The National Observer
Thursday, 7th April, 2016
Article by Benedict Arpad-Avacquian
Courtenay Lauds 'Progress' at SDP Conference
Courtenay, meeting delegates at the SDP spring conference
The Prime Minister, Sam Courtenay, has closed the Social Democratic Party’s spring conference with a full-throated defence of the party’s policies, as his minority government comes closer to its one-year anniversary.
Courtenay’s 35-minute speech at the conference in Wells on Thursday started with the Prime Minister praising the party’s MPs and activists, before he recounted what he claimed were the government’s main achievements over nine and a half months in office, most notably the Angleteric Action Plan, a £15bn-a-year infrastructure programme, which Courtenay claimed would “give our economy a short-term boost and long-term security.” The AAP, scheduled to start next month, includes a variety of public works, most notably a high-speed line from Balgad to the Duxburian border, a move agreed last year in the Tripartite agreement which will see the establishment of a high-speed rail link from New Birmingham to Dairghazbury. The AAP also includes the reconstruction of the King Joseph IV International Airport in Maien (previously Noel Edmonds International Airport), which has been closed since the 9/9 terror attacks in 2014; as well as the extension of high-speed rail links to regional areas and the creation of thousands of new apprenticeships, both insisted upon by the Citizen Alliance.
Courtenay lauded a series of manifesto commitments which the government has implemented, including a 3% cut in sales tax, and new legislation and the creation of a special taskforce to combat tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. He strongly defended controversial plans to impose financial penalties on provinces which fail to meet annual quotas for newly-built houses, which have faced opposition from much of the Citizen Alliance and even some SDP backbenchers, who are concerned about their constituencies either facing financial penalties or having unpopular development projects forced upon them. “We must always listen to, and represent, our 300,000 constituents,” Courtenay said, “but we must also listen to the 300,000 people in this country that don’t normally have a voice, that are among our most vulnerable people, and that are dispersed across the land – the homeless.”
He reserved most of his ire, however, for voices on the left of his party opposed to the SDP minority government’s compromises with the right-wing populist Citizen Alliance, on whose votes it relies. Notable manifesto commitments the SDP has had to drop or water down include Courtenay’s plan to nationalise the social care sector and the catastrophic health insurance system, with social care instead being fully integrated into the existing system of state-subsidised personal health accounts; and the proposed moratorium on fracking, which has been replaced with the Citizen Alliance policy of mandatory local referenda where fracking has been proposed.
The most damaging climbdown thus far for Courtenay, however, has been on the proposed £6 per hour national minimum wage, which has been shelved in favour of a £5 per hour minimum wage for national government workers and employees, and the introduction of a Minimum Wage Accredited Status badge for companies that pay all workers £5/hour or more. Courtenay denounced his critics on the Left, arguing that “what we have achieved is not all that we wanted to achieve, true. That remains to be done in the future. But what we have achieved is progress. Progress for the overworked and underpaid Angleteric worker. Progress for the first time in, what, 19 years! And I stand by that! We are the Social Democratic Party. We, more than anything else, stand for helping the ordinary Angleteric working man or woman. We take whatever opportunity we can get to do that, no matter how limited. I defy anyone to go down to Parliament, walk up to one of the cleaners who’s just got a pay rise, and tell them that they shouldn’t have got that pay rise, that we shouldn’t have gone into government, and that the right-wing monopoly on government should’ve carried on into its 19th, 20th, 21st years! We are social democrats, and we help when we can. We don’t abandon Angleteric workers to right-wing governments so that we can sit comfortably in opposition, in our nice suits and on our nice salaries, and say we’ve got clean hands and a pure heart. That is not social democracy, but an insidious right-wing philosophy, masquerading as a purer form of socialism. Pardon me for not calling it left-wing when you can help the working people of this country and refuse to do so out of self-interest, because it hurts you and your sensibilities. We are in government. We are getting things done for the first time in almost two decades, and I am proud of that!”
Courtenay’s speech comes at a time when the Communist Party is in talks with the far-left Intersectional Movement Against Privilege and Platforms, a largely student-run group, to form a “broad left front” aimed at voters dissatisfied with the SDP’s governing from the centre. In hypothetical polling, such a party would gain 8% of the vote, with the SDP projected to maintain its lead on 35%, followed by the Democrats on 26%, the Citizen Alliance on 24%, with Robert Kilroy-Silk’s party on 6%, and others on 3%. If such a party were not to materialise, the SDP would score 37%, the Democrats 24%, the Citizen Alliance 23%, Kilroy-Silk 7%, the Communists 4%, and others 5%. Thus the mood at the SDP conference was largely upbeat, despite the minor grumblings on all sides of the party – though perhaps slightly down on their performance in May 2015, the Social Democrats’ lead has expanded to around 10 points, a new left-wing party is unlikely to trouble them much, and the split opposition would likely give them a more comfortable position in Parliament, if not an outright majority.
Thursday, 8th May, 2016
Article by Eleanor Herewulf
New Left-wing Group Holds Inaugural Conference
A new left-wing electoral alliance, the Coalition for Socialism and Liberation, has finished its first national conference at Cernovcy this weekend. The new group, which stresses that it is not a party, was announced on Monday as a joint venture between the Communist Party, the Intersectional Movement Against Privilege and Platforms (a student-led pressure group), and a group of SDP defectors, led by four disgruntled MPs, who have organised as the Independent Democratic Socialist Party. The three groups, and any others that seek to join the alliance, will maintain their autonomy while competing in elections on a shared platform and taking the same whip in Parliament.
