The Harvey Weinstein Culture

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched on silently at the news concerning Harvey Weinstein, frustrated and disgusted yet equally unsurprised. The world appeared aghast. Harvey Weinstein isn’t the first of his kind. And the type of behaviour he displayed was and is not uncommon in a multitude of industries, ones I have worked in myself before.  Whatever the industry, there will always be a Harvey Weinstein. What we need is to eradicate the culture, to lose the phrase “it happens”. Our work starts there. The moment we refuse to accept it at the norm, that’s the point at which we can begin to work on eradicating it altogether. There are far too many cases of sexual harassment forgotten about, never mentioned, never reported, slipped under the rug.

The fact is, that despite being 2017 and all the progress we’ve made in a number of areas, we’ve also regressed. If a woman speaks out about sexual harassment in the workplace, it is HER that is looked upon unfavourably and it is HER that is feared for all the wrong reasons. Fear that she may cause an embarrassing lawsuit of some kind. But wait a second, what about the sexual predator that harassed her in the first place? Are we forgetting we have greater reason to be afraid of him?

There are laws in place to protect exactly the type of behaviour that women were subjected to by Weinstein, yet when women seek protection through such laws, they are often denied it and subsequently ostracised.

To be a feminist, you’ll agree, you don’t need to stand up on a pillar, wave about your flag and rant and complain about men. You just, at times like these, need to be brave enough to stand up for yourself. To recognise that the world isn’t defined by what some men who hold the most senior positions in certain industries believe; that the only way you can be successful is to respond positively to their sexual advancements. Your sexuality, your beauty, the way you dress, all of these things are not and should not be the reason for your promotion. Dress to power dress, not to please.

Yes, the world rallied round all the women who were mistreated by Harvey Weinstein. But the point is not support in the aftermath. Its the fact that the world and the film industry allowed this to happen in the first place! Your actions would have greater impact in the moment. If something isn’t right, doesn’t feel right, doesn’t seem fair, I urge you not to be afraid to just at the very least make clear your basic human rights. As a woman, I am disappointed that we are still not yet being completely valued for our achievements and instead are seen in almost tunnel-vision fashion; as sexual objects. Rather than as remarkable individuals, with the power to achieve and to be successful in whatever we may desire. But I am equally, if not, more disappointed, as a human being, that we are letting one another down. More than 50 women have come forward about Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Its 2017, this is just not acceptable. Not acceptable in a world where we’ve come so far in terms of healthcare and protection and security. A world in which to become a vet, you require more than 5 different checks. And this is exactly the same world in which Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed over 50 women. How on earth did he slip the net? How could we, did we, let that happen? I ask you then, where is security, law and order, and protection when we need it most? It seems our own systems are failing us.

And the truth is, it starts with us. Failing to report something only serves to condone the behaviour of the likes of Harvey Weinstein. We are failing each other. Always speak up. No matter how frightening the situation, integrity can never be a bad thing.

Let’s not live in a world where we make reporting a sexual crime, or any crime for that matter, a taboo. We have worked hard to create the democratic, civilised society we live in today and as the years go on, it’s in real danger of slipping right through our fingers.

Planning for a “No Deal” Brexit remains sensible!

Newspaper reports have suggested Brexit Secretary David Davis has ordered officials to step up preparations for the possibility of a failure to strike a deal with the EU which Davis would then present to the Cabinet. Labour has reiterated they will not accept a “no-deal” Brexit and that claims the UK could walk away from the EU without a deal are “irresponsible.”

However, surely this is simply sensible planning from the Government? Firstly, as a negotiating party there is a duty to prepare for all outcomes. A “No-Deal” Brexit appears to be gaining traction. (JP Morgan claims the chance of this occurring now sit at 25%.) Secondly, most would argue that to be taken seriously in any negotiation you have to show you are willing to walk away. Failing to do this provides the opposing side with a distinct advantage.

