Section: UK

A romp in the park

Hecate

The week before the 4th birthday of the Brexit referendum hasn’t been a walk in the park for Tories escaping lockdown. The now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t prime minister has proved he can remember things after all. After schoolchildren demonstrated how to keep him at arm’s length, he got Father’s Day done and ducked for cover when Prince William’s […]

How to dig ourselves out of an enormous economic hole

Andy Brown

Few people are fascinated by the intricacies of quantitative easing. Which is a shame because how it is done is going to have an enormous influence over everyone’s lives for at least the next decade. As I write, the Bank of England has just announced that it will operate another programme of £100bn of it. […]

Defunding the police

Dr Stella Perrott

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 […]

Food poverty is everywhere in 21st century UK

Jane Dawson

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 […]

Is York’s chocolate industry under threat from Brexit?

Anthony Robinson

The Food and Drink Federation is the latest to come up with a have-cake-and-eat-it plan, this time on rules of origin. They want the EU to change things for this former member, in order to help maintain trade so that British and EU customers can enjoy the same choice and quality as before, as if […]

The politics of knowledge: 21st century poverty

Charlie McCarthy

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, […]

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 […]

Celebrate our wins

Natalie Bennett

Article published 19 June 2020 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 […]

Bxllocks to the red, white and blue

Juliet Lodge

It’s very tempting to ask Antony Gormley how much paint would be needed to cover his 65-foot tall Angel of the North with its wingspan as wide as a Boeing 767. And how much it’d cost to slap red, white and blue on it. No doubt a lot less than the £900,000 for tarting-up the […]

EU parliament: no deal is better than a bad deal

Anthony Robinson

This week the EU parliament debated and voted on a motion approving a 137-page report setting out their “Recommendations on the negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The vote took place yesterday and the motion was given what the EU are calling “unwavering support”, with 572 […]

Bottom-beating Blighty

Hecate

Mid-summer’s eve and the former Australian prime minister’s verdict on UK trade deals couldn’t have been more apt if Bottom had uttered it. Had Malvolio pranced into a Cabinet meeting cross-gartered, no one would have blinked either. The president of the USA didn’t know the UK had nuclear capabilities. The UK foreign secretary, renowned for […]

Eugenics: the Malthus Cummings delusion

David Holden

The announcement that the Department for International Development is to be wrapped into the Foreign Office allows Cummings complete control of its budget. The disbursement of foreign aid has been a contentious issue for many years. In its various incarnations, aid objectives have long wiff-waffed between ministerial ownerships as the political overlords redefined its purpose. […]

What will our transport systems look like after Covid-19?

Jack Walker

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 […]

Government by U-turn

Helen Davidson

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 […]

Has Johnson accidentally thrown Cummings under a bus?

Anthony Robinson

How casually the lie came out. The prime minister told the world at his press conference yesterday he only learned about Marcus Rashford’s campaign to get free school meals extended through the summer, earlier in the day. If true he must have been the only person in Britain who didn’t know and I assume therefore that […]

Remembering Jo Cox

Salli Martlew

“We have more in common than that which divides us.”  Jo Cox is still remembered for these words in her maiden speech in parliament in June 2015. Although tragically she was assassinated a year later on 16 June, her words have continued to reverberate around the country and beyond, from Westminster, to her Batley constituency […]

A very Tory Eton Mess

Hecate

And a very blasé tiger in the tank. After the click-and-collect school of government had run out of bait, it was perhaps unsurprising that the blancmange-like prime minister claimed to have been inspired by an email about bubbles from a constituent. Wedded to his ear-buds and never one to ponder risk and impact assessments, he […]

Reopening schools: Scotland vs England

Charlie McCarthy

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 […]

Marcus Rashford asks the government to find its humanity

Jane Thomas

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 […]

EU parliament turns the screw in deadlocked talks

Anthony Robinson

This weekend the EU parliament officially published the report that was partly leaked to The Guardian recently. It backs Michel Barnier and the EU mandate to the hilt, increasing the pressure on Boris Johnson on the eve of his teleconference today with the three EU presidents. The 137-page report has been drafted by MEPs and […]

The mental health crisis in nursing

Linda Sage

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 […]

Time to drop the silly shibboleths

Richard Corbett

One of the more ludicrous aspects of the ongoing standoff between the government and the EU is the announcement by Michael Gove that, for reasons of “national sovereignty”, it will not countenance the EU having an office in Northern Ireland.  Yet, the USA has a fully fledged consulate in Northern Ireland. So do China, India, Poland […]

Before freedom of movement

Juliet Lodge

It didn’t used to be like this: buying tickets online to travel from Leeds to Amsterdam via Brussels by train with just a passport and euros. Back in the day, we needed travel agents to source tickets well in advance, book Channel or North Sea ferries, point us to the ticket counters in the different […]

Johnson’s next “oven-ready” deal will be another turkey

Anthony Robinson

As the government tries to “distance itself” from the political declaration and “fix the defects” in the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), Johnson’s next oven-ready deal has all the signs of turning out to be another turkey. The reason the WA is not quite right apparently is that they didn’t have enough time last year, according to […]

Trade deals could mean more dangerous pesticides

Anthony Robinson

A new report suggests British consumers post-Brexit could be exposed to larger amounts of more toxic chemicals at the same time as farmers here face a double whammy of low-cost imports produced to a lower standard and the loss of access to the lucrative EU single market. The Pesticides Action Network UK, a charity campaigning […]

Absinthe-induced fantasy island

Hecate

It’s hard to say precisely when the government sold its collective soul to the devil. But it was way before Theresa May did her Faustian dance in the shadow of Cameron, busily bent on decimating decency with indecent speed. Not a shred of honesty remained by the time the government and BBC repeatedly displayed an […]

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