Beyond the UK

A Second Referendum: What should Labour’s strategy be?

Political historians like to talk about ‘watershed’ elections—elections that, either immediately or in retrospect, act as milestones for a paradigm shift within the electorate and a tangible sea change in wider society. The UK is more than familiar with such moments. For students of politics, years like 1931, 1945, 1979, and 1997 are etched so indelibly in their consciousnesses that the mere…

Reflections on Tiananmen

Thirty years ago, the students of a bygone generation mourned the death of a reformer.  Hu Yaobang was a political survivor and a veteran of the Civil War who’d become Deng Xiaoping’s right-hand man. Unfortunately, his enemies successfully pinned the 1986 student demonstrations on his lax attitude and he was forced out of power, dying in relative obscurity not long afterwards. Eventually,…

Aussie Rules: Trade Unions and Capitalist Realism

Capitalist realism maintains its cold, grey grip over Australian society. Australia’s conservative parties managed to barely win a majority at the federal election on May 18. The result was generally seen as a surprise with the election reported as Labor’s to lose. The conservatives lacked vision, were internally divided and putting the third parliamentary leader of their  six-year term of government to…

Go Local: the American Left and Tea Party

It is difficult to question that American leftism is enjoying prominence unparalleled in recent years. No longer is left-wing politics viewed as a vote-splitting sideshow, represented by third-party figures such as Ralph Nader or Jill Stein. Much of the Democratic Party, inspired by its activist base and the 2016 primary campaign of Bernie Sanders, has come to accept many ideas previously seen…

Portugal: Fame, Politics and Leadership

Like Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and other accessible European politicians, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is mobbed every time he appears in a public place and is in regular demand for selfies. You can even download an app, Marcelfie, developed by José Brízida, in case you are one of the few fans not to have a photograph with President Marcelo. Like…

Brexit: The Need For Compromise

With election results, it is tempting to find an easy story to tell. The inevitable ambiguity and complexity that accompany them create a demand for narratives to join up the dots. Such narratives crave heroes and villains, exulting winners and humiliated losers. On that account, the winners in the local elections on Thursday were the Liberal Democrats and Greens, who respectively doubled…

South Africa: What Next?

On May 8th, South Africans will go to the polls. Virtually all pundits predict that the incumbent African National Congress will win its sixth consecutive mandate to govern the country nationally. While the party’s margin of victory remains an open question, it seems inconceivable that anyone other than Cyril Ramaphosa will be President. This threatens catastrophe for the left. To understand where…

Nicaragua: The Need for Moral Clarity

On September 10th last year, my friend Amaya was kidnapped from her safehouse by the paramilitary police in Leon, Nicaragua. She was taken to El Chipotle prison, notorious for human rights abuses, and transferred shortly afterwards to La Esperanza women’s prison, where she remains. A student leader in the anti-Ortega movement, she was charged with terrorism. Her trial has been delayed several…