The Martlet News Bulletin

Liberal Democrats Policy Pledge

On Sunday morning the Liberal Democrats issued a statement claiming that if party leader Jo Swinson were to get into power, Article 50 would be revoked without so much as a question. However, how would they go about doing this, and is it mere lip service to a weary nation?

The Lib Dems make it no secret that they are in favour of the European Union. Currently, they are eagerly campaigning for a second referendum before a potential new election is called, and their statement today claims, that if in power they would revoke it without any consultation of the public. The issue at hand is that they currently only hold 18 parliamentary seats, and although this digit is on the rise, it is also far from powerful enough. Furthermore, many argue a lack of a second vote would betray the very principles of a party whose name speaks of the ‘demos.’ Whilst more people wish to remain now, according to most recent polls, 42% are still in favour of leaving, and this mass is far from an insignificant figure. Now that October 31st is drawing ever nearer, the possibility of even a mediocre resolution to Brexit becomes less likely. Former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable further spoke out about this forthcoming political flood, as well as Boris Johnson’s policy being reminiscent not of a Battle of Britain Churchill, but of the shambolic leader who spread disaster in Gallipoli. 

Needless to say if the issue of Brexit is comparable to a flood, the Lib Dem’s declaration is merely a desperate plea from a sunken town.

 

BA Pilot strike

Pilots of Britain’s flagship airline, British Airways, have recently triggered two days of strike action, and have planned an additional 10 day walk out in an unprecedented move. Members of BALPA (British Airline Pilot’s Association), which make up the vast majority of the company’s pilot workforce, voted to strike on Monday and Tuesday last week, in what has been described as a national crisis affecting almost 200,000 people. 

The main motivation for the strike action has been cited as pay issues, with members rejecting a pay increase of 11.5% over three years. British Airways parent company, Spanish registered IAG, has reported huge profits of over £3 billion last year. As pilot’s pay was either cut or frozen during the 2009 financial crisis, with the newfound financial success of the company, the union wants to see further economic benefits for its members. Despite senior captains earning in excess of £200,000, junior cadet pilots only receive around £26,000. Union members have also expressed concern over recent cost cutting measures, such as the removal of free food and beverages, as well as hold luggage, in European economy class. Most worrying for British Airways is a planned 10 day ‘mega strike’ by BALPA, which could cost the airline up to £400 million, and cripple the company. Urgent talks to avert this are currently being held between airline chief executive Alex Cruz and union members to try to alleviate this potential catastrophe.

 

New European Commission

While Britain is still taken up by the Brexit drama constantly unfolding before us, back in Brussels a new Commission is preparing to take over as the European Union’s executive. Taking over, on November 1st, this new Commission, to be headed by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen (previously Germany’s Defence Minister), has many firsts already under its belt. 

To start, it will be the first ever EU Commission headed by a woman and will also be the first to have almost perfect gender parity, with 13 of the 27 Commissioners-designate being women (Britain is not naming a Commissioner for very obvious reasons). Crucially, however, perhaps the most vital break from the past that this Commission represents is, as von der Leyen herself said when presenting her team, its ambition to be a truly ‘geopolitical Commission’. 

The most clear evidence of this comes from its new structure. For the first time there are three Executive Vice Presidents, each tasked with overseeing the work on von der Leyen’s major policies. Of the three, the most telling are Frans Timmermans from the Netherlands placed in charge of creating a ‘European Green Deal’ – helping Europe become the first carbon neutral continent by 2050 – and the superstar of the previous Commission, termed a ‘nasty lady’ by Donald Trump, the Danish Margarethe Vestager, tasked with making Europe ‘fit for the Digital age’ and creating a modern and Europe-wide industrial strategy, making Europe capable of standing on its own two feet with the likes of the US and China as a true global power. 

Despite some of the criticisms of the new Commission, namely that of its portfolio concerning migration being renamed ‘Protecting out European Way of Life’ or that economic oversight is placed under the former Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentilloni, who some fear may be biased towards Italy, currently arguing with Brussels over its Budget Deficit, it is clear that von der Leyen and her new Commission want to change the way things are done in Brussels in the hope of making the EU more effective and helpful to Europeans and making Europe a more prosperous and confident continent – only time will tell if it works out.

 

Democratic Primary Debates

The most recent democratic primary debates have just taken place on the 12thof September, with a thankfully smaller group of candidates than the previous rounds. As this was the first time we would see all of those running on the stage together, people were curious to see the exchanges between Senator Warren and former Vice President Biden. There was also significant interest in the joint appearance of Senators Warren and Sanders, both advocating for the socialist agenda and appealing to the same cohort or primary voters. This, combined with the fact that they are old friends, raised the question whether they would go after each other. However, throughout the debate both steered clear away from criticising each other’s policies.  

Andrew Yang received a mixed reaction, after announcing live on air a pilot programme for universal basic income policy, for ten families in America. Many saw this act as a gimmick or stunt, while he should focus on getting voters to take him seriously.

Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Julián Castro all failed to make the breakthrough they require, and find the momentum they were expected to have after announcing their candidacy. Equally, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg had little impact, trying to occupy the middle ground in an election that is about extremes. 

Joe Biden retained his position of the safe option for nomination but yet again failed to get voters excited about him. While Kamala Harris was unable to completely recover from her previous performance, her direct address to President Trump about school shootings resonated with many parents.