Letterhole Diary – July 2018

Welcome to the July edition of a series of monthly 'Letterhole Diaries', for all the thoughts and stories that aren't worth a full blog post, and a summary of some of the month's biggest events.

HOW much more can moderate Labour MPs take? The hard left are in complete control of the party, and social-democratic and Third Way views have been totally marginalised. Furthermore, the rising tide of antisemitism must surely make it morally difficult for many moderates to remain under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Moderates must seriously think about abandoning the party – if only temporarily – to express their digust at the party’s direction.

And it really has become clear that the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic. British Jews are rightfully afraid – not necessarily that a Corbyn-led government is set to attack Jewish people, but that it would create an environment in which antisemitism, under the guise of anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel, is not just tolerated but tacitly accepted. This was highlighted no better than in a clip dredged up by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, showing Jeremy Corbyn, appearing as a guest on Iran’s Press TV, blaming a terrorist attack in Egypt on ‘hand of Israel’. This kind of conspiracism is a hallmark of antisemitism; that Corbyn entertains it at all shows how great a danger he represents, and how urgent it is that moderate MPs act.

We can probably expect more rupture and protest over the coming years. Heatwaves have been proven to fuel bad tempers, and heatwaves will soon become the new normal as climate change continues to take hold. We’re seeing a slow pushback, but the dreadful weather – droughts across the northern hemisphere, deadly fires in Greece, temperature records in the Arctic circle and terrible flooding in Japan – shows how little we’ve done to combat the threat of climate change. Indeed, at the end of last month Theresa May’s government voted against a new tidal lagoon project in Swansea Bay that would have provided power to as many as 155,000 houses, less than 24 hours before MPs gave the green light to Heathrow expansion.

While both improved airport infrastructure (Letterhole’s preference is to expand Gatwick and airports in the North) and clean, renewable energy are essential, the government’s timing wasn’t ideal – it’s a far cry from David CAmeron’s promise to lead the ‘greenest government ever’.

Tweet of the month

The thing I’ve most wanted to do in this sweltering, stifling heat is to sit down in the shade with a nice cool beer. Apparently this isn’t actually a very good thing in this sort of weather, but it’s nevertheless hard to resist the temptation. I tried out a Beer52 craft beer subscription box this month – you know, the ones advertised by every podcast in the entire world – and I’m quite impressed by the range and the excellent value for money.

Something else I found out this month is that there’s a pretty fantastic variety of beer on offer in Dublin. When it comes to Irish beer, most people jump instinctively to Guinness; indeed, I was warned by a barman that Dublin is the only place to drink Guinness, since it contains no preservatives, and doesn’t travel well as a result. But aside from that, there’s clearly a strong, emergent craft scene to challenge the hegemony of the thick, dark beer. That meant that I could enjoy the World Cup final in a Dublin pub with a glass or two (or three, or four…) of hipstery IPA, rather than the ubiquitous Guinness. That’s a relief, because I don’t much like stout – particularly in this weather.

Essential reading

5 July Through the medium of memes, Millennials are leading the drive to fix public transport and make cities more liveable: in The Guardian, Elle Hunt visits the ‘Numtots’.

18 July In The Guardian, Labour MP Margaret Hodge explains how her party’s hostile attitude towards Jews meant she was right to confront Jeremy Corbyn about his antisemitism.

21 July Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post investigates the contradiction of American evangelicals who throw their weight behind a very un-Christian president – and how their faith inherently informs this position.

23 July Legendary musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto talks to the New York Times‘ Ben Ratliff about his decision to draw up a playlist for his favourite Japanese restaurant in New York, and what most venues get wrong about ‘BGM’.

25 July Oliver Kamm writes for CapX about the danger Jeremy Corbyn’s nativist economic policy poses for Britain – particularly as we cut our existing trading links with the European Union.

26 July Columnist Joe Glasman writes for the Jewish News about his experience of antisemitism, and how its intersection with anti-Israel sentiment has informed the problem within Labour.

30 July Writing on Vox, Ezra Klein examines the changing demographics of the United States, and how racial anxiety made people vote for Donald Trump in 2016.

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