Northern Ireland passions move centre stage

Belfast
The result in Belfast could have huge importance to the UK

In Northern Ireland there are still bitter arguments about the old issues which divide this part of the world, about the flying of flags and the routes of parades.

It can seem very removed from the politics of the rest of the UK.

They don't even send MPs from any of the main parties to Westminster.

But in this General Election the ancient fears and passions of this province are echoed in paler colours on the mainland.

Moreover, MPs from Northern Ireland could decide who becomes Prime Minister.

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Where is the inspiration in this election?

Nye Bevan, William Gladstone, Michael Heseltine
Bevan, Gladstone, Heseltine: where are the great political performers of today?

Inside the vast space of the Al Masjid ul Husseini mosque, in Northolt, north west London, pathways and rooms are being created at bewildering speed as barriers are shifted and rearranged, passed overhead in a happy chaos.

Men in pristine, white dishdashas and neat embroidered caps race from one place to another, watched by women in long dresses of many colours, decorated with flowers and intricate designs.

Read full article Where is the inspiration in this election?

Nato muscle-flexing sends Putin firm message

  • 12 March 2015
  • From the section Europe
Italian frigate
An Italian frigate was among the Nato forces in the Black Sea

There is the sound of a gun firing in the Bulgarian port of Varna as Nato's Maritime Group Two comes into harbour.

Don't worry, it's not war: they are firing a line ashore so they can tie up.

Read full article Nato muscle-flexing sends Putin firm message

Could Blue Labour capture party's soul?

Jon Cruddas
Jon Cruddas was appointed Labour Party policy co-ordinator by Ed Miliband in 2012

The link between a collection of erudite, philosophical essays, a nasty spat within Labour ranks about the NHS and a top level debate in the party over immigration, may not be obvious.

But it is important.

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Trident question comes to the surface

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Trident
The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens want Trident to be scrapped

The loch at Faslane is very calm on a beautiful spring-like day, seagulls wheel above the jetty and its short, white radar tower. Beneath the still waters, I presume, lurks some of Britain's ageing nuclear deterrent.

The future of Trident may not be much of an issue in the election, but it will be one of the most important, and expensive, decisions the new government makes.

Read full article Trident question comes to the surface

Does the West have the will to stop Russia?

  • 12 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
A pro-Russian separatist shows an anti-tank missile in the town of Vuhlehirsk, eastern Ukraine
Russian-backed rebels appear well armed

It is not Vegas, but the worry must be that what happens in Minsk, stays in Minsk.

The urgency of making sure a ceasefire happens, and holds will only serve to intensify the debate in the US about how to deal with Vladimir Putin.

Read full article Does the West have the will to stop Russia?

Could Greece prompt wholesale change in Europe?

  • 29 January 2015
  • From the section Europe
A Greek Presidential Guard

The spectacle outside the Greek Parliament is so outlandish it is hard not to laugh.

This isn't anything to do with the weekend's election - although there are parallels.

Read full article Could Greece prompt wholesale change in Europe?

Has Libya been let down by the West?

  • 22 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
A member of Libyan pro-government forces, who are backed by the locals, holds a weapon during clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries in Benghazi
Rival sides continue to clash in Benghazi

Is that a new Dawn for Libya I can see breaking over the horizon? A new prospect for Dignity?

Or will Dignity and Dawn remain poetic euphemisms for destructive division - the names of two competing military operations?

Read full article Has Libya been let down by the West?

Charlie Hebdo: Attacks carry extra resonance in France

  • 15 January 2015
  • From the section Europe
A painting of the "Marianne", the national symbol of the French Republic is placed between candles to commemorate the victims
Many see the attacks as a direct assault on the French Republic

Willem Holtrop sits in the Cafe de la Liberte, nursing a small glass of white wine.

He is one of the luckiest men in the world. He escaped the massacre at Charlie Hebdo because he doesn't like meetings.

Read full article Charlie Hebdo: Attacks carry extra resonance in France

Election 2015: Next government could be a long time coming

David Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron
Who will still be standing after the May vote?

It surely will be over by Christmas, but still it is going to be a long war.

We know the general election will be held on 7 May but we don't know when exactly the spring peace treaty will be signed.

Read full article Election 2015: Next government could be a long time coming