Section: UK

Hen Harrier Day highlights the lifelessness of our landscape

Natalie Bennett

I’ve never been lucky enough to see a hen harrier. The closest I came was on Hen Harrier Day 2017 at the Rainham Marshes in Essex, when a marsh harrier came to patrol the wetlands, where hundreds of fans were listening to Chris Packham, Mark Avery and many other wildlife luminaries. The bird was, of […]

Brexiters want Johnson’s oven-ready deal sent back to the kitchen

Anthony Robinson

Iain Duncan Smith is the latest Conservative Eurosceptic MP calling for the Withdrawal Agreement, negotiated at the last minute by Boris Johnson and his adviser David Frost, to be scrapped, thus giving a new twist to the old adage about doing something in haste and repenting at leisure. In his case, having voted in favour […]

Corporate control of Britain’s farming after Brexit, and why it matters

Pauline Allon

According to Greenpeace, a small number or US companies control the food industry worldwide, reducing farmers’ say in what is grown and how to grow it and leaving little choice for the consumer. This is industrial agriculture. The US Department of Agriculture defines factory farming as a system that houses more than 1,000 cattle, 2,500 […]

Coronavirus rapid inquiry takes evidence from experts and the public

Juliet Lodge

Is it too kind to describe the government’s handling of the covid crisis as a dog’s dinner? It’s certainly a mess for all manner of reasons: incompetence, over-centralisation, fragmentation of procurement, ignoring public health experts and labs, chaotic and ad hoc reactions, inefficiency, dogma, spin and outsourcing testing to a myriad of private companies. On […]

What happens when ‘the chaps’ are no longer ‘good’?

John Cole

Radio 4 has a most amusing comedy programme: ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. In this, four panellists take it in turns each to spin an amusing yarn that is all lies – except for five truths hidden in the tissue of falsehood. Boris Johnson is clearly a fan of programme and has managed to turn prime minister’s […]

Yeh but, no but let’s be absolutely clear about quarantine

Juliet Lodge
stressed black male entrepreneur working on laptop in park

You know something’s rotten in the state of Denmark when a Lord gets the same money for ‘signing in’ once, as a single person gets in a month on universal credit. In four days, not counting their Lordships’ allowances, their sign-in takes nearly £1m from the public purse, which is filled by anyone paying tax. […]

The government is in danger of being overwhelmed by Brexit

Anthony Robinson

As we enter the final stretch with just five months to go before the transition period ends, and with a second wave of coronavirus already threatening Europe, there are growing signs that serious Brexit problems are beginning to overwhelm the government. The workload is increasing as the time available to complete it is decreasing and […]

“The GMO lobbyist will see you now, minister”

Martin Brooks

The UK is under immense pressure to sign up to US demands on the regulations applying to GMO (genetically modified organisms), as part of the US-UK trade deal. One look at the USA’s commercial commitment to GMO tells you why. GMO technology, often developed by US companies, is embedded in US farming practices and hence […]

Will planning rules derail the Brexit express?

Anthony Robinson

Rachel Reeves, the shadow cabinet secretary, visited the MOJO site close to junction 10A of the M20 at Ashford in Kent recently with the BBC also reporting that construction “began earlier this month” on a “giant lorry park” for Brexit-related customs purposes without local people being consulted. The MP for Leeds West has now written to Michael Gove asking […]

The fat of the land

Andrew Leach

“Eat Out to Help Out”, the government says. A phrase that comes oven-ready with a side order of “Ew”. In essence, it’s a scheme whereby Westminster will pay fifty per cent of the cost of your meal out up to a £10 contribution. So a £20 surf ‘n’ turf will come in at a measly […]

New UK Magnitsky-style human rights sanction regime

Marc Limon and Louis Mason

An important step forward for accountability On 6 July the UK became the latest country to join the growing ‘Magnitsky momentum’ by passing the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, allowing the government to sanction alleged perpetrators of the gravest forms of human rights violations. Introducing the regulations in parliament, the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, […]

PC Andrew Harper’s killers sentenced for manslaughter

Linda Sage

A dedicated police officer had officially finished his long shift four hours before and was on the M4 due to go home, when a 999 call came in. Police constables Andrew Harper and Andrew Shaw responded to the call, with a catastrophic outcome. PC Andrew Harper, who was only 28 years old, was killed by […]

