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Reform Magazine | March 29, 2020

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A good question: Where are we now?

A good question: Where are we now?

One question, four answers

MOHAMMED AMIN
‘The Conservative Party faces great dangers’

After an unforgettable 2019, all our major parties, and the country itself, face difficult choices. After their calamity in the 2015 election, the Liberal Democrats appear to be back in business. However, they need to agree what went wrong for them in the coalition of 2010 to 2015. Was it policy, or was it that many LibDem voters cannot tolerate the compromises real political power entails? The party is clearly socially liberal, but where does it want to be, and where should it be, on the economic left/right spectrum?

Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party has been captured by the far left, putting ideological purity and ‘anti-imperialism’ ahead of any serious attempt to win power. Have things got bad enough for the far left to be dislodged? At present we see thefrontrunner Sir Keir Starmer genuflecting to them. If he wins, I expect a slow process of trying to chisel them out, and getting the Labour Party to stop talking only to itself…

Mohammed Amin is a retired tax adviser, writer and finance consultant. He is also on the boards of interfaith and charity organisations

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ANTHONY REDDIE
‘White privilege has never felt so emboldened’

So, the Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson won the December 2019 general election with a resounding majority. This was a stark choice between a self-avowed socialist manifesto of the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, or Boris Johnson’s English nationalistic agenda. The country plumped for Johnson and now Brexit is a reality and a new Britain awaits!

Undoubtedly, the stain of antisemitism hampered the cause of the Labour Party no end in their attempt to win over the broader electorate. I know a number of left-of-centre people who opted not to vote for the Labour Party because of their seemingly poor record on dealing with antisemitism, although at the time of writing, there are no specific examples or charges one can attach to Jeremy Corbyn.

Conversely, the UK Prime Minister has been guilty of indulging in popularist racist rhetoric and steadfastly refusing to apologise when reminded of his past verbal indiscretions…

Anthony Reddie is Director of The Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture for Regent’s Park College. He is also an Extraordinary Professor in theology for the University of South Africa

ANDY FLANNAGAN
‘It’s the morning after’

If 2019 was an evening and 2020 is a day, for the UK it’s definitely the morning after the night before. Therein lies the danger. A nation that was longing to move on and talk about something other than Brexit will try to do exactly that. And yet it will never be more important to talk about Brexit than during this year. The futures of nations are decided not in the glare of spotlights but in the corridors backstage. Our relationships with the EU, and in fact the rest of the world, are on the table. Do we build strong relationships or simply make trade deals? Are we thinking, feeling people who care about a wider world, or just consumers and workers that oil the cogs of the world economy? Will we tell our grandchildren that things turned out as they did just because we got bored of it all?

The December election changed many things but there are more things that didn’t change. I tried to reflect that in these words that I wrote the morning after the election. I hope they inspire you to be more politically active than ever in 2020. If you are struggling to know how, Christians in Politics has a few ideas for you…

Andy Flannagan is Executive Director of Christians in Politics

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HANNAH RICH
‘Our country remains divided’

Whatever your personal hope was for the 2019 general election, the shared expectation was surely that it would bring change. The last couple of years have been defined by political instability, an increasingly complicated situation in which every parliamentary vote became a mathematical battle for the government to win. Regardless of the direction in which you wanted the balance to swing, the purpose of the election was that it should put an end to much of this instability.

So, it seems, it did. The result delivered was the largest majority for any party since 2001 and the largest Conservative majority since 1987. Added to this, it made it certain that Britain would leave the European Union and silenced even whispers of a second referendum. Whereas, before the election, there was talk of a hung parliament and yet another general election within months, Boris Johnson has cemented himself as Prime Minister for at least the next few years…

Hannah Rich is a researcher for Theos thinktank

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These are extracts from an article that was published in the March 2020 edition of Reform

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