Section: UK

A glimpse down the Brexit rabbit hole

Anthony Robinson

As part of the check, change, go campaign to alert citizens and businesses about the huge adjustments coming down the track in just four months’ time, the Cabinet Office proudly tweeted last week about being “committed to growing the customs sector” as part of the preparations. We are committed to growing the customs sector for […]

Last past the post

Marcus Cain

The UK’s voting system, like many other elements of its democracy, is stuck well and truly in the past. The first past the post (FPTP) system currently used in Westminster and local council elections in England is profoundly undemocratic and the calls for it to be reformed and updated are growing louder and louder by […]

Democracy versus Botox

John Higson

On 19 August 2020 the BBC’s Today programme introduced an item about driverless cars with a 2016 recording of Justin Webb describing how he tried out such a vehicle on the M4. His breathlessly account was, more or less, “I’ve got my feet on nothing, my hands are on the steering wheel, but it has […]

The unholy alliance – it’s only economics keeping the UK united, for now

Charlie McCarthy

Scotland’s a small country, both in terms of its economy and population, though it’s big in ambition and vision. The country’s economic numbers are hard to bear for all those with independence ambitions. The journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil recently become embroiled in the independence debate following a response to a tweet from an independence […]

Failures of leadership: charisma vs delivery

Isabel Ralphs

In a political climate awash with polarisation and populist anger, it is big ideas that are the most likely ticket to electoral success. However, leaders elected on the basis of their ‘charisma’ and promises of big structural change have a tendency to neglect the finer details of governance and policy-making. In the UK, preoccupation with […]

Beyond lockdown: what now for schools?

Dr Pam Jarvis
alphabet class conceptual cube

The debate about returning to school continues in England, while Scotland’s schools have already returned. Boris Johnson claims that there is a “moral duty” for schools to fully re-open in September, but as ever, appears to be covering a lack of detail with his familiar, flowery rhetoric. Some media sources cite psychological problems in children […]

Trussed up farmers

Andy Brown

You have to hand it to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. She can voice two contradictory ideas in one speech better than almost anyone else in the Cabinet. Even when speaking to Yorkshire farmers. So the front page of the Yorkshire Post on 28 August reported her giving an absolute re-assurance to farmers and consumers […]

The bigger picture beyond the exams fiasco

Mary Boothman
happy student throwing papers in air in park

Might the resignation of the chief regulator, Sally Collier – followed swiftly by the sacking of Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary to the Department for Education – draw a line under the exams debacle of recent weeks? I very much doubt it, nor do I believe they should have been the ones to take the hit. […]

Turning hate on itself: raising money for refugee charities

James Dart

On Thursday 30 July, Nigel Farage, having broken the rules of lockdown several times in preceding months to whip up anti-refugee hysteria on the south coast, turned up at the Bromsgrove Hotel in Birmingham to shoot his latest propaganda video in a desperate cry for attention. To date, the video has been seen by several million people […]

Boxed in Johnson given two weeks to save EU talks

Anthony Robinson

The future relationship talks are “reaching the end of the road” and a moment of truth is looming for the prime minister. The Times claims Johnson has been told that he has just two weeks to save the future relationship talks, with the EU refusing to “move forward” until Britain sets out its state aid […]

The housing and planning bill we should have had

Andrew Cooper

The Conservative government’s proposals in the business and planning bill have been justly criticised for being far too developer-friendly, to the detriment of the local environment, climate change, housing standards and local democracy. The bill panders to the interests of big builders and not those of millions of people who need low cost, secure housing […]

UK business survey: more than 80% unprepared for no-deal Brexit

Anthony Robinson

Just how well placed are UK businesses for Brexit on 1 January 2021? A Brexit readiness survey conducted among supply chain managers and published today has revealed a disturbing picture, with just 18 percent of UK businesses said to be prepared for a no-deal Brexit. The survey, with work carried out in July for Descartes […]

Brexit brings the end of an era for UK sellers on Amazon

Lisa Burton

Many may find it surprising to find out that over 50 percent of Amazon’s sales come from third-party sellers who use Amazon’s marketplaces to list and sell their products. Changes coming to Amazon’s European fulfilment services when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December will have a significant impact on many UK and EU sellers. […]


Nigel Adams – leapfrogging backwards


On the surface there is little to connect the son of a school caretaker from Goole with an old Etonian and former president of the Oxford Union. Yet Nigel Adams is one of the loyal band of lickspittles MPs who have stuck close to the prime minister through thick and thin. Johnson I assume, regards […]

Whoops democracy!

