Modern German politics is not known for it’s cliff-edge drama and ideological adventure, yet it’s capital city had a bit of both in the last few days.
Wandering around Labour conference last week, it was hard not to be struck as much by what wasn’t being discussed as what was. Among everything, there was one particularly notable absentee.
It’s hard not to feel dizzied and bewildered by almost every aspect of the Syrian crisis – including the debate on intervention which has engulfed British politics.
As preparations gathered pace in Split for Sunday’s celebrations, marking Croatia’s membership of the EU, the city’s local radio stations provided a fitting soundtrack. ‘Go West’ by the Pet Shop Boys seemed to play almost on loop throughout the day, filtering out of nearly every restaurant or coffee shop you walked by.
If you listen carefully, you can hear it coming. With next Monday marking one year since Francois Hollande was elected French President, a tidal wave of I told-you-so’s and smugness is about to be visited upon us by Westminster’s commentariat.
It’s fair to say that most of them have never much liked the French president.
Of the twentieth century it’s often remarked that “the left won the culture war, the right won the economic war”. If nothing else, Ken Loach’s Spirit of 45, out in cinemas last week, is a useful reminder that this did not always seem like being a foregone conclusion.
Last week, the Treasury spin machine went into overdrive in response to Labour’s push to highlight the cut in the 50p top rate of tax.
The centrepiece of their case was that the 50p tax had reduced the number of millionaires paying tax in the UK by 10,000 from 16,000 to just 6,000.
Three days on from the re-election of President Obama, the hangovers that followed a night of celebration for Democrats have receded. As a nice bonus, the Republicans, by contrast seem to be facing a four-year long headache. The inquisitions and post-mortems have already began.
There’s no doubt that David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference yesterday was one of his better ones since becoming Prime Minister.
Since the summer reshuffle, a lot of discussion has been devoted to the right-ward shift of the Conservative party. As Stewart Wood writes, the Tories detoxification strategy seems like a “distant memory”.
On 26 March 1999, Russia and China tabled a UN Security Council resolution condemning the US-UK led intervention in Kosovo, which had been launched following the escalating massacre and ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians by Serb forces.
The resolution denounced NATO action as a flagrant breach of sovereignty and demanded its cessation.
Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have both used this week to fire the starting gun on a debate over social mobility. Both, for different reasons, want to push past a focus on tuition fees.
It’s fair to say that the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis has not been kind to the left. A favourite talking point of those writing obituaries for social democracy is that right-of-centre governments have come to dominate the continent, holding power in 22 of 27 EU countries.