Should Bernie Sanders step aside?

Donald Trump is officially the Republican candidate for President. Trump gained the 14 delegates he needed when he claimed 15 unbound delegates from North Dakota taking him to 1,238 delegates, 1 more than he needed. Trump’s victory has been guaranteed since his last rival John Kasich pulled out, but now he has mathematically closed the race. So with the Republicans sorted, we are left with the Democrats!

The Democratic race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is ongoing. Clinton has a big lead amongst delegates and is a clear favourite to gain the nomination. Bernie Sanders would have to secure a big proportion of the remaining delegates to overhaul Clinton or even take the contest to the convention. In reality the race as a contest has been over for some time, but yet Sanders still shows little sign of wanting to step aside.

While the battle between Clinton and Sanders has become increasingly bitter, Donald Trump has narrowed the gap according to the polls in the race to be President. The latest spread of polls indicate that Clinton is only one point ahead of Trump. Trump has benefited from the opportunity to focus on the General Election campaign and is beginning to gain the support of the Republican machine. The longer the Democratic race goes on, the more Donald Trump benefits.

So what is keeping Sanders in the race? Bernie Sanders believes the momentum is with him. He has won a number of the last contests and is narrowing the gap in California. He would also point to polls suggesting he is more likely to beat Trump than Clinton. Sanders is ideologically very different to Clinton and has only recently become a member of the Democratic Party, and therefore does not necessarily feel loyalty to the party and any pressure to step aside.

Sanders has run an excellent campaign, but he cannot beat Clinton. This means the time has come for him to let Clinton focus on Trump. Clinton is far from the perfect candidate, but is better than Trump. Sanders has brought many important issues to the fore and should be applauded for this, but he now has to see the bigger picture. It is time to end your campaign, Bernie!

Farage Poster Reaction Indicates Ignorance and Fear of Racism

A controversial poster released by the group Operation Black Vote, designed to encourage black and ethnic minority peoples to register to vote ahead of the upcoming EU referendum, drew a stinging response from UKIP leader Nigel Farage. The poster features ‘an elderly Asian British woman being berated by an aggressive thug’, and led Farage to accuse the group of ‘trying to divide society’. However, this criticism only serves to illustrate the persistent ignorance over racial issues in western society; and the continuing struggle that the Leave campaign and UKIP are facing with regard to proving that the stances that they have taken over immigration policy are not motivated by racism.

One certainly gets the impression that the long upheld myth that western society has transitioned into a new, wonderful post racial phase is slowly being debunked. Works such as Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow’ describe how an unwillingness to accept that social mobility in western society is not possible for all, and shame over the racial histories of various western societies, leads many to deny the problems facing black and ethnic minority communities today. Farage’s reaction to OBV’s poster epitomised this attitude of denial. His reaction suggested that he, UKIP and the Leave campaign, simply could not comprehend the message that the poster was attempting to convey, that racism in modern day Britain still exists and that the power of the vote is one of the powers available to black and ethnic minority peoples to combat it. Far from convincingly suggesting that the poster was unnecessarily antagonistic, the reaction of Farage and the Leave campaign was indicative of something else, fear. Both are afraid of the link between their desires for tighter control over immigration, and racism, a link that they have failed to erase in the minds of the public. The uncomfortable meshing of the aims of the Leave campaign with racism in the form of the ‘thug’ in the poster, provoked a prickly reaction from a leader eager to see this issue brushed under the carpet due to the damage that it could do to the cause that he fights for in the upcoming referendum and his party.

It is clear that both the Leave campaign and UKIP have yet to completely expunge the link between their immigration policies and racism, and it is a problem that could be fatal for the Leave campaign and continue to plague UKIP for years to come.

This Referendum Won’t Kill The Europe Issue!

Europe and the European Union has long been an issue that has dominated British politics. This culminates on June 23rd when the British public will be asked in a referendum whether they want to stay in the EU or leave the EU. To many on both sides of the argument, this may be the perfect way to end the discussion and move on. However in all reality and likelihood this referendum will not kill the issue.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage recently mooted a narrow ‘Remain’ win could lead to unstoppable momentum for a second referendum. This idea was immediately quashed by David Cameron who rejected the idea of a ‘neverendum’ and by leading ‘Leave’ campaigner Chris Grayling who insisted there should be no second referendum and that the government must listen to the views of the public, but this does not mean Farage hasn’t got a point.

