Connect with us

Politics

Jeremy Corbyn is haunting British politics

Published

on

It’s tempting to ignore the Labour Party’s leadership contest. Like a roadside accident, it almost seems indecent to look too closely and you have other places to be. Yet it’s worth slowing down to take stock.

Opposition parties in democracies aren’t some superfluous accessory. They hold the governing party to account, call attention to issues the government may overlook and promote the healthy competition of ideas. Britain’s House of Commons is designed with opposing benches precisely to underscore that battle. It doesn’t work if one set of benches is slouching toward oblivion.

Labour’s job has become a lot more difficult after three straight election defeats. The party’s first order of business as it selects a new leader is to decide why it lost so badly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in December. But the campaign so far has been an exercise in avoidance, and the polarizing figure of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn haunts the process.

Corbyn remains the titular head until a new leader is crowned. He retains a great deal of support among the party’s loyal core: the trade unions who are key to the election of a new leader and the grassroots Momentum movement. It’s hard to have a frank discussion about his disastrous legacy when he’s still in the room.

Some of the most astute analysis of Labour’s thumping loss has come from Lisa Nandy, member of Parliament for Wigan, who resigned from Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet in 2016 over his management and her party’s Brexit position. Nandy is an outside shot for the leadership, but she has impressed with her straight talk on where the party went off the rails. Speaking about feedback from voters, she says:

“There was just a general sense that at the top of the Labour Party we don’t speak for people like them anymore, a sense we don’t have skin in the game, that we’re not rooted in those communities, and we’re just not like them, and we don’t come very often to just ask people what they think and to listen to what they’ve got to say.”

So far, the battle appears to be between shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey. Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, has two strikes against him from the outset: He’s male and represents a London seat. Labour is intensely conscious of being the only party that hasn’t had a female leader, and also that it’s seen as too urban and out of touch with its once loyal base in northern England. He’s an establishment figure, however much he claims working-class roots.

It would be a shame if Labour voters let those factors distract them. What Starmer may lack in everyman appeal, he makes up for in intellect, integrity and respect across the benches.

Known more as a pragmatist than an ideologue, Starmer has still taken pains to show his lefty bona fides. At the Labour Party conference in the autumn, he said he couldn’t bring himself to seek private medical care or private education; that this had been drilled into him by his Labour-supporting family. He certainly comes across as sincere, but those comments struck me as a sign he’s missing something fundamental about many former Labour voters that Johnson instinctively understood: They, too, have aspirations.

While most Britons want improved public services — and are happy to pay for it, up to a point — I see no evidence that responding to inequality and poor services with less choice and competition is the way to win elections, or even the right policy. Labour’s approach feels condescending instead of uplifting and Starmer has held that off-key tune so far.

He was at his best when challenging the Tories’ Brexit deals or joining other parties to thwart a no-deal exit. But Labour’s own Brexit strategy was a muddle — trying to placate both its urban “remainer” support and working-class “leavers.” The latter preferred Johnson’s simple offer to “Get Brexit Done.” Starmer’s best hope is that the issue will be less toxic and divisive for Labour once Brexit is completed.

His chief opponent, Long-Bailey, is the “continuity Corbyn” candidate. A protege of Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and a life-long socialist, she says there is nothing wrong with the party’s hard-left economic policies and that they could even go further. “You’re as likely to see me on a picket line as you are at the dispatch box,” she says, “and you can trust me to fight the establishment tooth and nail.”

Long-Bailey’s diagnosis of the election loss has more to do with style than substance. Labour didn’t have a snappy slogan like Johnson’s Brexit one. Its compromise position on Brexit was resented by both leavers and remainers, and it wasn’t trusted on anti-Semitism. She also blames the media for attacking Corbyn. All of this may be true, but it feels like focusing on a heart attack victim’s route to work that day.

On policy, Long-Bailey wouldn’t change much. She would refocus the party on her Green New Deal, including a commitment to net zero emissions by 2030. That plan has spooked the unions, who worry that the target, as well as measures against fracking and aviation, would hurt their members. Unless Johnson abandons his own improved climate agenda, Long-Bailey’s strategy will look like too much risk for too little benefit.

As the Momentum-backed candidate, however, Long-Bailey has a large organized movement behind her with access to membership data — a definite advantage because the members vote for the leader. (Labour’s National Executive Committee ruled the other candidates can’t have the data until a week before ballots are sent out).

This race will run for a while yet. The candidates need support from at least 10 percent of Labour MPs (including members of the European Parliament), plus 5 percent of either Labour constituency parties or three affiliated unions. The list is whittled down through preferential voting until one candidate reaches 50 percent, with results announced on April 4.