The alliance has elected as its General Secretary the leader of IMAPP, 28year-old David Wannock-Smythe, who before entering activism full-time was a Politics student at the University of New Birmingham. Closing the conference, Wannock-Smythe tore into Prime Minister Sam Courtenay, who he dismissed as a "class traitor." He repeated long-standing left-wing criticisms of Courtenay's de facto alliance with the right-wing populist Citizen Alliance, alleging that "never have the oppressed communities of Angleter and of Europe been so disgracefully sold out to the establishment than by this treachery. To abandon the fight in favour of token acts of right-wing welfare 'socialism', and worse, an alliance with nationalistic fascist bigots, is vile. I and many other great liberation activists literally vomited, shook with grief, when that disgusting alliance was announced. The so-called Social Democrats won, but won for what?" He continued by outlining the new bloc's basic philosophy, in contrast to that of the SDP. "The SDP are capitalists. We are socialists. The SDP cavort with fascists. We will stop them, at all costs. The SDP subscribe to the reactionary social agenda of the establishment. For us, liberating those groups oppressed by that consensus is our first, foremost, uncompromisable goal. The SDP subscribe to the inherently reactionary Constitutional status quo. We will destroy that status quo. The SDP are liberals. We believe that liberalism gets in the way of true justice. The SDP will separate their issues and policies out from each other. For us, our entire platform is fully integrated - there is no economic liberation without social liberation, and vice versa. We are an intersectional socialist front committed, wholly, to the total overthrow of the bigoted, cisheteropatriarchal, fundamentalist, nationalist, neoliberal capitalist machine that runs this country, and the rootless, faithless, worldwide bloc of usurious financiers that prop it up!"
The conference, attended by minor celebrities such as singer Zuleyka Shahin, who dismissed Sam Courtenay as "basic," and Inquistan amateur baker Kiran Benipal, who spoke out against the "worldwide finance-industrial complex" that seeks to "erase people's identities," also voted in the CSL's platform and manifesto, which displays a radical left-wing agenda. On constitutional policy, in an attempt to balance the Communist Party's traditional advocacy for direct democracy with IMAPP's belief that "unfettered democracy invariably leads to oppression by the uneducated, who are easily swayed by right-wing demagogues," the CSL has proposed recognising 'communities' based on gender, sexuality, and religious heritage, and assigning each community separate seats in Parliament and all other legislatures based on their proportion of the population. Shahin justified the policy, arguing that "40 years we've had a so-called democracy and still, while 51% of the population identify as women, only 31% of MPs are women. If we had 25 queer MPs or more, as according to their population, instead of just one or two, then do we really think LGBTQ+ people would still be so downtrodden in Angleter? On the other hand, some so-called 'model minorities' are over-represented, alongside straight Latin Christian cis-men. When we are oppressed, our solidarity must be with each other, and this measure will make people see things that way." The CSL also advocates the abolition of the Chamber of the Nobility and the establishment of a "workers' republic," two long-standing Communist goals.
The coalition's foreign policy advocates an immediate withdrawal from Dromund Kaas and a renunciation of Angleteric claims on Neo-Venetia, while also proposing that a referendum on independence be held in the former Republic of South Angleter "once socialist liberation has been implemented there." The conference passed a motion expressing solidarity with striking oil workers in the Duxburian Union, and calling on Angleteric oil workers to join them in solidarity - a suggestion that has been quickly shot down by the Angleteric Oil Workers' Union, which has also reiterated its support for the SDP government. The CSL's social policies advocate the legalisation of same-sex marriage, an SDP manifesto commitment that has been shelved due to Citizen Alliance opposition; extending on-demand legal abortion to the point of viability (24 weeks), after which point the mother would be entitled to an on-demand C-section; the legalisation of euthanasia; "reforming" freedom of expression laws to "clarify that there is no right to a platform, and that hate speech is not free speech;" the removal of all laws restricting (adult) pornography and prostitution; open-door immigration and the acceptance of "any and all" Kaasian refugees; and the establishment of a commission to investigate "non-oppressive" means of giving official recognition to "polyamorous" couples. On education, the CSL advocate the nationalisation of all schools, the imposition of a "revolutionary" national curriculum, and that children be assigned to "the nearest school belonging to their community," on the grounds that "children being educated in a space exclusive to their community will protect them from confusion about their identity, and protect their community from the threat of establishment encroachment, appropriation, and erasure."
Its economic policy, meanwhile, is even more radical, advocating the "complete and immediate nationalisation of public utilities, including the oil industry; all 'natural monopolies', such as public transport, education, and healthcare; the finance industry; and all major heavy industries." It opposes compensation for bosses, arguing that "they have already been compensated several times over by the fruits of the blood and sweat of Angleteric workers." The CSL also advocates "mandatory majority worker ownership" of all "large corporations" - i.e., all companies with over 100 employees - and the establishment of a commission investigating "ways of making a swift and smooth transition to full socialism in Angleter within 20 years." The coalition's housing plan involves the "expropriation and demolition" of "mansions," and their replacement with "more efficient and more affordable" social housing. The CSL proposes a 95% upper band of income tax, albeit with "reparatory tax exemptions" for "certain minority communities," to pay for its policies, alongside a 75% one-off windfall tax on all wealth over £500,000.
