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.
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
Alex Toal looks ahead to the local elections in North Yorkshire and Humberside. Police and crime commissioners are up for election in both counties, along with a third of Hull City Council which will be one to watch.
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.
Senior Conservatives may have been calling for Nicola Sturgeon’s head over a potential breach of the ministerial code, but, they have ignored such breaches in their own party. Alex Toal identifies eleven ministers in the Johnson government who have breached the code, there may be even more…
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.
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 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.
Jake Berry’s new plan is just Thatcherism 2.0, and won’t help the Northern Research Group keep their seats. Thatcher is still broadly hated in the North – is Berry heading for the same fate?
Hotel quarantine is good in principle, Alex Toal writes, but its implementation in the UK is riddled with holes. The 10-day waiting period is too short, while the ‘red list’ of countries impacted misses some of the major hotspots.
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.
Interview with: Stewart Golton – Lib Dem West Yorkshire mayoral candidate (“Rage against the machine”)
Alex Toal interviews Stewart Golton, leader of the Leeds Liberal Democrats and the party’s candidate for West Yorkshire mayor. Golton plans to “rage against the machine” at both the regional and national level, challenging leaders in West Yorkshire and Westminster to do better for local people.
We all saw first-hand the consequences of a poorly-informed debate on Brexit. The Scottish independence debate holds all the same risks, and we have the opportunity to make it a more substantive discussion.
As Alex Toal writes, the people of Yorkshire need economic support more than ever, but their first Chancellor from the region in 45 years ignores their need. Is Rishi Sunak’s stance on Universal Credit a play to the backbenches, that “a vote for Sunak is a vote for fiscal orthodoxy”?
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.
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”.
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.
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?
The new ‘levelling-up fund’ is not fit for purpose, writes Alex Toal. Failing in three key areas: size, corruption and lack of direction, the fund is emblematic of the Johnson government’s key flaws.
Interview with: Hugh Goulbourne – lawyer and activist running for nomination to be Labour Party candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor
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.
In this latest interview for the West Yorkshire mayoral race, Alex Toal talks to Cllr. Susan Hinchcliffe, one of three candidates on Labour’s shortlist for the nomination. An experienced dealmaker and savvy operator, Hinchcliffe’s time as West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair has given her a wealth of insights to bring to the mayoralty, if elected.
Boris Johnson’s refusal to fire Priti Patel has shown why unrest in the ranks of Tory MPs matters. Here Alex Toal looks at the broader consequence of the Prime Minister’s weakness, and how it might hurt his efforts to rebrand.
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?
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]