Crucially, though, and this point must be made clear, preparing for a “No-Deal” Brexit does not mean this is a desirable outcome. The call from Brexit pressure group Leave means Leave for Theresa May to walk away from negotiations should EU leaders refuse to start trade talks is irresponsible and dangerous. A “No-Deal” Brexit is not ideal for the country. It fails to provide economic and security agreements and provides no level of certainty. It would also be a significant negotiating failure which would have clear political consequences. So, yes it should be prepared for, but not sought for.

The reality is these negotiations are at an early stage. There is a lot to happen yet. Given that no country has tried to do what we are doing, it is clear this was going to be complex. The idea there wouldn’t be complications or disagreements along the way was simply ludicrous. Clearly, the mood music is not great at present. This does not mean that we should despair.

It is palpably in both sides interests to strike a deal. A “No-Deal” scenario hurts both the EU and the UK (yes it would hurt the UK more than the EU, but the EU will want to avoid unnecessary damage!) That is why it is likely both sides will reach an agreement at some stage. But, until that deal is agreed then the Government and the UK must have a back-up plan. And hopefully that is all this is and will be.


The Nordic Model and Compassionate Capitalism

The term “Nordic Model” refers to the broad spectrum of social, economic and political culture associated with the countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. These policies are relatively left-ward leaning in nature, which results in the unique Scandinavian mix of social democracy and free-market economics. This leads to a highly unionised labour force, an emphasis on collective bargaining under government mediation whilst simultaneously commiting to private ownership and free-trade.

It is typical of Scandinavians to accept a high level of taxation with the expectation that these taxes be used to support high quality public sector services such as hospitals, schools and transport infrastructure. It helps that these countries have some of the lowest corruption rates in the world: Sweden at rank 4, Finland at 3 and Denmark at 1 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (p. 22, Transparency International, 2016). Additionally, these countries enjoy some of the lowest levels of inequality of any region in the world because of its “universalist” approach to building a welfare state.

So, my question is; is it better to focus single-mindedly on a metric of political success that puts so much emphasis on GDP and economic growth, when to instead focus on a more compassionate capitalism can lead to more personal contentment and happiness? Our answer becomes all the more important once we note the fact that Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland take up four of the top five places in the World Happiness Index (UN, 2017). Just what kind of society do we want to build? One which works towards the increase of arbitrary numbers and statistics, or one which values the experience of those who live within its borders?

“Corruptions Perception Index 2016″ Transparency International, 2016, accessed at: (on 16/10/2017)

“World Happiness Report 2017″, United Nations, 2017, accessed at: (on 16/10/2017)

Osborne is right over May leadership!

George Osborne, former Conservative MP and Chancellor of Exchequer, now editor of the Evening Standard, threw another grenade into the ongoing conversation about the leadership of Theresa May on Thursday evening. Speaking at an event hosted by The Spectator, Osborne firmly stated there were “very serious challenges” facing the Conservative Party under the leadership of Theresa May.

The political and personal differences between the two are well-known, but if we ignore them and just assess what Osborne said, does he have a point?

Expanding on his main hypothesis, Osborne argued that “closing your eyes and hoping leadership questions go away, or exalting people to unity doesn’t work in politics.” This is a fair assessment. Although, many Conservative MPs have not voiced their concerns about Theresa May in public, it does not mean these concerns don’t exist and aren’t bubbling away and waiting to burst out at an appropriate time. The latest polls indicate Corbyn has now drawn level with May in the best Prime Minister ratings. This will only exacerbate the debate in the Conservative Party.

Osborne also added that it was no good for the Conservative Party to say “oh, I wish we could all stop talking about it” and that you couldn’t talk to a member of the Cabinet without the issue being raised. This adds weight to claims made by Grant Shapps during his aborted coup that there were Cabinet Ministers who wanted Theresa May to call a leadership contest. The Sunday Times also reported that at least three Cabinet Ministers had discussed the need to replace Theresa May. This cannot be merely labelled a ‘Westminster bubble’ issue, this conversation is dominating the highest levels of Government.