The CSL's foundation, conference rhetoric, and new manifesto have been extremely poorly received by other parties. Sam Courtenay described the CSL as "a bad joke," and when asked about David Wannock-Smythe's claim to have vomited after the arrangement with the Citizen Alliance was announced last year, retorted that "he's moved on now, from vomiting to verbal diarrhoea." Former Prime Minister Navdeep Khatkar commented that many of the party's policies amounted to "segregation," and said that "Sikhs will not stand for this CSL's efforts to ruin 400 years of successful Sikh integration into the Angleteric people;" while the National Jewish Council issued a statement alleging that Wannock-Smythe's comments in particular were "anti-Semitic." Emryc Isla, leader of the Citizen Alliance, has reacted angrily, insisting that "we will not be censored," and calling the CSL "morons" and "the real fascists." Nonetheless, the new alliance has come in at 9% in a recent Interrego poll, with the SDP on 33%, the Citizen Alliance at a high of 26%, the Democrats on 25%, Robert Kilroy-Silk on 5%, and others on 2%.
The CSL's first real test, however, will be at the Digbeth by-election on 26th May, which was triggered by the death of long-time SDP MP Sir John Sponge, and where Wannock-Smythe is standing as a candidate.
Friday, 27th May, 2016
Article by Matthew Austell
Citizen Alliance Defeat Wannock-Smythe, SDP, in Surprise By-Election Win
New Citizen Alliance MP for Digbeth, Cajetan Norbert, campaigning on Monday
The Citizen Alliance candidate, Cajetan Norbert, has claimed a surprise victory in the Digbeth by-election, defeating both CSL leader David Wannock-Smythe and SDP candidate Terese Sponge, daughter of the late Sir John Sponge, who served the constituency before his death last month.
The traditionally safe SDP seat in a working-class area of New Birmingham had delivered a majority of over 40,000 votes for Sponge pater over the Communists, who have since formed part of the CSL electoral alliance, in May 2015. In that poll, Sponge gained 41% of the vote to Norbert’s 19%, while the Communist candidate scored 26% and the Democrat candidate 14%. Based on those results, the seat had been considered something of a straight fight between an SDP candidate with family ties to the popular former MP; and the high-profile CSL candidate who aimed to benefit from left-wing dissatisfaction with the SDP government, a polling bounce sparked by the formation of the CSL, and the fact that John Sponge himself was not on the ballot.
Results from Digbeth, 4th May 2015 general election
Norbert, the only candidate from last year to reappear on the ballot, was expected to finish a distant third, despite the fact that the only poll of the constituency during the campaign, which was released on 13th May, showed him on 23% of the vote, close behind Sponge fille on 28%, and Wannock-Smythe on 30%. Emyrc Isla tweeted last night that Norbert ‘was never considered by us a likely winner’, and that his victory was ‘proof that the Left is the PAST and Cajetan + the CA are the FUTURE’; yet the fact that the Citizen Alliance frequently sent its top brass, including Isla himself, to Digbeth to campaign alongside Norbert, and funded billboard and leaflet advertisements throughout the constituency, strongly suggests that Norbert was not the rank outsider that the party intends to portray him as.
In the acrimonious and short campaign, supporters of Wannock-Smythe and Sponge frequently engaged in heated verbal encounters while canvassing, and the CSL campaign was based almost entirely around attacking Sam Courtenay’s government, which relies on Citizen Alliance support. Failure to implement fully the SDP’s manifesto promises of introducing a national minimum wage, legalising gay marriage, and nationalising vast swathes of the healthcare sector dominated the debate between the two-left wing parties, with the CSL provoking anger from the governing party by distributing leaflets featuring a large image of Sam Courtenay above the word ‘TRAITOR’. When asked at a hustings event if he feared being sued, or disqualified by the Electoral Commission, over the leaflets, Wannock-Smythe retorted that ‘I relish the opportunity to defend the truth and the oppressed in the kangaroo courts of the Establishment’. Sponge pressed Wannock-Smythe on the question of whether her father, recently deceased and popular in the constituency, was also a ‘traitor’, but the CSL leader evaded the question, insisting that ‘this election is not about your father; it is about you and your Prime Minister’.
The Citizen Alliance campaign, meanwhile, dismissed the battle between the two left-wing candidates as ‘superficial’ and ‘personal’. In a soapbox speech in Digbeth High Street, Norbert opined that ‘the reason they’re screaming “traitor” and “splitter” at each other is because their disagreements are nothing. Their debate is actually, do you want the Kaasians to come today, or tomorrow? Do you want so-called same-sex marriage today, or tomorrow? Well, here’s real debate – we say, protect our borders! Protect marriage! Protect our values and our country from the champagne socialists in Palmyra!’ Norbert’s campaign literature also argued that pressure from the CSL would force the SDP to ‘impose cultural and economic Marxism on the Angleteric people’, unless a ‘strong’ Citizen Alliance was there to ‘keep them in line’. Norbert, whose soapbox speeches were frequently forced to move or be cancelled altogether by crowds of CSL activists, came under heavy attack in the final hustings of the campaign from both Wannock-Smythe and Sponge, which he claimed as ‘proof that they’re actually all the same’.
Results from Digbeth, 26th May 2016 by-election
The result saw Norbert emerge with 29% of the vote and over 66,000 votes in total, thus achieving the remarkable feat of increasing his raw vote total over last year, despite a significantly reduced turnout. Wannock-Smythe scored 26%, and Sponge came in third with a disappointing 20% of the vote. Norbert began his victory speech by paying tribute to the people of Digbeth, whom, he said, had ‘shown they can’t be fooled by fake fighting. Anyone who saw what David Wannock-Smythe’s left-fascist goons did at my soapbox speeches knows what the real struggle was in this by-election. It’s the struggle of this country against an unrepresentative liberal-left elite that wants to drag us in a direction that we don’t want and that will ultimately disfigure the face of our beautiful nation. The people of Digbeth said tonight that they don’t care for your tiffs, however loud they are, about whether to ruin this country quickly or slowly. They said, they don’t want it ruined at all!’
