Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

The Uncuts: 2021 Political Awards (Part I)

31/12/2021, 09:50:22 AM

Political Comeback Of The Year: Keir Starmer

On the morning of Sunday May 9th , Keir Starmer was on political life support. Labour had lost the Hartlepool by-election the previous Thursday and then his attempted reshuffle had been blown up by Angela Rayner refusing to go quietly. The headlines for Labour and its leader were dire. There seemed to be a real chance that Keir Starmer might not make it to the end of the year in post.

But here we are, at the back of 2021 and Labour has a solid lead in the polls with its leader ahead of Boris Johnson on just about every metric. Keir Starmer even delivered a reshuffle that has reinvigorated the shadow cabinet, marginalised the left and palpably diminished the power of his turbulent deputy.

What went right?

Boris Johnson obviously has played a large part in the shift. Few could have anticipated the missteps over Owen Paterson, the video and photos of lockdown breaking Christmas celebrations in 2020 and the loss of a 23,000 majority in North Shropshire.

But these mistakes have only accelerated a trend that was evident back in the dark days of May.

At Uncut, on May 19th, we wrote that the vaccine bounce was obscuring the underlying position in British politics – namely that the parties were likely level pegging, a reality that would become evident once the vaccine bounce subsided.

And so, it has come to pass.

Keir Starmer’s achievement has been in holding fast to his basic approach. Unlike the voices in May who called for an immediate new direction, for tomes of policy to be rushed through, for panic measures, he has demonstrated a rare skill in modern politics: to wait. He remained calm, at least outwardly, waiting to make his case to the public until the worst of the pandemic was in the rear-view mirror.

The news cycle for a major event moves from reporting of the facts to the first wave of comment within a couple of hours. There’s then a further wave of comment reacting to the initial comment within another few hours, generally crystallising around a set of demands for action in a third wave of comment, which is then pitched at politicians for a binary yes or no answer. Should X be sacked? Do you disavow your position on Y? Will you resign if Z happens?

A cycle which would have taken several days to unwind twenty years ago, now occurs within hours. It’s a rollercoaster where the imperative is on politicians to act ‘decisively’. And then do so again the next day on the next issue, and again later that week and on and on. Keir Starmer is a rather an old fashioned politician who doesn’t.

It’s a strategy that carries risk. Persistently rejecting demands for instant action, over weeks and months, builds a meta-narrative of inertia and weakness. It’s a story that the Labour left have done their best to tell to undermine and topple the leader.

But the polling over the past month doesn’t lie and ultimately Keir Starmer has called it right. He’s moved on his own terms when the timing and circumstances were propitious and put himself in the best position to capitalise when Boris Johnson’s manifest failings became electorally evident. More please in 2022.

International Politician of the Year: Olaf Scholz

Germany is under new management. Labour’s sister party now leads Europe’s economic powerhouse and political centre of gravity. Olaf Scholz is our international politician of the year for ending the Angela Merkel era with this sea change victory.


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Bringing the Rhine to the Tyne: why Ed Miliband is right to reinvigorate social democracy

04/10/2011, 09:04:25 AM

by David Mathieson

Moving to the left, deserting the middle class and betraying wealth creators. The Tory attack lines from Manchester this week are all too predictable and have been well rehearsed by their comentariat over the past few days: the “Red Ed” strapline is back in vogue as they pick up on elements of Miliband’s speech proposing a new social and economic bargain.

So what is it that so upsets the British right about what Miliband said? An economy which accommodates values other than just those of the market? A recognition that firms have obligations beyond shareholder value? One of the few solid proposals in Miliband’s speech, a worker representative on pay boards, would hardly raise an eyebrow elsewhere in those parts of continental Europe where a more inclusive Rhineland model of capitalism holds sway.  Miliband explicitly did not reject market capitalism but merely argued that our existing economic model needs to be redrawn: what the Labour leader is effectively seeking to do is bring some of the Rhine to the Tyne.

