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Cabinet

Saboteur Macron; Comrade behind enemy lines?

Leftist accelerationism is the radical idea that forcing atrocious living conditions upon the working class leaves them with no option but to rise and create a new society.

History has shown pushing people down means they are far more likely to organise and revolt. WW1 and WW2 were the two most detrimental events to human life in the 20th century. Radical worker’s movements seized Asia’s two largest countries as a result.

Margaret Thatcher’s pro-business government is an example closer to home. Leftist accelerationists would’ve argued that Thatcher’s government resulted in some of the boldest workers movements the UK has ever seen.

The workers’ current struggle against business has poured into the streets of France in the largest clashes since 1968.

Macron’s La Republique En Marche Party self-identified as centrist and anti-establishment in the 2017 elections but has instead pursued pro-business economic extremism. The enacted neoliberal changes have seen cost of living rise and living standards fall. The sustainability of these changes seems questionable. The government initially said there was no chance of concession on the fuel tax rise that’s hit poor commuters hardest. Smaller nationwide protests occurred earlier in the year as reforms threatened public-sector workers. Teachers organised across the country in protest of cuts less than a month ago. The government has promised to continue its policy direction in 2019, meaning this much larger wave of protest is unlikely to simmer down soon.

One may expect Macron to understand this situation in a way other than ‘keep pushing and they might calm down’, being so well-educated. However, the huge fall in bookings, reservations etc in the moneyed areas where disruption has taken place also rather contradicts how ‘business-friendly’ his approach is. The government looks set to encourage the struggle, with a spokesperson saying on Sunday ‘we would not change course because this is the right one’.

One wonders, what does Macron not understand about the need for measured steps and compromise?

Since there have been no signs of the rowdy protests calming anytime soon, a reactionary government move might be a fair expectation. Cars overturned, streets ablaze, police dominated, everything seems rather out of control. A declaration of a state of emergency is not off the table.

So, why all this brash policy and disregard for the order required to enact it? A neoliberal president who has no problem enflaming the biggest, angriest movement of workers currently ongoing in Europe. Outstandingly educated. Thousands of people shouting the solution for peace and calm at him. What part of the situation does he not understand?

Maybe he understands the situation exactly .

Macron was a Socialist Party member until 2009, after all…

He fought and defeated fascism in 2017…

How come the gilets jaunes movement hasn’t had a leader or organiser named yet?

There’s only one explanation.

The grand orchestrator is hiding in plain sight.

Making poor rural people pay more for their fuel as an answer to climate change? No one supports or believes that. My dog could tell you that’s not going to help the environment. Maybe it’s just the best way of getting rural workers angry whilst making sure the urban working class are equally infuriated by such an obvious lie.

Brexiteers, Trump supporters and many other ‘business friendly’ leaders have used divisive tactics. Contrastingly, Macron has offered refuge and unity to a whole range of poor people from outside of Europe. He travelled to Berlin in June to discuss EU immigration with the German Chancellor. He called for a ‘’system of solidarity and responsibility’’ before stepping down from the podium and saying to himself ‘workers of the world, unite!’’

 ‘’We’ve chopped off heads for less’’.

One piece of graffiti carries this threat. This alludes to the French Revolution of 1789. Robespierre arose in those tumultuous times to orchestrate the grandest social upheaval the world had ever seen. A French Bishop in 1794 first coined the term ‘vandalism’ to describe the destruction or altering of monarchic artwork during the French revolution. The current government’s shameless encouragement-via-policy of such behaviour shows a confidence that means he must know they don’t mean his head. They mean the heads of the business owners whose names he learnt to hate in the Socialist Party. The heads of those whose huge wealth he’s flaunted by bowing to their wishes, a provocation to the cheated masses.

Waiting for the peak commercial time of the year is genius. Declaring to have no intention of appeasing the vandals of high-end retailers is a move to hit the wealthy with a swift blow before letting the crowds take control of the cities.

Macron has made planned and meticulous moves in accelerating leftist developments, even if we’ve not heard him admit it yet. He should just be careful to announce soon that his beliefs still lie with his Socialist Party roots. Not with Neoliberal policy of ‘’steal from the poor, give to the rich’’.

-Malachi Kakembo

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Brexit

Opinion: Move On, Vote Blue

We cannot govern around a constitutional crisis. You cannot ask for a new deal when the other party has a motive to make it a poor one to cause a remain vote. You cannot unironically expect to rule and be neutral on the central issue of our time. There are good reasons to oppose Brexit, I’ve met many people with personal reasons or excellent arguments for voting against it, but it isn’t about the substance of leave or remain anymore. I get it, some of us are adamant Brexit is a bad idea, some of us aren’t sure, but now it’s about the kind of country and democracy we want to live in.