As Norbert demanded that Sam Courtenay ‘listen to the voice of the people of his working-class heartland’ and confirm that no Kaasian refugees would be admitted to Angleter as long as this Parliament lasts, however, a fight broke out between a particularly vocal section of CSL activists, and supporters of both the Citizen Alliance and the populist National Movement: Robert Kilroy-Silk, whose candidate Richard Madeley finished in a surprisingly strong fifth place. Despite calling for calm, the brawl endured, and the candidates’ speeches were called off. Both Norbert and Wannock-Smythe’s cars came under attack as they attempted to leave the count minutes later. Fifty-nine people, mostly Kilroy activists, were arrested; and seventeen people were admitted to hospital with minor injuries. A heavy police presence, however, ensured that the fighting was quickly contained; and all parties, candidates, and leaders have condemned the violence and vowed to expel all members found to have been involved.
The surprise result, nonetheless, comes as the Citizen Alliance’s right-wing populist message gains it support across the country. An Interrego poll released on Wednesday put the SDP still slightly ahead, on 31%, followed by the Citizen Alliance on 28%, the Democrats on 23%, the CSL on 9%, Kilroy-Silk’s outfit on 7%, and others on 2%. With his party now clearly in second place, having first overtaken the Democrats at the start of this month, Emryc Isla has spoken openly of his party as ‘the government in waiting’, and has pledged to unveil a list of further demands from the SDP in the next two weeks. This has angered the government, with a source close to the Prime Minister’s Office claiming that ‘Sam [Courtenay] is pissed off with Emryc Isla. He thinks Isla has gotten arrogant, dislikes him and the whole Citizen Alliance for claiming to speak on behalf of the people despite the fact that four-fifths of them voted against them last year, and believes that he’s just driving this government off the cliff’.
There is, indeed, growing concern among SDP top brass that the party will soon be unable to ‘walk the tightrope’ between a ‘venomous’ CSL and a ‘strident’ Citizen Alliance. ‘The CA want to bring us down and replace us with themselves’, said the source, ‘while the CSL just want to bring us down and don’t care who replaces us’. Nonetheless, the source, who wished to remain anonymous, insisted that there is ‘no chance’ of an election at some point later this year.
Tuesday, 6th September, 2016
Article by Barbara Purchase
Courtenay Lurches Left as Parliament Restart Looms
The Prime Minister visiting farmers in rural Elkhand, earlier this summer
The Prime Minister, Sam Courtenay, has set himself on a collision course with the Citizen Alliance, upon whose votes his government relies, by unveiling a bold set of left-wing policy proposals as politicians prepare for the new Parliamentary session.
A plan to ban corporate donations to political parties, and limit individual donations to £5,000, forms the centrepiece of Courtenay’s agenda. Speaking to the press ahead of the coronation of King George and Queen Theodora, the Prime Minister said that ‘democracy requires that our politicians be accountable to their electorate, not to corporate paymasters.’ He also confirmed that the legislation would include provisions for a reduction in the cap on election spending, and for the public purse to match all individual donations, in order to allay fears that parties would be left unable to fund national campaigns after losing such a large proportion of their income.
The proposals have drawn the ire of the Democrats, who rely the most on large donations, both corporate and individual, for their income. Maria Sakrakur’s press office issued a statement blasting the proposals ‘an all-out socialist assault on freedom and democracy’, and the party has launched an online ‘last chance’ fundraising drive, asking supporters to ‘stand for freedom and show Sam Courtenay that you won’t be silenced’. Courtenay, however, dismissed the fundraising drive as ‘a mad rush to accumulate as much corporate cash as possible, which they can then use to try and buy our votes.’
The Citizen Alliance cautiously welcomed the proposals, but demanded the closure of what leader Emryc Isla called a ‘loophole’, whereby trade unions – many of which are major SDP donors – can continue to make unlimited donations, under the premise that they are in fact small individual donations made by members as part of their subscription fees. Their spokeswoman, Perpetua Telequi, said that ‘we don’t want a fudge – we want real reform of big money donations. No loopholes. These subs aren’t usually voluntary, and you’ll probably find most of these so-called individual SDP donors actually support us’. When asked if the Citizen Alliance would vote for the proposals as they stand, Telequi curtly replied, ‘no’. Courtenay, however, defended the so-called ‘loophole’, saying it ‘gives a voice to the working man’ that the reformed legislation ‘must protect’. He directly challenged the Citizen Alliance, saying that ‘if Emryc Isla wants to stand in the way of reform in order to deny the working classes their voice, then that’s his decision, and he can see what the people of Angleter think of him doing so’.
The rift between Courtenay and Isla may be deepened by Courtenay’s plans for penal reform, which include encouraging alternatives to incarceration for parents of young children, creating a ‘light, clean environment’ and removing bars from windows, abolishing solitary confinement in all but the most extreme cases, instituting an ‘earned early release’ program for prisoners who take educational courses while serving their sentences, and offering prisoners the chance to develop hobbies. Telequi dismissed the proposals as ‘ridiculous’, arguing that ‘it is a slap in the face for law-abiding Angleterics to have their tax money poured into turning prisons into damn holiday camps’. She also questioned whether ‘some of our poorest, let down by the main parties, would see crime as a route to a more comfortable life in Courtenay’s luxury prisons’. Courtenay again dismissed the CA’s criticisms, insisting that prison life post-reform would be ‘disciplined, restricted, austere, and monastic’, without being ‘squalid and brutal’, and argued that ‘the evidence says these reforms help integrate prisoners back into society and stop them reoffending’.
