Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcome first child

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcome first child

The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a baby boy in Windsor.

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Trump’s UK visit and the power of protest

Donald Trump

Simon Jenkins’ decrying of anti-Trump and other demonstrations displays a surprisingly simplistic understanding of the politics of protest (To rage against Trump’s visit is simply childish, 27 April). His scattergun disdain appears to condemn as meaningless any mass objection that cannot result in the instantaneous withering of the intended political target. Presumably the actions of the thousands who risked and lost their lives in Tiananmen Square in 1989, for example, would be understood as a monument to childish futility in the world of mathematically harmonious political symmetry that Jenkins’ activism requires, for “unless there are consequential gains to such action, it is mere self-indulgence”.

His reference to Ceauşescu, Mugabe and Mobutu as precedents for tolerating Trump’s state visit is equally mystifying. It could at least be argued (however weakly) that in their invitation lay the desperate hope of some leverage to be ventured against murderous tyrants otherwise immune to moral shaming, economic sanction or political threats. By contrast, it is precisely because the US shares with us the same moral universe and democratic principles that anti-Trump protests represent a powerful rejection of his traducing of those shared values. Offering such painful truths from within this so-called special relationship can be easily understood on both sides of the Atlantic as entirely legitimate objections to the man, not the office. It might also offer welcome evidence of solidarity, to the millions of US citizens who feel aggrieved by their contemptuous, megalomaniac representative – but presumably that’s too childish a gesture.
Paul McGilchrist
Colchester, Essex

• I am sure Simon Jenkins regards himself as a voice of reason, and he is undoubtedly blessed with considerable intellect. Curious, then, that he writes “If there is a…

Alastair Campbell’s daughter foreswears politics in Fringe gig

Feminist campaigner and stand-up Grace Campbell with her father Alastair. Picture: Ken McKay/Shutterstock
Feminist campaigner and stand-up Grace Campbell with her father Alastair. Picture: Ken McKay/Shutterstock

As the daughter of arguably Britain’s best-known spin doctor, Grace Campbell has been immersed in the world of politics ever since she was born a quarter of a century ago.

Now she is hoping to take the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by storm by exploring why the UK’s current political system is so broken.

A year after launching a career as a stand-up, the daughter of Tony Blair’s most trusted confidant, Alastair Campbell, will be at the Gilded Balloon with a show entitled Why I’m Never Going Into Politics.

The 25-year-old performer, filmmaker and activist will discuss how her Westminster upbringing left her determined to steer clear of mainstream politics by the time she was a teenager. Campbell has already made her name as co-founder of the feminist activist group The Pink Protest, which is aimed at helping to build “a global movement of young people who want to change the world”.

Campbell had been dabbling in writing comedy since she was 19, but it was not until she made her TV debut a year ago – on a hidden camera feminist prank show for Channel 4 – that she harboured notions of performing live on stage. She said: “It was only when I was making Riot that I realised how much of a bug I had for performing.

“As soon as I started doing stand-up I instantly thought: ‘Oh my god, this is so for me.’

Industrial collapse of Thatcher years led to crime rise, study finds

Margaret Thatcher in Middlesbrough in 1987.

The decline of heavy industry in Britain during the Thatcher era led to a significant increase in crime, according to the first study of its kind.

Four decades after Margaret Thatcher swept to power, research has found that in areas where the coal, steel, ship and railway industries were hit during the 1980s, young people were much more likely to find themselves in trouble with the police. University of Derby researchers analysed data from the census and the birth cohort study of 16,000 people born in the same week in April 1970 and cross-referenced this with cautions they received from the police and their area’s employment level.

Between 1980 and 2000, the number of young people receiving cautions was 21% higher in those areas with the highest level of job losses than in those with the lowest rise.

Professor Stephen Farrall, who carried out the research with Dr Emily Gray and Dr Phil Jones, told the British Sociological Association’s annual conference that the study was the first to quantifiably link the long-term effects of the collapse of heavy industry and young people’s criminal records. “No one has ever attempted to study the link between individual offending careers and political decision-making. Current approaches adopted by criminologists tend to focus on the offender’s personal characteristics, and have failed to engage with the way that political decision-making shapes…

US to put pressure on UK government after leaked Huawei decision

The UK headquarters of Huawei in Reading.

Donald Trump’s administration is expected to put further pressure on the UK to reconsider the decision to allow Chinese telecoms company Huawei to help build parts of the UK’s 5G telecoms network.

The US has arranged for a representative from the state department, which has repeatedly warned of the risks of using Huawei, to give a briefing on Monday.

Robert Strayer, a deputy assistant secretary, who has been at the forefront of anti-Huawei lobbying, argued earlier this month that if countries adopt “risk-based security frameworks” it “will lead inevitably to the banning of Huawei”.

The latest US lobbying comes after the leak of a decision by the normally secret UK National Security Council, which agreed to allow Huawei to supply 5G technology after a contested meeting in which five cabinet members raised objections.

