This month in politics: January 2024


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By Delyth Michael , Tom Lindley , Antonia Shipley and Grace Clift

2024 is set to be a groundbreaking year for politics around the globe with more voters than ever before set to head to the polls in 64 different elections. January has certainly turned the keys in the ignition and proved this year is geared up to be one for the history books, and our talented Nouse journalists have summated some of the key events for this  month.

On 17 January 2024, Labour party veteran Tony Lloyd passed away at the age of 73. Gabriella De Reynal writes a touching obituary:
‘His commitment, his public service, and frankly his sheer decency '' are some of the many reasons long time serving MP Sir Tony Lloyd will be missed, Keir Starmer says in the House of Commons tribute to the deceased. The Labour MPs 36 year career of public service in and out of parliament will be felt nationwide through his loss. His passing was felt across the House, for his lifetime and career of public service and his dedication to his constituents.
Tony Lloyd attended Stretford Grammar School for boys, following on to Nottingham University to study mathematics and Manchester Business school where he gained his MBA. Starting out his political career as a representative for his hometown of Stratford he went on to represent central Manchester eventually holding the post of Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party between 2006-2012.
His internationalist views led him to express support for the Palestinian community throughout his career and voted against the Iraq war in 2007 expressing his dissent for international conflict. Throughout his career he has served a whole host of posts in public service, including (among many other roles) interim mayor of Manchester when the post was created, secretary for foreign affairs under Tony Blair’s government and the police and crime commissioner for greater Manchester. Lloyd has been described by Manchester Evening News as “a major figure on Labour politics in greater Manchester” listed in their 250 top influential people in 2011.
Sir Tony Lloyd is survived by his wife, Judith Tear, son and three daughters, being surrounded by friends and family at the time of his passing.

Nouse Political Editor, Tom Lindley explains the non-aggression pact proposal over Nagorno-Karabakh:
Following the 2020 offensive on the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has proposed a non-aggression pact to Azerbaijan as a protective measure against further conflict.
Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, both agreed that a peace agreement could’ve been signed some time towards the end of 2023. Despite this, any internationally mediated peace talks have failed to produce a treaty. Talks over the ethnically Armenian territory are usually brokered by Russia, but since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, their involvement in the Caucasus has waned.
Azerbaijan stated their disagreement with peace talks being mediated by the EU, arguing there are better, alternative mediators. As a result, Aliyev and Pashinyan haven’t met since October to discuss peace talks.
The pact also includes the proposal of a mutual arms control mechanism, which would help ensure the conflict doesn’t escalate while the peace talks are at a standstill. Since the proposal on January 28, Azerbaijan has yet to formally comment on the matter, leading several Armenian politicians to believe the likelihood of the pact being accepted will be small. If normalisation talks resume, this could be a step in the right direction towards long-awaited peace.

Grace Clift explains the current mire surrounding the Houthis, and the response by the UK and US.
On the 11th of January, the UK and US governments launched strikes on the Houthis in Yemen in response to attacks on trade ships in the Red Sea. The Houthis (also known as Ansar Allah, translating to partisans of God) are a Shia Islamic rebel force which emerged in the 1990’s who aimed to champion the rights of Yemen's Shia Muslim Minority, The Zaidis, in Yemen. The Houthis are vehemently opposed to the existence of the state of Israel, and began hijacking Israeli ships in the red sea on 19 November 2023. Yemen has been facing a widespread humanitarian crisis since 2015, due to conflict between the Yemeni government and the Houthis alongside stark economic decline. As of last year, 21.6 million people required humanitarian assistance with 80% of the country experiencing food insecurity. Since 2015, the UK has sent over £1 billion in aid, but in response to the Houthi Hijacks, on 11 January 2024 , the UK and US  launched a coordinated air strike on the Houthis in Yemen. In a speech to the House of Commons; Rishi Sunak stated “we are not seeking a confrontation but if necessary, the United Kingdom will not hesitate to respond again in self-defence”. The UK justifies the strikes as a means of protecting a key global trading route and as many targeted ships have had no relation to Israel at all. The US has carried out more than eight strikes, describing the Houthis’ actions as “destabilising and illegal”.  President Joe Biden believes that the attacks are not stopping the Houthis, and the Houthis say it “will only increase the Yemeni people’s determination”. In February, the US plans to declare the Houthis to be a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Group.

Delyth Michael explains the outcome of the Taiwanese election and what this could mean for China.
On 13 January, Taiwan went to the polls to vote both for a new President and the Legislative Yuan. The incumbent President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was unable to stand for re-election due to term limits, having reached the two-term constitutional limit. The DPP nominated her Vice President, Lai Ching-te, who beat out the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate and third-party candidate Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) to win the election with a plurality of 40.05%. This was the first time since the 2000 election that the winning candidate did not win a majority, and the first time that a party won a third consecutive presidential election since free and direct elections were introduced in 1996. In the legislative elections however, the DPP lost their majority and the KMT became the largest single party with 54 of 113 seats.
Lai Ching-te was born into a working-class coal mining family and raised by his mother as a single parent after his father died before Lai’s second birthday. Lai studied at Harvard in the US, becoming a national consultant on spinal cord damage. He left his medical career to enter politics, and has since served as a legislator, Mayor of Tainan and Premier as well as Vice President. In 2019, he chose to run against Tsai Ing-wen to be the DPP presidential candidate. After being defeated, he accepted Tsai’s offer to become her running mate in the 2020 presidential election. He will assume office as President in May.
Lai had previously been a strong advocate for Taiwanese independence, but has taken a less radical position since becoming Premier in 2017. Still, he has talked about building up Taiwan’s defensive capabilities against China and strengthening diplomatic relations with the international community. China, however, is not happy with his election. China’s Taiwan Affairs office had referred to him as a dangerous separatist, warning Taiwan to ‘make the right choice’ at the election. Responding to his win, the Taiwan Affairs office said that the election result would not stop the eventual reunification of China. Lai may have to tread carefully in the years ahead as tensions across the Taiwan strait rise.

Deputy Political Editor, Antonia Shipley, explains the entropy that ensued in the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses, and what this may mean for the rest of the Republican presidential race:
The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire caucuses act as the firing gun for the beginning of the tumultuous US presidential election period, and winning this early battle as Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush have done previously, can certainly springboard candidates, giving them the ‘Big Mo’ that they need to survive the enervating election process, equally, it has the power to enfeeble candidates, with poor performances often leading competitors to drop out, as presidential hopefuls Vivek Ramaswarmay and Ron de Santis did following the recent Iowa caucus. That being said, it is not a prerequisite for all successful candidates to win the two caucuses, with Bill Clinton’s 1992 comeback seeing a loss in both caucuses but eventual triumph, being selected as the Democrat presidential nominee. This is a fact that Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and ex UN Ambassador, seems to be tenaciously holding by her side, pledging that the results will not erode her confidence or campaign, despite an ignominious defeat in Iowa, placing third. Whilst things are not looking terribly propitious for Haley, Joe Biden received a significant boost in New Hampshire with 63.9% of the votes, suggesting there is still fuel left in the tank for the Biden campaign. With 6 states deciding who to throw their support behind in February, only time will tell who will rejoice and who will vanquish, although we may be experiencing a sense of deja vu from 2020 very soon…