Osborne also remains defiant about the belief that the Conservative Party are at their best when they are “positive about the country’s future”.  This is a clear critique of the direction he believes Theresa May is leading the Conservatives in. The performance of the Conservative Party at the General Election raised legitimate questions about the brand of the Conservative Party and what voters believed about them. The damage caused by that campaign and the need for the party to change their image again will only persist whilst Theresa May is leader.

Projecting false senses of unity, insisting conversations aren’t happening and lastly pretending all in the party are happy with its current direction will not close this debate down. Leadership conversations in politics are notoriously messy, but until the Conservative Party have this debate, most crucially about their future direction as a party (and that includes their leader) they will not progress. Surely that is not in anyone’s interest?

A Tale of two Conferences

The Conservative party is in disarray. Its lack of unity, its continued Brexit bemusement and its uncertainty over leadership came to a crescendo at their conference in Manchester last week. By contrast, the Labour party is inexplicably in the ascendency: a strong and stable leader in Jeremy Corbyn, a vibrant and unified atmosphere, appearances for notable intellectuals and social progressives and even an increasingly coherent approach to Brexit, outlined at the Labour conference in Brighton. The two conferences represented a decisive shift of the centre ground in politics, towards the left.

Theresa May and the Conservatives recognise this convergence. It was almost pitiful to see the Conservatives borrow the language of the left, with ‘a country that works for everyone’ emblazoned on every wall. It appears the Conservatives are also desperate enough to reprise a Labour policy from the past promising an energy price freeze (Mason,2017). Conservative efforts to remedy their estrangement with the young was symbolised by an increase to the threshold at which students would have to pay back their debts and a planned freeze on tuition fees increasing again. In a further effort to detoxify Tory perceptions among the youth, there was a promise of a £9bn boost for affordable housing to help younger generations get on the housing ladder (Bush,2017).

As Theresa May coughed and spluttered her way through a painfully unconvincing speech, (disrupted by Simon Brodkin brandishing a P45), Jeremy Corbyn delivered a commanding speech with an unexpectedly clear position on membership of the customs union and the single market, the protection of EU citizens, and a more predictable commitment to a national education service, pledges to control rents and regenerate council housing (The Guardian,2017) – policies proven to be popular with the electorate (Curtis,2017). Corbyn had the confidence of a man aware that he had conquered the mainstream media, dirty Conservative politics, an embittered Blairite coup and two landslide leadership elections. He seemed aware that he has more than earnt his place.

The most exciting and busiest Labour conference for years stood in stark contrast to the anxious and half-hearted proceedings at the Conservative conference. Despite the demonization of Momentum, it has rejuvenated the Labour party, which now has over half a million members (Waugh,2017). With the overwhelming support of young people and ethnic minorities, Momentum has provided a platform for the apathetic and the hopeless to believe in politics once again. Furthermore, its social media campaigning has revolutionised Labour’s communication capabilities. Be in no doubt, that with a return to its grass roots, full support from the unions and with honest, principled politics informing policy, the Labour party could win the next election.

The pinnacle of excitement at the Conservative conference came from the adoring fans of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Ruth Davidson, those extolled as possible successors to Theresa May. They were relentlessly quizzed on their respective positions on leadership. Boris Johnson, another potential leadership candidate accused of destabilising the party, gave a hopelessly jingoistic speech about the lion of Britain roaring despite occupying an isolated and economically impotent place in world politics. He was also sharply reprimanded by Amber Rudd for not applauding the ailing Prime Minister during her speech. Johnson even had just enough time to describe his vision for Libya; he predicted that it could become the new Dubai, as long as we ‘clear the dead bodies away’ (Elgot & Mason, 2017).

