Mason Boycott-Owen (Politics Editor) – Ed Balls’ Wins the Nation’s Hearts
Like Lazarus, Ed Balls has risen from the death of his defeat at 2015’s General Election. Now he’s become something of a national treasure after swapping Whitehall for the Waltz – what a difference a year makes. While across the pond, The Donald moved from reality TV star to politician, Balls did the opposite. Now, the question everyone is asking the Strictly-star is ‘when are you going back into politics?’ He’s far from ruled it out. In fact he would be a fool to not run for MP off the back of this – Labour is lacking big names on the big stage – and he would saunter to a win, given how narrowly he lost his seat in 2015. Who knows, maybe he’ll be a candidate in next year’s annual Labour Leadership Election – New Labour’s coming come?
Joseph Costello (Deputy Political Editor) – The Death of Jo Cox
Throughout the year, much has been made of perceived ‘tragedies’ in Western politics. Whether they fall under the populist wave or the death of social democracy, it seems everyone has a phenomenon to lament. However, what we must not lose sight of, is that each of these movements (be they Trump, Brexit, or otherwise) were by-and-large peaceful and democratic. With that in mind I ask you to cast your mind back. On June 16th, during the European referendum campaign, Jo Cox, a democratically-elected Member of Parliament was murdered, in the streets of Birstall in her own constituency. Shot and stabbed in a politically-motivated terrorist attack.
It is the death of a young mother which is ‘tragic’, it is the blatant attack on British values which is ‘lamentable’. So I charge people to think very, very carefully about this year’s events. It is our democratic values that have taken us to where we are and how we will succeed in this time of uncertainty. It is those democratic values for which Jo Cox lost her life. Therefore this, to me, is by far the most significant political story of the year.
Laura Tidd – Philip Davies Failed Filibuster
My ‘Political Moment of 2016’ has to go to the one and only Philip “Philibuster” Davies. The Conservative MP for Shipley spoke for 78 minutes in a failed attempt to impede the second reading of the Istanbul Convention. The self-styled ‘anti-feminist’ derailed parliamentary discussion of the bill, which aims to ensure victims of gender-based violence will have access to various resources, protections, and rights across Europe. He was promptly rebutted effectively and gracefully by several other Members of Parliament – notably Thangam Debbonnaire, John Glen and Jess Phillips, who contributed to the bill’s passing at the second stage of ratification.
Martha Muir – Corbyn Clings On
For Blairites, if 2015 was the year that Labour took its last breath, 2016 put the nail in its coffin. Despite being criticized for a lacklustre campaign during the EU referendum and losing a vote of no-confidence in June, Jeremy Corbyn stormed to victory against leadership challenger Owen Smith with 61.8% of the vote. Brexit and Trump have proved that in politics, anything can happen. However with dismal poll ratings, if Theresa May calls an early election in 2017 Labour may be facing extinction to the Conservatives, Liberal-Democrats and UKIP in their traditional heartlands.
Nathan Cinnamond – The Rise of the Donald
If you tried to capture the most dominant political theme of 2016 in a phrase, you could do a lot worse than ‘right-wing populism’. We cannot disregard the voter trends that gravitated towards Trump and Brexit as merely ‘a corrupted conservative movement held up by the older generation’. This is missing the point. The scene of Western civilisation is changing. The promises of globalisation have failed the masses, with countless trade deals shipping jobs off to cheaper markets creating huge political resentment amongst the working classes. While Trump’s win was perhaps the most surprising moment of 2016, I expect his presidency to shock even more so. Donald knew how to tap into key voter demographics, and likely will not move forward on the more controversial policies of his original platform. I predict he will act as a centrist Democrat, more Clinton than Reagan, and it will perhaps mark a new era of both social and market liberalism.
Tania Chakraborti – Britain Votes to Leave
Brexit: a simple vote regarding the EU became so much more. It triggered economic upheaval as the pound fell to its lowest rate since 1985. The economy is now mending. What is still to recover is the public’s trust after both ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ campaigns. Brexit exposed the worst in our politicians, with statistics like ‘£350 million’ acting as brutal reminders of how low they might sink. Will we ever trust them again? Article 50 will be triggered in March, but the exact details remain unclear. What is clear however, is that Brexit will be one for the history textbooks.
Photograph by Dominic Alves via Flickr