Author Archives: John Death

Fifty Ps for Refugees

Remainers haven’t reacted well to the repeated Government announcements of a ‘special’ 50p coin to mark the withdrawal from the EU. So that puts a grin on the face of every Tory and Faragist. The most common response of vocal Remainers is to say that they will boycott the coin, which is not an easy strategy in a crowded shop and, I imagine, might result in people having to forego their change if they won’t accept legal tender (and lead to wry smiles from those trying to use Scottish notes in parts of England).

Another response is needed, my friends. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Grammar schools and Brexit

In England, in the EU Referendum, 53.4% of voters chose Leave. However, in districts with grammar schools, that figure was 56.1%. Imagine, for a moment, that no one at all voted in those areas. It might seem a bit hard on each side to group voters in Kingston and Cheltenham, with some of the highest Remain votes in the country, with those in Lincolnshire and south-east Essex, who recorded the very lowest. Nevertheless, the consequence of their removal would reduce the margin of the Leave victory to just 2%, 51% – 49%.

Obviously, therefore, this is not the full explanation of Brexit, but its implications deserve consideration. The vast majority of voters who had grown up in these districts will not have been to grammar schools. What has been the enduring impact of this division at an early age on their outlooks? Would it be surprising if it made them resentful of the superior life chances that others gained from success in a particular set of tests at the age of 11?

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Party like it’s 1981

Imagine that, alongside Michael Foot as leader, Tony Benn had won the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in 1981; it almost happened. Would the creation of the SDP then seem wrong even to Labour loyalists and even today? There is certainly a view within the Labour Party, shared with The Guardian editorial writers, that a way must be found to keep the current party together rather than face the alternative: “No one who remembers or knows about past divisions, notably the breakaway of the Social Democratic party in 1981, should want a return to that.”

The argument runs that the SDP split the Left, enabling Thatcherism to run riot in the Eighties without a strong, electable opposition. With many moderates leaving Labour, the hard Left almost triumphed and Neil Kinnock needed a monumental effort of will to turn the party around into something more, though still not quite, electable.

This line of reasoning is obviously flawed. In the Eighties, Benn did not defeat either Denis Healey for the deputy leadership or Kinnock for the leadership. Jeremy Corbyn (Foot without the charisma) and the hard Left already control the Labour Party. Good luck to Owen Smith trying to do a Kinnock, but if, as seems likely, he fails, what then? The Guardian suggests that the answer is Shadow Cabinet elections.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 16 Comments
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