If anyone except Boris Johnson gets a majority, there will be 2nd referendum and 2 million European citizens will get the vote. Whether or not you would like residents who haven’t been here long enough to become citizens to have the vote, this is clearly a cynical attempt to affect one vote. except, it won’t just affect one vote will it? It will poison our politics for decades until our generation is old, maybe longer. We would be telling voters from certain forgotten towns that we won’t just tell them they are wrong, we will actively seek to disenfranchise them from now on by using votes from a union we just voted to rejoin. We will then feign shock when the democratic fabric of our society is ripped apart and those people reject electoral politics. You can never, ever, ever go back to being a normal democracy after that act. That one act would tear families, communities and the regions/nations apart.

So it’s summer 2020, Brexit is cancelled, then what? Well, the new PM has to lead. Except, he can’t lead can he? He can’t lead his party. He can’t even lead one whole wing of his party. He is attached to a dozen competing political values and causes that he can’t possibly hammer into a consistent whole. Can he really lead a rainbow coalition of “everyone except Boris”? Can he steer the country through 2 referenda without civility breaking down? Can he be trusted not to stuff the institutions with his controversial clique?

Boris Johnson is not perfect (at all!). He has said unacceptable things. People said he couldn’t be mayor of London for that reason, but he was popular, effective, and fair. He says all the wrongs things, and it is wrong, then he owns up for falling short and DOES the right thing. Corbyn SAYS all the right things, he’ll support just about anything that’s “right on”, then he lays a wreath at the grave of terrorists who tortured, castrated then killed Jewish athletes. He criticises others for saying something unacceptable (as is his role), then he takes money from the Iranian regime to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and upgrade his constituency office. He isn’t going to unite the country even if the nastiness of Brexit is solved, is he? He couldn’t unite two magnets.

What about other policies? Yes, we need to talk about those. You cannot govern around a crisis in our democracy. You cannot fix policing while disrupting communities. You can’t fund the NHS with poorly written policies elsewhere causing capital flight. You cannot have a solid defence policy when the army relies overwhelmingly on recruiting voters you have just disenfranchised. If nothing else, just passing a budget in a 4 party coalition would be a nightmare. I understand if you don’t usually like Tory policies, I don’t, I’m far closer to Miliband than Boris economically (although Boris is more centrist than Cameron on the economy), but this isn’t a normal election, we have to solve the crisis and move on. Vote for someone else next time, never vote tory again after this election, spoil your ballot if you want but please don’t think this country can be governed by a rainbow coalition at a time like this. It’s time for just a few years of stability to look at our problems properly.

We all just want to go back to a time where we didn’t have such a horrible political atmosphere, we need to assess our many problems with a cool head and without uncertainty dragging on the economy. Let’s go forward together, just this once, and choose to put the gloom of the last 4 years behind us – let’s start anew and build a brighter future with dignity and democracy.

-MDR

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Cabinet

Opinion: Sense and Sensitivity: Why I’m Voting Liberal Democrat on Thursday

I won’t lie to you, it’s been a rollercoaster of an election season. There have been disappointments and defeats, and I’m reasonably sure we won’t walk away with that majority Lib Dem government we heard about at conference. But I remain hopeful, as do many of my fellow members, that whatever the result on Friday, Liberal Democrat members can take comfort in knowing that we are in a strong and growing position within the country.

As young people, we have the most at stake in this election. It is us who will live with its consequences for the longest, and, if you’ll pardon the cliché, this election will be the most important for a generation. It is at this election that Brexit will finally be decided; if the Conservatives manage a majority, then I suspect little will be able to stop them from passing Johnson’s sell-out deal.

But if the Tories fail in their bid for a majority, then there remains a sliver of a chance that the opposition can work together to ensure a second referendum and get the people to do what parliament can’t.

This is possible; there are more than a dozen seats where the Tories are projected to be leading by less than five points, and dozens more where that lead is less than ten points. Many of those seats could go to the Liberal Democrats if Labour voters recognise that their candidate can’t win. Or they could go to the Tories as we retreat further and further into our own political tribes.

Yes, there are seats where Labour could win and we cannot. In those cases, I urge liberals across the country to temporarily back Labour as the only way to stop the Tories and stop Brexit. Time and time again through history, divisions on the centre and left have allowed the right to win power, enrich themselves and crush the vulnerable. Unless we learn our lessons, the same will be true tomorrow.

