UK General Election : Theresa May v Jeremy Corbyn

The United Kingdom general election of 2017 is taking place on 8 June 2017. Each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies will elect one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament. In line with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, an election had not been due until 7 May 2020, but a call by Prime Minister Theresa May for a snap election received the necessary two-thirds majority in a 522-to-13 vote in the House of Commons on 19 April 2017.
The Conservative Party, which has governed since 2015 (and as a senior coalition partner from 2010), is defending a majority of 12 against the Labour Party, the official opposition. The third largest party, the Scottish National Party, won 56 of the 59 Scottish constituencies in 2015. The Liberal Democrats and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party are the fourth and fifth largest parties, with 9 and 8 seats respectively.
Negotiation positions following Britain’s invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union in March 2017 to leave the EU featured in the election campaign, as did the regular major issues of the economy, education, jobs and the NHS. Following a bombing in Manchester and a terrorist incident in London, leading to temporary campaign suspensions from 23 to 24 May and on 4 June respectively, national security became a particularly prominent election issue. Opinion polling for the popular vote since the election was called gave May’s Conservatives a lead over Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn, although their lead narrowed significantly over the course of the campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flowers and mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Flowers and mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are pictured near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region

Flowers and mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are pictured near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region July 19, 2014. Ukraine accused Russia and pro-Moscow rebels on Saturday of destroying evidence to cover up their guilt in the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner that has accelerated a showdown between the Kremlin and Western powers

 

Thunder storm swept over the south coast of England

potd-lightning_2979083kThunder storm captured by storm chaser Jamie Russell last night as electrical storm swept over the south coast of England. Jamie took the photo from the Isle of Wight looking north east across Sandown bay to the Solent and mainland.

Syria, Destruction of Omari Mosque Daraa was built by Omar Bin Khattab; More a 1000 year old.

Syria, Destruction of Omari Mosque Daraa was built by Omar Bin Khattab; More a 1000 year old.

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Catherine Ashton

English: Baroness Ashton of Upholland, British...
English: Baroness Ashton of Upholland, British politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of UphollandPC (born 20 March 1956) is a British Labour politician who in 2009 became the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, this post is combined with the post of Vice-President of the European Commission.
Her political career began in 1999 when she was created a Life Peer (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) by the Labour Government. Under this government she became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills in 2001 and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice in 2004. She became a Privy Councillor (PC) in May 2006.
Catherine Ashton was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen’s Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007. As well as Leader of the Lords, she held responsibility in the House of Lords for equalities issues, and she was instrumental in steering the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon through the UK’s upper chamber. In 2008, she succeeded Peter Mandelson as Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission.
In December 2009, she became the first person to take on the role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that was created by the Treaty of Lisbon. As High Representative, Baroness Ashton serves as the EU’s foreign policy chief. [1]

Early life

Catherine Ashton was born in UphollandLancashire on 20 March 1956.[2][3] She comes from a working class family, with a background in coal mining going back generations.[4][5] She attended Upholland Grammar School in Billinge Higher End, Lancashire, then Wigan Mining and Technical College in Wigan.[6] Ashton graduated with a BSc in Sociology in 1977 from Bedford College, London (now part of Royal Holloway, University of London). She was the first person in her family to attend University.[4][5][7][8][9]

Early career in the United Kingdom

Between 1977 and 1983 Ashton worked for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) as an administrator and in 1982 was elected as its national treasurer and subsequently as one of its vice-chairs. From 1979 to 1981 she was Business Manager of The Coverdale Organisation, a management consultancy.[10][11] As of 1983 she worked for the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work.[12] From 1983 to 1989 she was Director of Business in the Community working with business to tackle inequality, and established the Employers’ Forum on Disability, Opportunity Now, and the Windsor Fellowship.[citation needed] For most of the 1990s, she worked as a freelance policy adviser.[8][13] She chaired the Health Authority inHertfordshire from 1998 to 2001, and her children’s school governing body, and became a Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families.
She was made a Labour life peer as Baroness Ashton of Upholland in 1999, under Prime Minister Tony Blair. In June 2001 she was appointedParliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills. In 2002 she was appointed minister for Sure Start in the same department. In September 2004, she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, with responsibilities including the National Archives and the Public Guardianship Office. Ashton was sworn of the Privy Council in 2006, and became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the new Ministry of Justice in May 2007.
In 2005 she was voted “Minister of the Year” by The House Magazine and “Peer of the Year” by Channel 4. In 2006 she won the “Politician of the Year” award at the annual Stonewall Awards, awarded to those that have made a positive impact on the lives of British LGBT people.[14]
On 28 June 2007 the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, appointed her to the Cabinet as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council.[15] As Leader of the House, she was responsible for passing the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords.[16]

