MPs set to debate changing Britain’s voting system to proportional representation | The Independent

MPs are set to debate scrapping Britain’s “First Past the Post” voting system and switching to a form of proportional representation.The debate has been put on the cards after a petition on the Parliament website calling for electoral reform reached 100,000 signatures – meaning the subject will automatically be considered for discussion by MPs.Petition founder Tim Ivorson, said that the Government’s original official response to the document had been “riddled with falsehoods” and that a debate would offer the opportunity “to correct some misunderstandings and for all MPs to explore the issue in more detail”.

Source: The Independent

Free exchange: A proper reckoning | The Economist

Feminist economics deserves recognition as a distinct branch of the discipline

Does “Feminist economics”, which has its own journal, really bring anything distinctive?

Defining it as a look at the economy from a female perspective provides one straightforward answer. Feminist analyses of public policy note, for example, that men gain most from income-tax cuts, whereas women are most likely to plug the gap left by the state as care for the elderly is cut. Even if such a combination spurs economic growth, if it worsens inequality between sexes, then perhaps policymakers should think twice.

Source: Free exchange: A proper reckoning | The Economist

“Bathroom Bills, Transgender Laws at Odds with Science” |

A person’s biological sex seems simple but is deceptively complex. It appears to be binary: An XX chromosomal pair is female, and an XY chromosomal pair is male. Doctors look at a newborn’s genitalia, pronounce the baby a boy or a girl, and the birth certificate reflects that sex assignment.

Deep-seated religious beliefs, cultural constructs, the regulation of sports (such as the rules confronted by Texas high-school wrestler Mack Beggs) and recent laws are premised on the bedrock belief that each of us is either a man or a woman. Yet the reality is that today in the United States alone there are approximately one million people who — from the moment of birth — cannot clearly be defined as either male or female.

This physiological truth is unrelated to whether someone is straight, gay or transgender. Many individuals are born with sex chromosome, endocrine or hormonal irregularities, and their birth certificates are inaccurate because in the United States birth records are not designed to allow doctors to designate an ambiguous sex. Countless people likely have no idea that they fall into this group. The more we learn about our DNA, the more that biological sex — from the moment of conception — looks like an intricate continuum and less like two tidy boxes. This understanding makes it virtually impossible for judges to consistently apply a law that permits or prohibits conduct based on whether someone is a man or a woman.


Politics is too complex to be understood in terms of Left and Right | British Politics and Policy at LSE

What does it really mean to be “right” or “left” in England today? Can we be certain that all who identify as conservative are against immigration? Or can we say that anyone opposing Trident is invariably “left”? And can we assume that one can never be both pro-immigration and “right-wing” in economic terms? Jonathan Wheatley explains ideology has a cultural and an economic dimension, and each should be assessed separately. He also argues that for many voters, the terms “left” and “right”, especially in economic terms, don’t mean much.

The notions of “left” and “right” have come to define how we understand politics in Western Europe. When it comes to political parties, the consensus in Britain is that UKIP, followed by the Conservatives, take the most right-wing position, while the Greens, SNP and Labour adopt a position furthest to the left. So when a ComRes poll found that the Conservatives were seen by voters as marginally to the right of UKIP, political pundits were shocked.

In ideological terms, the common assumption is that if you are anti-immigration, support an independent nuclear deterrent and adhere to pro-free market economic policies you are “right-wing”. If you welcome migrants, want to scrap Trident and believe in more state regulation you are “left-wing”. But as the recent spat between the Institute of Directors and Home Secretary Theresa May demonstrates, pro-business free-marketeers can also be pro-immigration. Conversely, many of those who feel the state should do more to protect their jobs may feel antagonistic towards immigration.

Source:  British Politics and Policy at LSE

EU to issue Brexit response within 48 hours of trigger

The EU will take just 48 hours to issue its first plan for Brexit negotiations after Britain formally triggers its departure, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union –the divorce notification clause – by the end of March.

Mr Tusk said the European Council, the EU institution which groups the bloc’s national leaders, would issue its draft plan for the talks soon after that.

