Category: Politics

Democratic accountability and the pandemic response

Vicky Seddon

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.

Civil service – reform or destruction?

Stella Perrott

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 […]

Who pays the Tory Party piper?

Charlie McCarthy

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 […]

Pants on fire!

Hecate

This was the week of the great cover-up that didn’t work. There weren’t just bats in Big Ben’s belfry but sloth-sized rats running amok in the Commons. Prime ministers’ questions had become just an ad break in a very British farce masquerading as democracy. The prime minister understood neither the concept nor the practice. Hit […]

Is this our darkest hour?

Pam Jarvis

And so, yet another Tory scandal hits the headlines, this time relating to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, who is alleged to have “insisted” a planning decision for a £1bn property development should be rushed through so a Conservative donor’s company could reduce costs by £45m. The donor, ex-Express owner and pornography promoter Richard Desmond, allegedly […]

Lessons for Labour

Jane Thomas and Mike Buckley

The publication today of two reports into Labour’s dismal showing in last December’s general election will be instructive reading for the party’s leadership. The two reports from campaign groups Labour Together and Labour for a European Future shed light on why Labour did so badly, not just last winter but also in the preceding three […]

Why the UK does not have Jacinda Ardern as its prime minister

Stella Perrott

Measured by the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths, countries led by women have done better than other comparable countries led by men. In the advanced economies Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), Tsai Ing-wen (Taiwan), Sanna Marin (Finland), Mette Frederiksen (Denmark) and Angela Merkel (Germany) have been praised for their management of the crisis. The US, […]

Is Boris Johnson Dominic Cummings’ Willy?

Anthony Robinson

Margaret Thatcher had William Whitelaw, a Tory of the old school to help keep the party together when things got tough; she famously said “every prime minister needs a Willy”.  Up to now, in a strange reversal of roles, it seemed Johnson was Cummings’ Willy. The two most powerful men in Britain certainly make an […]

Kuenssberg’s impartiality under fire

Anthony Robinson

The revelations yesterday about Dominic Cummings’ apparent breach of the lockdown rules, travelling 250 miles to his parents’ home in County Durham while experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, has sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter about the impartiality of the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She has long been seen by some as too […]

Barnier sinks Johnson’s negotiating strategy

Anthony Robinson

Michel Barnier issued a sharp response to the letter sent by UK chief negotiator David Frost on Tuesday with a missive of his own on Wednesday. It is as if the negotiations have burst out into the public realm with Britain abandoning face-to-face talks to try and convince us that the EU is just being […]

UK-EU talks: UK’s real negotiating position revealed

Anthony Robinson

The third round of talks on the future relationship closed yesterday with very little progress on the substantive issues but with the first real glimpse of the UK’s true negotiating stance.  Our chief negotiator David Frost told reporters afterwards: “The major obstacle to this is the EU’s insistence on including a set of novel and […]

Looking over the edge: Brexit just got serious.

Anthony Robinson

EU Legal guru warns UK it’s later than you think In a move calculated to focus minds on both sides of the Channel, a former Director General of the EU’s legal services department has delivered a stark warning, one that will echo particularly strongly in Whitehall. Unless an extension to the transition period is agreed […]

Treasury warns of “sovereign debt crisis” caused by Covid-19

Anthony Robinson

The Telegraph has got hold of a leaked Treasury document warning of a “sovereign debt crisis” unless the economy soon begins to recover from the seven-week coronavirus lock down. On 1 April, a week after the lockdown was announced, Yorkshire Bylines ran an article: Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up which now […]

“Boris is culling you” says Twitter

Hecate

Twitter’s verdict on steps to end the lockdown was swift and brutal. ‘Tory voters – at the next election – Stay home-Protect the NHS’. Matt Lucas summed up the ‘go out but not out out’ message as he mimicked the squeezed vowels typical of Johnson’s speech. Quips scoffed at “an entire cabinet of Graylings”, fiddling with the […]

Computer model used to develop government Covid-19 strategy allegedly “unusable for scientific purposes”

Anthony Robinson

Explosive allegations have been made by a programming ‘expert’ that the underlying code of the program used by Imperial College in London to model population behaviour in response to different Covid-19 measures, was itself deeply flawed and regularly produced different outputs when given the same inputs. The work at Imperial, done under professor Neil Ferguson […]

Border realities dawn over the Irish Sea as storm clouds gather

Anthony Robinson

There is a growing and increasingly tense row developing between the UK and EU over arrangements for implementing the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement, threatening plans for entry points into the province becoming a de facto EU border.  Britain appears to be dragging its feet and going out of its way to be […]

We need to discuss the way out of lockdown

Professor Juliet Lodge

The Government’s reluctance to discuss an exit strategy from Covid-19 suggests it’s trying to hide something, yet again. The public is getting fidgety and wants to know what strategies might surface. But we also want to protect our loved ones and prevent the collapse of the NHS. It’s not unreasonable to expect that when these […]