The doctor will thin you now: government announces new obesity strategy

Annabelle Levins
food dinner lunch unhealthy

On 27 July, the government announced a new strategy to tackle obesity in Britain, the so-called “fat man of Europe”. Measures include the introduction of calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, a 9pm watershed on junk-food advertising and a ban on ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deals on foods high in fat and sugar. The new plan has […]

Public health begins at home

George Baker

How often have you left a public loo and thought, “Yuk! That person didn’t wash their hands after using the loo and is now touching their burger”, or worse, picking up food and handing it to children?  And then there are the adults and kids who wipe their noses on their bare hands, touch the […]

Counting on the shock of the new

Andrew Leach

Being in government is like playing with Lego. Or at least it seems to be, judging by the number of times things are taken apart before being triumphantly put back together again. Allied to which is a collective amnesia. It appears that when you’ve been in power for over a decade, it’s fine to forget […]

Decade of dissonance

Javed Bashir

Part one of a three part series on social change The world is different, especially since Covid-19 emerged and a meagre four months ago the global pandemic triggered a lockdown of the UK economy. But the UK has been different since 2010; we have lived through a decade of dissonance and could now face a […]

EU banking watchdog tells British banks: Check, Change and Come – to Europe

Anthony Robinson

As the British government launches its advertising campaign to help businesses and individuals prepare for the end of the transition period, with the inevitable three-word slogan “Check – Change – Go”, the European Banking Authority (EBA) had a message of its own to Britain’s financial institutions. In a lengthy and uncompromising statement published yesterday on its […]

The truth: bending it like Boris

Anthony Robinson

Johnson has been rapped over the knuckles by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) for repeatedly quoting erroneous and misleading figures on child poverty. The OSR is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, and they were responding to a complaint from the End Child Poverty Coalition (ECPC). The story is all over […]

Masking the communication

Daphne Franks
crop man putting medical mask on face of ethnic child

When I explain that my job is teaching student doctors and other healthcare professionals to learn how to communicate with patients, there’s one response I often receive: “But surely that’s just common sense?” Frequently, and without awareness of any apparent contradiction, they immediately follow up the “common sense” remark with an anecdote about when some […]

Select committee criticises coronavirus failures in social care

Dr Stella Perrott
health workers wearing face mask

The government’s “slow, inconsistent and negligent approach” to social care during the pandemic was today (29 July) heavily criticised by the commons public accounts committee. The committee is a cross party group with a government majority of members. The report, Readying the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 peak, notes that the NHS managed […]

Covid-19: early reopening worse than lockdown

Amanda Robinson
bank notes bills cash commerce

It is clear that the government’s preparations for a pandemic were lacking, despite Exercise Cygnus in 2016 which reviewed the UK’s preparedness by simulating a flu outbreak and contained 26 recommendations. It is alleged that the Cygnus report was buried “for fear workers would be alerted to the immense dangers posed by a pandemic”. The […]

Government to create “single source of truth” for border data

Anthony Robinson

Just a week after publishing the Border Operating Model describing how Britain’s borders will operate from 1 January next year, we learn it’s really only a stop-gap measure after the government launched a consultation on creating “the world’s most effective border” in the next five years. Not content with erecting conventional barriers to trade with […]

Only words

Dr Pam Jarvis

In Alice Through the Looking Glass, the child protagonist Alice is introduced to the ways the adult world uses words, by her irascible antagonist, Humpty Dumpty: ‘When I use a word’, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’  ‘The question is,’ said […]

Reuters: “Barnier confident Brexit deal with Britain possible”

Anthony Robinson

Reuters reported within the last half hour that sources in Brussels are claiming Michel Barnier, in a closed-door meeting with national envoys this morning, “expressed confidence” that a deal between the UK and the EU can be agreed. Barnier’s comments are said to be in sharp contrast to the most recent downbeat assessments that he […]

Undermining the rule of law: Buckland, Begum and my son

Liz Webster

I was relieved to hear the recent court of appeal ruling that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return home to appeal the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship. The fact that she has to fight to regain her citizenship is ludicrous and potentially dangerous. If she fails, the repercussions will be extensive […]

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