Politics

2017 defined by the issues of 2016

By Conor Holohan

In many ways, 2017 has mainly been defined by issues decided in 2016. The majority of noteworthy ongoing stories of the year are largely concerned with the electoral revolutions of last year.

On January 20, Donald J Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. On the day of his inauguration, as he promised to put America first on Capitol Hill, gangs of protesters ran through Washington breaking shop windows and causing unrest. A week later the newly inaugurated President published Executive Order 13769.

The Order suspended the USA’s Syrian refugee programme indefinitely and also suspended travel to the US by citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries for 90 days. The Order was met with furious protests across the world, including in Cardiff.

Executive Order 13769 was then suspended by various courts, but has in recent days been allowed into effect while legal cases against the Order proceed.

Along the way, President Trump regularly used twitter to grandstand against Kim Jong Un who has this year conducted a series provocative missile tests. The Presidents twitter feed is a source of constant amusement to his opposers who fail to see how successfully he has managed to delegitimise the mainstream media in the eyes of his supporters.

Meanwhile here in the UK the Government started the year with a 12 seat majority, and will end the year 8 seats short of a Parliamentary majority.

The Prime Minister announced a snap General Election while the polls were in her favour and, along with her now politically deceased chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, ran what has been described as many as the worst Tory election campaign ever. Their strategy included shutting away popular ministers from debates, shutting the Prime Minister out of television debates and, crucially, taking their core voters for granted with proposed measures such as the so-called ‘Dementia Tax’.

Since the election Mrs May has again and again, including at the Conservative Party conference, grovelled to angry and activists, begging for forgiveness for the campaign which lost many Tories their jobs, such as Cardiff North’s Craig Williams.

Jeremy Corbyn who led the Labour Party to a loss has in fact solidified his position as Leader of the Opposition as he outperformed many of the critics within his party by gaining 30 seats. Since then his brand of politics has gripped the upper echelons of the party. Momentum activists plan to flood the party’s National Executive Committee, and Labour MPs loyalties are regularly tested by the new leadership circle.

May’s calamitous campaign has significantly weakened her government’s position in the Brexit negotiations. After months of David Davis and Michel Barnier being at loggerheads over the Divorce Bill, the UK Government is now reportedly on the verge of offering a settlement of up to €49 million.

It is also more than likely that the UK Government will accept the jurisdiction of European Courts on the matter of citizens rights which, for many Brexiteers, is not a characteristic of the Brexit the British people voted for on June 23rd 2016.

Alongside this May is having to rely on her whips to steer Brexit-related legislation through Parliament as a list of Conservative MPs prepared to vote for a leadership contest grows by the week.

Meanwhile, in Holland, Germany, France and elsewhere, the far-right have made significant electoral ground, and the questions of globalisation, national identity and of security are still as pertinent as they were in 2016.

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