The decision at Tuesday’s NSC meeting was forced through, according to one source, on the casting vote of the prime minister with a formal announcement expected later in the spring once further technical safeguards had been prepared.

But while Downing Street may regard the Huawei decision as final there are signs that it could yet be reversed once Theresa May steps aside, with sources close to Boris Johnson indicating the former foreign secretary could be willing to “look again” at the Huawei approval if he were to become prime minister.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, was the first minister to publicly confirm that a leak inquiry had started, when asked about Huawei at an Chinese government investment forum in Beijing – and said it needed to be dealt with.

“My understanding from London [is] that an investigation has been announced,” Hammond said. “I think it is very important that we get to the bottom of what happened here.”

On Thursday it emerged that the cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, had written to the senior ministers present at the meeting to demand that they and their aides cooperate with the inquiry and state…

Deal reached for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks

Locked gates at Stormont in Belfast

An agreement has been reached to establish a new round of talks involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, the UK and Irish prime ministers, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar, have said in a joint statement.

The public clamour for political progress following the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee encouraged both governments to launch a fresh attempt to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland, they said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

“In coming together with other political leaders in St Anne’s Cathedral to pay tribute to Lyra McKee, we gave expression to the clear will and determination of all of the people of these islands to reject violence and to support peace and a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland,” the statement said.

“We also heard the unmistakable message to all political leaders that people across Northern Ireland want to see a new momentum for political progress. We agree that what is now needed is actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership.”

The new process would involve all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, together with the UK and Irish governments, it said.

“The aim of these talks is quickly to re-establish to full operation the democratic institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement – the NI executive, assembly and north-south ministerial council – so that they can effectively serve all of the people for the future.”

The Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley and the Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney were due to unveil details at a joint press conference in Belfast later on Friday.

The announcement comes a week after the killing of McKee, which has sparked widespread calls to end the political impasse that has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government for more than 800 days.

Bradley and Coveney will ask political parties to resume talks at Stormont, the site of the mothballed assembly, “as soon as possible” after local elections on 2 May, according to the statement from May and Varadkar.

Theprime minister and taoiseach, who both attended McKee’s funeral in Belfast on Wednesday, also agreed that there should be a meeting of the British-Irish intergovernmental conference to consider east-west relations,…

Farage: Brexit party will use EU poll to oust ‘remain parliament’

Nigel Farage during a walkabout in Clacton

Nigel Farage has returned to the seaside town where Ukip had its first MP elected five years ago, promising at a rally in Clacton-on-Sea that his new Brexit party will use the momentum of European elections to oust a “remain parliament”.

Railing against a “political class” who he said had betrayed the people of Britain, Farage claimed to more than a thousand supporters on Clacton pier that what was at stake was not just Brexit, but whether or not Britain was a democratic country.

“Can you imagine in an African country if an election was overturned? There would be uproar and they would be calling for the UN to be sent in … and yet it’s happening in our own country,” said Farage, who was introduced as “the godfather, the ‘guvnor’ of Brexit”.

On his latest visit to the Essex town, which has neighbourhoods with some of the highest levels of deprivation in Britain, Farage described it as the most patriotic and Eurosceptic place in the country.

“So what would Brexit do for Clacton? It would make us proud of who we are again and you can’t put a price on that,” he said.

Back in 2014, Farage had tucked into a McDonald’s McFlurry as he and a beaming Douglas Carswell strolled through the streets of the town after the latter had become the first Tory MP to defect to Ukip, then a rising force in British politics.

It was a relationship that was to sour, however, as splits within the party came bubbling to the surface even before the men joined different leave campaigns during the Brexit referendum.

Brexit adds to Northern Ireland’s broken politics

Floral tributes for journalist Lyra McKee, whose death the New IRA claimed responsibility for. | Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

The main achievement of the Good Friday Agreement — the creation of power-sharing institutions — is not just unwell, but perhaps terminally ill.

Like few places on earth, Northern Ireland lives its history.

It is everywhere — on street signs, radio phone-ins, murals and marches. Like poisonous gas, it is inescapable: directing daily life. It determines whom you vote for, what sport you play, which part of the city you live in.

Stay at the multimillion pound Radisson Blu hotel in downtown Belfast and an Irish tricolor can be seen, stuck in a window of a flat in the “Markets” area — an Irish Catholic ghetto surrounded by Britishness and a derelict patch of grass. On the other side of the hotel, five minutes from the Markets, a giant Union flag mural welcomes (warns) visitors that they are entering the loyalist Donegall Pass area of town.

It is a society like no other in Western Europe. Different rules apply. Politically, it is more Balkan than British or Irish.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement recognized this reality and sought a political system that could be all things to all people. Power was shared, with vetoes for both communities. The union with Great Britain maintained — even strengthened politically — but all-Ireland institutions created and nationalist rights guaranteed.

It created a land where you could be Irish or British — or both. You could shop on one side of the border and use the free NHS on the other.