Why Miliband’s arguments for a new economic bargain should set the Tories ablaze is baffling for two reasons. First, because the Rhineland model is a creation of the right rather than the left. Post-war German politics, for example, have been dominated by the Christian democrats of the CDU, not the social democrats of the SPD (political disagreement in the country seldom touches the economic model which is supported – in every sense – by both major parties). Switzerland may have some red in the national flag but that is about as far as it goes – Zurich and Lucerne are not bastions of the left. The Benelux countries are notable their for caution, coalitions and consensus.

The second reason for Conservative fury is equally bewildering. Most British families understand that our economic model is broken and they are looking to their politicians to fix it. Labour may trail the Tories on the issue of the economy in the polls, but Osborne’s ratings are dismal. Voters will reward those who come up with a solution which chimes with their own values.


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How the Tories talk down consumer confidence

10/02/2011, 04:00:34 PM

by Richard Horton

There has been much talk in the business pages of a two speed economic recovery. A recovery that sees the economies of the developing world grow quickly while the developed world sluggishly heaves itself out of the remnants of the financial crisis. The long and painful rebalancing of a number of Europe’s economies, the UK’s included, is forecast. And yet life, or should that be economics, is not that straightforward. Within the developed world and especially within Europe, we are witnessing our very own two speed economic recovery.

Economists at ING Group describe how “a deep economic chasm” has formed between core euro-zone countries and the rest. The UK may well sit outside the euro-zone but that does not mean that it sits outside of Europe’s two speed economic recovery. At first glance, the GDP figures for the fourth quarter of 2010 may point to the UK being firmly rooted on the sluggish side of the European chasm. But what is more telling than GDP figures or manufacturing production numbers is consumer and business confidence.

Two weeks ago, the BBC reported the findings of a social research survey published by GfK NOP. The results showed how consumer confidence between December and January had plummeted by its largest monthly fall since 1994. UK consumers were not just more worried about their current financial situation compared to a year ago but they were also more concerned about the future of the economy compared to a year ago. In contrast, and on the other side of the European chasm, the same survey indicated that German consumer and business confidence had reached a four year high in January. (more…)

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We need to be on the right side of EU disintegration

11/01/2011, 07:00:52 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour modernisers have been largely pro-European since Neil Kinnock made them so. The role of the EU in advancing Labour’s goals has often, however, been vaguely defined. As UK relations with the EU head towards various crunches, this seems likely to be inadequate.

The issues that are most important to people will determine the next general election: the economy, jobs and public services. Nonetheless, debate about the EU is going to get hotter. As this happens, the connections between EU policy and the things that people care most about are likely to become more apparent.

Most immediately, the European Union bill, over the short to medium term the euro-zone crisis and the longer term need for the UK to adapt to the rise of Asia could all bring UK/EU relations to the boil. The first of these pressure-points diminishes UK influence in the EU at the same time as the second poses not only an existential crisis to a currency to which we don’t belong, but a union to which we do and our largest trading partners.

Either disintegration of the euro/EU or consolidation of the euro as both a fiscal and monetary union seem more likely outcomes of this crisis than perpetuation of the status quo. Either way, British business has only just begun the adaptation that it must undergo to prosper in a world whose centre of gravity lies ever more firmly to the east. (more…)

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Mike Forster looks at the leadership contenders: David Miliband is Brazil.

12/06/2010, 04:59:11 PM

Much has been said on this site and others about communicating with our core constituency in a language they can understand. So thought I’d have a crack at explaining the second-most interesting contest going on at the moment in terms of the first.

True, there aren’t 32 contenders in the Labour leadership contest, but there are parallels with the world cup.

Whichever team wins the football, though, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on your life or anybody you know. Even England winning will only have a fleeting impact, mainly a stinking hangover on July 12th.

Our eventual choice of leader, though, could mean the difference between 5 years of a Tory government or 10, or even more. (more…)

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