Blair: Social democracy needs 'narrative about the future'

Tony Blair
Image caption Social democracy must have "a narrative about the future" says former Prime Minister Tony Blair

"The central problem of social democracy is simple", former prime minister Tony Blair said. "They've got to have a narrative about the future."

By his formulation then, the crisis of Europe's centre-left may have been long and painful, but it need not be terminal.

Finding that new narrative in a way that works across dozens of European electorates, is another matter entirely.

Certainly it won't happen before the European election starting on 23 May, where the centre-left may well find itself trailing the populist right.

Matteo Renzi, the former Italian PM, told Newsnight the fortunes of his Democratic Party are now a secondary matter.

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Salisbury attack 'evidence' of Russian weapon stockpile

  • 4 March 2019
  • From the section UK
People dressed in British Army fatigues walk away from the Skripals' house in Salisbury Image copyright PA

The Salisbury attack demonstrated that Russia continues to research, manufacture and stockpile chemical weapons, US state department officials have told BBC Newsnight.

If true, Russia would be in violation of one of the major post-Cold War arms control treaties.

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Brexit: Is Brussels ready to give UK more time?

French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel speak at an EU summit Image copyright AFP

Publicly, the EU27 have told Theresa May the clock is ticking and that preparations for a no-deal Brexit are intensifying. Privately, the talk is all about extending the Article 50 period and defusing that time bomb due to go off on 29 March.

Brexiteers have long told us that the EU27 have much to fear from no deal, and in this they are right.

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Post-Brexit: Will a new leader of the EU emerge?

Angela Merkel at the Bundestag Image copyright Michele Tantussi

The prospect of Brexit looms large in Berlin these days and people are not happy about it. "We lose Britain, and we keep Italy: it's grotesque", one former minister commented ruefully to me.

That barbed remark lays bare a real anxiety among Germans, that somehow the European Union's centre of gravity will shift once the UK has gone, that a delicate balance will be upset, and it will not be in Berlin's favour.

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Yemen: will calls for peace lead to more violence?

Houthi Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Houthi followers demonstrating

At last there is the chance of meaningful Yemen peace talks, so we'd be well advised to expect an intensification of violence.

How does that make any sense? It comes down to the desire of the warring parties to influence the negotiation, by making last minute gains.

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Brexit: Article 50 is not fit for purpose

Brexit graphic Image copyright Getty Images

Perhaps the greatest fallacy in the UK's Brexit referendum was that there was a viable way to leave the European Union.

Each side in the campaign had its own reasons for wanting to ignore the fact that the process set out under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was at best vague, at worst unfeasible.

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Brexit: sympathy without support from Europe's right

Graphically drawn Big Ben in blue overlaid with yellow EU stars

Time and again, the unity shown by the 27 other members of the European Union in the face of Brexit has wrong-footed Downing St.

Indeed, Karin Kneissl, the Austrian foreign minister told us in a Newsnight interview, Brexit is "the only topic [on which] we are as cohesive as we are".

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Salisbury poisoning: Skripals 'were under Russian surveillance'

  • 4 July 2018
  • From the section UK
Yulia and Sergei Skripal Image copyright Reuters/BBC

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were being monitored by the Russian authorities in the months before their poisoning, BBC Newsnight understands.

The government alleged, in a letter to Nato, that the Russian authorities had hacked into Yulia's email account in 2013.

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Russian spy poisoning: How the Skripals were saved

  • 29 May 2018
  • From the section UK
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Media captionNewsnight: The night the Skripals were admitted to hospital

Hospital staff who saved the lives of poisoned Russians Sergei and Yulia Skripal have revealed they did not expect the victims of the nerve agent attack to survive.

The Skripals had been found slumped on a bench on 4 March - but staff treating them at Salisbury District Hospital did not initially know the reason why.

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What lies in store for the world in 2017?

  • 28 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
A US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft Image copyright Getty Images

What lies in store for the world next year? Some telling recent events suggest it could be very difficult for Western countries.

While at the end of 2015 I looked at the way nationalistic populism would make the job of diplomats harder in 2016, now there are signs that the West's ability even to set the rules of the international game is beginning to unravel.

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