Section: UK

Artists rain on Dowden’s Glyndebourne parade

Jimmy Andrex

Culture secretary enthuses about champagne picnics while artists try to work out how to make a living. Forget the grassy knoll, 9/11 or the outbreak of WWII. Can you remember where you were when Oliver Dowden announced that “music lovers can attend Glyndebourne this summer”? This writer still has lacerations of the throat from choking […]

OBR forecasts government borrowing to hit £385bn this year

Anthony Robinson
bank blur business buy

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) released its latest fiscal sustainability report for July 2020 yesterday. The report was finalised before the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yet more spending measures, so the figures were out of date even before the report saw the light of day. The OBR was set to forecast that government […]

Masking the real problem for Boris Johnson

Jane Thomas

The belated news that wearing face masks is so important that we have to wait another ten days before it comes into force is another example of how we are being played by this government. Interviewed by Andrew Marr last Sunday, Michael Gove said he did not think face coverings should be compulsory in shops […]

A perfect storm for predatory marriage

Daphne Franks

In May, I wrote an article for Yorkshire Bylines about how my mother, age 91, was found after her death to be married. A man 24 years younger had married her secretly, five months earlier. Although she lived next door to us, none of her family or friends knew of the marriage. Even my mother […]

Smash ‘n grab apps

Hecate
facebook application icon

In the land of smash ‘n grab, the prime minister packed the final box of champers and truffles to send to his chums. This was the signal to pop off on their hols now he’d finished playing whack-a-mole with public services and outsourced just about every public contract and asset he could lay his hands […]

Gove’s new border plan: the longest suicide note in history?

Anthony Robinson

The long awaited border operating model was published yesterday to coincide with Michael Gove’s statement in the House of Commons. It sets out in gruesome detail how the import and export of goods to and from the EU will take place from 1 January 2021. At 206 pages it’s far longer that Labour’s 1983 manifesto […]

Check Change Go (and the Farage Garage)

Jane Thomas
woman sitting on luggage

There are 170 days until we leave the EU, and just five working days left before MPs go off on their summer jollies. Those with any sense may want to think about using their vacation to visit the EU now (quarantines permitting) before the unprecedented travel measures kick in from 1 January next year. To […]

York MP seeks to deregulate gene-edited crops without scrutiny

Claire Robinson

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, has proposed an amendment to the agriculture bill that will deregulate the gene editing of crops and foods. He suggested the amendment in a letter at a late stage of the bill’s progression through parliament, when it was being discussed in the House of Lords – thus bypassing the […]

National Audit Office to investigate £15bn spend on PPE

Anthony Robinson

There is a growing sense of disbelief at the revelation by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week that the government has approved £15bn in 2020 for PPE to protect frontline staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody begrudges health workers being provided with the right PPE to keep them and the patients they are treating safe of […]

There’s no ‘I’ in the real dream

Mo Kanjilal and Susie Courtault

In the social movements of the 21st century, collaborative women are showing the way. Social movements in history have usually been centred on a charismatic male figure with a famous quote. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is a leadership speech full of hope and inspiration on posters on many students’ walls. Think […]

Bursting the education bubble

Dr Pam Jarvis

Alongside the rest of the world, the English education sector is now beginning to consider how it will move out of pandemic lockdown and into a new, tentative phase of normality. The tiger has been chased off into the jungle, but it is still lurking there, and may return at any time. The feeling of […]

Why don’t they say sorry?

Robert Ellson

Let’s give the prime minister the benefit of the doubt. Don’t worry, it won’t be for long. Just one paragraph. Bear with me. Let’s say that he wasn’t trying to blame care workers. Let’s say that he meant that no one knew the correct procedures for care homes to follow. Let’s acknowledge that if you’re […]

The BOGOF chancellor

Jane Thomas

“The final measure I’m announcing today has never been tried in the UK before. This moment is unique. We need to be creative.” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday in his summer statement. And with that final flourish he announced the latest BOGOF (buy-2-get-1-free) scheme to hit the high street. Promising discounts of up to […]

Leicester lockdown: government information inadequate and misleading

Helen Davidson

While the rest of the country enjoyed the easing of lockdown across England on 4 July, Leicester remained closed following an announcement by the secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock on 27 June. This followed a reported upsurge of cases with 658 being recorded in the week beginning 16 June, 10 per cent of […]

Black people don’t ski!

