British politics have come under the spotlight (again) in the wake of Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation, and the upcoming Conservative Party leadership election. A key player that is expected to influence the future of British politics is the Labour Party, which has been led by Jeremy Corbyn since September 2015.
Senior Research Assistant - Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution
On June 14, Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) hosted historian and journalist David Kogan, who recently published “Protest and Power: The Battle for the Labour Party” (Bloomsbury, 2019), a history of the party from the 1970s to the present. Kogan discussed some of the central themes of his book, which asks whether Labour is a party of protest or one of power. He delved into the factors behind the party’s recent shift to the left and how this shift will affect the party’s electoral prospects. He noted that although Corbyn is a Eurosceptic, his party’s divide on Brexit has kept him from taking a definitive stance on the issue. Furthermore, Kogan posited that Labour will eventually have to address the backlash regarding Corbyn’s anti-Semitic remarks. Broadly, he suggested that Labour’s future success depends heavily on its leadership and how adequately it addresses the divides within the party.
Kogan’s talk was followed by a panel discussion featuring him and Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at CUSE, and moderated by CUSE Director Thomas Wright. The panelists examined Tony Blair’s impact on Labour and the subsequent emergence of New Labour and Corbyn. They emphasized that Labour has been performing poorly in its transitional strongholds (such as Scotland), which has led to questions about Corbyn’s leadership capabilities. Moreover, they discussed how Corbyn stacks up against potential Tory challengers, who might replace Corbyn in the future, and what might the American Democratic Party learn from Labour’s left turn.
The panel then took questions from the audience.
Brookings Intern Naz Gocek contributed to this post.
President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.