The Prime Minister has a tough road to passing both of these reforms. Analysts believe it is likely that support from the Coalition for Socialism and Liberation, and from more liberal Democrats, might be enough to pass the prison reform legislation, but this would leave him with none of the goodwill he’d need from the Citizen Alliance to pass the donation reform. Likewise, though he could probably convince the Citizen Alliance to pass the donation reform, it is likely that Emryc Isla would demand that the prison reform be dropped as a result. While Courtenay intends to shore up his party’s left wing against the insurgent CSL, he must avoid alienating the Citizen Alliance enough that they pull his support for his government, and either install Maria Sakrakur as Prime Minister or force an inconvenient election. The Citizen Alliance, likewise, must keep demonstrating to its growing support base that its support for the SDP is more than just carte-blanche for a liberal, left-wing agenda.
Current polling shows the three main parties tightly packed together. The SDP lead with 30%, followed by the Citizen Alliance on 26%, and the Democrats follow on 25%. The CSL are on 10%, with Robert Kilroy-Silk’s party on 7%, and others on 2%.
Sunday, 16th October, 2016
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Kilroy Quits Parliament and Party for Europolis Run
Kilroy-Silk in a video message announcing his Commission run
Maverick politician Robert Kilroy-Silk has announced that he is standing down from Parliament and as leader of his own party, the National Movement Robert Kilroy-Silk (Led By Robert Kilroy-Silk), in order to run for the Office for Internal Affairs in the next European Commission.
The former daytime TV host and MP for Yavur Central announced his move to Europolis in a short YouTube video message, where he commented on his work promoting greater efficiency in European institutions as part of the EFFECTIVE! campaign group, and explained that he had long wished to help reform the EU. Speaking from his home in Yavur, Kilroy-Silk claimed to be 'excited' for the election, which is being re-run after Eilidh Whiteford's nascent second term collapsed spectacularly last week, and said he looked forward to 'a full discussion of what's wrong with the EU right now and what I can do to make it work better'. Though light on policy details, which he promised would come 'over the course of the next fortnight', Kilroy-Silk described his philosophy as 'common sense and pragmatic', and 'not unlike the approach I've taken to national politics'. He claimed that 'my guiding light, always, is what works,' and added that Europe should 'build strong foundations before adding fancy third-floor extensions'.
Kilroy-Silk also thanked the 'millions of people who made my National Movement possible', and expressed his 'best wishes' for the party's future. He named the party's one other MP, Pete Gabitas, as interim leader until a new one can be elected, and gave his 'personal endorsement' to Richard Madeley, another former daytime TV show host, as the party's candidate to replace Kilroy-Silk in Yavur Central. Madeley had previously surprised pundits with a strong performance amongst a crowded field in the Digbeth by-election. Though Madeley is expected to face a strong challenge from the Citizen Alliance, whom Kilroy-Silk narrowly defeated in the constituency in 2015, it is assumed that, should he prevail, Madeley will be the overwhelming favourite to succeed Kilroy-Silk as leader. Kilroy-Silk, however, did not close the door entirely on his Angleteric political career, noting that he could be back in Angleter as soon as March.
Polling before this announcement had shown the National Movement polling particularly strongly, a fact widely believed to have encouraged Sam Courtenay's government to agree to nominate Kilroy-Silk as a candidate for the Commission. The Citizen Alliance has now pulled into the lead in the polls, on 30%, followed by the SDP on 29% and the Democrats on 20%. Kilroy-Silk had been standing on 10%, with the far-left CSL on 8% and others on 3%.
Saturday, 31st December, 2016
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Riot at Angleteric-run Refugee Camp in Dromund Kaas
The army has 'returned calm' to a refugee camp situated in the northwest of Dromund Kaas this evening after Kaasians rioted, demanding that they be allowed to move on to Derecta, Sitanova, or another European country.
The riots at Valkorion Camp came after a migrant boat carrying as many as 250 Kaasians was torpedoed by the Pravoslaviyan Navy, in accordance with policies implemented by the country's new far-right government, led by Metodi Pravoslav. The Pravoslaviyan action has been condemned across the region, including by the governments of Derecta, Sitanova, and the United Kingdom; with Premier Commissioner Helen Smith also denouncing the attack. Sam Courtenay joined the condemnations today, calling the attack "a vile atrocity" and calling on the Pravoslav government to "take a more humane line".
Matters have, however, been complicated by the announcements from the Derectan and Sitanovan governments today that they would take in 2 million refugees between them within the next three months, with an undisclosed number of extra Kaasians to be taken in over the course of 2017. Sitanova's government promised "decent housing, health, education, and employment" to any refugees it would take. This stands in stark contrast to the Angleteric government's approach, instituted by the Democrats and continued by Sam Courtenay, of denying entry into Angleter for any Kaasian citizens. Kaasian refugees are instead encouraged to enter Angleteric-held parts of the country, where they are housed in tent cities and given healthcare, education, and basic rations and supplies.
Conditions in the tent cities have been described by NGOs as "miserable, if not squalid," and refugees have reportedly long been unhappy with their quality of life. The news from Sitanova and Derecta appears to have led to protests, and then riots, from refugees demanding that they be immediately transported to either of the two countries. The request was denied, according to army sources, on the grounds that "it is too early to ascertain how Derecta and Sitanova will take these refugees, and where they will take them from." NGO estimates suggest that over 15 million Kaasians have become refugees since the start of the war in 2011, with over 2 million in Angleteric refugee camps. Millions more are in the Duxburian refugee program, while Australia has taken 800,000 Kaasians since the war started.