The early support for Starmer suggests that many party members know a real correction is needed. But there’s enough time for Corbynistas to try to influence the vote in favor of their candidate. That will hardly bother Johnson, but it should make the rest of the country deeply uneasy.

Therese Raphael writes commentary on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion.

Source link

Politics

Virus spread, not politics should guide schools, doctors say – KSTP

Published

on


KSTP’s Complete COVID-19 Coverage

Still, health experts say there are too many uncertainties and variables for back-to-school to be back-to-normal.

Where is the virus spreading rapidly? Do students live with aged grandparents? Do teachers have high-risk health conditions that would make online teaching safest? Do infected children easily spread COVID-19 to each other and to adults?

Regarding the latter, some evidence suggests they don’t, but a big government study aims to find better proof. Results won’t be available before the fall, and some schools are slated to reopen in just a few weeks.

“These are complicated issues. You can’t just charge straight ahead,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday during an online briefing.

Children infected with coronavirus are more likely than adults to have mild illnesses, but their risk for severe disease and death isn’t zero. While a virus-linked inflammatory condition is uncommon, most children who develop it require intensive care, and a few have died. Doctors don’t know which children are at risk. 

“The single most important thing we can do to keep our schools safe has nothing to do with what happens in school. It’s how well we control COVID-19 in the community,” Frieden said. “Right now there are places around the country where the virus is spreading explosively and it would be difficult if not impossible to operate schools safely until the virus is under better control.”

Zahrah Wattier teaches high school in Galveston, Texas, where cases and deaths have been spiking. Until the state recently said schools must reopen to in-person classes, her district had been weighing options many others are considering, including full-time online teaching or a hybrid mix.

Wattier’s school has mostly Hispanic and Black students, many from low-income families; almost 70% qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches and many have parents who work in “essential” jobs that increase potential exposure to the virus. Online education was hard for many with limited internet access, and Wattier knows in-person classes can help even the playing field.

But she’s worried.

“My school has over 2,000 students. That’s over 2,000 exposures in a day,” said Wattier, whose parents live with the family and are both high-risk. “It’s a lot to think about. It’s my job. It’s something I choose to do, it’s something I love. Now it comes at a really high risk.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, whose guidance the Trump administration has cited to support its demands, says the goal is for all students to be physically present in school. But, it adds, districts must be flexible, consult with health authorities and be ready to pivot as virus activity waxes and wanes.

“It is not that the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks this is a done deal because we have put out guidance,” said Dr. Nicholas Beers, a member of the academy’s school health council. “But what we do know is that we need to have a more realistic dialogue about the implications of virtual learning on the future of children. We have left whole swaths of society behind, whether it’s because they have limited access to a computer, or broadband internet,” or because of other challenges that online education can’t address.

DeVos said local school officials are smart enough to know when conditions are not right.

“There’s going to be the exception to the rule, but the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school by school or a case by case basis.”

Following CDC and academy guidelines would mean big changes for most schools. Mask-wearing would be strongly encouraged for adult staff and students except the youngest. Desks would be distanced at least 3 feet apart; the CDC recommends 6 feet. Both suggest limiting adults allowed in schools, including parents, and canceling group activities like choir and assemblies. Staggered arrival and dismissal times, outdoor classes, and keeping kids in the same classroom all day are other options.

President Trump has threatened federal funding cuts for districts that don’t fully reopen.

DeVos defended that stance, saying, “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families.”

“If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called DeVos’ comments “malfeasance and dereliction of duty.”

“They’re messing, the president and his administration are messing with the health of our children,” the California Democrat told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

While most funding typically comes from state and local sources, experts say schools will need more federal funding, not less, to reopen safely. Masks, extra cleaning supplies or janitors, additional classroom space, and mental health support for students and staff traumatized by the pandemic are among potential costs. And with more parents out of work, more children will qualify for federally funded school lunches.

Lynn Morales, 49, teaches 8th grade English at a high-poverty public school in Bloomington, Minnesota, that is considering several options including in-person classes; a final decision is expected Aug. 1.

Some colleagues are considering not returning to the classroom because their children’s day care centers aren’t reopening. Some say they won’t come back until there’s a vaccine.

“I am concerned and it’s because of the age group,” Morales said. ”Middle school students … are lovely and I love them, but they touch, they get close, they roughhouse. It is their nature. They’re 13 years old. They are defiant.”