But it’s not just tactical votes the Lib Dems can offer; our policies are the best of any party in terms of feasibility and ambition. That’s not just coming from me with my Paddy Ashdown-embossed membership card, it’s coming from the IFS, the Economist and dozens of small- and medium-sized business leaders. For the third election running, our manifesto is the most credible and costed out of the three major parties, guaranteeing large-scale investment in public services, balancing the scales of wealth and protecting our environment for future generations.

We have promised a huge raft of new welfare legislation to bolster the NHS, end the underfunding of our schools and tackle the mental health crisis. We’ve promised worker representation on corporate boards to work towards eradicating exploitation. We’ve promised to build hundreds of thousands of new homes to end the shortage of council and private housing.

But politics at its best is about more than simply good policies – although there’s more than enough of those in the manifesto. Politics at its best is about a vision for the future, and I believe wholeheartedly that it is the Liberal Democrats which offer that vision.

If the past three years have proved anything, it’s that we have nothing to gain by looking inward. Our future is on the global stage, but it’s also within a community of nations that put co-operation first. I’m no euro-federalist, but I do hold out the belief that the closer we are aligned with our friends and partners on the continent, the more we can get done, the faster our economy will grow and the brighter our future will be.

I’m not voting Lib Dem because I think they have the best policies (although they do), or because I myself am a liberal (although I am). I’m voting Liberal Democrat tomorrow because I believe that only they have the positive, inclusive and outward-looking vision for the future that we need to take our country forward. Brexit or no Brexit, I believe liberalism has what it takes to redefine our role in the world of tomorrow.

-Conor Hilliard

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Left Wing Politics

Warren 2020 : Picking her Battles and Winning the War

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has turned the heads of millions of Americans since announcing her bid to run for president in 2020. At the start of her campaign, Warren was hopelessly trailing the “big name” candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Yet, through the cacophony of the debate stages, Warren has stood out from the pack with buzzwords and snappy one-liners. Herself and Sanders have made the moderate candidates appear pessimistic and unambitious.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has topped all polls within the last week, pouncing on other weakened candidates

Warren has fought off the challenges on her progressive policies so well that she has leapfrogged Sanders and Biden in the polls. With a large slice of the Democratic Party wanting her in the White House next year, she has built her campaign on three pillars; universal healthcare, breaking up big tech companies and tackling student debt. How popular these policies turn out to be will also be important to try to gauge her chances in a national election against Donald Trump.

Healthcare : a clear stance, but an unclear plan

During the debates, Senator Sanders has been the poster-boy for the proposal to extend the eligibility of Medicare, a national health insurance program, to every U.S citizen. At the moment, Medicare is only available to Americans aged 65 or older and covers medical costs, hospital fees and certain drug prescriptions. Warren has said time and time again that she believes in universal healthcare for all Americans, yet she has kept the specifics of her plan purposely vague. She has benefited from portraying herself as “team universal healthcare” with Sanders but has cleverly let him deal with the specifics so that she doesn’t have to have her name on a questionable plan.

The Democratic Party is split into two camps: the camp who wants a national Medicare-for-all insurance system, and the camp who wants to keep private companies at the heart of health insurance. Healthcare is clearly an important issue within the Democratic Party, as demonstrated by the debates. It is in Warren’s interest not to release a detailed plan for universal healthcare. When taking a look at the candidates who have released their healthcare reform plans, like Senators Harris or Sanders, they have been torn to shreds, ridiculed and branded unrealistic.

This tactic will only get her so far. It is believed Warren will only release the details of her healthcare plan if she secures the Democratic nomination in July 2020.

Warren vs Big Tech

Elizabeth Warren promises to break up Silicon Valley’s big tech companies if she is elected president. This has led her to lock horns with Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who has claimed that “if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and fight”. Warren was unfazed by Zuckerberg’s threats and doubled down on Twitter, hitting back at Facebook and Zuckerberg’s predatory behaviour.

Senator Warren’s plan is to stop big tech companies from buying out their smaller competitors and creating monopolies. If you just take a look at the companies owned by the two tech giants Facebook and Google, you might be surprised to find out the extent of their sphere of influence. Combined, they own WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube, among many other companies. These smaller companies once rivalled either Facebook or Google’s services, so they were bought-out in order to bulldoze the competition and control the market. Considering most people use at least one of these services every day, it becomes shockingly clear how influential these two companies can be.

The plan is to break the influence companies are under from their parent companies. Put into practice, this policy could mean that Instagram would be separated from its parent company, Facebook, and the latter wouldn’t be able to control the actions or access the database of the former. This means that user information on Instagram couldn’t be legally accessed by Facebook, as they would be considered “broken up”, thus limiting Facebook’s sphere of influence.

Warren deems this policy extremely necessary and has called out Big Tech for undermining democracy, bullying businesses and exploiting different cities and countries’ desperation worldwide in order to get what it wants (something along the lines of Ireland rejecting €13 billion of Facebook corporate tax comes to mind…)

Realistically, this proposal will be difficult to pass, but it will be fascinating to see how the idea develops and how the different tiers of the tech world react to it.

Student debt : a thing of the past?

Warren has already made big moves towards education reform as Senator, sponsoring and proposing many bills with goals including limiting student loan interest rates and increasing university transparency. Warren’s big plan in education resembles that of Sanders with tuition-free public colleges, but she differs on Sanders when it comes to cancelling student debt. While Sanders wants to universally cancel all student debt, regardless of family income, Warren only wants to forgive part of the debt. The amount she plans to forgive will depend on household income.

Warren’s plan is as follows:

  • The US Government will forgive $50 000 of student debt for household incomes under $100 000
  • The US Government will forgive $1 of debt for every $3 of income between $100 000 and $250 000
  • The US Government will not forgive any debt for household incomes of $250 000.

In practice, a household income of $80 000 would see a debt forgiveness of $50 000, while a household income of $160 000 would see a forgiveness of $20 000.

Her plan is estimated to cost $1.25 trillion over 10 years and she wants to fund it with an “ultra-millionaire tax”. Households with a net worth of $50 million – $1 billion will be taxed at 2% of that worth, while household net worth over $1 billion will be taxed at 3% of their worth. Warren’s campaign believes that the tax would raise enough funds for not only the education reform, but many other social programs.

A few examples of this “ultra-millionaire tax”:

  • A household with a net worth of $500 million would be taxed $9 million
  • A household with a net worth of $30 billion would be taxed $889 million. 

In 2012, something resembling this Robin Hood-style tax plan was implemented unsuccessfully by French President Francois Hollande. He taxed anything earnt over €1 million at 75%, driving thousands and thousands of millionaires to emigrate. Hollande’s tax actually ended up losing the federal government money, since he couldn’t tax what wasn’t there. It is expected Senator Warren’s plan would have the same results.

The OECD has researched the implementation of a wealth tax and its impact on the federal government’s revenue. They found that governments who have implemented a Warren-style wealth tax generally collect the same amount in taxes before and after its implementation. This means that when the tax is implemented, the ultra-rich find a way to avoid paying it. This could be by sending their money overseas, using shell companies etc. Many will find a way to avoid paying it and it is very hard to stop them from doing so.

Senator Warren’s plan be very hard to implement, with the courts and the Senate likely to challenge it if she were to be elected to the White House in 2020.

How does she fare against Donald Trump?

Elizabeth Warren’s voting record shows that she is basically the anti-Trump. In the Senate, Warren only votes in favour of the current administration’s policies 11.9% of the time, making her the senator the least in line with the president policy-wise.

Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump have taken jabs at each other on many occasions, most famously when Trump referred to Warren as “Pocahontas”, opening up a fresh wound in Warren’s political career.

The nametag refers to Warren’s time as a law professor at Harvard. It is believed that she landed the job by falsely identifying as a Cherokee Indian in order to meet quotas on minorities set by the university board. Soon after Trump’s callout, the Cherokee Nation expressed its outrage at Elizabeth Warren’s “inappropriate actions”. Warren attempted to silence critics by conducting an ancestry test and give proof of her Native American roots. Unfortunately for her, the test estimated her Native American ancestry at just under 0.0001%. She was ridiculed by all to such an extent that it’s now surprising to see her do so well in her campaign. 


Trump has stayed relatively quiet about Warren during the primaries, which could be contributing to her rise in popularity. Expect him to bring the “Pocahontas” slur back up should Warren secure the Democratic nomination.

If Warren wins the primary, I believe we will start seeing her put forward more moderate policies in order to win over swing voters. She will try to target the people who went from voting for Obama in 2012 to voting for Trump in 2016.

Despite already being known as a big player in the battle against climate change, Warren has not placed this issue at the heart of her campaign. This issue could be key to winning over moderate and younger voters, which will be very important in order to beat Donald Trump. Trump’s head-to-head with Elizabeth Warren could prove to be more difficult than his clash with Hillary Clinton. From what she has already shown in her campaign, Warren is willing to go to the places and meet the people that Hillary didn’t bother with in 2016, and that could make the difference this time around for Democrats.

-Mel Hzeg

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