Malta was given the George Cross during the war. But it raises a different point from yours. Unlike the NHS all the people of Malta suffered from the bombing and the privation. But they had no choice in the matter so is that really 'bravery' within the meaning of ordinary usage? Though come to think of it that applies in the NHS case as well.

We should though all give ourselves a medal for outstanding acts of nauseating sentimentality whenever the three magic letters are uttered.
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Mick Harper
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From Our Art Critic

Joe Biden's son is getting up to half a million for his paintings. Given that they are derivative hokum from an (otherwise) unknown artist, the people paying these prices are suspected of being in the president-influencing business. Possibly so, it isn't my beat, but what wasn't mentioned is that the entire art world is in the derivative hokum business and who pays what for whom is largely down to who's having sex with whom in Studio 54.

So who cares if Hiram T Billionaire wants to build a spaceport on top of an Iroquois burial ground and wants a Biden original in one of his guest bathrooms? Better that than being in a Japanese bank vault alongside van Gogh's The Night Watch. Ah, the Golden Age when people wore flowers in their ear. We shall not see their like again. Hopefully.
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