The result of the referendum although binding will not change the opinions of politicians who passionately believe in their cause. If as the betting markets suggest the country votes to remain, it will not suddenly mean all Eurosceptics become fans of the EU and give up on their campaign. To a lot of politicians on all sides of the debate, this is why they are in politics and the idea they can simply walk away is ridiculous.

Europe and the EU is constantly changing. It is hard to predict with any certainty what will happen in the next few years. One event could change everything and there is a remote possibility of a new deal which triggers existing legislation for a referendum. A different Prime Minister, maybe a Eurosceptic Prime Minister could also see the issue differently. In politics with so much out of your control it is foolish to rule anything out.

The result of the referendum is paramount to what happens next. A surprise win for ‘Leave’ would by definition be decisive, but if as expected ‘Remain’ wins the future is less clear. Obviously there will be no immediate second referendum, but as Farage suggested a close result will keep the topic in the spotlight. There is too much heat around the EU for this to simply disappear from our politics and therefore our politicians will be banging on about Europe for some time to come yet.

What Next for the Green Party?

This summer the Green Party will be looking for a new leader after current leader Natalie Bennett announced her intention to stand down in August when her four year term comes to an end. Under Bennett’s leadership the Green Party gained a record vote share in the 2015 General Election and saw their membership increase to 60,000.

Despite these successes Bennett often faced criticism. Bennett struggled in the media and was not seem comfortable in this setting. She participated in the leadership debates but failed to make an impact and did not gain the poll bounce some were hoping for or expecting. This culminated in the Greens losing control of the council in Brighton and failing to add to Caroline Lucas seat in the General Election.

It is highly probable that it will be Caroline Lucas who will follow Natalie Bennett. Caroline Lucas is popular within the party, is very comfortable in the media and has performed this role before. She is the Greens only MP and has respect within Parliament. With Sian Berry and Jenny Jones ruling themselves out, it is likely it may be somewhat of a coronation.

Politics is fragmenting in this country. Support for the two main parties is on the decline, opening the way for smaller parties such as the Greens. Support for the party has risen steadily but not dramatically and will need to go up another notch if they want to break-through significantly. The Greens though will suffer from Labour’s leftwards pivot. Jeremy Corbyn has moved Labour leftwards and onto some of the territory the Greens have recently been occupying. This will further hurt the Green Party and their attempts to gain any breakthrough in the press.

It is unclear what the future is for the Green Party. Caroline Lucas is secure in Brighton but outside of that it is hard to see what impact they can make under the current electoral system. Labour’s move to the left has taken away many potential supporters. The Greens will remain at a solid level at the polls, but there will be no Green revolution. Not even a new leader could change that.

The ‘Remain’ Side Need Jeremy Corbyn to win over young voters!

Young voters are set to play a pivotal role in the upcoming EU referendum. Considered the key to victory by many on the ‘Remain’ side, efforts to woo them have been stepped up a notch in recent months. One politician considered crucial to this strategy is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who thus far has remained relatively quiet on the issue. This silence has registered with voters with a recent Opinium Observer showing only 47% of those polled knew Jeremy Corbyn supported remaining in the EU.

The same poll showed a lead for Remain over Leave in the age group of 18-34 of 53% – 29%, but crucially that only 52% would be certain to vote. This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in. In the Labour leadership election Corbyn did very well with younger voters winning 64% of the under 25 vote and 67% of the 25-39 year old age group. Added to this according to a GQQR poll for the Fabian Society, Corbyn is the most trusted figure within the Labour Party in this debate with a net approval of +17. In getting young Labour voters in favour of staying in the EU to the polls, these numbers highlight there is no-one better than Corbyn, so why is he not a more passionate advocate?

Firstly confusion remains over whether Corbyn actually wants Britain to stay in the EU. His endorsement and comments have been lukewarm and prior to running for leader held some Eurosceptic views. In 1993 he spoke out against the Maastricht Treaty and in 2008 voted against the Lisbon Treaty. He once also said that the EU had ‘always suffered a serious democratic deficit’. These are not the words or the stance of an ‘Inner’ and suggest the only motive for his stance is political survival and not ideological support.

Referendums are often won by the side who are the most effective in getting their supporters to the polls. For ‘Remain’ to be certain of victory they need young voters to turn up on polling day. For young, leftish voters, there is no figure they respect more than Corbyn. This carries consequences and means whatever role Corbyn decides to play in the next few months, he is likely to be of great importance.

Could a Barack Obama intervention make a difference in the EU referendum?