Joel Baccas

My grandparents came to England from Jamaica in the mid-50s. Grandad came first, attracted by the call “your queen needs you”. Although his name was Bevat Baccas, he was given the name of Arthur Dougall on his passport. This was the name of the sugar plantation owner where he worked, a remnant of the way […]

Tasty chemicals: is your food safe?

Andy Brown

There aren’t many companies in the world that would pay out ten billion dollars in compensation if there wasn’t a problem. Yet that is how much the giant German drug company Bayer is reported to have agreed in order to settle claims made by users of products containing glyphosate in the USA who believed it […]

Collateral damage: the plight of the excluded

Anthea Simmons

“You have not been forgotten. We will not leave you behind. We are all in this together.” So tweeted Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer at 17:56 on 26 May. Sounds nice, huh? What a shame that it isn’t true. Some 3 million taxpayers, at a cautious estimate, feel utterly forgotten, completely left behind and […]

Lord Dom of Mordor

Hecate

Never, never apologise! Sorry? The word isn’t in the prime minister’s lexicon and he wasn’t about to start by wiff-waffing around with apologies at prime minister’s questions before the hols. He’d thrown a cordon sanitaire around him and his crew. He was fed up with clapping the NHS, ready instead to clamp them for not […]

PPE procurement: the government responds to legal action

Anthony Robinson
woman in yellow protective suit wearing white face mask

The government has hit back against Jolyon Maugham’s pre-action protocol letters issued in June against Health Secretary Matt Hancock concerning multi-million pound contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) awarded to Pest Fix Ltd of Littlehampton and Clandeboye Agencies Ltd, a chocolate wholesaler in Antrim. Maugham challenged their lawfulness on the grounds that there was no […]

Grappling with chronic pain during the pandemic

Frances Cole

Co-authored with Dr Kristy Themelis of the WITHIN team at Warwick University. The main priorities of the government and health services are currently aimed at preventing the spread of the virus and protecting our health from Covid-19. Meanwhile, chronic pain is one of the biggest health issues not just in the UK, but around the […]

Sunak’s magic money tree

Jane Thomas

A lot could still go wrong, but this an opportunity to do the right thing with more honesty, transparency and attention to detail. It remains to be seen whether Sunak will grasp this opportunity.

It’s parliamentary democracy, but not as we know it

Lord Newby

Faced with a government that combines incompetence and ruthlessness in equal measure, preventing damaging public policy decisions won’t be easy. But the only alternative to letting them get away with things is to do nothing – in parliament or outside it. For many of us that is simply unthinkable.

Government approach to Brexit legislation lacks scrutiny

Jacob Millen-Bamford

The government is looking at a ‘to do’ list longer than the River Don, with its 31 December deadline looming ever closer. To tick things off this list it is pushing through legislation that specifically empowers its ministers to avoid extensive scrutiny. In the process, it is excluding elected MPs (be they the new ‘red […]

EU covid response: solidarity in action

Juliet Lodge

Can the UK afford to ignore what the EU is doing on Covid-19? Or will it gradually try to join in with its ambitious plans for the future? Opening pubs at 6am was another U-turn for the government. But it didn’t deflect attention from it casually letting drop that the UK would participate in EU […]

The fracturing of the union

Jane Thomas

Something quite profound was published at the weekend that largely went unnoticed in England. Maybe some people were just nursing the mother of a hangover while others were just thankful that Super Saturday was over. But what’s happening in Scotland should be one of the biggest political stories in Britain right now and it’s barely […]

Farmers need access to good research and reliable advice

Natalie Bennett

Farming requires a huge number of skills and a vast amount of knowledge, all of which needs to be continually updated and revised as the environment – physical, legislative and market – changes. If you think about what the job description of ‘farmer’ involves, it runs the gamut from pharmacology to mechanical engineering, animal behaviour […]

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