Author: Alex Toal

Alex is a postgraduate student, studying for a masters degree in public administration at the University of York. An amateur musician and part-time chef, his areas of interest include the arts, housing, local government and party politics.

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 […]

Music, Covid and Brexit: can the show go on?

Alex Toal

Imagine an industry that contributed more than three times as much to the UK economy as steel and employed almost 200,000 people. Imagine an export that is beloved across the globe, and which helped sustain many through lockdown. Now imagine it being shut down for the entirety of the pandemic, even as most of the […]

Cummings vs Ferrier: why the left’s fragmentation is its strength

Alex Toal

“If only the left could be more united” – a dozen columnists lament each year, whilst proposing Lib-Lab electoral pacts, progressive alliances, or a “new En Marche-style centre party to unite the left”. The political fragmentation of the British left is often cause for concern, particularly when faced with the monolith that is the Conservative […]

Loathe it or hate it, lockdown 2.0 is around the corner, and it’s the government’s ideology of crisis-management that’s to blame

Alex Toal
serious young ethnic lady in medical mask standing near window and looking away on street

Get your hair cut and stock up on yeast: if you’re lucky enough to not be one of the ten million Britons already under increased coronavirus restrictions, then you are likely to join that number soon. Whilst the prime minister emphasised that he was “deeply, spiritually reluctant” to infringe on people’s freedoms in his announcement […]

Five areas in Yorkshire and the Humber named ‘least socially mobile’ in the UK

Alex Toal

Figures released yesterday by the Social Mobility Commission reveal that five local authorities in the Yorkshire and the Humber region are among the 24 least socially mobile in the country. Bradford is listed in 2nd place, behind only Chiltern in the South East, with Hull, Rotherham, Kirklees and North East Lincolnshire all featuring on the […]