This month Barack Obama visits the UK possibly for the last time as President. During this visit he is expected to publicly announce his support for Britain staying in the EU. This has been widely briefed and has drawn a mixed reaction from campaigners on both sides of the debate. Figures such as William Hague and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond have openly stated they think Obama is well within his rights to share his opinion, but advocates of Brexit strongly disagree.

Boris Johnson has accused Obama of ‘hypocrisy’ and UKIP leader Nigel Farage called him ‘the most anti-British President in US history’. A letter organised by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox advising Obama to stay out of the debate has gained the support of over 100 MPs. The letter says “It has long been the established practice not to interfere in the domestic political affairs of our allies and we hope that this will continue.” However not all are worried by Obama’s involvement. For instance Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg rates Obama as a failed President and believes his stance would actually help the Brexit cause.

According to the polls this is not a view shared by the British public. A poll from Pew Research in June 2015 found 76% of British voters trusted him ‘to do the right thing regarding world affairs’ and an older poll conducted by YouGov in September 2014 gave Obama a net approval rating of + 49 in the UK. For any politician, these numbers are hugely impressive and they indicate Obama is both liked and trusted in this country.

Barack Obama brings an element of stardust with him whenever he visits this country. He is well-respected and voters listen to him when he talks. If and when Obama chooses to involve himself with this debate, he is likely to have an impact. With a significant proportion of the electorate still undecided, Obama could convert a number of voters to the ‘Remain’ cause. The debate will continue over whether he should get involved, but if he does speak-out then it will be significant and important and may be a game-changer.

What Happens to UKIP after the Referendum?

The outcome of the E.U referendum is likely to have profound implications across the political spectrum in this country. After a hectic period of campaigning all political parties will face a challenge to return to some sort of norm. In particular this will be a real struggle for UKIP, who throughout their history have been defined by this topic. The question is can UKIP survive or even flourish after the referendum?

A victory for the Brexiteers and by definition UKIP places the whole country in an unprecedented situation. David Cameron would be forced out and the country would be plunged into immediate negotiations over trade deals with Europe and the rest of the World. In this scenario UKIP may argue that only they can ensure a proper deal is negotiated and that the British public aren’t betrayed.

The other possibility is a win for the ‘Remain’ side. As the SNP have shown in Scotland, a referendum defeat does not spell the end for a political party or even that particular debate. Euroscepticism and fears over immigration will remain after the referendum and possibly a new opportunity could even emerge for UKIP to corner the Eurosceptic market in this country. Those hoping UKIP disappear after a referendum defeat will be sadly disappointed.

Leading figures within UKIP have already begun planning for this future. Over the last few weeks briefings to the press have started over a potential re-branding of the party after the referendum in the same style of the Italian Five Star Movement set up by Bepo Grillo. This movement pioneers online engagement and allows members to vote on policies. Although this has been tried successfully across Europe, it would be a first for this country.

Politics is an ever-changing dynamic and political parties have to constantly think on their feet. At this stage this proposal is only a consideration but UKIP may just be ahead of the curve here and therefore this is a situation to keep your eye on. One thing that can be guaranteed is that in one form or another UKIP are here to stay. The referendum will not and does not change this!


Why the Times Got It Wrong Over Hillsborough!

Last week a jury concluded that the 96 people who died at the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989 were unlawfully killed and a catalogue of failings by police and the ambulance services contributed to their deaths. This was a dramatic moment and signalled the end of a 27 year fight to clear the name of the Liverpool fans involved in this tragedy.

Unsurprisingly and justifiably this news dominated the written press and news bulletins. It was the biggest news story of the day and from a journalistic perspective deserved to be covered as such. This made the decision of two newspapers not to cover the story on their front pages hugely surprising. These two papers were The Sun and The Times.

This is only part of the story. After the initial tragedy in 1989 The Sun published its now infamous front-page headline simply stating ‘The Truth’. This headline and the following written piece made several horrible smears about the Liverpool fans and their actions on the day, all of which have now been found to be totally false.

The Sun has since apologised for this headline and no longer stands by the story, but have never been forgiven in Merseyside where a large number of residents boycott the newspaper. This could from a perverse angle explain why The Sun choose not to cover the story on the front page as they believed it may draw attention to their past failings. This cannot be a defence for The Times though.