“If masks are required and a kid isn’t wearing a mask, is my job description going to be to chase down this kid and insist they wear a mask? And what if they don’t?”

Dr. Emily Landon, a University of Chicago infectious disease specialist, is helping the university and a campus preK-12 school decide how to reopen safely.

“Things are evolving from, ‘We can’t do it unless it’s perfectly safe’ to more of a harm reduction model, with the caveat that you can always step back” if virus activity flares, Landon said.

Single-occupancy dorms, outdoor classes, socially distanced classrooms and mask-wearing by students and faculty are on tap for the university. Face coverings will be required at the school too. Policies may change depending on virus activity.

She dismisses complaints from some parents who say masks are a loss of personal freedom.

“It’s not harmful for your child,” she said. “If you see wearing masks as a loss of personal freedom, then you have to think the same of pants.”

Dr. Tina Hartert of Vanderbilt University is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded study to determine what role children play in transmitting COVID-19. Almost 2,000 families are enrolled and self-test every two weeks. The idea is to find infected children without symptoms and see how easily disease spreads within families. Results may come by year’s end.

“If we don’t see significant transmission within households, that would be very reassuring,” Hartert said.

She noted that in other countries where schools have reopened, evidence suggests no widespread transmission from children.

In France, public schools reopened briefly before a summer break, with no sign of widespread virus transmission. Masks were only required for upper grades, but students stayed in the same classroom all day. A better test will be when the new school year starts Sept. 1.

In Norway, schools closed in March for several weeks. Nursery schools reopened first, then other grades. Children were put in smaller groups that stay together all day. Masks aren’t required. There have been only a few virus cases, said Dr. Margrethe Greve-Isdahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, but she noted virus activity is much lower than in the U.S.

Kati Spaniak, a realtor in Northbrook, Illinois, says her five teenage daughters have struggled to cope with pandemic fears, school closures and deficits of online learning. She strongly supports getting kids back in the classroom, and all her girls will return to some form of that in the fall.

It’s been hard for her high school senior, Kylie Ciesla. Prom, graduation and other senior rituals were canceled, and there were no good-byes. “Just to get ripped away from everything I’ve worked for 12 years, it’s really hard,” Kylie said.

At college, classes will be in person, masks mandated and a COVID-19 test required before she can move into her dorm. Kylie isn’t sure all that is needed.

“I hate that this thing has become so political. I just want the science. I want to know what we need to do to fix it,” she said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

After 50 years in politics, Richmond councillor Harold Steves says he won't seek re-election – CTV News

Published

on


VANCOUVER —
After 50 years of serving as a Richmond city councillor or a provincial MLA, Harold Steves says he will not seek re-election in the next civic election.

The politician made the announcement on Twitter, adding that this June 30th also marked his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife Kathy, and the occasion seemed like a good time to announce his retirement.

B.C.’s next civic election takes place Oct. 15, 2022.

“I joined the CCF [Co-operative Commonwealth Federation] party to fight to save farmland in 1960 and was elected the first president of the BC NDP Youth in 1961,” Steves wrote, adding that Kathy has always “quietly shared my workload.”

The Steves family have farmed in Richmond for decades, and the couple still run the family farm and live in the 103-year-old home on the property.

Steves first got interested in politics over a fight to save the farm in the 1950s. A university student at the time, and said he came home one day to find his father saying they would have to go out of business.

That’s because the city had denied his dad a permit to build a new dairy – a requirement during that period because Canadian regulators were requiring dairies to update to modern equipment. The Steves family found out their land and the land of many other farming families had been quietly rezoned for residential use.

“No one knew how to fight city hall,” Steves told CTV News Vancouver. “The taxes were going up and nobody knew what to do about it.”

The fight to protect farmland has motivated Steves throughout his long political career. He joined the CCF, the precursor to the New Democratic Party, and pushed for the creation of a land bank for farmland, an idea that would eventually become B.C.’s Agriculture Land Reserve.

Steves was first elected as a City of Richmond alderman in 1968, a post he held until 1973. From 1973 to 1975 he served as a B.C. NDP MLA, then returned to Richmond city council in 1977. He’s served as a city councillor continuously ever since.

Steves said his wife has been the backbone of his political career, doing all his filing and also reading countless reports. They met at the University of British Columbia, where Harold was studying agriculture and Kathy was studying nuclear physics.

“She does this all behind the scenes – basically it’s been the two of us together for 60 years,” Steves said.

The couple have five children and eight grandchildren.

