For the past couple of months the Labour Leadership race has been dominating the airwaves. Every day it seems there’s been another upsurge in ‘Corbynmania’, another attempt by opposition candidates to band together against Jeremy, another accusation of anti-semitism or “lefty lunacy” or even an undermining of the whole voting process itself.
But we’ve been so entranced by this carnival of absurdities that we’ve been distracted from some of the other important issues of today, be they Bills that were sneakily submitted to Parliament before the recess against an opposition in disarray, or stories that have been quickly forgotten and pushed out of the public consciousness by Labour’s War of the Roses.
5. The Conservatives want to abolish the Department of Energy & Climate Change
It was long ago agreed that climate change is definitely a thing by all but the most ardent of reality deniers. This was further cemented by the fact that Winter flooding is now a regular thing we can expect, and that the world collectively just had the hottest month on record since people started writing this weather stuff down.
Yet this Bill had its first reading at the end of June. While Harriet Harman was presiding over a party with about as much oppositional spirit as a commemorative plate, six Conservative MPs proposed to Parliament that the DECC be abolished and absorbed into the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. You’d think there’d be more talk about this considering this is coming from the Party that changed its logo to a tree to look “greener”, but that’s okay guys, climate change and renewable energy research are just the most important challenges of our generation, no big deal.
Also, this was apparently a UKIP election promise earlier this year. Just saying.
4. The Lords want to abolish advertising of prostitution
Prostitution. It’s the issue nobody really wants to talk about. Is it legal? Is it illegal? The authorities haven’t been able to make their mind up one way or the other; a cursory google reveals that the act itself is legal, but most activities associated with it – running a brothel, kerb crawling, soliciting in public etc – are illegal.
This sexually confused legal approach is set to continue, as the House of Lords discussed a Bill to ban advertising of prostitution, but still not the actual act of prostitution. Although considering the allegations brought against Lord Sewel last month, that might be for the best. Expect to see more adverts for massage parlours in your future if this passes.
3. TTIP is still a thing
Although it might seem that way, TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) has not gone away. For the uninitiated, TTIP is an international trade deal between Europe and the US. Supporters say it’ll bring in jobs, businesses and money into the economy; detractors say it will let private US firms into the NHS, infringe data privacy and bring down food safety regulations.
The deal is still being debated despite falling from the headlines. I’d link you to a full text of the agreement so you could see it for yourself, but apparently it’s so ultra secret it can only be read in one room in Brussels. Seriously?
2. David Cameron wants all porn sites to take your card details
Not satisfied with the family filters imposed by internet providers such as Sky, David Cameron wants all pornographic sites to do more rigourous identity checks on site visitors before allowing them to view content. Like most policy ideas of this type, it sounds like it’s appeasing the “think of the children” crowd while actually infringing on privacy.
Picture the future: any time you visit a site with material that could be construed as racy (although not saying you do, virtuous reader!) you will have to give out your card details, including your address and real name, which then have to be stored. Now imagine a group like the Ashley Madison hackers getting into that database and posting your viewing habits for all to see. Still sound like a good idea?
1. The militarisation of Calais
This is technically cheating, as everybody knows there’s something going on in Calais. However, how many people could really tell you what’s going on down there apart from “some people are trying to get across the Channel”? Increasingly it seems that the news media and public have become disinterested or simply accustomed to the crisis developing on the Calais border, and instead the news leads with whatever latest publicity gaff has been made by a Labour leadership contender.
Most recently, French riot police have been involved in clashes with the growing migrant population, and our very own Theresa May has already put plans in motion to create a “secure zone” around the terminal, involving more fencing, policing inside the tunnel itself, and increased numbers of French police and dogs in the Calais area itself.
Most outlets have also only been telling one side of the story, painting a picture of a human “swarm” amassing at the gates of the Channel Tunnel like an invading army. Few have given much air time to the refugees and economic migrants arriving at the town, and what’s more nobody seems to care much that the Channel is on its way to becoming a military checkpoint, and you can bet that any security measures proposed by the Conservatives are going to meet little resistance from a Labour party staging a coup against itself.