“Doing more work on your car then, Tim?” “Nope.” “But – ” “Not this time.” “Quite a few modifications there, though.” “Yep.” “So…?” “Nothing to do with me, Steve.” “Really?” “I’ve learned my lesson…” “That’s great news, Tim.” “…and I’ve got an expert in.” “Music to my ears, Tim. Who is it?” “Spaffa.” “Spaffa??!!” “Yep, […]
Compare the European parliament with the UK parliament. The EU parliament has 705 members, all directly elected by the citizens of 27 European countries. The UK parliament, however, has two chambers – one with 650 elected members, and the other now with 837 unelected members.
In the first of our review series for 2020, Charlie McCarthy looks at the shocking rates of food poverty in the UK. The Trussell Trust predict that this winter will be their busiest period ever and have warned that their figures represent just the “tip of the iceberg, as many people will have been helped by other community groups”.
We have surrendered our sovereign control of football – a sport we invented – to UEFA and FIFA, foreigners imposing their diktats on us. It has always been a problem that matches are overseen by unelected referees, whom we can’t remove (even if the public clearly wants to), but things are going from bad to worse.
John Cole reviews Timothy Garton Ash’s recent article entitled “The future of liberalism”. If we seek to make the UK and the world more liberal, we are, however, batting against hostile bowling on a difficult wicket in fading light. Victory would gain for all a magnificent trophy. And there are no prizes for giving up.
Jane Thomas reviews the impact of the French blockade on UK ports, following the UK’s warning of a more virulent strain of Covid-19 now out of control in London and the South East.
As the clock ticks ominously down, the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has updated EU ambassadors on progress in the trade talks. He told them the latest UK offer on fish is unacceptable. It is a growing sign that Downing Street is making the final concessions needed for a deal.
Isabel Ralphs looks at the increase in waste being caused by the sudden nature of the new lockdown restrictions. Some charities, however, have been successful in turning this would-be waste into meals for those most in need.
For Brexiters the trade talks have always been about achieving a victory over the hated EU. The final high stakes game will be played out in Brussels with both sides intent on not breaching any red lines. But there can only be one winner, as Johnson will soon discover.
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.”
Dr Pam Jarvis reflects on the meaning of the Winter Solstice, as we move from the shortest day and into the light. So, what of our duplicitous government, fractured nation and spoiled Christmas? As the New Year dawns, the time to silence, to uproot and to tear down will be coming to an end, and the time to speak, to plant and to mend will be coming around.
James Powell looks at the latest outbreak of bird flu in Northallerton, Yorkshire, and asks if we need to eat so much meat given the associated risks to ourselves, the planet, and the birds themselves. “A shift towards veganism no longer seems like a utopian ideal, but an effective measure in defending us from further pandemics”.
Charlie McCarthy looks into the decision to award an important new project to London-based Google-owned AI company DeepMind. The project is a significant one for the future of medicine, and may have consequences for a potential UK-US trade deal.
Meryl White’s latest recipe for the Christmas season delves into history, Queen Victoria, and Christmas tradition!
John Grogan, co-chair of One Yorkshire, outlines what we expect to hear in Sir Keir Starmer’s speech in Scotland on Monday. He’s likely to propose a constitutional convention to look at creating a federal UK.
Dr Pam Jarvis summarises the anger within our schools over the government’s chaotic response to the pandemic. Many schools are now shut for Christmas, having just been told they’ll be responsible for delivering testing to schoolchildren in the new year. And this follows months of poor and inconsistent advice.
Lisa Burton writes on the need to confront our worst instincts in tackling racism, particularly in regards to immigration and crime. She gives examples from football coaches to the Church of England and Catholic Church, to show that many still escape the consequences of their actions, while migrants are scapegoated and ostracised.
Sarah Sonne from the Refugee Council, talks about her group’s efforts to champion the basic rights of asylum seekers in the UK. Working to provide food, legal aid, and basic support to those in the most need in the country.
Dr Stella Perrott outlines new changes to the asylum system which make it harder for those fleeing war to come to the country. The new system would look first if there was a “third country” which might accept asylum seekers, essentially gearing the system to send them elsewhere, in a cruel move likely to make lives harder for thousands.
Juliet Lodge looks at how the European Union is moving its docucmentation processes online with e-visas, and the challenges this presents. “So the new e-visa procedures illustrate the importance to successful policy implementation of ascertaining, anticipating and addressing potential concerns at the outset. “
But now old Father Christmas approaches, smiling and ruddy – no he doesn’t have a temperature, and his indiscriminate appetite for milk, whisky, shortbread and chocolate is not indicative of a loss of taste – and it’s time for us to let loose, relax and have a jolly old jamboree. Much like pater allowed us when the nanny stopped weeping.
The Lords environment sub-committee yesterday heard concerns about the increased paperwork, the lack of vets to sign off health certificates, and the impact on foodstuff with likely delays at the ports. Jane Thomas summarises what was said.
Alex Toal looks into the failure of new songs to break into the canon of Christmas songs. Nothing newer than Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has become a classic, is it because of science, economics, or are modern Christmas songs just bad?
The government spin machine is cranking into gear to sell the UK-EU trade deal to Tory Eurosceptics who are suspicious of anything European, many of who prefer no deal at all. It threatens to be an impossible job.
This petition calls for the introduction of criminal sanctions on MPs who mislead us. It is not acceptable that MPs are able to mislead the public with written or unwritten statements especially when they have influence. Sign it and let parliament debate it. If anything, the end game should be just to make sure that an MP thinks before making a statement.
Jane Thomas looks ahead to Operation Capstone, a dry run for a no deal Brexit, and the problems facing the government. Already companies are bracing for a potential no deal, and Operation Capstone may well reveal significant gaps in the current preparations.
The pivotal role of chief negotiator Lord Frost is coming under scrutiny as the trade talks limp towards the abyss. Johnson is not a details man and there are concerns Frost has not always conveyed a true picture of EU red lines to the PM.
Dame Rachel De Souza has been a controversial character in the education world, since hitting the national press in an argument over whether she had received advance notice of OFSTED inspections. She has also been in the public eye over the behaviour policies, staff management policies and ‘strategic’ exclusions (particularly with respect to special needs) that operated within the schools that she oversaw as chief executive at Inspiration Trust, and for her close links with the Conservative Party.
Juvenal’s latest expose looks at Alexander Stafford, the new MP for Rother Valley. A compliant Conservative backbencher, Stafford has employed the language of culture wars to appeal to his base, while championing environmental reform to the more progressive media.
The last big sticking points between the EU and the UK are ideological and the most problematic as a result. It’s the different outlook between British consumer society and European producer society.