The Times is The Sun’s sister newspaper and both are owned by Rupert Murdoch. In light of the verdict and all the ensuing history, specific attention was always going to be placed on these two newspapers and how they reported the story. This makes their decision not to report the story on the front page even more astonishing. At worst this looked conspiratorial and spiteful and at best looked like a horrendous mistake.

The Times did correct their mistake before the second edition was released, largely due to pressure from their own reporters and social media criticism and put media coverage of the story on their front page. The following day they did also release a statement apologising and trying to justify their position. The apology was necessary and The Times deserve some respect for this. However in reality this was never a situation that The Times should have placed themselves in. It was a sad day for one of this country’s established and respected newspapers!

Clinton is beatable, but Trump won’t do it!

So it is all but official the battle for the Presidency will be between Hillary Clinton for Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. Trump has bested all of his Republican rivals and stands alone in the Republican field as the presumptive nominee. Clinton has not yet sealed the Democratic nomination but her victory is inevitable with the focus of her campaign already turning to the General Election and the fight against Trump.

Hillary Clinton as a candidate divides voters.  She has been dogged by a number of controversies, most recently over her e-mails and it appears these scandals have registered with the American voters. The latest poll ratings showed her unfavourability ratings at 54.9% compared to favourability ratings of 38.4% equating to an overall negative rating of 16.5%. These findings are often considered the best indicator of a candidate’s success chances and therefore are far from pleasant reading for Clinton.

Furthermore Clinton does not boast universal support in her own party. A lot of Democratic voters are openly resentful of her and are far from certain to turn out and vote in the General Election. Turnout could be crucial in this unpredictable election and if Clinton cannot convince the Sanders supporters she could face a difficult night.

In normal circumstances this would be a Republican’s to lose, however these circumstances are far from normal. Donald Trump has so far defied all political norms and rules in his meteoric rise to the Republican candidacy. He has insulted large proportions of the American electorate, but yet has still managed to be successful. Could he repeat this trick at the General Election?

Although Clinton’s ratings are bad, they are nothing compared to Trump’s. His unfavourable ratings stand at 58.3% with his favourability ratings at 36.5% giving him an overall negative of over 20%. Trump has insulted both women and Hispanics in this election and it is hard to see how given the demographics in the U.S a candidate can be successful with these tactics.

Trump, like Clinton has problems on his own flank as well. Remarkably there are still many in the Republican Party unwilling to either campaign for or endorse Trump. This is true of some Republican voters as well. A figure who cannot even convince his own party to back him is surely going to find it hard to convince the country to back him.

Clinton is a beatable candidate. A Republican candidate who could appeal across the divide would likely be successful. Trump is not the candidate. Clinton may not be liked, but she is more popular than Trump. Therefore in what is likely to be a highly negative campaign fought between two unpopular candidates, it will be Clinton who will be successful. In the fall with no great enthusiasm America will elect their first female President.


The Syrian refugees- effective tool for Turkey’s geopolitical interests

A document that is claimed to be from the meeting of the President of the European Commission- Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council- Donald Tusk with the Turkish President- Recep Tayip Erdogan was published by a Greek financial news website. The meeting held in November 2015 on the G-20 meeting in Antalya. Mr Erdogan was not satisfied with the amount of €3 billion for the period of 2 years that the European leaders agreed to provide to Turkey to cope with the refugee influx. Instead he demanded a double amount- €6 billion- for the same period. The Turkish President demonstrated his frustration by stating that Turkey does not need the European money and if his country does not receive the €6 billion amount, he will put the refugees on buses and will deport them to Bulgaria and Greece. The EU and Turkish officials refused to deny or confirm the authenticity of the document, which gives a clear indication that the conversation have occurred.

However it is clear that Mr Erdogan aims to use the refugees as a political tool in order to gain more benefits from the EU. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. Despite the fact that Turkey is the 18-th biggest economy in the world for 2015, the country does not provide an access to the labour market to the refugees. A simple solution which if implemented will take significant part the burden from the Turkish and the EU taxpayers.

In addition to that Turkey continues to inflame the conflict in Syria, by attacking the Kurdish positions in the northern part of the country, thus contributing to the increasing number of refugees. Unfortunately the millions of refugees are simply victims of the geopolitical aim for influence of Mr Erdogan. The recent announcements of Turkey and Saudi Arabia that they will deploy troops and launch operations on the ground in Syria most likely will trigger another influx of refugees.  But Mr Erdogan is ready to host them, playing with the destiny and lives of millions of innocent people, by using them to gain financial and political benefits. The situation for the already devastated Syria will worsen.