Steves has been a stalwart critic of the B.C. government’s decision to build the Site C dam in the Peace region, warning that with the anticipated effects of climate change, the province couldn’t afford to lose valuable farmland.

In recent years, he’s fought to bring in changes to the size of houses allowed on farmland in Richmond, arguing that the large mansions that are currently allowed have led to rising land prices.

Steves said he plans to continue with his activism work, which is centred around protecting farmland and promoting the importance of strong local food systems.

He’s looking forward to continuing work on a plan to create 300 allotment gardens on some of the Garden City lands in Richmond, and ongoing work to create community garden plots in some city parks and develop incubator farms.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Doctors: Virus Spread, Not Politics, Should Guide Schools – Bay News 9

Published

on


NATIONWIDE — As the Trump administration pushes full steam ahead to force schools to resume in-person education, public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all reopening could drive infection and death rates even higher.


What You Need To Know


They’re urging a more cautious approach, which many local governments and school districts are already pursuing.

But U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doubled down on President Donald Trump’s insistence that kids can safely return to the classroom.

“There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous,” she told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

Still, heath experts say there are too many uncertainties and variables for back-to-school to be back-to-normal.

Where is the virus spreading rapidly? Do students live with aged grandparents? Do teachers have high-risk health conditions that would make online teaching safest? Do infected children easily spread COVID-19 to each other and to adults?

Regarding the latter, some evidence suggests they don’t, but a big government study aims to find better proof. Results won’t be available before the fall, and some schools are slated to reopen in just a few weeks.

“These are complicated issues. You can’t just charge straight ahead,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday during an online briefing.

Children infected with coronavirus are more likely than adults to have mild illnesses, but their risk for severe disease and death isn’t zero. While a virus-linked inflammatory condition is uncommon, most children who develop it require intensive care, and a few have died. Doctors don’t know which children are at risk.

“The single most important thing we can do to keep our schools safe has nothing to do with what happens in school. It’s how well we control COVID-19 in the community,” Frieden said. “Right now there are places around the country where the virus is spreading explosively and it would be difficult if not impossible to operate schools safely until the virus is under better control.”

Zahrah Wattier teaches high school in Galveston, Texas, where cases and deaths have been spiking. Until the state recently said schools must reopen to in-person classes, her district had been weighing options many others are considering, including full-time online teaching or a hybrid mix.

Wattier’s school has mostly Hispanic and Black students, many from low-income families; almost 70% qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches and many have parents who work in “essential” jobs that increase potential exposure to the virus. Online education was hard for many with limited internet access, and Wattier knows in-person classes can help even the playing field.

But she’s worried.

“My school has over 2,000 students. That’s over 2,000 exposures in a day,” said Wattier, whose parent live with the family and are both high-risk. “It’s a lot to think about. It’s my job. It’s something I choose to do, it’s something I love. Now it comes at a really high risk.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, whose guidance the Trump administration has cited to support its demands, says the goal is for all students to be physically present in school. But, it adds, districts must be flexible, consult with health authorities and be ready to pivot as virus activity waxes and wanes.

“It is not that the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks this is a done deal because we have put out guidance,” said Dr. Nicholas Beers, a member of the academy’s school health council. “But what we do know is that we need to have a more realistic dialogue about the implications of virtual learning on the future of children. We have left whole swaths of society behind, whether it’s because they have limited access to a computer, or broadband internet,” or because of other challenges that online education can’t address.

DeVos said local school officials are smart enough to know when conditions are not right.

“There’s going to be the exception to the rule, but the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school by school or a case by case basis.”

Following CDC and academy guidelines would mean big changes for most schools. Mask-wearing would be strongly encouraged for adult staff and students except the youngest. Desks would be distanced at least 3 feet apart; the CDC recommends 6 feet. Both suggest limiting adults allowed in schools, including parents, and canceling group activities like choir and assemblies. Staggered arrival and dismissal times, outdoor classes, and keeping kids in the same classroom all day are other options.

President Trump has threatened federal funding cuts for districts that don’t fully reopen.

DeVos defended that stance, saying, “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families.”

“If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. House Speaker Nanci Pelosi called DeVos’ comments “malfeasance and dereliction of duty.”

“They’re messing, the president and his administration are messing with the health of our children,” the California Democrat told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

While most funding typically comes from state and local sources, experts say schools will need more federal funding, not less, to reopen safely. Masks, extra cleaning supplies or janitors, additional classroom space, mental health support for students and staff traumatized by the pandemic are among potential costs. And with more parents out of work, more children will qualify for federally funded school lunches.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending