what you need to know about the last two weeks in politics (in a fun format)

In the first instalment of Political i-Deology, we’ve got porn, one good thing that happened and Boris Johnson painting buses.

by Marie Le Conte
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27 June 2019, 2:15pm

Hello! Welcome to the first edition of Political i-Deology. I am Marie Le Conte, your new in-house nerd, and every two weeks I’ll be bringing you a condensed version of what’s been happening in politics.

This column won’t try to explain absolutely everything that went on in that fortnight; but simply list the things that actually matter to you and the country at large. This way, you won’t have to actually follow it daily if you don’t want to, and honestly, why would you want to given the state of everything? It’s too late for me but you can save yourselves.

Anyway! Let’s do this.

One thing that actually mattered

The porn ban has been delayed indefinitely! Rejoice! July 14 was meant to be the last day when British residents could access adult content online without having to prove they were over 18, but due to ~administrative errors~ (don’t ask), the change won’t come in until… at some point?

The Commons originally voted for the move back in 2017, and it has since been criticised by 1) people objecting to creating a national database of people who watch porn 2) queer activists worried that LGBT youths will lose access to vital resources 3) kind of everyone else tbh, so fingers crossed the ban just keeps getting delayed until the end of time.

One good thing that happened

The House of Commons passed legislation committing Britain to net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. It is the first G7 country to do so, which is undoubtedly good news, and it also got voted through without any major drama, which is nice and unexpected given some of the people currently in Parliament.

Environmental activists have already pointed out that 2050 is way too late (and they definitely have a point) but you know what? Given how bleak everything is at the moment, we’ll take what we can get. It may be a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.

One bad thing that happened

Social mobility foundation the Sutton Trust has found that -- careful, you may want to sit down before reading this -- a stupidly high number of “high achievers” are posh people, eg. went to private school and/or Oxbridge.

After looking into the backgrounds of 5000 people in top jobs, they found that those people were five times more likely to have gone to private school than the general population (for reference, only 7% of the latter were privately educated).

Another striking stat is that 24% of this “top group” went to Oxford or Cambridge; to put it in perspective, only 19% of the working population went to university *in general*.

It’s not exactly surprising, but the whole report makes for pretty grim reading -- it’s over here, if you want to have a look.

One puzzling thing that happened

Honestly, this one has been hard to narrow down, because pretty much everything in politics has been solidly weird for, oh, three years? Still, one… highlight, for lack of a better word, has to be Boris Johnson telling a journalist that to wind down he likes painting buses.

Here is the full quote because tbf, it would be hard to do it justice otherwise:

“I like to paint. Or I make things. I have a thing where I make models of buses. What I make is, I get old, I don’t know, wooden crates, and I paint them. It’s a box that’s been used to contain two wine bottles, right, and it will have a dividing thing. And I turn it into a bus. So I put passengers – I paint the passengers enjoying themselves on a wonderful bus.”

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One person to watch

If you decided to fully ignore the first stage of the Tory leadership contest, first of all I’m very jealous because wow it was hell, but secondly, you may have missed out on the Rory Stewart Mania.

Currently the secretary of state for international development, he is an odd character. He walked across pretty much most of the Middle East alone for no obvious reason, he was once a tutor to Will and Harry when he was younger, he’s written a bunch of books on his weird life, and he was the surprise candidate to replace Theresa May.

Instead of stilted videos wanging on about Brexit being great, he walked around the country chatting to anyone and everyone, called out the other contenders on their bullshit, and generally stood out due to looking like a very tired child.

It’s unclear what he’ll do next as he didn’t make it to the final round, but it’s pretty certain we’ll see more of him soon.

One word worth knowing

“Alternative arrangements” is in fact two words, we’re aware of that, thank you very much, but sometimes things aren’t what you want them to be and you just have to make do.

Speaking of which -- as you may know, one of the big issues with Brexit is the Irish backstop, which you can read about in a hopefully non-dull way here if you need a refresher. Politicians from all sides have been trying to find new and innovative ways to solve the border problem in a way that doesn’t make their lovely perfect Brexit impossible.

We won’t bore you with the details of what “alternative arrangements” entail but it’s pretty much them saying “Hey so we like none of the current options but how about we do... something else”, without specifying what the “something else” is.

If you see a politician confidently talking about it you can safely replace it with “unicorn” in your head -- actually, there you go, that’s one word.