Best of the Week #2

Thanks to the positive feedback I received for the first Best of the Week, I’m pleased to announce it will feature every Sunday on the Epicurus Blog. Initially it was only going to be about newspaper op-eds, but anything of interest- political or otherwise- may be recommended here. And what a week it’s been, with both the UK General Election and the James Comey hearings taking place. An acerbic indictment of Theresa May and her election campaign, from none other than the former Chancellor and Evening Standard editor, George Osborne. May started the election with a commanding lead in the polls, a weak opposition, and the support of the right wing tabloids. All she had to do was run a risk-averse campaign, utilising the Conservatives’ popularity on the economy and national security to her advantage, and a landslide would be hers. Instead, her election bid promised unpopular reforms to the welfare and social care systems, insulted the electorate’s intelligence by repeating vacuous phrases like ‘strong and stable,’ and she seemed disengaged and unenthused due to her non-participation in mass rallies and televised debates. On the Andrew Marr Show, Osborne described May as a ‘dead woman walking,’ and quite rightly too; her days in Number 10 are numbered. The Economist’s Bagehot offers a unique analysis here. He argues that British politics is being Americanised through the arrival of the so-called ‘Culture Wars’ on this side of the Atlantic. If he’s right, Britain will end up more divided than ever before. Faced with an ageing population, a lethargic and unproductive economy, and the monumental task of negotiating with the EU, a high degree of political unity will be required. The polarisation of the British policy along the social issues is the last thing the country needs. An excellent explainer of the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is a geopolitical issue with huge ramifications for the United States, particularly its relations with Iran. If left unchecked, this conflict could force the US to dramatically alter its Middle East policy, and has the potential to significantly increase world oil prices. Unfortunately I’m no expert on the Middle East. But this article is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the region’s current fractures. Roger Cohen excellently summarises my thoughts on the Comey hearing here. Even if Trump didn’t act illegally when firing Comey, it’s obvious that he acted improperly. The case for impeachment isn’t quite open and shut, but it has certainly been made stronger over the week. One of the most positive outcomes of the UK General Election was that it dealt a blow to the cause of Scottish Nationalism. Alex Massie brilliantly explains why. The SNP is far from dead, it still holds a plurality of Westminster seats in Scotland. But separatism is the preserve of a minority of Scots; the election confirmed this and a strong desire to move on from the constitutional question. Having said that, the union is still under threat. If Labour goes into decline, if the Conservative alliance with the DUP proves unpopular in Scotland (as it almost certainly will), and if Brexit (which a majority of Scots voted against) goes badly wrong, it is very easy to see a rejuvenated SNP, capitalising on a series of crises which are very likely to occur

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