Inside Labour’s fight with the unions

By the end of the year, Britain may be one of the few countries in the democratic world where the right is losing. In America, Donald Trump is the favourite to win. Ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections, momentum is with Germany’s AfD, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and Austria’s Freedom party. Migration is the most pertinent issue pushing Europe rightwards, but many voters are also turning to insurgent right-wing parties as a rebellion against the cost of net-zero policies. Labour sees an electoral benefit in sticking to its green energy plans to stop voters defecting to the Greens In the UK, the future of green scepticism looks somewhat

Who was the original Terf?

Terf wars Who was the original Terf (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)? – The practice of some women’s groups in excluding trans women began almost with the advent of trans women themselves. In 1978, the Lesbian Organisation of Toronto refused membership to a trans woman who identified as a lesbian – saying it would only accept ‘womyn born womyn’. – The term ‘Terf’, however, dates only from 2008, when it was used in a blog post by feminist writer Viv Smythe in response to a ban on trans women attending the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (a ban which had been in place since 1991). – The festival, which had been going since

Who else has come after Percy Pig’s crown?

Pig out Marks & Spencer wrote to an ice cream parlour in Hertfordshire demanding that it stop calling one of its products ‘Perky Pig’ on the grounds that it infringed the chain’s copyright of Percy Pigs, which it has been selling since 1992. Some more onomatopoeic porcines: – Pierre Pig: collectible plastic figurines introduced by Fabuland in 1984. The characters in the series also included Pat Pig, Peter Pig and Patricia Piglet. – Peppa Pig: children’s TV series first broadcast on Channel 5 in 2004, and favourite of former PM Boris Johnson. – Percival Pig Finds His Manners: children’s book published in the US in 2014. – Percival, the Performing

Is Macron heading for his Margaret Thatcher moment?

There was a sense of foreboding in France at the start of this week. After the anarchy of last Thursday and the extraordinary violence in western France on Saturday, where radical environmentalists fought a pitched battle with police, what would the next seven days bring?  Much of the media speculated that the 10th day of action organised by unions in protest at the government’s pension reform bill would result in the sort of scenes witnessed across France five days earlier, with city halls torched, shops sacked and police stations attacked. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the left-wing La France Insoumise, was accused by the government on Monday of tacitly encouraging the

The secret of Mick Lynch’s success

There are plenty of losers from this week’s railway strikes, not least the legions of commuters who found themselves stuck. But one clear winner is emerging: RMT boss Mick Lynch. Lynch has been feted for his straight-talking media appearances and composure under fire. He’s clever, witty and funny. It also helps that he has made fools out of some of those media darlings some British viewers love to hate. It’s surely only a matter of time before he pops up on Have I Got News For You. But perhaps his greatest asset isn’t what he offers but who he isn’t. What sets him apart is how different he is from

The utter shamelessness of Britain’s rail unions

In what other industry could demand collapse by a tenth and yet the staff still think that they have a right to an above inflation pay rise and no job losses? Rail privatisation was supposed to put an end to union militancy and to relieve taxpayers of the financial risk of running the railways. Patently, it has achieved neither objective. Three national rail strikes have been declared for later in the month, to compound strikes on the London underground. Meanwhile, taxpayers will contribute £16 billion this year to propping up an industry in which demand for its services have collapsed. In the week to 22 May (before the effect of

It’s time for Boris to take on the rail unions

Imagine if we gave the rail unions what they really wanted, and renationalised the railways. Would they then leave us alone and get on quietly with the job of driving trains, clipping tickets and so on? Like hell they would. Thankfully, Nicola Sturgeon has just tried this very human experiment, so that the Westminster government does not have to. On 1 April, railway services north of the border were taken back into public ownership so that, as the unions would put it, passengers could once again be put first and profits no longer drained away by nasty private companies rewarding their evil shareholders. And the result? Er, a national rail

Why aren’t the teaching unions speaking out about Batley?

‘Sadly, his life here in Batley is over. Even if he gets his job back, how can he possibly return to Batley Grammar School? It will be far too risky. And how will he be able to walk around the town with his kids, doing normal things knowing that he could be killed?’ These were the harrowing words of the father of Batley Grammar’s suspended RE teacher yesterday. It’s hard to believe that a professional working in a liberal democracy like Britain, whose only ‘crime’ was to use a drawing to start a class discussion, is now facing a lifetime of police protection, unable to return to work and living

Covid could force a major schools shake-up

At some point in the next few months, life will return to something approaching normality. When that happens, the UK will have to confront all the problems that Covid has left behind: bruised public finances, long NHS waiting list and the rest. But the problem that Boris Johnson is most worried about, as I write in the Times today, is the effect on children of having been out of school for so long. This pandemic has probably wiped out a decade of progress in narrowing the attainment gap. There would undoubtedly be resistance from the education sector The government is hoping that small group tutoring can help make up much of the