Faced with a government that combines incompetence and ruthlessness in equal measure, preventing damaging public policy decisions won’t be easy. But the only alternative to letting them get away with things is to do nothing – in parliament or outside it. For many of us that is simply unthinkable.
The government is looking at a ‘to do’ list longer than the River Don, with its 31 December deadline looming ever closer. To tick things off this list it is pushing through legislation that specifically empowers its ministers to avoid extensive scrutiny. In the process, it is excluding elected MPs (be they the new ‘red […]
Something quite profound was published at the weekend that largely went unnoticed in England. Maybe some people were just nursing the mother of a hangover while others were just thankful that Super Saturday was over. But what’s happening in Scotland should be one of the biggest political stories in Britain right now and it’s barely […]
Farming requires a huge number of skills and a vast amount of knowledge, all of which needs to be continually updated and revised as the environment – physical, legislative and market – changes. If you think about what the job description of ‘farmer’ involves, it runs the gamut from pharmacology to mechanical engineering, animal behaviour […]
The government’s management of coronavirus is an example of where a superforecaster would insist on not just one review at some time in the future when the final death toll after a second or third wave may be known, but ongoing reviews as the figures and new information emerge over the course of the pandemic.
The cultural sector has been one of the hardest hit parts of the economy during the last few months. This is mainly down to the mixed revenue streams they have been forced to adopt, as public money was cut and cut. Many smaller galleries and museums are now facing insolvency.
The message to those in similar positions of influence remains simple. Be the change you want to be. Use you influence, move the British Museum into the twenty-first century. By changing the dialogue and presenting British history from the viewpoint of the colonised as well as the colonisers, you could make it an even more interesting place to visit.
The government has steadfastly refused to inform, consult, plan or coordinate with local authorities and regional health structures in dealing with Covid-19. Instead, ministers have worked with their pals in the private sector, putting ideology before the nation’s interests.
On 28 June Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, delivered the Ditchley Foundation’s annual lecture entitled the “privilege of public service”. It generated considerably more interest than would normally be expected for a speech on civil service reform to a rather obscure think tank, as it followed accounts of Dominic Cummings’ determination to come down on […]
At a devolution summit held in Leeds earlier this year Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry talked of a “devolution dash” across Yorkshire, with a deal for West Yorkshire to be followed with ones for East Riding and Hull, and North Yorkshire and York. The West Yorkshire devolution deal – worth £1.8bn and covering Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, […]
Large donations to the Conservative Party and the delayed publication of the Russia report are harming our democracy. Politics costs money, lots of it. ‘Short money’ is the UK state’s attempt to fund our politics and ensure opposition to the government exists in our democratic system. The opposition political party receive £16k per seat and […]
The next round of devolution deals comes to West Yorkshire, with a proposal for a new directly elected mayor and £1.8bn of funding into the area over the next 30 years. The deal, signed by the region’s council leaders and the government in March 2020, will see residents in West Yorkshire vote for their mayor […]
On 7 May, a plaque to the victims of the Katyn massacres was removed from the wall of the former NKVD building (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) in Tver, a city 110 miles northeast of Moscow. Victims’ families protested and the Polish community in the UK wrote to the Russian ambassador in London, but there […]
An inner-city school in Bradford has been making the most of its outdoor space for over a year now, slowly integrating the natural environment, recycling and traditional outdoor-learning skills into its whole school curriculum. This has been part of its drive to create new and innovative world-class learning opportunities for its children. Bowling Park Primary […]
What are the police for? In 1842, Lancashire magistrates, voted by 81 to 55 votes to abolish the police force. In the same year a number of townships petitioned county magistrates to defund the police. Durham Quarter Sessions received 172 (out of a possible 240) petitions, with over 6,000 ratepayers (property-owning males) signatures. Although the […]
All credit to Marcus Rashford for forcing the government to finally face up to the issue of food poverty. For a decade at least, those on the front line have watched the government rely on charities and food banks to support failures in the benefit system. The introduction of universal credit in 2013 left the […]
Last Friday Regan Russell, an activist who’s been campaigning for animal rights since 1977, died when she was hit by a lorry transporting pigs to slaughter. It was a searing hot day and, like countless times before, she’d been feeding the terrified animals water through the slats in the side of the lorry trailer as […]
Marcus Rashford has changed the government’s view on free school meals in the summer holidays. He, and other footballers, have found their political voice and the Conservative government is going to have to listen. Poverty can be a motivator. Children born into homes where there isn’t enough to go round never forget the experience. Some, […]
We’ve seen two screeching, high-profile U-turns from the government this week – on school meal holiday vouchers and the Covid-19 tracing app. But a further step in the reversal of a long-term Conservative policy – of backing fracking – has slid under the national political radar. Kwasi Kwarteng might be getting a pat on the […]
The European parliament is considering taking legal action against China in the United Nations’ highest court – the International Court of Justice. This is in response to China’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong and its position that the Sino-British Joint Declaration is an invalid ‘historic document’. A draft resolution on […]
The government has recently announced new powers for local councils to protect cyclists and target drivers who misuse cycle lanes. The announcement comes as more people have taken to cycling as an alternative method of transport during lockdown. Cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris has given local authorities the power to use CCTV cameras to issue fines […]
The government has made several recent U-turns following public pressure. It first extended the NHS bereavement scheme to include NHS non-medical staff such as cleaners and porters. It then agreed to stop the NHS surcharge for foreign health workers working in the NHS. Last week it reversed its decision to open schools to all pupils […]
A different response to reopening schools in Scotland may bring about more lasting changes and a more balanced experience for pupils north of the border. Will England step up to the mark? John Swinney, the Scottish government’s education secretary, has said it is “unlikely” that Scottish schools will return to normal next year. With schools […]
Today in an emotional open letter Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford has called on the government to reverse a decision not to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer. The footballer, who has raised nearly £20m through FareShare, a charity that helps fight hunger and food waste, has written to all MPs […]
In the first eight months of 2019, NHS nurses took nearly 1,000,000 days off sick with mental health issues. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the suicide rate for nurses is 23 percent higher than the national average, with women nurses in particular at high risk. During this Covid-19 crisis, the […]
The prime minister has stated that Britain will change its visa system to allow up to three million people “a route to citizenship” if China imposes its new security laws in Hong Kong. Boris Johnson says Britain will “have no choice” but to honour its commitments to the people of the territory. It remains to […]
A man died on the streets of a major American city whilst being restrained by police officers, pleading that he ‘couldn’t breathe’. Onlookers watched, horrified and powerless until he was motionless. That man was Eric Garner, a 43-year-old accused of selling cigarettes without a tax stamp. The video of his homicide at the hands of […]
Today, 1 June 2020, is a bittersweet day for teachers. It is the day that many Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils return to school and so too will they. Of course, some teachers have remained in schools throughout the pandemic for the children of key workers, but now they will be joined by […]
On 20 May, ITV news reported that four out of five local authorities in West Yorkshire have refused to enforce the reopening of schools in their area, and are instead leaving the decision to Head Teachers, who are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of children in their care. Various concerns have been raised […]
Former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says children have “missed a huge amount of school and there are going to be adverse consequences.” He says the government is going to have to negotiate with teachers and say, “We’re considering bringing in schools over weekend periods, over holiday periods or extending the school day” and […]
We all need it. No-one can live without it. Sufficiency of it brings peace and productivity. Deficiency leads to weakness, illness and lower productivity. The kinks and distortions in supply and demand for food are not new. But then came Covid-19, described as the ‘great magnifier’. All that was there before, good or bad, is […]
Three days after my mother’s death in March 2016, the phone rang. It was her GP. He sounded worried. “Daphne, did you know your mother was married? Because your mother’s man-friend’s here with a marriage certificate. It says they were married five months ago.” The shock hit me like a punch in the stomach. During […]
At a time of national crisis, emergency measures have to be hurriedly put in place; new priorities emerge and regulatory systems have to be adjusted. This is all an essential part of good leadership. But what if these crisis-inspired ‘shortcuts’ remain when normal life resumes? There are worrying signs that this may happen in areas […]
Stella Perrott considers the plight of refugees in the coronavirus outbreak and the need for an internationally agreed approach to the disease. During a crisis our concentric circles of attention and empathy shrink, first to family and friends, and then to our local communities as we struggle to make sense of what is happening and […]
A guide to spotting fake news – COVID-19 edition In an inter-connected world with a captive, susceptible and vulnerable audience – and in this climate of uncertainty – disinformation and fake news thrives. Our natural tendency to share helpful information is exploited by a proliferation of disinformation pollution, seeping into our information bloodstream. Disinformation is […]