The two-party system is strangling our democracy

Sam Slater

The British Parliament, long held as a bastion of government – which inspired enlightened thinkers such as Montesquieu and is the framework for other parliaments worldwide – needs an overhaul. The first past the post (FPTP) electoral system is the rot. It promotes and reinforces our two-party system; two complacent, comfortable, mainstream parties that fail […]

Watch out for Boris Johnson’s imminent Churchill impersonation

Martin Brooks

The stage is already being set by this discredited prime minster and his government. They are positioning themselves as victorious leaders of the country’s emergence from our disastrous encounter with the Covid-19 virus. Moreover, they are already using the pandemic to argue for the UK’s isolation from the rest of the world, by holding to […]

Building a new Yorkshire – are citizens’ assemblies a way forward?

Charlie McCarthy

Charlie McCarthy argues a citizens’ assembly for Yorkshire would help revitalise and level up the region as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. Brexit has already cost the UK economy £130 billion, shrinking three per cent since the referendum. Putting this into figures we can more easily relate to: EU membership cost 34p per person […]

We have the Government we deserve

Helen Davidson

Even before Covid-19 has finished wreaking havoc across the world, commentators and politicians have started to point fingers and apportion blame for the crisis. So far in the dock we have the Government (primarily Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock), China, the World Health Organisation, the NHS, No 10 political advisors (particularly Dominic Cummins) and the […]

Russian report and the Yorkshire MP who received the biggest donation from former arms dealer Alexander Temerko

Anthony Robinson

Alexander Temerko (pictured, above) has been very generous to the Conservative party, donating a not inconsiderable £1.2 million over seven years, after taking British citizenship. In July 2019, a few days before Boris Johnson was elected Tory leader, Reuters carried a special report about his connections to Temerko and the influence Temerko wielded in the […]

When did the NHS become a charity?

Richard Sadler

Today, the formidable Captain Tom Moore – the new celebrity of the coronavirus crisis – will open the Nightingale hospital in Harrogate, having raised an astonishing £26m for NHS Charities Together doing laps of his garden with a mobility walker. The event will be watched by millions of TV viewers. Then on 30 April – […]

Have you heard about Ractopamine in animal production?

Pauline Allon

It’s understandable that British farmers want to export their products to Europe, America and the rest of the world. Already, some 40% of our lamb is currently exported to Europe and the National Farmers’ Union has warned that 25% or more of UK farmers could go out of business in the first year of Brexit […]

Peers call for a public inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Stella Perrott

Fifteen senior peers, including Chris Patten, Bob Kerslake and Helena Kennedy have written a letter to the Financial Times calling for a full public inquiry into the UK’s handing of the coronavirus crisis. They argue that the public but particularly “health and care professions, the medical science community and those who have lost loved ones […]

Green New Deal training event goes online in lockdown style

Jimmy Andrex

Lockdown. 2020’s word of the year. The word that sent us into a toilet-roll stockpiling frenzy. The word which has brought the entire world to a standstill (apart, it would seem, from football in Belarus). Lockdown, which began the week before the first national organising training of Green New Deal UK. One might expect a […]

Brexit negotiations during a pandemic lockdown

Stella Perrott

Stella Perrott considers the impact coronavirus is already having on the UK and EU’s attempt to forge a Brexit deal and the implications for the future. David Frost the UK’s Brexit negotiator reassures us by tweet, almost on a daily basis, that the Brexit negotiations are progressing well. This is in spite of Michael Barnier […]

Scientific authority, whose data counts?

Stella Perrott

The scream of the motos struggling up the hill taking their owners to work suddenly stopped and even the dogs were instantly silenced, with no passers-by to bark at as the Spanish lockdown was introduced. It was immediate, and immediately enforced with loud hailers touring the streets telling people to stay inside. Police patrolled the […]

COVID-19 crisis: UK dogma vs EU solidarity

Professor Juliet Lodge

Why isn’t the COVID-19 crisis presided over by a committee of the wise, people experienced in international politics and crisis management? The easy answer is blinkered attachment to confrontational party politics and the associated dogma. The evidence from our closest European neighbours shows that collaborative, consensus-seeking politics works. The Dutch government called on a previous […]

Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up

Anthony Robinson

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently warned that the economic shock from the present coronavirus pandemic was already bigger than the financial crash of 2008–09. It means we are almost certain to be looking at another ten years of austerity at least, but this time on steroids. Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general, […]

Think tanks: a malign influence on the media

Anthony Robinson

Before the referendum, figures about the cost or benefit of EU membership were dropped like cluster bombs by both sides until everybody was completely shell shocked and confused. The one that resonated and stuck was the £350 million a week painted on the side of the red bus. It was perhaps the most famous but […]

Brexit’s great repeal mystery

Anthony Robinson

Brexit was billed as taking back control of our laws but the government has still not published a list of EU laws they want to repeal After the transition period Boris Johnson will be free to tinker as much as he likes with a whole new section of the British constitution, called retained EU law. […]