EU Trade Commissioner

On 3 October 2008, she was nominated to replace Peter Mandelson as the UK’s European Commissioner in Brussels. European Commissioners may not engage in any other occupation during their term of office, whether gainful or not[17] so, in order to take up her position, she used the procedural device previously used in 1984 by Lord Cockfield[18] and took a leave of absence from the House of Lords on 14 October 2008,[19] retaining her peerage but not her seat.[20]
Her appointment as Trade Commissioner was scrutinised by the European Parliament. She was criticised by Daniel Hannan, a British Conservative MEP, saying that she had “no background in trade issues at a time when the EU is engaged in critical negotiations with Canada, Korea and the WTO”.[21] However, following her public confirmation hearing by the Trade Committee of theEuropean Parliament, Ashton was approved by the Parliament on 22 October 2008 with 538 to 40 votes, and 63 abstentions.[22] She has since finished negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement with Korea and initialled it in October 2009.[23]

Responsibilities as High Representative

As High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a post that was combined with Vice-President of the European Commission, Ashton was elected by the Heads of State and Government of the 27 European Union countries at a summit in Brussels.
Besides representing the EU at international forums and coordinating the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, the High Representative also:
During her term in office she and her team have given priority to a number of European and global issues. These include:
  • Participation in the Quartet negotiations on the Middle East Peace Process
  • Leading European negotiations with Iran over its controversial Nuclear programme
  • Responding to the Arab Spring with a new European Neighbourhood Policy (May 2011), to provide funding and market access to North Africa
  • Supporting democratic forces in Libya by opening an EU office in Benghazi in May 2011 and supporting the National Transitional Council
  • Building a European consensus to establish sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria
  • Strengthening relations with the EU’s Strategic Partners such as the US, Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa
  • In the Balkans, forging renewed talks between Serbs and Kosovars (“Belgrade-Pristina” dialogue)
  • Negotiating an upgraded status for the EU at the UN as foreseen under the Lisbon Treaty
  • Establishing the European External Action Service (1 December 2010), which merged the external relations departments of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and will have diplomats seconded from national foreign services.

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Helmut Kohl

Helmut Kohl - Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998...
Helmut Kohl – Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998) and architect of German Reunification 
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt ˈkoːl]; born 3 April 1930) is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (of West Germany between 1982 and 1990 and of the reunited Germany between 1990 and 1998) and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck and oversaw the end of the Cold War and the German reunification. Kohl is widely regarded as the main architect of the German reunification and, together with French president François Mitterrand, the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union.[1]
Kohl and Mitterrand were the joint recipients of the Charlemagne Prize in 1988.[2] In 1998, Kohl was named Honorary Citizen of Europe by the European heads of state or government for his extraordinary work for European integration and cooperation, an honour previously only bestowed on Jean Monnet.[3] In 1996, he won the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation.[4]
Kohl has been described as “the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century” by former U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush[5] and Bill Clinton.[6]
 
Youth
Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (at the time part of Bavaria, now in Rhineland-Palatinate) Germany, the third child of Cäcilie (née Schnur; 1890–1979) and her husband Hans Kohl (1887–1975), a civil servant. His family was conservative and Roman Catholic, and remained loyal to the Catholic Centre Party before and after 1933. His older brother died in the Second World War as a teenage soldier. In the last weeks of the war, Kohl was also drafted, but he was not involved in any combat.
 
Kohl attended the Ruprecht elementary school, and continued at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium. In 1946, he joined the recently founded CDU. In 1947, he was one of the co-founders of the Junge Union-branch in Ludwigshafen. After graduating in 1950, he began to study law in Frankfurt am Main. In 1951, he switched to the University of Heidelberg where he majored in History and Political Science. In 1953, he joined the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the CDU. In 1954, he became vice-chair of the Junge Union in Rhineland-Palatinate. In 1955, he returned to the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the CDU.

  Life before politics

After graduating in 1956 he became fellow at the Alfred Weber Institute of the University of Heidelberg where he was an active member of the student society AIESEC. In 1958, he received his doctorate degree for his thesis “The Political Developments in the Palatinate and the Reconstruction of Political Parties after 1945”. After that, he entered business, first as an assistant to the director of a foundry in Ludwigshafen and, in 1959, as a manager for the Industrial Union for Chemistry in Ludwigshafen. In this year, he also became chair of the Ludwigshafen branch of the CDU. In the following year, he married Hannelore Renner, whom he had known since 1948, and they had two sons.

 Early political career

In 1960, he was elected into the municipal council of Ludwigshafen where he served as leader of the CDU party until 1969. In 1963, he was also elected into the Landtag and served as leader of the CDU party in that legislature. From 1966 until 1973, he served as the chair of the CDU’s state branch, and he was also a member of the Federal CDU board. After his election as party-chair, he was named as the successor to Peter Altmeier, who was minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate at the time. However, after the Landtag-election which followed, Altmeier remained minister-president.
The 1976 Bundestag election
In the 1976 federal election, Kohl was the CDU/CSU’s candidate for chancellor. The CDU/CSU coalition performed very well, winning 48.6% of the vote. However they were kept out of government by the centre-left cabinet formed by the Social Democratic Party of Germany and Free Democratic Party (Germany), led by Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt. Kohl then retired as minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate to become the leader of the CDU/CSU in the Bundestag. He was succeeded by Bernhard Vogel.

