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Bite-sized briefing: World

The Iraqi election will not be held in January, as the country's constitution requires. Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, has indicated he will oppose a draft of the election bill agreed on 23 November that would allocate more seats to Kurds and fewer to Sunnis.

The US agreed to set a target for reducing emissions before December's UN climate summit. A drop from 2005 levels of about 17-20 per cent by 2020 is expected - smaller than the EU's pledge, and less than developing countries are demanding. Barack Obama, and the Chinese and Indian leaders are yet to commit to attending the summit.

Two southern Philippine provinces declared a state of emergency after more than 50 people were killed in pre-election violence. The victims had been travelling to file nomination papers for next May's elections. Poll-related violence is relatively common, but this is one of the worst cases in recent years.

Irish public workers went on strike ahead of the 9 December budget. The government plans to cut the public-sector pay bill by €1.3bn to reduce the country's deficit. Nurses, teachers and other employees say they cannot take any more wage cuts after this year's emergency budget.

Deaths from HIV have dropped by 10 per cent in the past five years, report the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS. The number of new infections has also fallen significantly - by 17 per cent in the past eight years - but 33.4 million people worldwide are still infected with HIV.

Nearly half of all Tajik women are physically and sexually abused by their families, says Amnesty International. Violence against women is widespread in central Asia, where most societies are patriarchal. Amnesty has called for laws and support services to tackle domestic violence.

The war crimes trial of the Cambodian prison chief known as Comrade Duch came to a close. Prosecutors demanded a 40-year sentence for Kaing Guek Eav's part in the deaths of 15,000 Cambodians.

Spanish police arrested at least 36 people in an operation targeting a banned youth group, Segi, linked to the separatists Eta. Documents seized earlier this year indicated that the group was seeking to enlist new followers.

Jordan's parliament has been dissolved by King Abdullah (right) halfway through its four-year term. No reason was given in the royal edict, but the lower house had been accused of handling legislation ineptly. This is the second time King Abdullah has dissolved parliament since he acceded to the throne in 1999.

Two alleged warlords from Congo went on trial at The Hague. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui are accused of directing an attack on a village in 2003 in which more than 200 people were killed. They face charges of ordering attacks on civilians, rape, and enlisting child soldiers. Both deny the charges.

At least four out of five children in orphanages have a living parent, Save the Children reports. Poverty is usually the reason children end up in institutions, which can be very lucrative for those who run them. Many "orphans" face rape, trafficking and beatings. About eight million children worldwide are known to live in orphanages.

Germany is drawing up an "integration contract" requiring immigrants to learn German and uphold values such as freedom of speech and sexual equality. About 15 million immigrants live there, in a population of 82 million.

China and North Korea pledged to strengthen their long-standing military alliance. But analysts note China seems increasingly willing to support talks with North Korea's neighbours and the US over ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Operations against Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have failed, experts report. The UN and Congolese troops have failed to halt the illegal mineral trade, inflaming the humanitarian crisis.

This article first appeared in the 30 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Left Hanging

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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times