PolLaw Express: 16th July 2015 edition

Your daily dose of politics and the law. NI intrigued? Covered. UK focused? Sure. US-centric? You got it.

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Welcome to the daily news round-up via my e-newspaper. Here are the top stories from today:

  1. Tim Farron faces a tough job as Lib Dem leader (via BBC News)
    ~ Spoiler alert! Following on from the coverage of the topic yesterday, the Liberal Democrats today announced the results of the party’s leadership election from yesterday via social media – the winner of the battle and now the new leader of the much embattled Lib Dems is Tim Farron. He has a mountain to climb, with the Lib Dems facing the stark reality of facing political wilderness with only eight MPs.As discussed yesterday, Tim Farron is the anti-coalition contender, whereas rival Norman Lamb had worked within the coalition government and had the backing of several leading senior Lib Dems, including past leader Paddy Ashdown.

    Whilst there is a difficult future ahead for the new leader, it has the potential to cause political intrigue and potentially hassle for the Conservative government, the Lib Dems old coalition partners. Whilst the Lib Dems may have only eight MPs, the Tory government has a slim majority of just twelve. The Lib Dems are a small force, much dwindled, yet could gang up with other parties to defeat the government. Should the party find common ground with Labour, and/or the SNP, maybe even a few Tory backbench rebels, it can play a vital role in defeating the government and causing a headache for the Prime Minister.Oh, and the Lib Dems have just opted for the left-wing candidate as their new Leader, making the above now possible.

    (Why not have a glimpse at the handy BBC News guide, a brief history of Liberal leaders while you are at it?)

    2.  EU Referendum: European Commission ‘bombshell’ warning (via BBC News)
    ~MPs have been warned that there is nothing to prevent the European Commission from ‘dropping a bombshell’ prior to the UK’s in/out EU referendum.

    This warning comes in spite of the statement made by an Electoral Commission official to a Parliamentary Select Committee that the European Commission will be banned from donating any European funds to the pro-EU campaign. The EU institution will also be prevented from carrying out any ‘promotional activity’ during the 28 day ‘purdah’ period.

    It could, however, publish promotional material, such as a dossier, on its official website. This has prompted the chairman of the Public Administration Committee, Bernard Jenkin, to say this meant there was nothing to prevent the European Commission from ‘dropping a bombshell’ which could influence the electorate before the in/out referendum.It was also suggested that the European Commission could even make ‘vows’ to the UK via its Westminster-based press operation, similar to the promises made by Gordon Brown prior to the Scottish Independence referendum last year.

    3. Cornwall devolution: First county with news powers (via BBC News)
    ~ A little constitutional law article for you – Cornwall is set to become the first county to gain historic new powers following the announcement of a devolution deal. Ministers have stated that this move was part of a key element of the government’s One Nation commitment to devolve powers to local authorities across the country.

    Cornwall will receive devolved powers allowing the county to be in charge of bus services and local investment, with the integration of health and social services.

    This agreement however was reached by government ministers before the Cornwall Council had the opportunity to submit its ‘Case for Cornwall’ research paper, which had taken months to prepare and which requested greater and further-reaching powers than what has now been devolved. This raises the question of whether the government still consider the Council’s proposals in the future, or whether this decision is indefinitely finalised.

    4. Parliamentary hurdles on the way to Greek deal (via Politico EU)
    ~ The EU imposition of the most recent bailout package to Greece and the Greek Parliament’s subsequent vote to implement said bailout is only the first step along a difficult pathway to avoid Grexit and general Eurozone meltdown.

    Other EU member states’ legislatures have the potential to pose a threat to the fragile deal. More to the point, the very stability of the member states’ national governments could be threatened, too.

    Major national roadblocks include the Netherlands, who opposite contributing towards yet another Greek bailout, Finland, who is watching developments and negotiations carefully, Slovakia, Slovenia and of course Germany, where the German public and a majority of politicians show signs of having finally lost patience with Greece. Essentially, the threat of Grexit is avoided through bailout packages, which in turn can provoke tension and bitter political rifts between political parties in all the above member states.

    Why not have a peek at this other Politico EU article, a study guide to the Greek economy and its recent history of economic woes.

    Fact of the Day: Greece’s debt to GDP ratio currently stands at 175%, startlingly higher than the EU average of 87%.

    5. Videos show US police shooting dead unarmed man (via The Irish Times)
    ~Following on from such tragic and controversial incidents including the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, another incident raises the question of whether a police shooting was justified – and whether there is racial bias and prejudiced within the American police forces.

    Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, whilst leaving a bar with friends in June 2013 in Gardena, California when they were stopped by police investigating a report of a robbery. During the encounter, these officers fatally shot Diaz-Zeferino (32).

The power of video to dispute the validity and accuracy of the accounts of others is evident –  a video of the incident clearly shows how Diaz-Zeferino initially raised his arms, and as officers shouted orders in both English and Spanish, Diaz-Zeferino gestured as if confused.  He walked into the street and removed a baseball cap and as he appeared to be raising his arms again, the cap still in his hands, the officers opened fire.

Witnesses said he had been trying to tell officers that they had stopped the wrong people.

6. John McCain: Trump ‘fired up the crazies’ (via Politico)
~ Following on from controversial anti-immigration comments in his announcement he was running for the GOP 2016 President nomination, Donald Trump has since ‘fired up the crazies’ in Arizona, where he held a rally in Phoenix last weekend – says Senator McCain, the GOP candidate in 2008.

Trump’s comments focusing on undocumented, illegal Mexican immigrants have sparked fierce debate and angry backlash, especially from pro-immigration advocacy groups and lobbying organisations, as well as the main Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s latest polling numbers would suggest his message is resonating with Republican voters, much to the chagrin of the GOP elite, who need to woo the ever-important Hispanic electorate if they hope to win the Whitehouse in 2016.

7. A lobbying vacuum in D.C? (via Politico)
~ Now that the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Obamacare in King v Burwell, is there a lobbying vacuum emerging in the Capitial?

It suggests that in the Big Pharma sphere of the lobbying world in DC, time is documented via Before and After Obamacare following from this judgement. As the ruling removed all the tension and uncertainty by upholding the Affordable Care Act, a new power elite is set to grow in the deep-pockets of Big Pharma and healthcare. With the law secured and the future of the Affordable Care Act looking bright, lobbyists are no longer needed to pressurise politicians on the Hill to advocate for Obamacare.

To read these headlines and more besides, why not visit PolLaw Express?


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