Section: UK

North East People

“How fragile we are”

Suzy Varty

It’s been a tough few months, but I feel a bit more like myself, and although the country is opening up again the only place I want to go is to the coast.

North East People

“My mammy is famous!”: faces of North East frontline workers proudly displayed on fire vehicles

Yvonne Wancke

Rachel’s daughter Hazell tells people “My mammy is famous!” They even get stopped in the park by other dog walkers asking if she [Rachel] is the lady on the side of the fire engines. When the nation was clapping for the NHS on a Thursday evening, Hazell’s school friends said the following day, “…we were clapping for your mammy last night”.

Should the state fund political parties?

Stephen Lambert

Overall it’s argued this would assist the parties to operate more effectively enabling them to ‘re-connect’ with the public. Declining membership, together with rising costs to fight elections could lead to a ‘slum democracy’ with parties poorly staffed and ill-equipped for government. If parties aren’t funded by the state, they will be funded by single-issue interest groups. State funding would allow UK politicians to focus more on representing their constituents.

Opinion

We talk too much

Peter Lathan

We live in a society in which all opinions are treated as being equally valid, in which ignorance of a subject is thought to be no bar to having an opinion on it, in which facts are what someone chooses to believe rather than something that has objective reality, in which everyone knows everything about everything and believes that everyone else knows nothing about anything.

Poetry Corner

Distraction

Nicola Tipton

Distractionnewsdistraction
socialmediadistractionmoney
distractionfooddistraction
whatifsdistractionfearsdis
tractionnewsocialmoney
distractionwhatifearsdis
iontractdistionraction
DIS …TRAC…TION

Lancing the boil of Tory corruption

Peter Benson

It’s extraordinary that in 2021 a former Prime minister can bring such disgrace to himself, his party, our parliamentary democracy and the nation’s reputation around the world. But it is perhaps a foretaste of what’s around the corner from the current Prime Minister who seems to revel in controversy.

Are referendums past their sell-by date?

Stephen Lambert

It begs the question as to whether referenda are fair or democratic in making far-reaching decisions? Are they merely a blunt instrument that panders to narrow sectional interests which in turn undermines the democratic process? Till recently referenda in the UK were seen as a popular continental device not suited to our nation’s system of representative democracy based on the sovereignty of Parliament.

Finding solutions to anti-social behaviour

Stephen Lambert

Northern working people and their families care deeply about where they live. Issues such as litter, fly-tipping, graffiti, burnt-out vehicles, dog fouling and street crime are at the top of every neighbourhood’s list of priorities. It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to resonate with a London-centric based national government. This is backed up by several […]

New cross-party scrutiny for UK-EU trade

Kim Sanderson

Businesses are certainly being affected. Conservative MP Roger Gale, who sits on the new Commission, said: “The impact of the UK’s new trading arrangements with Europe and the world are being felt by businesses in every sector and communities in every corner of the country. We will be looking in detail at the impact of these deals, particularly upon the small businesses that are bearing the brunt of new red tape at our borders.”

Belfast riots expose old wounds that may never heal

Peter Benson

“All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is race, religion or nationality… Difference is an accident of birth, and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace — respect for diversity.”

May elections special

Clean, green and European: a breath of fresh air

Yvonne Wancke

James Sheerin is keen to bring some fresh air to politics in more ways than one. He wants a real change for the better for his local area and he wants to see this through a pro-European, pro-environmental agenda which will benefit all of us and especially our young people.

Opinion

Why the time has now arrived to make people vote

Stephen Lambert

VOTING is the most basic form of political participation in a representative democracy like the UK. Yet, voter-turn out has declined sharply since the 1950s – about 80% in the 1951 general election, but fell to 66% in the last election. In the Newcastle Central constituency only 56% of those registered to vote did so. […]

The invisible 1.2m British citizens scattered across Europe

Clarissa Killwick

Is it laziness or does it fit the agenda of some editors that readers’ preconceptions could be reinforced by their choice of images? On 6 April, under the inflammatory headline “Expats face hell in EU…”, the Daily Express gratuitously published no less than 4 pub photos to illustrate one article. According to a study on identity carried out by Brexpats founder Debbie Williams, birth country culture comforts are more likely to involve drinking imported tea, (if only we could still get it!), at home, rather than seeking out anglocentric pubs to be with our compatriots. Other than that our tastes are quite eclectic, blending cultures and with a common desire to share them. That, and the number of languages those in the study have between them, suggests a high level of integration, not to mention mobility. Stereotypical stock shots fail to convey any of this and, instead, are pernicious.

Was Jenrick “politically motivated”?

Peter Benson

The Towns Fund was set up to be shared between ‘left behind areas’ all around the country but it would appear that any poverty and depravation in the North East was of the wrong kind. The fund was found to have a clear bias for areas where the local MP was a member of the Tory party.

What’s next?: Part 4 of European Movement conference

Robin Tudge

The movement has to get away from seeing Brexit as this binary moment that split the country in two, “we need leavers to get with us.” And there are ‘stacks’ of Conservative MPs and party members who regret what happened, but who went with the flow seeing no other option, which was and is true for Labour. “We need to appeal to them with practical ideas for the country”: Push for harmonisation over veterinary checks, visa-free travel for certain professions, much greater co-operation on security, and foreign affairs, areas in which the UK Government is “artificially creating barriers to mask our divorce from Europe”. Revive Erasmus. “If we can attract the young, we have a very bright future,” he said, and noted: “There is no permanency in politics, it doesn’t exist. Going into the EEC was not a permanent thing, nor is leaving the EU.”

Poetry Corner

Song of the six million

Harry Gallagher

It didn’t begin with uniform wearers,
armband bearers; that’s just where it ended,
with proud keyholders
to blandly wicked gas chambers.

The myth of inter-generational worklessness

Stephen Lambert

Let’s demolish the myths about inter-generational unemployment and get into a proper serious debate about the nature, causation and impact of long-term unemployment amongst the young, those in late life and old, such as poverty, physical and mental ill-health, social isolation and lack of confidence.

Jobs promise guarantee needed to tackle youth unemployment

Stephen Lambert

For individual young people, there are significant multiple ‘scaring’ effects associated with spending very long periods of time outside education and work. These include a loss of confidence and self-esteem; greater vulnerability to various limiting illnesses, including mental health problems; increased propensity to crime, and excessive use of drugs.

Theatre

Culture Recovery Fund grants (round 2)

Peter Lathan

Arts Council England has announced 2,272 grants totalling £261,582,823 to arts organisations to help them recover from the ravages of the pandemic. Distribution across England w