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Under The Radar – 3 September

This week, we discuss:

  1. The latest chapter of the Labour party’s ‘civil war’

  2. The US Supreme Courts decision in landmark Texas vote

  3. Appeasement in the Middle East

Labour – The Cult of Magic Grandpa

What happened?

Ahead of the Labour Party conference later this month, the leader of Young Labour has claimed Jeremy Corbyn will “be refused as a speaker” in what is the latest chapter of Labour’s civil war.

What does it mean?

Only a few months away from the second anniversary of its worst election result since 1935, and the Labour Party still finds itself entangled in the internal toxicity that defined Jeremy Corbyn’s catastrophic tenure as leader. In fact, few stories of late have so clearly highlighted the core tenets of the left-wing echo chamber that Keir Starmer needs to move beyond if Labour is to ever win another election.

First, Jeremy Corbyn himself. One would have expected the Labour Party to have moved on from its worst leader in living memory. Yet, nearly two years on, the party still finds itself embroiled in a never-ending civil war over someone who has still not had the whip restored, while his refusal to bow out of the political arena is staining the party’s futile attempts to detoxify its image.

Unwavering in their support for Corbyn, Young Labour remains problematic. A recent statement expressing solidarity with Cuba’s authoritarian regime should have resulted in their dissolution, as its open opposition to Nato also should have. A serious political party would recognise the electoral and moral problems their existence poses and act accordingly.

Lastly, social media. One of the worst things to have ever happened to the advancement of left-wing politics, it has given rise to a putrid echo chamber that continues to elevate Jeremy Corbyn and the stances held by Young Labour alike. As long as these three tenets continue to influence the Labour Party’s direction of travel, it will remain in opposition.

The Supreme Court ruling paves the way to overturn Roe v Wade in landmark Texas vote

What Happened?

Last night the US Supreme Court refused to block a new law in Texas that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion.

What Does It Mean?

Since Roe v. Wade came into effect in 1973, there have been ferocious attempts by the ‘pro-life’ community to overturn it. Last night’s Supreme Court decision saw one of the most significant movements towards just that.

The controversial Texas heartbeat bill is the first of its kind that has not immediately been slapped down by the courts. At least twelve other states had attempted to enact similar bans, but all had been blocked from going into effect – now the Texas law stands as the strictest abortion law in the country, and the decision will inevitably encourage other states that previously attempted to pass legislation to implement their own harsh laws.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissenting opinion, argued that “the court silently acquiesced in a state’s enactment of a law that flouts nearly fifty years of federal precedents”.

The Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, has signalled that it is unlikely to uphold Roe as a precedent. And with the court due to consider Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – a challenge to Mississippi’s attempted abortion ban – in the coming months, millions more women could be denied access to legal abortions.

Appeasement in the Middle East

What happened?

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Blinken said: “The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support”, and “the Taliban can do that by meeting commitments and obligations”, which include “counter-terrorism”.

What does it mean?

For most, the idea of the Taliban as a counter-terrorism partner is farcical and perverse. And not without reason. Although not formally listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the US, the Taliban has more than earned it. Indeed, several senior roles in the organisation are held by members of the Haqqani Network – itself a designated FTO and a critical player within the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)’s jihadist network.

Despite the U.S. administration’s feeble protestations that the Taliban and the Haqqani Network were distinct groups, this was quickly undercut by a senior Haqqani operative replying “We are the Taliban”. But of course, the State Department knows this. The point of this charade is simply to justify having outsourced security at Kabul airport to the Taliban (which involved giving them the names of Americans and Afghan allies).  The reality is that theocratic terrorists now rule the country. A sombre fact, but one that Western governments must come to terms with if they are to respond effectively. 

However, this is not to say an honest reckoning admits of any easy answers. Russia has suggested that the U.S. ought to unfreeze Afghan state assets and resume foreign aid, in a bid to stabilise the country. But the de facto funding of a terrorist regime raises tricky questions – ethical and legal. Still, after twenty years of idealistic but fruitless intervention, messy moral compromises may be the order of the day.

This Week’s Must Reads

  1. ‘After Angela Merkel: how one woman shaped a generation – and Europe’ by Guy Chazan for The FT

  2. ‘Disunited kingdom – and all the better for it’ by David Starkey for The Critic

  3. ‘Covid’s most toxic scar could be a generational war across Europe’ by Bruno Waterfield for The Times

  4. ‘The Problem with Playing God to fix the climate: It might not work’ by Karl Mathiesen for Politico EU


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