Or any diplomacy, for that matter: In times of rampant nationalism, the plan to find a UN-backed solution for Libya deserves recognition alone. This is particularly significant considering these events are unfolding at a time when people are starting to wonder about Germany's lack of participation in many global crises. Now an internationally-monitored ceasefire is on the way as well as a requirement to abide by the UN weapons embargo. … [Read more...] about Opinion: A glimmer of hope for old-school diplomacy
In its place MPs want to erect a Disneyland Commons chamber with up to half a billion pounds of public money – all just for four years of use. This is chiefly because they have insisted on keeping replica division lobbies and not doing what every other country’s assembly does, which is vote electronically. They cannot bring themselves even to save money by experimenting with a semicircular chamber, for fear it might reduce the shouting idiocies of prime minister’s questions. All this is ruled by the speaker, the leader and a commission of mysterious MPs. This is how Britain, or at least Westminster, is run. It will make the MPs’ expenses spent on moats and duck islands look like small beer. … [Read more...] about Shipping the House of Lords north is a great idea. Let’s send the MPs as well
What really helps Trump is Facebook. Last October, it became clear that, whatever its collective remorse about the role it had played in Trump’s election three years before, Mark Zuckerberg’s company had quietly exempted advertising by parties and candidates from its regulations on truth and falsehood. After the flurry of criticism that followed, there was speculation that Facebook might shift – on both that policy, and the kind of micro-targeting of adverts that makes it almost impossible to scrutinise what a candidate is saying to voters, and why (the Trump campaign is currently reckoned to be launching more than 1,000 new micro-targeted Facebook ads every day). … [Read more...] about Trump’s greatest ally in the coming election? Facebook
Even if MPs do feel the need to move, several sites close by have been suggested as temporary venues. They include the atrium of Portcullis House next door – with a proposal put forward by its architect, Sir Michael Hopkins – as well as temporary structures in the courtyards of the Treasury and Foreign Office, Church House and the Emmanuel centre in Marsham Street. The developer Sir John Ritblat has offered a dramatic prefab in Horse Guards Parade, designed by Norman Foster and built at no cost to the public beyond an annual rent, that could be later rebuilt elsewhere. It would save hundreds of millions of pounds. … [Read more...] about MPs plan to build themselves a palace. Have they lost all contact with reality?
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the House of Lords evolves on a truly evolutionary timescale. In the hundred years since the shake-up provoked by the People's Budget, countless blueprints for wholesale rationalisation have run up against ermine-trimmed facts on the ground. The changes that there have been, the shortening of the legislative veto for instance, have been tweaks, with gentlemen's understandings – such as the convention forbidding outright resistance to government manifesto commitments – contributing as much as the law. When the hereditaries faced the chop in 1999, the barons bit back, and a deal was done which not only allowed 92 to cling on in there, but also provided for bizarre aristocrat-only byelections to keep up the blue-blood quotient. A recent book on this stagnant story is subtitled "1911–2011: A Century of Non-Reform". … [Read more...] about House of Lords: Rat race and red benches