Two bloody attacks in 24 hours have laid bare a culture of impunity – and deep internal divisions
The condemnations are striking but still they ring hollow. Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the arson attack by Jewish settlers on the West Bank home of the Dawabsha family, in which Ali Saad, a baby just 18 months old, was burned to death, as an “act of terrorism in every respect”. Netanyahu was joined by Naftali Bennett, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, which is close to being the political wing of the settlers’ movement. Bennett described the murder as a “horrendous act of terror”. The defence minister, the army, they all condemned this heinous crime.
Which is welcome, of course. It’s good that there were no ifs or buts, no attempts to excuse the inexcusable. But still it rings hollow.
Related: Palestinian child dead in suspected Jewish extremist arson attack on home
Israeli hawks pump ever more air into the ultra-nationalist balloon – only to feign shock when it explodes Continue reading...
Telling supporters he won’t win is futile: elections are not their priority. They want to be true to themselves
We have grown used to identity politics. We know how intense the passions stirred by race, gender or sexuality can be, how they can seem to trump the old allegiances of class or economic self-interest. But now we might need to add a new form of identity to the familiar categories, one that feels just as much about belonging. It is political allegiance itself.
The thought is prompted by the rise and rise of would-be Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but not only by him. Bernie Sanders, the lone self-described socialist in the US Senate, is enjoying a Corbynesque surge in enthusiasm in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that vote first on whether he or Hillary Clinton should be the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2016. Like Corbyn, Sanders calls for an increased minimum wage, free university tuition and an economy no longer tilted towards the super-rich and the corporations. Like Corbyn, he is dismissed as an old white guy whose views were out of date a generation ago. And like Corbyn, he is enthusing the very young people usually written off as being disengaged from politics.
They are doing it not because they think he can win, but for the same reason people retweet images of same-sex weddings
Related: Why Labour voters are turning towards Jeremy Corbyn Continue reading...
All week this series has looked at the questions Labour will need to answer. Today – how should the party talk to the people it seeks to govern?
Long before Labour lost the election, it lost the war of metaphor. The origins of the defeat go back at least to the long summer of 2010, when the Conservatives returned to power and promptly took control of the national conversation. Instantly they unleashed a series of simple metaphors to explain what had just happened, and the roles they and the Labour party had played in the story. The simplest and most important, repeated for years to come, was: “We’re clearing up the mess we inherited.”
The mess in question was the hole in the public finances, and it was caused by Labour because “the last government ‘maxed out’ the nation’s credit card”. If Labour criticised any aspect of economic policy, they were “an arsonist having the cheek to criticise the fireman”. Labour did not deserve the public’s votes. They had “driven the car into the ditch: why on earth would we give them back the keys?”. Labour had proved themselves fiscally incapable. They had failed “to mend the roof when the sun was shining”. The Tories, by contrast, were determined to “balance the books”, so that “we live within our means”.
Membership Event: Guardian Live| The next London Mayor?
Every one of the Tories' simple, plain phrases was repeated so often they settled into the collective cerebral cortex Continue reading...
Greece has come to an agreement with its European creditors that will allow it to stay within the eurozone – at a heavy cost. Columnist Jonathan Freedland and economics editor Larry Elliott discuss the late-night deal that the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to – one that heaps further austerity on his country's economy and appears less favourable than what was previously on offer Continue reading...
The chancellor’s budget was not about caring for the poor but wooing those who like to think they care
Perhaps it’s unwise to admit it, but one of the challenges during a budget speech is to stop your mind from wandering. Even an address of astonishing political audacity – as George Osborne’s was – has its longueurs, its moments when the stats are coming in such a blizzard, the borrowing projections merging with the annual growth percentages, that the brain, briefly blinded, looks elsewhere.
On Wednesday, mine wandered to Philadelphia. Not the city itself, but rather the Republican national convention held there in 2000. They gathered to anoint George W Bush as their nominee and laid on a spectacle that had one striking feature. Though only 4% of the delegates in the hall were black, one headline speaker after another was either African-American or from some other identifiable minority.
Related: George Osborne took 'much more from the poor' in budget
Osborne has co-opted a halo brand that is not his – the living wage Continue reading...
The national living wage, the abolition of non-dom status and cutting tax relief for buy-to-let landlords were all attempts to cast the Tories as the workers’ party
George Osborne is a man of enormous ambition. He is ambitious personally: do not forget that he became his party’s second most senior figure a decade ago, aged only 33. And he is ambitious for his party. Quite how ambitious we discovered on Wednesday, when he delivered his second budget in four months. The chancellor revealed his determination to conquer and colonise the centre ground of British politics, to make it the Conservatives’ own. In the process, he aims to drive Labour to the margins, pushing them back until they are corralled into a discomfort zone of his own making. Not content with defeating Labour in May, Osborne wants to put them out of business.
His chosen approach is devilishly simple. His goal is to recast the Tories as the champion of all those who enjoy the admiration or sympathy of their fellow voters – workers, especially in the private sector, pensioners, soldiers – and to let Labour be the advocate of everyone else. He wants the Conservatives to be the party of working people, leaving Labour as the party of worklessness and welfare. He’ll speak for the strivers, they can have the skivers – along with all those who either don’t vote or whose votes he’s happy to write off.
Related: Budget 2015: 25 key points at a glance
Related: Has George Osborne really introduced a living wage? Continue reading...
Now that Greece have returned an overwhelming no vote in the referendum, columnist Jonathan Freedland
and economics editor Larry Elliott
discuss the possible next moves for the European leaders. Alexis Tsipras has thrown the ball into Angela Merkel's court, but she is constrained on how far she can concede. And if there are no concessions, must Greece exit the eurozone? Continue reading...
The deficit fetishists of Brussels and Berlin must cut Greece some fiscal slack and work to promote growth
On Sunday the Greeks vote while the rest of Europe holds its breath. No matter how clunky the wording on the ballot paper, everyone knows what’s at stake. This is a moment of great peril, not only for the euro but for the European project itself.
If yes wins, and Syriza duly falls, the victory for the European powers could prove to be pyrrhic. Too many will believe that Brussels, and more pointedly Berlin, engineered the toppling of a democratically elected government. Once Alexis Tzipras had, admittedly, put a gun to his own head by calling Sunday’s vote, the EU in effect told the Greek nation that the leaders they had chosen just six months ago were unacceptable and had to be removed. The moment will be cited ever after as proof that the EU’s approach to democracy is akin to Henry Ford’s view of consumer choice: you can have whatever colour you like, “so long as it is black”.
Related: Greek referendum: how voters interpret unclear question will decide outcome
I’m told plenty of European leaders are ready to do it – but not for Alexis Tsipras. That relationship is too broken Continue reading...