The disturbances were reportedly calmed down after a few hours of rioting, with 12 injuries reported - none serious. Rebuilding work will start tomorrow, but emergency sleeping bags and supplies are being brought in for those whose tents or possessions were lost during the unrest.
The Prime Minister's Office released a statement earlier this evening defending its refugee policy, in the wake of criticism from David Wannock-Smythe, leader of the far-Left Coalition for Socialism and Liberation, who blamed the riots on the government's refusal to take in refugees. "We have consistently been clear that the simplest solution, and the best solution for Angleter's stability and security, is for displaced persons to be homed in camps within Dromund Kaas until they are able to return home. We will not waver from this policy, though we are pleased that Derecta and Sitanova have offered to share the burden of dealing with these victims of the autocratic and brutal Kaasian regime. The situation in Valkorion Camp has been calmed this evening, and we are working on restoring it to its situation before the unrest today. Furthermore, we are constantly looking to improve the living standards of the people in our camps, and we will continue in that regard."
Monday, 2nd January, 2017
Article by Benedict Arpad-Avacquian
Courtenay Speaks Out Over EU Interest in Dromund Kaas
The Prime Minister, Sam Courtenay, has defended his government's activity in Dromund Kaas, as European interest in the conflict is piqued in the aftermath of a Kaasian refugee boat being torpedoed by Pravoslaviyan forces last week.
Angleter and the Duxburian Union have been the leading partners in the war, launched five years ago this month, to overthrow the belligerent Kaasian regime, which infamously kidnapped then-Premier Commissioner Maleeka Liszckoszi during an official visit to Kaas City. Recent days have, however, seen numerous European countries pledge to take millions of Kaasian refugees, a European Council discussion being initiated over the possibility of an EU-led 'provisional government' being established in Dromund Kaas, and the Turkmenbaijani government asking Angleter, among other countries, to be "more involved in this policy of migration."
Courtenay first welcomed the Derectan government's offer of support for refugee camps within Dromund Kaas. "Angleter will absolutely accept the Derectan government's offer of goods, food, and suchlike for our refugee camps in liberated areas of Dromund Kaas. We are always thankful for this sort of help, we believe it is the right way of ameliorating the current migration crisis, and we would be happy to accept such help from other countries if they wish to contribute."
The Prime Minister was more cautious on the prospect of whole camps being set up by third parties, saying that "with respect to Derecta or other non-Coalition countries establishing their own camps in Dromund Kaas, obviously we oppose, and would do everything in our power to stop, the establishment of such camps in regime-controlled areas. Co-operation with the regime is not something Angleter is willing to countenance." He added that "in liberated areas we would warmly welcome such camps being established, provided that they are set up in collaboration with, and then run with oversight from, the relevant Coalition power. We have to have a co-ordinated system of refugee camps in each sector of liberated DK, otherwise we risk squandering our resources and not helping as many people as possible."
Courtenay was less pleased with other forms of European diplomatic intervention in the conflict, however. "I cannot sit back and take it when countries say, 'oh, you have to do more'. We are doing more. This has been our fight for five years now. Liberating DK house by house, running these refugee camps, keeping the region safe from a regime that joined the EU and promptly abducted the highest-ranking official in Europolis. We and the Duxburian Union have done more than anybody else, and until last week, almost everybody else was happy to leave it to us. Well, now they're not, and as I've said, we're very happy to have their help. We're happy to see them join the Coalition of the Willing, for that matter. But I think we can be spared the lectures."
"Obviously I shall avoid committing us to a particular position on a provisional government without consulting the rest of the Coalition, but I think the Council will do well to remember one thing. Angleteric soldiers have shed enough blood in this war to flood the Council floor. I'm eager to see what the proposals actually would be, but right now it sounds so much like we'd be asked to do all the dirty work of war, only to have DK lifted out of our hands and given to Europolis for them to do the nation-building. As far as we see it, there should be no nation-building until the end of the war itself. And then, though we'd welcome European input, at present we envisage a Coalition-led process."
A general update of the state of the war was also given by Courtenay, who announced that "currently, we and our partners control between 75%-80% of the territory of Dromund Kaas. This does not include the capital, Kaas City, and regime resistance is continuing. Terrain and the winter weather has, of course, made progress difficult. However, we believe we will be in a position to launch the final assault and end the war within the coming weeks. 2017, we can rest assured, is the final year for the regime."
The government has come under pressure at home over its handling of the conflict. Emryc Isla's Citizen Alliance has urged Courtenay "not to waver and let a flood of Kaasians change the face of Angleter forever," while expressing his "hope and expectation that the war really is coming to an end." The CA initially grew in popularity based on its opposition to the war, and initially gave confidence and supply to the SDP conditional upon the war being over before the end of 2015. "We appreciate more than anyone the frustration of the Angleteric people at this war dragging on into yet another year," Isla said, adding that "we will have to reconsider our support for the government if this much-vaunted final push does not materialise - or, indeed, if the government lets just one Kaasian refugee live within our borders."
Citizen Alliance MP Nigel Martin provoked controversy over the weekend after warning against "hasty judgment" of the Pravoslavians' actions; but Isla has refused to suspend or expel him from the party, calling Martin's words "a reasonable opinion, badly expressed," and saying that "of course we deplore the torpedoing of migrant boats - however, we should focus less on throwing stones, and more on coming up with humane, effective solutions that work for the refugees, for the Pravoslavians, and for the region as a whole. Why do the Pravoslavians not just board the boat and tow it back to, say, liberated parts of DK?"
