Author Archives: Merlene Emerson

Populism and the French elections

Lord Malcolm Bruce, Marianne Magnin and Dr Sean Hanley

On the evening of 5 April 2017, the Liberal International British Group held our first joint forum with MoDem (Mouvement démocrate), France’s liberal, centrist party.

Given the recent rise in populist parties, the topic for debate was on ‘Populisms in a Post Truth World’.

Chairing the forum was Mathieu Capdevila, President of Northern Europe MoDem who introduced the speakers:

  • Lord Malcolm Bruce, Member of Parliament for Gordon from 1983 to 2015 and the chairman of the International Development Select Committee from 2005 to 2015
  • Dr Sean  Hanley, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Central and East European Politics, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL
  • Marianne Magnin, Board Chair of the Cornelius Arts Foundation and MoDem’s Parliamentary Candidate for Northern Europe.

Lord Bruce began by asking what constituted “populism”.  Citing Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, he said that Brutus spoke in prose, but Marc Anthony spoke in poetry. On BREXIT, there were no good reasons why the EU Referendum should have been taken as ‘binding’ as opposed to only ‘advisory’.  However, what we needed to do now was to acknowledge that the electorate had valid reasons for voting against the establishment and to find solutions to manage the economy and the wealth more equitably.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Rock or Island? Disputes in the South China Sea

Whilst researching this subject, I couldn’t help thinking that here were the ingredients ripe for the design of a board game.  It could be something of a cross between “Diplomacy” and “Vendée Globe”?

Each player representing a country of choice could set its mission and collaborate with other players to achieve their desired outcomes.  Chance cards might include whether, say, an international tribunal has decided in their favour.  And tokens could be earned along the way to enable them to reclaim rocks and reefs, build air strips or even patrol the islands with clone submarines?

We are, of course, not speaking of a game but of what is happening in reality, and the countries involved in a potential war game include South East Asian countries (such as Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) and also greater powers such as China (Taiwan) and the US.  At stake are the rights to valuable resources such as oil and gas, fishing rights and the protection of vital sea routes.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Romancing the Silk Roads

As someone fascinated by the Central Asian countries, I was delighted when the All Party Parliamentary Group for China (APPCG) organised a talk this week by Peter Frankopan, author of “The Silk Roads – A New History of the World”.

“The Silk Roads are rising again”, said Richard Graham MP, Chair of APPCG at the end of a fulsome introduction of the Oxford University historian.  Yet, there are not many other Parliamentarians, let alone the British public, who are in tune with the zeitgeist.

Frankopan was keen to put into historical context the dramatic changes that we are witnessing today with a shift in the world order. The declining influence of western colonial powers,  the UK’s vote for BREXIT and the election of Trump, were contrasted against a China growing in confidence and pursuing the “One Belt One Road” initiative, the lynchpin for Xi JinPing’s foreign and economic policies.  

Posted in News | Tagged | 5 Comments

Implications of the European Union Referendum Bill

We have all heard about the European Union Referendum Bill but I suspect most do not realise how close we are to it becoming law. Whether you are a Europhile or Europhobe, you may be interested to know that the Bill will be getting its 3rd reading in the Lords today (1 Dec), after which there will be no more opportunity for the introduction of any new amendments.

I have to confess that I live in a household of Europhiles. My husband spent the early part of his life between aged 2 and 11 living in France, then Netherlands, as his late father was the English Head of the AFCENT International School for families of NATO. My in-laws subsequently retired in France and my step mother-in-law still lives there. She will sadly be barred from voting in the EU Referendum even though it could affect her right to continue to live in France. Brits who have lived abroad for more than 15 years do not currently have the right to vote in any UK elections, let alone in the EU Referendum.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Vince Cable’s “After the Storm – The World Economy & Britain’s Economic Future”

after the stormWider in scope and more ambitious in its reach, “After the Storm” is the acclaimed sequel to “The Storm” published after the financial crisis of 2008.  Having spent the last 5 years as Business Secretary within the Coalition Government (2010-2015), Vince has the added clout of first-hand experience introducing economic policies that have steered us out of the storm, not least an industrial strategy.

His professed motivation for penning a sequel were to update readers on the state of Britain’s economy in “a climate of guarded optimism,” and to share his insights, no longer bound by collective responsibility as Secretary of State at the Department of Business Innovation and Science.  Whilst the US and UK are expected to record 3% growth this year, Vince’s previous analysis of the underlying weaknesses still apply, such as UK’s over reliance on the banking sector and on the housing market for recovery and growth.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Bridging Futures – Young Migrants in London

When is a Migrant an Expatriate? When he or she is a Brit abroad, obviously.

Inspired by the twin concepts of emigration and immigration, Prof Caroline Knowles posed this question at the launch of her research and report last week, supported by the Runnymede Trust and Goldsmiths College and hosted by Baroness Hussein-Ece at the House of Lords.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

The Chinese are coming!

Vince in ChongqingChinese Premier Li Keqiang left on Monday this week on a 5 day visit to Britain and Greece.  With him, according to the press, is a 200 strong business delegation, expected to sign up some £18 billion worth of deals.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was part of Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable’s business delegation to China, taking in 5 cities in 6 days.  Vince was scheduled to be in Beijing to attend UK-China Joint Economic & Trade Committee (JETC) talks with his opposite number, Mr Gao HuCheng, the Minister of Commerce.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 12 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNicholas Cunningham 29th May - 7:40pm
    The coalition years, time stands still for some.
  • User Avatartheakes 29th May - 6:52pm
    Paul Barker, yeah think you are right, I still reckon between 3-5 only.
  • User Avatarjohn 29th May - 6:35pm
    Did Tim forget that Nurses were supposedly using food banks during the coalition years?
  • User Avatarpaul barker 29th May - 6:31pm
    @ Michael BG, I have no idea how many seats we will get but a Target list of 34 (if I got that right) sounds...
  • User AvatarEl Sid 29th May - 6:16pm
    And how do you shake off the fact that two years ago you were in government with them? How do you get back the votes...
  • User AvatarJohn Littler 29th May - 6:06pm
    "The strange death of Liberal England" describes the replacement of the Liberal Party as a natural party of government, by Labour in the early to...