It did not, however, change the fundamentals.

“Politics here are…

Cross-party unity could be the key to Brexit deal

Nigel Farage

As you report (Beckett warns of Farage win if Labour hedges its bets, 18 April), the latest YouGov poll gives the hardline leave parties (Brexit and Ukip) 34%. The remain parties (Lib Dem, Green, Change UK, SNP/Plaid) have 29%, while sit-on-the-fence Labour has 22%. On these numbers, the anti-Brexit parties in England and Wales will find it hard to win more than half a dozen seats between them, and the media will report a massive Brexit triumph.

It appears to be too late to get a joint name on the ballot paper, even just a combination of three registered names, which seems ridiculous. But desperate times require desperate measures.

I suggest that the three plainly anti-Brexit parties divide up the English regions between themselves and just one party stands in each – with full public and campaigning support from the others. Of course, the Labour party may finally come to its senses, but the rest of us should do what is required in the real world.
Tony Greaves
Liberal Democrats, House of Lords

• Margaret Beckett urges Labour to back remain to prevent Nigel Farage’s Brexit party from triumphing at the European elections. Her call is understandable, but it only triangulates one section of a complex moral and political dilemma. Any failed, partial or zero Brexit will bring the Brexit party to power in some way, but the real threat is a massive upset to the British political applecart at the first general election after some version of a failed Brexit. That the far right could hold power in cabinet has been obvious for months, but this possibility is now a fair deduction from the YouGov polling.

The alternative to Beckett’s suggestion is for remainers to support Brexit to keep the far right from power, which could be a disastrous smash and grab of our liberal democracy and take years to recover from. The hope, in such a scenario, would be that support for the Rejoin EU party would grow in line with popular frustration at not belonging to the EU. The scenario could be less traumatic than the virtual civil war that could ensue if Brexit is overturned or fudged in some way. I prefer Beckett’s suggestion, but I fear its likely consequence.
Nigel Pollitt

• As your editorial (Britain’s parties must get together if they want to help Europe stay together, 19 April) persuasively argued, it is high time for Labour to take a bolder stance on Brexit. But, depressingly, you also reported on…

An Armed Militia Detained Nearly 300 People at the U.S.-Mexico Border

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)

Jim Benvie, 43, from Minnesota, is a member of the United Constitutional Patriots New Mexico Border Ops militia, which detained about 300 people near the U.S.-Mexico border. New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, has “these individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, out in the country, the Era of Trump goes merrily on. From CNN:

“My office has been informed that this week, an armed group has detained nearly 300 people near Sunland Park, New Mexico,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a written statement. “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”

Videos posted online purportedly showing migrants held by the United Constitutional Patriots group and handed over to the US Border Patrol drew swift condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico.

“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to state authorities denouncing the actions and asking the government to step in. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.”

A statement on the United Constitutional Patriots’ Facebook page describes the group as “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there rights in unity and help keep America safe.”

“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” spokesman Jim Benvie told The New York Times, noting that his group had been camped near El Paso for the past two months. Benvie’s group “plans to remain on the border until the extended wall proposed by President Trump is built or Congress changes immigration laws to make it harder for migrants to request asylum,” the Times reported.

This is purely a function of the times we’re in and of the political attitudes and ideological rot that is the modern conservatism that made someone like the current president* not only possible, but also inevitable.

A member of United Constitutional Patriots New Mexico Border Ops militia team monitors the U.S.-Mexico border in Anapra, New Mexico on March 20, 2019.

Here’s a primer on these sad vigilante bastards. By any reasonable definition, they are armed kidnappers—which, under some interpretations of the statutes, would make them terrorists as well. They should all be in the can, and the estate of Johnny Horton should sue them for every penny they have.

Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Queens. This week, Warren called for the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump.

On Friday, Senator Professor Warren threw a spanner into the 2020 presidential election, to say nothing of putting a number of people on the spot. From NBC News:

Warren, of Massachusetts, said her announcement was based on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller. Warren tweeted, “The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”

Somebody had to say it.

For good or ill, this question is now an issue in the presidential race, and it’s also grown teeth in Washington. For months, we’ve heard that the Democrats needed something more substantial than simply being anti-Trump. That’s certainly not a problem for Warren, whose spent the past two months rolling out one major policy proposal after another. And it forces the issue on congressional Republicans, especially the ones who have to run for re-election with what should be by all rights a millstone around their necks. It may or may not be the best thing for Warren’s campaign, but even that is something worth watching.

Lyra McKee, 29, was shot in the head in what police are treating as a “terrorist incident”, amid disturbances in Derry on Thursday evening, and died later in hospital. Police Service of Northern Ireland officers were carrying out a search operation in the Creggan area of Derry aimed at disrupting dissident republicans ahead of this weekend’s commemoration of Irish independence, when a situation developed during which more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and two cars were hijacked and set on fire…

Lyra McKee was a first-class journalist who did a great job covering both…