Author: Alex Toal

Alex is a postgraduate student, studying for a masters degree in public administration at the University of York. He works for the Bylines Network as its Audience Development Officer, and can be found on Twitter at @toal_alex

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The Greensill scandal shows that the revolving door isn’t so transparent

Alex Toal
greensill_cameron

Alex Toal breaks down the Greensill scandal, and the broader problem of the revolving door which Cameron’s actions have highlighted. Politicians have had an uncomfortable level of closeness with the private sector for years, and the scandal is nothing new. But we need to change our incentive structures to improve practices.

Are young people citizens of nowhere in the politics of place?

Alex Toal
politics of place

Alex Toal asks, are young people left as citizens of nowhere by our system which prioritises the politics of place over the politics of the nation? With young people more mobile than any generation before them, their politics is increasingly focused on national issues rather than local ones. Our system still fails them.

Don’t hate the monarchs, hate the monarchy

Alex Toal
Buckingham Palace Monarchy

Alex Toal argues that we should hate the institution of the monarchy, not the monarch. With the monarchy a block on constitutional reform and a symbol of inequality on several levels, it needs to go.

The known unknowns that may decide the Johnson premiership

Alex Toal

Alex Toal examines the known unknowns that may well define the Johnson premiership: the NHS pay dispute and the return to schools. Should they fail to go to plan, knock-on effects may disrupt the local elections and hamper either his or Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Sunak’s budget reflects its author: bland, corporate and ineffective

Alex Toal

Sunak is neither the people’s chancellor of Conservative media, nor the evil banker of the online left. His budget reveals him as a product of inoffensive corporate Britain: with no courage to cause controversy among the various constituencies of the Conservative base, it has little to offer business or the country.

Will the next Grenfell happen in Yorkshire?

Alex Toal

Little has been done to prevent another Grenfell tower fire, research from the Labour party revealed as they pressured the government to act. With millions of people still living in blocks with unsafe cladding, more needs to be done to make these fit for habitation, Alex Toal writes.

Has Robert Jenrick nothing better to do than fan up culture wars?

Alex Toal

Jenrick must have solved looming crises in housing, local government debt, and cladding, Alex Toal writes, given his obsession with statues. The minister has been borrowing tactics from one of his predecessors, Eric Pickles, in preventing communities in having a voice about their public space.

As MPs call for action on long covid, Baker’s rebels plot…

Alex Toal

Alex Toal summarises the debate over long covid in the House of Commons, while Tory rebels led by Steve Baker plan to overthrow another leader…”Rather than squabbling over ivory-tower ideology, the Conservative Party needs to pull itself together, and recognise the severity of the task at hand”.

Tory donors resorting to stealing children’s lunch money?

Alex Toal

What do accusations of bribing the UN, striking NHS workers, and Tory donors have to do with the latest government procurement scandal? York-based Alex Toal breaks down the news of another government contractor misusing public money during a national crisis, this time using £30 school meal credits to provide £5 worth of food to children in need.

Are Christmas songs getting worse?

Alex Toal

Alex Toal looks into the failure of new songs to break into the canon of Christmas songs. Nothing newer than Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has become a classic, is it because of science, economics, or are modern Christmas songs just bad?

Interview with: Hugh Goulbourne – lawyer and activist running for nomination to be Labour Party candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor

Alex Toal

Alex interviews Hugh Goulbourne, one of three candidates shortlisted to be Labour’s nominee for West Yorkshire mayor. Goulbourne has an experience in grassroots activism and business leadership, and has worked on a number of mayoral campaigns before his own. His plans for the region include a cycle superhighway, citizens assemblies, and an authority-wide transport app.

Researching the Northern Research Group (part 2)

Alex Toal

Alex Toal looks at the reasons behind the formation of the Northern Research Group. Is this about protecting the seats of its members, about boosting the levelling up agenda, or about control of the Conservative Party?

Regional roundup: Saturday 14 November

Alex Toal

The Northern Research Group makes its Westminster debut On Wednesday, members of the Northern Research Group took part in a Westminster hall debate called by Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis to quiz the government (represented by exchequer secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch) over economic support for the North. NRG chair Jake Berry followed […]

Researching the Northern Research Group (part 1)

Alex Toal

The Tory party of late seems to have descended into multiple competing and overlapping factions, including the Common Sense Group, the Covid Recovery Group, and the Northern Research Group. Here, Alex Toal takes a look at the NRG, asking – who are they, what do they believe in, and why have they come together? This […]

Interview with: Councillor Andrew Cooper – Green candidate for West Yorkshire mayor

Alex Toal

The appearance of being ‘relatable’ has always been important in politics. The pub trip photo-op has become a staple of electoral campaigning, and candidates can be savaged for their apparent detachment from reality. Long after their disappearance from frontline politics, people still remember Ed Miliband as the sandwich-mangler, and Theresa May as the wheat-field sprinter. […]

Regional roundup: Friday 6 November

Alex Toal

Local leaders react to second lockdown On Thursday, the entirety of England entered national lockdown, with stay-at-home orders issued and non-essential businesses closed. As Yorkshire becomes the focal point of the second wave of Covid-19, hospitals have been struggling, with Doncaster public health director Dr Rupert Suckling announcing that the city had more hospitalised patients than […]

Reclaiming populism, and why Johnson is more Caesar than Cicero

Alex Toal

Classics is often at the heart of Boris Johnson’s political brand, and particularly his admiration of the orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. In April of this year, he got in trouble with the historian Dame Mary Beard after misquoting the statesman, and previously he has referred to his use of Ciceronian rhetorical techniques.   Comparing ancient […]

Regional round-up: Friday 23 October

Alex Toal

Tiers for fears This week was marked by an escalation in coronavirus measures as South Yorkshire was put into Tier 3, starting from Saturday. As cases rise across the region, York public health director Sharon Stolz had to deny that any move to Tier 3 was imminent in the city, and talks continue between West […]

Protecting the right to choose: the feminists of York

Alex Toal

Reproductive rights have long been settled in Britain. Some 86 percent of the population believe that a woman should have a right to an abortion, and only 24 percent are in favour of making the time limit to decide to terminate a pregnancy shorter. Yet recently this has been under attack in the city of […]

Regional round-up: Friday 16 October

Alex Toal

Here’s a roundup of some of the top stories from Yorkshire this week. Covid catch-up The news that dominated the region this week was, of course, the pandemic. Tier 2 restrictions were implemented in South and West Yorkshire from Wednesday, and extended to York from Saturday. The news was unsurprising to many, with significant outbreaks […]