Only days later, everyone’s favourite Grant Shapps claimed that an internal plot calling for May to stand down was imminent, and it had the support of over 30 MPs and ‘one or two’ frontbenchers (Bush,2017). It seems that May has been granted her wish of emulating Thatcher, but sadly it may only be in the way she is forced out by a dispute over the EU, by members of her own party. Corbyn, on the other hand, is busy preparing for the future and busy digging graves: one for Theresa, one for austerity and one for New Labour. And over the clear and aerated soil, he has planted a red rose with stronger grassroots, ready to blossom once again.

Bush, Stephen, ‘Five thoughts on Conservative party conference’, The New Statesmen (2017)

Bush, Stephen, ‘Could Grant Shapps’ plot to bring down Theresa May succeed?’, The New Statesmen (2017)

Curtis, Chris, ‘Corbyn’s policies really are popular with centrist voters. But he still isn’t’, The Guardian (2017)

Elgot, Jessica & Mason, Rowena, ‘Theresa May faces calls to sack Boris Johnson over Libya comments’, The Guardian (2017)

Mason, Rowena, ‘Theresa May’s speech to Conservative party conference: key points’, The Guardian (2017)

Waugh, Paul, ‘Labour Party Membership Soars By 35,000 In Just Four Days – After ‘Corbyn Surge’ In 2017 General Election’, The Huffington Post (2017)

The Guardian, ‘Corbyn’s conference speech: the verdict’ (2017)

Should we worry about North Korea?

Should we worry about North Korea?

Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have increased, with Kim Jong-Un conducting the Norths 6th nuclear test on the 3rd September 2017. Increasingly heated rhetoric has taken ever more unprecedented forms; we have seen a flurry of insults with Mr Kim bringing the word ‘dotard’ into public discourse, and Trump declaring the NK leader to be a ‘madman.’ Threats of ‘fire and fury’ have echoed from the Whitehouse, and after Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ the people’s republic in a speech at the UN, Mr Kim stated the U.S. would ‘pay dearly’ for such remarks.[1] While Trumps use of twitter to state NK ‘won’t be around much longer’[2]  if threats continue certainly represents a unique approach to international diplomacy, and may appear concerning, it is important not to overstate the threat faced firstly by NK, and subsequently from Trump’s slapdash approach in confronting it.

Behind the rhetoric you should first observe the intentions of Pyongyang in pursuit of a nuclear programme. The number one goal of all states is survival; in international relations and from the perspective of offensive realism, states behave as rational actors with survival as the prime objective in an anarchical international system, when states can never be certain of the intentions of others.[3] As a result, rather than absolute power, states seek as much power relative to others as possible; because states are assumed rational, the best way to ensure your survival is to become powerful enough to deter an attack. As the BBC acknowledged, the North Korean government reasons that developing their nuclear capability ‘would protect the government by raising the costs of toppling it,’[4] which on some level appears rational. After all, from Pyongyang’s perspective, the U.S. has an estimated 35,000 troops in South Korea, 40,000 personnel in Japan,[5] a powerful nuclear arsenal and a track record of toppling state leaders.[6] Behind the rhetorical threats therefore, the actions of NK in attempting to acquire a nuclear capability likely reflects its wish for security, not a war which could have no benefit for anyone.

Secondly, while the tone and style of communication between Washington and Pyongyang has changed, we have experienced great tensions before and the position of the U.S. has always been clear. In 1994 during the Clinton administration, the U.S. nearly went to war with North Korea in order to halt its nuclear programme after the International Atomic Energy Agency was denied access to NK’s nuclear sites.[7] After despatching greater forces to South Korea, to the obvious alarm and mobilization of the North, the diplomacy of former president Jimmy Carter diffused tensions and avoided military confrontation.[8]

To be clear, this is a deeply complex issue with myriad contributing factors, effecting any calculation of threat potential. These include the role of North Korean identity politics, the potential desperate actions of Pyongyang in the aftermath of a maintained sanctions in the form of a boycott of North Korean trade, and possible miscalculations from Washington. However, diplomacy tends to win out, as neither side wants war, and while Trump’s correspondence with the north appears confrontational, the fundamental message remains consistent to his predecessors; diplomacy is preferred, but the U.S. will not hesitate to the American people and allies by any means necessary.