Maria Sakrakur, leader of the centre-right Democratic Party, which originally brought Angleter into the war, blamed the current "crisis" on the "half-hearted" approach of the SDP government. "They never wanted this war; they haven't given it due care and attention; and now it's coming back to bite them. As we've said all along, DK needs our full attention until there is peace - it's as simple as that." However, the Democrats continue to languish in third place in the polls, with the Citizen Alliance leading on 32%. Courtenay's Social Democrats are on 28%, the Democrats on 23%, and the far-Left CSL are on 10%. The National Movement Robert Kilroy-Silk Led By Richard Madeley, having collapsed in the polls since its founder left for the Commission, is on 4%, and others are on 3%.
Friday, 31st March, 2017
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Sakrakur Resigns As Democrat Leader
The leader of the Democratic Party, Maria Sakrakur, has resigned in the wake of what she termed “disastrous polling results,” plunging the main opposition party into chaos.
Sakrakur, 50, who stormed to a surprise victory in the Democrats’ leadership election in 2015, told a press conference that her leadership had “become untenable.” Sakrakur said that “my leadership has failed to unite the party sufficiently to give it a coherent policy stance, maintain its relevance, or give us the aura of an alternative government.” She continued: “The party will need new leadership to achieve these goals.”
Sakrakur’s leadership had been subject to widespread public criticism this week, after a poll on Wednesday placed the Democrats on an all-time low of 19% – well behind the Citizen Alliance on 33% and the SDP on 32%. 16 MPs from the party’s liberal wing, long dissatisfied with Sakrakur’s populist style, publicly called for her resignation; while more muted criticism came from party grandees such as Vitus Duryzatehende, Adrian Carluck, and Irene Ulleries.
It is believed that former Prime Minister Navdeep Khatkar was among a wider range of Democrat politicians who privately counselled Sakrakur to resign. Khatkar is reported to believe that the party could disintegrate into liberal and conservative wings if a strong, new leader is not installed before the next election.
The party now faces a leadership election which one former Sakrakur aide has told Ðe National Observer will be “difficult”. None of the fissures which emerged in the wake of the party’s defeat in 2015 have been resolved, and their electoral situation has only gotten worse. Any new leader will face the unenviable task of trying to unify the party, boost its relevance, and take votes from both the Citizen Alliance and the Social Democrats.
Sakrakur’s close ally Michael Gourieli has already ruled out another run at the leadership, making it unlikely the party’s right-wing populist wing will field a candidate. “If anything,” the unnamed Sakrakur aide said, “the party has concluded that we cannot win by aping the Citizen Alliance. They say Maria was a ‘loudmouth populist’ and that we have to trade on our ‘professionalism’ as opposed to the CA.”
Candidates in the leadership election will have to submit their nomination papers by April 13th. Among those considered likely to run are former Foreign Minister Vitus Duryzatehende, former Mayor of New Birmingham Desmond Bayeux, businessman Robert Rice, and backbench MP Kate Holman.
Saturday, 6th May, 2017
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Democrat Candidates Pitch for Leadership
Madina, where the Democratic Party's new leader will be elected at their Spring Conference
The three candidates for leader of the Democratic Party have written for Ðe National Observer to set out their pitch to succeed Maria Sakrakur, who resigned amid poor polling in March. The leader, who will be announced at the party's spring conference in Madina (Berea) at the end of the month, will face the difficult task of reviving a party which is currently polling at just 18%, well behind the SDP, who lead on 36%. The Citizen Alliance are on 30%, the Coalition for Socialism and Liberation are on 11%, and others are on 5%.
While all candidates are agreed that Sakrakur's populist approach, which refrained from attacking the Citizen Alliance and adopted much of their anti-immigration rhetoric, has failed, they disagree profoundly on what the following course of action should be. Here, in their own words, the candidates explain why you should vote for them in the primary elections. You can vote in the elections either as a party member, or as a 'registered supporter' who donates a one-off payment of £5 to the party.
Robert Rice, 52, is a property developer and political campaigner. He joined the Democratic Party in 2009. He has never held national or provincial office, but served on the Hundred Board of Palmyra from 2010 to 2014.
“One thing we can all agree on in this leadership election is that aping the rhetoric of the Citizen Alliance is a failed strategy. It only serves to legitimise what is a very dangerous, far-right ideology. When our party was founded and first won power in 2009, we did so by representing the common-sense centre. Our drift to the right on social issues, on refugees, on war, and on Europe must be lamented. We were elected twice because we were not the CLP, but since we made the crucial error of pitching our tents in their lawn, we’ve declined as a political force.”
“As leader, I will restore the common-sense liberalism which the Democratic Party originally embodied. We will stand up for the free market against constant attacks by Sam Courtenay and Emryc Isla. We will press for real social reform, aiming to catch up with the rest of the EU on issues such as divorce and LGBT rights. We will call out the SDP’s betrayal of its progressive principles in favour of Citizen Alliance votes in Parliament. And most importantly of all, we will apologise for our betrayal of our own principles by going into Dromund Kaas, and call for an end to that war.”
Desmond Bayeux, 60, served as Mayor of New Birmingham from 2008 to 2015. Originally elected as a member of the CLP, he defected to the Democrats when Navdeep Khatkar founded the party. He has never been an MP.