  Leader of the opposition

In the 1980 federal elections, Kohl had to play second fiddle, when CSU-leader Franz Josef Strauß became the CDU/CSU’s candidate for chancellor. Strauß was also unable to defeat the SPD/FDP alliance. Unlike Kohl, Strauß did not want to continue as the leader of the CDU/CSU and remained Minister-President of Bavaria. Kohl remained as leader of the opposition, under the third Schmidt cabinet (1980–82).
On 17 September 1982, a conflict of economic policy occurred between the governing SPD/FDP coalition partners. The FDP wanted to radically liberalise the labour market, while the SPD preferred to guarantee the employment of those who already had jobs. The FDP began talks with the CDU/CSU to form a new government.

  Chancellor of West Germany

  Rise to power

On 1 October 1982, the CDU proposed a constructive vote of no confidence which was supported by the FDP. The motion carried, and, on 4 October, the Bundestag voted in a new CDU/CSU-FDP coalition cabinet, with Kohl as the chancellor. Many of the important details of the new coalition had been hammered out on 20 September, though minor details were reportedly still being hammered out as the vote took place.
 
Though Kohl’s election was done according to the Basic Law, some voices criticized the move as the FDP had fought its 1980 campaign on the side of the SPD and even placed Chancellor Schmidt on some of their campaign posters. Some voices went as far as denying that the new government had the support of a majority of the people. To answer this question, the new government aimed at new elections at the earliest possible date.
 
Since the Basic Law is restrictive on the dissolution of parliament, Kohl had to take another controversial move: he called for a confidence vote only a month after being sworn in, in which members of his coalition abstained. The ostensibly negative result for Kohl then allowed President Karl Carstens to dissolve the Bundestag in January 1983.
The move was controversial as the coalition parties denied their votes to the same man they had elected Chancellor a month before and whom they wanted to re-elect after the parliamentary election. However, this step was condoned by the German Federal Constitutional Court as a legal instrument and was again applied (by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Green allies) in 2005.

 The second cabinet

In the federal elections of March 1983, Kohl won a resounding victory. The CDU/CSU won 48.8%, while the FDP won 7.0%. Some opposition members of the Bundestag asked the Federal constitutional court to declare the whole proceedings unconstitutional. It denied their claim.
The second Kohl cabinet pushed through several controversial plans, including the stationing of NATO midrange missiles, against major opposition from the peace movement.
On 24 January 1984, Kohl spoke before the Israeli Knesset, as the first Chancellor of the post-war generation. In his speech, he used liberal journalist Günter Gaus’ famous sentence that he had “the mercy of a late birth” (“Gnade der späten Geburt”).
 
On 22 September 1984 Kohl met the French president François Mitterrand at Verdun, where the Battle of Verdun between France and Germany had taken place during World War I. Together, they commemorated the deaths of both World Wars. The photograph, which depicted their minutes long handshake became an important symbol of French-German reconciliation. Kohl and Mitterrand developed a close political relationship, forming an important motor for European integration. Together, they laid the foundations for European projects, like Eurocorps and Arte. This French-German cooperation also was vital for important European projects, like the Treaty of Maastricht and the Euro.
 
In 1985, Kohl and US President Ronald Reagan, as part of a plan to observe the 40th anniversary of V-E Day, saw an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the friendship that existed between Germany and its former foe. During a November 1984 visit to the White House, Kohl appealed to Reagan to join him in symbolizing the reconciliation of their two countries at a German military cemetery. As Reagan visited Germany as part of the G6 conference in Bonn, the pair visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 5 May, and more controversially the German military cemetery in Bitburg, discovered to hold 49 members of the Waffen-SS buried there.
 
In 1986, more controversy was caused by an essay published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 25 April 1986 entitled “Land Without A History” written by one of Kohl’s advisors, the historian Michael Stürmer, in which Stürmer argued that West Germany lacked a history to be proud of, and called for effort on the part of the government, historians and the media to build national pride in German history. Though Stürmer insisted that he was writing on behalf of himself and not in an official capacity as the Chancellor’s advisor, many left-wing intellectuals claimed that Stürmer’s essay also expressed Kohl’s views.
Political views
 
In international politics Kohl was committed to European integration, maintaining close relations with the French president Mitterrand. Parallel to this he was committed to German reunification. Although he continued the Ostpolitik of his social-democratic predecessor, Kohl also supported Reagan’s more aggressive policies in order to weaken the USSR.

  Public perception

Kohl faced stiff opposition from the West German political left and was as well mocked upon for his provincial background, physical stature and simple language. Similar to historical French cartoons of Louis-Philippe of France, Hans Traxler depicted Kohl as a pear in the left leaning satirical journal Titanic.[16] The German expression Birne (“pear”) became a widespread nickname and symbol for the Chancellor.[17] Kohl became one of the most popular politicians in some regions of Eastern Germany and a greatly respected European statesman.[citation needed]

  Honors

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