[1] BBC News, ‘North Korea: Trump and Kim call each other mad,’ BBC News, (2017)

[2] Julia Allen, ‘Donald Trump warns Kim Jong-un ‘won’t be around much longer,’ The Telegraph, (2017) Available Online:

[3] John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, (U.S.: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2001) 36

[4] BBC News, ‘North Korea-US tensions: How worried should you be?’ (2017) Available Online:

[5] Oliver Holmes, ‘What is the US military’s presence near North Korea?’ (2017) Available Online:

[6] BBC News, ‘North Korea-US tensions: How worried should you be?’ (2017) Available Online:

[7] Leon V. Sigal, ‘The North Korean Nuclear Crisis: Understanding The Failure of the ‘Crime-and-Punishment’ Strategy,’ Arms Control Association, (1997) Available Online:

[8] Leon V. Sigal, ‘The North Korean Nuclear Crisis: Understanding The Failure of the ‘Crime-and-Punishment’ Strategy,’ Arms Control Association, (1997) Available Online:




Allen. J, ‘Donald Trump warns Kim Jong-un ‘won’t be around much longer,’ The Telegraph, (2017)

BBC News, ‘North Korea: Trump and Kim call each other mad,’ BBC News, (2017)

BBC News, ‘North Korea-US tensions: How worried should you be?’ (2017)

Sigal. Leon V, ‘The North Korean Nuclear Crisis: Understanding The Failure of the ‘Crime-and-Punishment’ Strategy,’ Arms Control Association, (1997)

Mearsheimer. John, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, (U.S.: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2001

Why May survives for now!

Former Conservative leader and Foreign Secretary William Hague once referred to his party as “an absolute monarchy tempered by regicide.” Probably, pretty accurate!

Throughout their chequered history, the Conservative Party has developed a reputation for being ruthless with their leaders, neatly bringing us to the current incumbent and Prime Minister Theresa May.

After a calamitous conference speech, (yes, impacted by some factors outside of her control), a snap election which went badly wrong and a permanent loss of authority, the pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister.  This pressure reached boiling point this week when a rebellion led by former minister Grant Shapps, with the alleged support of 30 fellow MPs and 5 former Cabinet Ministers publicly called on May to step down.

This number of MPs falls below the 48 threshold needed to force a leadership contest under current Conservative Party rules. Shapps move has been condemned by Tory colleagues who have advised him to “shut up.” Despite the apparent failure of this coup, most senior Tories accept that it is only a matter of time before May has to leave, so why has she survived on this occasion?

The one thing (most likely, the only thing), that the Conservative Party is united on is that they don’t want another General Election for the foreseeable future. This is an election, they would be likely to lose. There are fears that although there is no constitutional pressure to call an election when a Prime Minister is changed, the pressure could lead to exactly this occurrence if May is forced out. It is clear there is a consensus that removing May leads to a situation they cannot control.

Secondly, there is no obvious candidate to replace her. Boris remains popular with the membership, but not so with his colleagues who could block him. Amber Rudd, David Davis or Philip Hammond have also been mentioned but none can make an overwhelming case. The most obvious choice is Ruth Davidson, but she shows no signs of wanting to come to Westminster. Those, and there are many, who want the top job are willing to keep their powder dry until the climate is more favourable towards them.

Lastly, there is Brexit. Brexit impacts everything in our politics. There is a school of thought in the Conservative Party, that with negotiations at a fragile stage this is not the time for a leadership contest. Brexiteers are worried a new leader would seek to halt Brexit and Remainers are worried a new leader would desire a harder Brexit. Both these groups are unwilling to risk a change, with so many factors outside their control.

Theresa May will survive this coup, but is on very thin ice. A Prime Minister with no authority cannot continue indefinitely. The rebels will regroup and will strike again and next time calculations could well have changed for other MPs and potential leaders. It still remains a matter of time.