Carol Weaver
city view at london

Just like that! Magic! Now you see it, now you don’t. The sleight of hand of this government probably knows no equal. Our prime minister can even make himself disappear for long periods at a time – or indeed be in several places or states at a time, like a Schrödinger’s PM. Note the regular […]

Decade of discovery

Javed Bashir
shallow focus photography of magnifying glass with black frame

Part two of a three part series on social change. Part one – Decade of dissonance – is available HERE. One hundred years ago, there was World War One and the Spanish Flu that killed over 50 million people and infected a third of the world population. In 2020, we have a global pandemic with Covid-19 […]

Our food standards are too important to be left to ministers

Lady Harris
brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime

One of the most important pieces of legislation we are considering presently in the House of Lords is the agriculture bill. During its passage through the House of Commons it was argued that this bill needed to include a ban on food products which were imported to the UK – but didn’t meet our strict […]

Might community learning hubs solve our schooling crisis?

Andrew Milson

Isn’t it amazing how simple many things appear until you really start to look into them? I remember my first time playing on a full-sized snooker table, confidently expecting to saunter round the baize dispatching the perky spheres into the hungry pockets. Maybe, just maybe, my opponent wouldn’t even get a chance to come to […]

“Doomsday dossier” is Cummings’ last roll of the dice

Anthony Robinson

The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ yesterday on the “Doomsday Dossier” is suspiciously similar to the leaking of Operation Yellowhammer details last August by another Murdoch-owned newspaper, the Sunday Times, but with added coronavirus issues. I assume it was done for the same purpose: as a signal to try and convince the EU that the government is serious […]

Assault on our food and healthcare: double whammy from the USA

Martin Brooks

With a US trade deal, the UK faces the doubly damaging prospect of the arrival of both American food and American healthcare products and services. The combination threatens the nation’s health and the NHS’s wellbeing. This is a variation of the good old American win-win, but while America wins both ways, we lose twice. The […]

Slaves to the algorithm: our four-year-olds are next in line

Dr Pam Jarvis
multicolored abacus photography

So, after three days of insistence that their algorithm was appropriate, and following its enthusiastic endorsement by Michael Gove, the Department for Education capitulated and agreed to let Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) stand as A-level and GCSE students’ final grades. However, many questions are left to ponder. The shadow attorney general maintains that in allocating […]

If not an algorithm, economic background will determine grades

Jacob Taylor

The A-level results fiasco is just the tip of the educational inequality iceberg, one which extends even beyond the issue of private and grammar schools, but is nevertheless exacerbated by it. Underlying the broad inequalities we find in our education system is one key ingredient: socioeconomic inequality. We must now quickly learn the lesson that […]

Isolating the imagination: the decline of languages

Dr M M Gilchrist

Amid the furore over the mangling of this year’s A-level results, one statistic stood out for me: only 7,557 students took French. While the numbers taking Spanish rose slightly, those taking German fell by 6 percent. This decline in European languages in state schools is worrying, accompanied also by a decline in the humanities, such […]

Government blunders: learning from the past

Dr Stella Perrott

In their book, published in 2013, The Blunders of Our Governments, Ivor Crew and Anthony King explore 12 examples of government blunders, all of which took place prior to the majority Conservative government of 2015. Their examples are from Conservative, coalition and Labour administrations. A summary of the findings can be found here. They define […]

From crisis to opportunity: is the pandemic the catalyst to reshaping health and care services in England?

Peter Ellis
surgeons performing surgery

Politicians are attempting to blame various Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agencies, for England’s lacklustre performance in managing the pandemic. It is a paradox that such political ‘blame gaming’ highlights what I believe are some of the inherent and longstanding problems that have limited the NHS’s potential. This is exacerbated by misinformation leaked […]

Gavin Williamson has failed his test

Andy Brown
auditorium benches chairs class

Every reasonable person knows that government isn’t easy. Particularly in a pandemic. Making real time decisions when events are unfolding at speed inevitably produces mistakes. Yet the vast majority of the mistakes made in the exam fiasco don’t fall into that category. They were avoidable and there was plenty of time to look properly into […]