“When the UK notifies, it is our goal to react with the draft negotiation guidelines for the 27 members to consider, for this I think we need more or less 48 hours,” Mr Tusk told a news conference in Brussels.

Source: EU to issue Brexit response within 48 hours of trigger

A new party of the centre? It makes fixing Labour seem easy | Rafael Behr The Guardian

In a crisis there are always people saying something must be done. Most of their plans are worse than doing nothing. I’d like to have coined that maxim but I borrowed it from a former Downing Street adviser – someone who has seen first hand how the attraction of doing something drastic in politics conceals the risk of doing something stupid.

The context was discussion of a new party. It isn’t hard to find this conversation in Westminster. It takes place whenever there is a gathering of two or more people who despair equally at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour and Theresa May’s navigation of Brexit. It isn’t a plot: no one is recruiting MPs to some new force. But there is a lot of speculation that someone should.

The conversation begins with the thought that Labour is doomed. Corbyn’s closest allies insist he can still be prime minister, but with dwindling conviction. John McDonnell complains about conspiracies by MPs and the media, not because he fears a coup but because he needs one. It isn’t a coincidence that the Corbyn locomotive ran out of steam once Owen Smith’s leadership challenge was crushed. Battle against “Blairites” was the coal in the furnace. Without an internal enemy to fight, the wheels stop turning.

Source: Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

“Manchester city council to create UK’s first LGBT retirement home” | The Guardian

Manchester city council has announced plans to create the UK’s first retirement community aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to the local authority, the city is home to the country’s largest number of LGBT people outside of London and is due to see a rapid growth in the number of LGBT residents over 65 in the next two decades. More than 7,000 over-50s living in Manchester identify as LGBT.

A recent report by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation, commissioned by the council, revealed that older LGBT people experience higher levels of loneliness and isolation.

Many were fearful of discrimination in existing accommodation and there was a desire for affordable LGBT-specific housing where people could be open about their identity in later life.

Source: The Guardian

The Tablet

Nearly 2,000 Catholic perpetrators, including 572 priests, allegedly abused 4,444 children over many decades in complaints made to the Church between 1980 and 2015, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been told. The shocking figures were delivered on the opening day of the Commission’s “wrap-up” hearing into the Catholic Church.

Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission, Gail Furness, said in her opening address that 60 per cent of survivors attending a private session with the Commission had reported abuse in faith-based institutions – nearly two-thirds of them in Catholic institutions. Overall, 37 per cent of all survivors who attended private sessions reported sexual abuse in a Catholic institution. It was the Commission’s 50th public hearing in the past four years

Source: The Tablet

French Presidential hopeful vows to ‘name and shame’ anti-gay employers · PinkNews

French Presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has pledged to “name and shame” employers who discriminate against LGBT people.

Macron, a centrist candidate who is currently the favourite to become the country’s next leader, launched his full policy manifesto today.

While his likely run-off opponent Marine Le Pen’s manifesto included no policies on LGBT rights other than scrapping same-sex marriage, Macron dedicated an entire section to LGBT issues.

In it he pledged to challenge homophobic in everyday life, and to tackle anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

The candidate said he would scale up random checks of employers’ compliance with equality laws, while also “naming and shaming” those found to have discriminated.

Source:  · PinkNews

Analysis: Endangering social grants is the ANC’s own catastrophic mistake | Daily Maverick

Many a big crisis is a series of seemingly isolated events in different sectors at the same time. Sometimes they’re a flash in the pan, doing limited damage. But sometimes they arrive at the same historical moment as other events, merging into messy chaos. They are often the work of different actors, pulling in different directions. This makes blame hard to pin down. But we are about to have a crisis that is entirely different. The fiasco around the social grant payments is entirely the making of the people responsible and no one else’s. Should the worst happen, the results of the crisis and their impact on South Africa are too ghastly to contemplate. But the cooler analytical heads now also have to measure the political price the ruling party is going to pay because of the reckless actions by one Bathabile Dlamini. By STEPHEN GROOTES.

Source: Daily Maverick