Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Queen’s Speech - and the Ghost of Margaret Thatcher roars with approval

My new column for Sputnik International:

Margaret Thatcher may have died in 2013, but the Queen's Speech shows that Thatcherism lives on - and is indeed in rude health in David Cameron's Britain.
Despite the early mention of the phrase 'One Nation' and the claims that it was a Queen's Speech for 'working people', the legislative program of the new Conservative government announced on Wednesday owed far more to Mrs Thatcher, and her neoliberal and neoconservative ideology, than it did to Harold Macmillan. Once again Cameron has shown that he's the man who talks like a 'center-ground' moderate but whose polices are actually quite extreme. Consider the key proposals:

You can read the whole piece here:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Intelligent Punter's Guide to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest

Twenty-seven countries will line up for the final of the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on Saturday. It will be broadcast live on BBC1 from 8pm, with Graham Norton providing the caustic commentary.
For punters, there are four key stats that have a bearing on Eurovision odds:

You can read the whole of my IP Guide to tonight's Eurovision Song Contest here.

How Europe changed its tune- 60 years of Eurovision

Classic Eurovision- Domenico Modugno and Volare

My new piece for OpEdge

On Saturday night in the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna the grand final of the 60th Eurovision Song Contest takes place. Twenty-seven countries, not all of European, will compete for the prize, won last year by the Austrian ‘bearded lady’ Conchita Wurst.
Eurovision is more than just a song contest- its history tells us much about the way Europe has changed politically, culturally and economically since the mid-1950s, and how the changes have not always been for the best.

You can read the whole piece here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

In the footsteps of Edgar Wallace (in southern Africa)

My travel feature from the Mail on Sunday, in which I follow in the footsteps of the Mail's Boer War correspondent Edgar Wallace, (the subject of my new biography), in southern Africa.

'I have always loved Cape Town and the Peninsula. There is no spot on Earth quite like it’.
So wrote Edgar Wallace, the Daily Mail’s Boer War correspondent who went on to become Britain’s most popular author and to write the screenplay for the classic Hollywood monster movie King Kong. 
As my wife and I gaze down at Cape Town and its glittering bay from the 1,086m summit of Table Mountain on a beautiful sunny afternoon at the beginning of the South African summer we can see why Wallace was so impressed. 
We’ve travelled 6,000 miles to retrace the footsteps of a remarkable man whose adventurous, rags-to-riches life story really was stranger than fiction - hence the title of my new biography. 

You can read the whole piece here.

One Nation? Why the divisive David Cameron is not the man to save the UK

My latest column for Sputnik International:

After his shock election win David Cameron promised to lead a government for 'One Nation'. The question is: how can he do that when his right-wing Thatcherite ideology is so divisive, and one large part of the UK - Scotland - has voted overwhelmingly for the pro-independence Scottish National Party?

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

John McCain advising Ukraine? It's totally insane!

My latest piece for OpEdge

You really couldn’t make it up, could you? Serial warmonger and unsuccessful US Presidential candidate Senator John McCain has been offered a post as an advisor to Ukraine’s ‘Chocolate King’ President Petro Poroshenko.

You can read the whole Op Ed here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

UK General Election- The Establishment wins again

My take on the 2015 UK General Election, for OpEdge.

Football presenter and ex-England international Gary Lineker once joked: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and, at the end, the Germans always win.” We could say something very similar about general elections in the UK.
They’re a simple game: Lots of parties stand, we have a "democratic" choice, and, at the end, the party favoured by the British Establishment always wins.
The exit poll on Thursday night, which showed the Tories well ahead of Labour (despite all the earlier polls predicting a close-run contest) caused surprise to many, but really we shouldn’t have been too shocked. We've been here before....

You can read the whole piece here:

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Ten key UK election battlegrounds

Just hours before the poll open in the UK General Election. My new piece for Sputnik News:

Voters in 650 constituencies across the UK will go to the polls in Thursday's General election which is likely to be a very close contest.
Unfortunately, it's not true to say that 'every vote counts equally' because under Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system, some votes matter much more than others.
Many constituencies are 'safe' seats — ie its easy to predict which party will win them. We all know for instance, that Labour will hold onto Liverpool Walton and that the Conservatives will retain Henley. The election won't be decided by these results, but what happens in the so-called 'marginals'. It's voters in these constituencies who will effectively decide the result of the election. What are the seats we should be paying particular attention to as the results start to come in on election night?
Here are ten of the most important election battlegrounds — not simply the ten most marginal seats — but seats where the results will have a particularly big impact and where the parties are going all out to win.

You can read the whole piece here.