Tag Archives: Labour Party

EU Beauty: Kung Fu Corbyn Reveals Royal Flush! #Brexit

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Cocaine Socialism: UK’s Richest Constituency ‘Shows Insane Levels of Empathy’!

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#GeneralElection17 Latest: Is 2017 the New 1997?

As regular readers of this blog will by now doubtless be aware of, while we at Mediolana devote a fair amount of space to covering political developments across the globe, we tend to confine ourselves to observations on the bigger picture: the global financial crisis; the Arab Spring; the rise of China, the BRICS/BRICIS and the emerging markets – in short, the macro trends which matter. We do not usually take too much notice of ‘routine’ elections in relatively stable European democracies unless there is something about them which is truly worthy of comment – and this year’s parliamentary contest in the United Kingdom is exactly that, and not for the reasons that you might imagine.

Forests have been felled in noting the sharp demarcation between the two main parties – Conservative and Labour – and their respective leaders, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn; moreover, this observation is indubitably accurate. Voters are being offered a choice between a low(ish) tax pseudo police state with seemingly sub-sexual sadist tendencies and a high(er) tax ‘retro’ social democracy with shades of the Second Coming – and given the general public’s recent proclivity for engendering erratic electoral outcomes, all bets are off as to what they might end up choosing.

But after some contemplation, we think that there are three deeper reasons why this particular election is worth analysing:

  1. Austerity question marks. The electoral discourse has revealed a profound disillusionment with the austerity status quo – and frankly, this is understandable. The 2007- global financial crisis was an historic opportunity to transition advanced economies to a more sustainable financial and ecological architecture by increasing the price of money and reallocating the many trillions of dollars spent on counterproductive wars to social spending and sovereign wealth funds. Instead, indiscriminate, cruel and in fact literally fatal squeezes on essential public services have been imposed with no sign at all of any concomitant debt reduction; this is now in the process of being rejected in the UK.
  2. Establishment disenchantment. The sheer cynicism and lack of deference – at least on the part of the broader public – towards such institutions as the ruling party, the prime minister and even so-called ‘deep state’ entities has been extremely apparent; interestingly, the two bizarre and tragic terrorist episodes that have happened during the election campaign seem only to have intensified this distancing when precisely the opposite effect would have been observed in decades past. And one of the few things that could remedy this – a decisive economic upturn which is felt by the majority of the citizenry – does not appear to be on the cards anytime soon.
  3. Professional angst. The eerily unequal and arguably inequitable British economy seems to have stung public sector workers into a level of political awareness and organisation not seen thus far in the twenty-first century: teachers, nurses, doctors and university lecturers have suddenly (re)discovered a sense of class consciousness, with a stunning 54% of the final group expressing a preference for the Labour Party in a recent Times Educational Supplement poll. Again, if they do not see a significant improvement in their slice of the fiscal pie, this kind of discontent has the power to shift the electoral – and ultimately the societal – landscape far beyond what might or might not happen later today.

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Left Turn Ahead: ‘Unelectable’ Politician Wins Consecutive Landslides!

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The 2012 London Mayoral Contest: An Election About Nothing?

Perhaps owing to our status as a Kensington-based company, we have been repeatedly asked our opinion on the imminent elections for the post of Mayor of London, a position that – contrary to the expectations of many commentators – has taken on an increasingly high profile, not least owing to the fact that the incumbent is answerable to a constituency of over 7.5 million people which constitutes one of the world’s most dynamic conurbations.

Yet try as we might, we at Mediolana are struggling to get excited about an election which, at least in theory, should be one of the most thrilling political contests anywhere in global politics: a battle for representing and serving a city with neighbourhoods of almost every socio-economic profile imaginable within the developed world; a location where more than three hundred languages are spoken; one of a handful of genuine world metropolises.

Having surveyed the small mountain of multicoloured policy-filled literature that has dropped through our letterboxes during the last few weeks, we have concluded that there are a number of reasons that make the 2012 London mayoral election one to forget:

1. Lack of Ambition. The Conservative incumbent – one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (‘Boris Johnson’, ‘Bo-Jo’) – has some good ideas for what would be his second term in office, but they are disappointingly small in scale. His proposal to plant 20,000 trees on London’s streets is a noble notion, but considering that a city such as Istanbul – comparable in size to the UK’s capital, but with a smaller GDP – counts new saplings in the millions rather than the thousands, one is left wondering whether Johnson is really aware of the strides that are possible in this regard. Similarly, the current mayor has commissioned a truly outstanding ‘New Routemaster’ bus, yet has promised to roll just 600 of these out over the next four years, meaning that even in 2016 the NBL-type double-decker would comprise less than 10% of London’s bus fleet.

2. Lack of Ideas. Johnson’s only real electoral rival is Ken Livingstone, back in the Labour Party fold since January 2004 having won his first of two terms (2000-2004) as a maverick candidate outside the scope of a party machine. Staring at his campaign pamphlets, we wondered to ourselves: is this really the same man who once introduced visionary policies on transportation and air quality? The basic thrust of Livingstone’s campaign appears to be a series of virtually inconsequential financial subsidies: a 7% public transport fares reduction in a settlement where the price of a single bus journey starts at £1.30 is hardly pulsating; the restoration of a £30/week education grant, while welcome, is far from material.

3. Lack of Awareness. One thing that pretty much all the candidates – regardless of political hue – seem to share is their apparent blissful ignorance of the issues that preoccupy Londoners on a daily basis and which, if addressed, could make a real difference to the quality of life for millions of people. Twenty-four percent of Londoners would like to use a bike but refrain from doing so out of fear of getting squashed to death, yet we have heard no proposal for a Copenhagen-style network of segregated bikeways; vast swathes of the city are architecturally and socially conducive to riots, but the need for redeveloping these areas is scarcely touched on; and in an era where re-shoring is beginning to enter the economic lexicon, any initiatives to make London a hub for light industrial manufacturing capacity (and less reliant on the volatile and largely insolvent financial services sector) have passed us by. Roll on 2016?


Filed under Politics, Urban Life