Hot Takes #6

3 Apr 2016


Concise opinions from people you should follow on Twitter.


Read Hot Takes #5



Consider yourself a party-starter? Now’s your best shot


Jack May – @JackO_May


Across the nation, poll cards have landed gently onto doormats. The elections taking place in May won’t change anything seismic, but are interesting thanks to a uniquely large pool of floating voters.


Labour under Corbyn has alienated scores of moderates; the Liberal Democrats have lost their local footholds and are adrift under a drab leader; UKIP has dropped off the political map but soldier on pointlessly under Farage’s endlessly loony tyranny; the Greens are somewhere; and the Conservatives are self-combusting on Europe, the minimum wage, benefit cuts, and just about anything else they can get their hands on. Never in recent political history have all the main parties simultaneously been in such total disarray.


The ‘morning after’ prognosis, therefore: my money's on not very much happening at all. Turnout is always low at local elections – the estimate for 2014 was 36% – but I expect turnout this time to be drastically lower still. Voters with nobody they can fully support just don’t bother.


The key point of all this? If there’s ever been a time to start a new party, this is it. The best bet at this point would be a moderate centre-left-ish coalition of Lib Dem types, Blairites, and Tories who think taking billions from the disabled is a bit off. Paint the post-Brexit Tories as irresponsible, accrue support, win by-elections, and play the long game under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Not since the mass enfranchisement of the early 20th century has there been a better time to strike out with something new.


The key question: who’s going to come up and get this party started?




Time for the Tories to drop the ideological narcissism and act on steel


Alex Shilling – @AlexShilling


There are many myths in modern British politics and, individually, they make for reading that is entertaining and infuriating in equal measure. My current favourite is that the Tories are the party of pragmatism.


George Osborne's ideological obsession with running an overall budget surplus has caused terror for low­paid workers and the disabled, and the failure of the government to act on the Port Talbot steel crisis is yet another example of the ‘party over country’ priorities of the Conservative leadership.



It is not realistic to find a buyer for Tata immediately and "mothballing" Port Talbot would cost yet more millions and jobs, while full nationalisation could backfire spectacularly. Therefore, as uncomfortable as this would be for a Conservative government, temporary nationalisation is the only credible immediate course of action while a buyer is found.


Yet the Prime Minister ruled out such action earlier this week, as did Business Secretary Sajid Javid, although he rowed back on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. Indeed, Business Minister Anna Soubry, often the sole voice of pragmatism in a deeply ideological and divided Conservative Party, hinted at the action midweek.


It is inevitable that the Tories, who have been playing for time throughout this entire saga, will end up doing just that. But the lack of leadership from David Cameron and his government's refusal to act for reasons no more noble than ideological pig­headedness (sorry Dave) highlights once again one of the great myths of our politics.



In the aftermath of Brussels, political point scorers were everywhere


Catherine Wyatt – @CatherineHWyatt


Brexit, they shouted. We should leave the EU, they screamed. We don’t have control of our own borders, they cried.


No matter that most acts of terror are committed by ‘home grown’ terrorists. No matter that the UK isn’t even in the Schengen zone, which is probably one of the reasons why Salah Abdeslam chose to run to Belgium rather than sailing over the Channel.


It’s deplorable to use people’s shock, fear, and grief to emotionally manipulate them into voting a certain way. 


It’s ironic that certain members of the Brexit camp urged President Obama to stay out of the Brexit debate in case he persuaded people with logic just because he is American, but were okay with British campaigners persuading people through deception and manipulation.


If anything, the atrocious attack on human dignity in Belgium should remind us that we are one. Whatever difference we might feel to other Europeans, it pales into insignificance in comparison to the differences we feel to supporters of Daesh. 


What sort of people are we, if we see our fellow citizens subjected to terror and our first thought is to leave them in the cold, dark world alone.


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