“When I was Mayor of New Birmingham, it was clear to me that a successful Democratic Party has to reach out to voters across the centre and centre-right of the political spectrum. We have lost many votes to the Citizen Alliance, yes, but to win in 2018, we will have to appeal to SDP voters as well. It’s worth noting that most Angleterics have voted Democrat at least once in the last eight years – the key is to get enough of them to come back to us.”
“So how do we get people to come back to the party? We must start highlighting the SDP’s dirty politics. They have sacrificed much of their platform to placate the populists in the Citizen Alliance, which I know appals many voters who switched to Sam Courtenay in 2015 – especially in New Birmingham. The CSL are pointing this out – so why aren’t we? As leader, I’ll point this out, I’ll open the doors of our party to all centrists, liberals, and conservatives, and I’ll also moderate our stance on Dromund Kaas – we can’t just be a party of right-wing hawks.”
Sue Fareham, 37, is a backbench Democrat MP who has represented Phepson (Quareytene) in Parliament since 2012. She has never held ministerial office. A lawyer by trade, she joined the Democrats in 2010.
“Democrats win by putting clear blue water between themselves and their opponents. Our party can no longer afford to be ‘Citizen Alliance B’, but it cannot return to office as ‘SDP B’ either. Attempting to recreate the extraordinary conditions of 2009 when the political landscape is so, so different will only take us along the road to ruin. We must become a proud, broad-based mainstream party of the conservative centre-right if we are to reverse our losses in 2015.”
“Angleter is, I believe, a naturally conservative country, and it is crying out for a conservative government. The SDP’s current success relies on economic success created by our policies, the limiting influence of the Citizen Alliance, and the fact that we have been slow to criticise Sam Courtenay’s bizarre pact with Emryc Isla. I am the only candidate in this race calling for a party which will have more in common with Theresa May than Hillary Clinton – that is, I am the only candidate who, as leader, can take us back into government.”
Saturday, 6th May, 2017
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Fareham Wins Democrat Leadership
Sue Fareham, new Democratic Party leader
Sue Fareham has been elected leader of the Democratic Party, in a vote that is unlikely to heal the party’s deep divisions.
A backbench MP and standard-bearer for the party’s conservative wing, Fareham, 38, had campaigned heavily on a conservative platform, accusing liberal candidates Desmond Bayeux and Robert Rice of trying to turn the party into ‘SDP B’, and comparing herself to the United Kingdom’s Theresa May.
In the first ballot, Fareham led with 47% of the vote, followed by Robert Rice with 29%, and Desmond Bayeux was eliminated with 24%. Though former Mayor of New Birmingham Bayeux had instructed his supporters to put Rice, a businessman, as their second preference, not enough of his voters took heed. On the second ballot, Fareham received 57% of the vote to Rice’s 43%.
Demonstrating the more conservative bent of the party’s membership compared to its more centrist hierarchy, Fareham had received the endorsement of only 44 of the Democrats’ 194 MPs. Rice had received 50 endorsements, and Bayeux 32, while 68 MPs had refused to endorse any candidate.
Fareham has called for unity in a conciliatory victory speech. “Robert Rice and Desmond Bayeux have given a voice to our party’s strong tradition defending liberty, and I would like to extend a hand to them to join me in taking the fight to Sam Courtenay,” she said, adding: “Together we are strongest.”
However, Fareham was unapologetic about her conservatism. “What our members have said is that they want an unabashedly centre-right opposition party, a new government in waiting. So we will be defending individual liberty and traditional values. We will be patriots, supporting our troops and protecting our borders, while being open to the best, brightest, and most vulnerable of the world. Neither the SDP or their allies in the Citizen Alliance offer this – but I firmly believe that it’s what the Angleteric people want.”
Fareham continued to blast the government, accusing Sam Courtenay of “riding an economic uptick which masks the true harm of his left-wing policies,” and of “surrendering totally to the Citizen Alliance’s nasty policies on migration.”
Desmond Bayeux, former Prime Ministers Navdeep Khatkar and Levon Bagratian, former Foreign Minister Vitus Duryzatehende, and recently-departed leader Maria Sakrakur have all congratulated Fareham on her victory, and have offered her their full support. Fareham is also broadly well-liked by the general public: 28% of Angleterics have a favourable opinion of her, according to an Interrego poll this week, compared to just 14% who view her unfavourably.
This does, however, mean most Angleterics still do not know enough about Fareham to form an opinion about her, and the new leader already faces a storm ahead. Robert Rice has refused to comment on his defeat in the leadership election, despite clamour from party grandees to congratulate and support Fareham.
Veteran liberals Terry McCain and Robert Uvacant, meanwhile, have caused rancour by calling on Rice to quit the party and form “a new liberal force, which can challenge all the main parties – the socialists in the SDP, the conservatives in the Democrats, and the nationalists in the Citizen Alliance.” When asked about this possibility, Levon Bagratian was dismissive: “none of these people are MPs any more – why are we listening to them? They probably won’t go, and if they do, it’ll be sad, but we won’t suffer. Everybody knows the Democrats are the true party of the centre-right, and that includes folks of a slightly more libertarian persuasion.”
Interrego’s polling shows a small fillip for the Democrats under Fareham. The SDP lead with 33% of the vote, and the Citizen Alliance follow with 28%, with the Democrats up to 24%. The far-left CSL are on 10%, and others are on 5%.
Had Rice been leading the party, the Democrats would only have managed 23%. However, the SDP would have been tied with the Citizen Alliance on 30%, with the CSL on 12%, indicating that the candidates’ target voters came from very different sections of the electorate.