Hello friends new, old, and even the haters and losers. What a fun time it has been since The Social Review’s inception: the Labour party was in a state, the government kept establishing deadlines it was bound to miss, and the climate crisis was the most terrifying prospect of our lifetimes. How things change! In any case, we welcome you back to us and hope you too are happy to see us again, or seeing us for the first time. This is your usual Social Review, if you like that sort of thing, or a brand new one if you didn’t. We hope you will enjoy your stay.
It is not the most pleasant of months to be getting started on the task of writing about the state of the left in the world, and specifically, in Britain. The Labour party, that vortex of discourse, is having another one of it’s perpetual moods. Having narrowly escaped a second by-election defeat, Keir Starmer now finds himself with an opportunity and a problem: the breathing room necessary to define his leadership in his own terms. This should not present a challenge for a leader handed the conditions that Starmer was – a majority of PLP support and a strong mandate from almost all sections of the party – but the political novice has proven himself inept and unable to manifest the feelgood, generic Labourite spirit of his leadership campaign into a cohesive set of political ideals.
Changes have begun to take place in the internal operation that might help in this mission, but the leadership is running on borrowed time; should it fail again, the doomsday clock looming over its head will continue to count down. Rumors about a leadership challenge from his deputy Angela Rayner and talk of union spending reviews are symptoms of the same problem; a Labour leader that does not have the capacity to lead, nor the ideological direction he wishes to lead his party in. For Starmer, this month has a simple mission: change or die.
For the government, the big prize is the July 19th lockdown lifting. Having missed the chance to reopen the country once, it’s hard to believe a man as popularity-obsessed as Boris Johnson will miss it again. There would be a very heavy price to failing to do so. Rumblings of backbench discontent within the Tory party mean any faults will be seen in a much harsher light than usual. Consider Matt Hancock’s, shall we put it, Johnsonian approach to his private life and how badly received it was both by the Tory party and the country, leading to his resignation. Moralism is not in fashion in British politics, but internal and external pressures around lockdown make private life now much more interesting, and the professional life of politicians much trickier.
Away from politics, there is every reason this will be a good summer. Vaccinations are doing their part, life is slowly returning to normal, and maybe you will enjoy football coming home. It can often feel like we do not have much to celebrate, so it will be good to enjoy these events. For that and everything else, The Social Review hopes to continue to be with you.
Last month’s favourites round ups: