Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: UK

The German Green Party Faces Political Oblivion

It’s the worst possible outcome for Germany’s Green Party–Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to form a coalition with it! At first blush, this may not seem so bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Greens got some experience governing? Isn’t the whole point of a political party to get itself into government? But recent European electoral history tells us that whenever a left-wing party becomes a junior partner in a coalition led by a right-wing party (and contrary to its international reputation, Merkel’s CDU is quite right wing), it’s the thin end of the wedge. Here’s why.

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The Siren Song of Austerity and the Erosion of the Centre

I wrote a piece on austerity for In the Long Run, a Cambridge blog. You can read it here:

http://inthelongrun.org/articles/article/the-siren-song-of-austerity-and-the-erosion-of-the-centre

 

 

Could Corbyn Cancel All the Student Debt? Yes–But He Has to Bend a Rule

There was a row this week in the UK over Labour’s plan for the university system. Individual Labour politicians have in the past talked about doing something about student debt, but this week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn distanced himself from outright debt relief:

What I said was we would deal with it by trying to reduce the burden of it, we never said we would completely abolish because we were unaware of the size of it at that time.

Some in the British press are trying to portray this as a U-turn, but the Labour manifesto did not itself make any firm pledges on debt relief. It promised to eliminate tuition fees, but the debt issue was left to one side:

The average student now graduates from university, and starts their working life, with debts of £44,000. Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.

Corbyn indicated this prior to the election–Labour was still trying to figure out the debt issue:

Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden. I don’t have the simple answer for it yet – I don’t think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly; we had two weeks to prepare all this – but I’m very well aware of that problem. And I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.

So instead of playing he-said he-said, let’s take a look at what Labour could do about student debt and see if we can help Corbyn figure it out.

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3 Ways to Think About the American Revolution

This Fourth of July, I noticed that some Americans are taking an interest in challenging the popular narratives surrounding the American Revolution. Over at Jacobin, William Hogeland has a go at the revolution, while Jeff Stein defends it at Vox. I find both views too strong for my taste–as I see it, the revolution has three core faces to it. We tend to only focus on one of these aspects at any given moment, but to truly understand the revolution as a historical event we need all three.

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How the Lib-Dems and the SNP Failed the Progressive Movement in Britain

The Labour Party was able to increase its vote share to about 40%, a level which has often historically been enough for Labour to form governments on its own.

But Labour was unable to form a government because the Conservatives also increased their vote share, albeit by a smaller amount:

This large Tory vote share enabled the Conservatives to prevent the assembly of a grand coalition of the left. Much of the turnover came from the collapsing UKIP vote, which fell more than 10 points from 2015 levels. But some of it came from the SNP, which dropped 1.7 points and 12 seats to the Tories. And some of it even came from the Lib-Dems, who lost 0.5 points and failed to win over many anti-Brexit Tory voters. Labour took care of business, but the junior partners came up short. What went wrong?

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