Labour’s anti-Semitism problem

Labour conference was in buoyant mood this week at Brighton. Understandably so you might say. The mood music was that this was a party with momentum and on the verge of government.

However, in the midst of this jubilant atmosphere, one ugly issue began to rear its head again; anti-Semitism. Remarks at a party fringe event around whether people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust happened created a worrying sense of deja vu.

Accusations of anti-Semitism have plagued Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership tenure. Immediately after becoming leader Corbyn found himself defending comments he made about Hamas. Controversial remarks from Ken Livingstone then followed in 2016. This, alongside other events, led to the conduction of the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism.

Since last summer the issue has continued to bubble away, but has not flared up again until this moment. There was a hope that a new, stricter rule on anti-Semitism agreed at the conference would put an end to this discussion. Alas not.

The level of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is much debated. Senior Labour MP John Cryer, has said he has been “shocked” by the level of some anti-Semitic tweets sent by party members. Allies of Jeremy Corbyn, however, such as Len McCluskey, Ken Loach and Ken Livingstone argue that these claims of anti-Semitism are driven by leadership plots.

Regardless of the legitimacy of the accusations, this is not an image the Labour Party can shake. This should worry all in Jeremy Corbyn’s team. Ethically, any political party in the 21st century should long have moved on from anti-Semitism, especially one supposedly on the progressive wing of politics.

Electorally, it carries a cost as well. In two heavily Jewish constituencies in London at the 2017 General Election; Finchley and Golders Green and Hendon, the swing towards Labour was notably smaller than elsewhere in London. The 9.1% average swing Labour enjoyed across London would have been enough to win the seats.

Labour as a party need to act swiftly and firmly against these allegations. The longer this whiff of anti-Semitism continues, the more damaging it will be. So, yes question and criticise the actions of the Israeli government if necessary, but know where to draw the line. It is time for the Labour Party to do whatever it needs to, to bring this to an end.

Osborne has over-stepped the line

There is no love lost between George Osborne and Theresa May. The two enjoyed a difficult relationship throughout their time in David Cameron’s Cabinet and often found themselves at odds over policy direction. This feud only heightened when Theresa May sacked Osborne after becoming Prime Minister in 2016 advising Osborne to “get to know the party.”

A lot has happened since then! Official Brexit negotiations have begun. We have had a snap General Election, where unexpectedly Theresa May failed to gain a majority. And, lastly, George Osborne has left Parliament and become Editor of the Evening Standard.

Osborne has enjoyed the freedom of this new role. He has used his newfound influence to stick the knife into the Prime Minister, attacking her on numerous instances. (Examples include the mocking of the Conservative manifesto on election night, labelling the Prime Minister a “dead woman walking and comparing the Prime Minister to the “living dead in a second rate horror film.”

However, recently, Osborne was considered to have a crossed the line in remarks he allegedly made about the Prime Minister. Reportedly, he told colleagues at the Evening Standard he would not rest until Theresa May was “chopped up in bags in my freezer.”

These comments have drawn sharp criticism from Conservative MPs. Nadine Dorries has called for Osborne to be banned from party conference, Jacob Rees-Mogg has labelled Osborne as “bitter”, Iain Duncan Smith called the language “irresponsible” and Maria Miller said “we need to debate with facts, not vile abuse.” The list could go on and on.

Osborne considered himself humiliated when sacked by Theresa May. Therefore, to a certain extent, it is not surprising that he is enjoying the Prime Minister’s demise. Partially that is just human nature in action.

This does not mean though, that Osborne can say whatever he wants and ignore the consequences of his words. Osborne still holds a position of authority and has a duty to act responsibly. Language such as this is provocative at best, and violent at worst. In an era, where MPs and disproportionately female MPs are subject to vile abuse, all engaged in politics should be toning the language down, rather than dialling it up.

Osborne is a man of great ability, but this is beneath him. Osborne in his role should focus on balance, rather than personal attack. Maybe, a period of silence from Osborne would not be disastrous at present.