It is now official. All the local councils across the whole of North Yorkshire will be abolished without any of the electors being consulted at the ballot box about whether that is what they want. In other words the big issue has been decided for you but if you insist on trying to put forward your opinion you will be reluctantly allowed to say something about which of the two bad choices you might prefer, by answering some highly loaded questions.
Author: Andy Brown
Andy is a Green Party councillor and is leader of the Green group on Craven District Council. He has stood for parliament three times in Skipton and Ripon. He began his career as a college lecturer before becoming head of Hillsborough College in Sheffield and then director of young people’s learning for Yorkshire. He is a beekeeper, writes regularly on nature for the Yorkshire Post, and has had a lifelong interest in economics.
The conclusion should be obvious. We need a heavy rethink about how we treat wildlife and how we obtain our food. Not just because this is the morally right thing to do, but because our current consumption models are putting lives at risk. Sooner or later there will be another pandemic. Sooner is more likely than later. Once again it will spread easily across the planet via mass plane travel.
Full marks to Hancock for deciding to try and tackle these problems for the future when the focus on day-to-day survival is dominating life so dramatically. And yet … there are a couple of tiny but rather important things to consider that haven’t been making the headlines
People who have done all things that Conservatives traditionally value, have been put in an impossible position by a series of government decisions. Most of these people have worked hard, saved their money and after years of struggle finally got to the point in life where they can afford to buy a small place at the bottom of the property market. Only to find that their bills for insurance and for repairs have gone through the roof and the value of their home has collapsed.
Finally, in the last few weeks the government has got round to deciding that it really should do something about trying to control borders properly and has announced a system of enforced quarantine at hotels close to airports. Only to quietly decide that this only applied to a small number of countries where there is a dangerous outbreak.
Andy Brown argues that “a government that has delivered the highest death rates globally, and helped to give the world the English variant of covid, is not in a great position to lecture the rest of the world on its superiority”.
The prime minister with the least interest in economics of any frontline politician since the war is going to have to try and lead an economic recovery plan for the UK. The prime minister who gave us Brexit is going to have to help to develop an international approach to solving an international problem.
During the Second World War, one of the messages that was regularly repeated was that: “Careless talk costs lives”. In the war against covid that should read, “Wishful thinking costs lives.” As I write, the United Kingdom has the third highest death toll per head from Covid-19 in the entire world. In recent weeks the […]
It takes some arrogance to believe that you know more about how to deploy a vaccine than the manufacturers of it. It also takes supreme self-belief for the leaders of one country to insist on following their own untested theory when the rest of the world seems to think it is a good idea to read the instructions on the vial and follow the science.
As Craven District Green councillor, Andy Brown notes that we’re all suffering from the consequences of neglecting our environment. With deregulation in China causing deaths in Yorkshire, we need to treat our globe as a unified whole in our response to climate change, not to ignore it.
Instead of encouraging and properly subsidising farmers to move away from industrial production techniques that are ceasing to work, the government has chosen to stick with a failed strategy. It is now encouraging farmers to use the next generation of powerful insecticides and to keep on overdosing fields with chemicals fertilisers that wash off into streams and rivers.
Andy Brown looks at how the pandemic has already reshaped society, and what we can do to make these changes into beneficial ones. As people move out to the country, and the government steps in to prop up markets, maybe we need to be more imaginative about how we utilise this change for good.
Way back in the summer of 1979 there was mass unemployment that was heading up towards three million, and the strident divisive politics of Margaret Thatcher were just about to be inflicted on the nation. Instead of staring at the negative, Ian Dury got together with his band the Blockheads and released one of the […]
Andy Brown looks at some of what we now know we will lose from leaving the EU on the terms negotiated by the government. “The best that can be said is that the UK dodged the bullet of no deal with one week to spare. As the Conservative Michael Heseltine said, the prisoner has escaped death row only to face a life sentence.”
Andy Brown looks at how humanity’s collective stupidity has peaked at the same time as its oil consumption. “The idea that the world needs to be managed with greater environmental sensitivity has much more traction with the young than the concept that we need to look backward and try to recreate a golden age that never existed.”
Andy Brown asks, is Boris Johnson on the way out? The PM’s irresponsible behaviour over the past year has led to an erosion of trust, which may well be irreparable. Now, having put parliament in an impossible situation, and taken the country to the brink of no deal – in order to negotiate a very bad deal – will he lose his job as prime minister?
Boris Johnson staked what remained of public trust in him in the idea of ‘saving Christmas’. Now, Andy Brown writes, this has been lost. “Like so many rash bets, it hasn’t worked out. We’ve ended up with a cabinet full of boastful yet inadequate ‘yes men and women’, just at the time when the nation most needed quiet competence.”
Throughout this whole final saga of real Brexit negotiations we have only been able to be sure of one thing: whatever Boris Johnson does, will be in the best interest of Boris Johnson this week. That isn’t remotely the same thing as what is in the best interest of the British people. Either this week or for the next generation. Whichever faction of the Conservative Party gives Johnson the best chance of staying in power has been the true test of what policies he has championed.
Andy Brown questions the desire to get ‘back to normal’, looking at how this normal was leading the human race to catastrophe. Looking at our economic and environmental failures before the pandemic and our lack of collaboration and empathy during it, he shows how returning to normal simply isn’t good enough.
Andy Brown argues that Boris Johnson is right to maintain covid restrictions – there’s a first time for everything. But having got this right, he’s being undermined by his own backbenchers who claim it will damage the economy. These are the same MPs who are happy to do serious damage to the economy by sticking to their arbitrary Brexit deadlines.
After a decade of peddling a badly flawed set of economic policies, the latest Conservative Party chancellor has had to ditch many of his most deeply held convictions in the face of the economic and social realities of a genuine crisis. Yet he remains stubbornly determined to ensure the country persists with a hugely damaging Brexit at the worst possible of times.
Andy Brown analyses the PM’s new climate plan, which sounds good, but needs action to back it up. Sadly this action has so far been missing. There is a big difference between ambitions and reality. It remains very easy to criticise.
These days almost every politician in Britain likes to claim that they are green. They want us to believe blue is the new green. Which is progress. Now all we have to do is to get their actions to line up with their words. It hasn’t been a good year for the environment. Covid is, […]
One of the single most astonishing things about all the pain we have been through this year is how few people have made the link to the obvious fact that this is an environmental crisis.
The good news is FOUR TRUMP-FREE YEARS. The American people have rejected Trump and all he stands for by a majority of four million in a record turnout. That is a huge defeat for the far right.
One of the reasons that cynicism has entered politics quite so strongly in recent years is the way most politicians respond to serious problems. The pattern is all too familiar. A horrible disaster strikes. It is announced that an inquiry will be organised to get to the bottom of the issues and make sure it […]
Algorithms don’t have a great reputation after the exams fiasco of the summer. So, you might think that the UK government would have become just a touch nervous about relying on them quite so naively in the future. In a reasonable world, ministers might have learned that that computer programmers can’t write mathematical formulae that […]
One of the things about democracy is that you have to accept the result when you lose. We all know that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the United States and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won the 2019 general election in the UK. Except, of course, for one tiny little point. In both of […]
If there is one thing worse than Donald Trump, it is Donald Trump on steroids. Before his dreadful performance at the first presidential debate, he tried to insist on Joe Biden being given a drugs test to see if he was being artificially stimulated. After his illness he emerged with such a powerful cocktail of […]
I’m feeling optimistic about the United States of America. Which is not something I have been able to write for some time. It also might seem a touch naïve when night after night we see people on our screens expressing their extreme loyalty to Donald Trump. I even saw a TV clip last week where […]