Section: UK

Wild swimming

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

The swim in the Tyne is all mine, all mine,
no-bodies bobbing about; my time.
Between poppy-splashed fields of wheat,
ancient alders and elders meet,
draping limbs soothe the surface
creating a primitive place,

Newcastle memorial to murdered women

Louise Brown

The horrific Sarah Everard murder has thrown female safety back into the spotlight on the same week the notorious ‘Policing Bill’s second reading was voted through. A bill which fails to tackle violence against women and girls. We all saw the horrifying scenes of the vigil held last Saturday at Clapham Common while the police tried to stop it. Thankfully today was nothing like that and people were given space to reflect on the reality of women’s safety in the UK today.

Why voting in this May’s local council elections is so important

Stephen Lambert

On 6 May 2021 there are a number of important elections taking place across the North East including elections to local councils, a Mayoral election in Tees Valley, a Police and Crime Commissioner election for Northumbria and a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool. There is, however, a big issue in local elections with ‘turn-out’. In 2019 […]

Gagged: a letter to my Tory MP

Nicola Tipton

Protest is, and always has been, noisy. It is annoying. Steven Bray, my friend, is a thorn in the side. He does not swear but says how he believes it is. So do those ‘patriotic’, Johnson loving leavers.

A dark dark day for democracy

Yvonne Wancke

Today parliament voted on the second reading for the policing bill (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill). Amongst a myriad of terrifying possibilities, if the bill passes, this would mean that people could be sentenced for up to ten years in prison for ‘defacing’ a statue, could be stopped from what used to be lawful […]

BREAKINGUPDATED

By-election in Hartlepool as Mike Hill resigns

Yvonne Wancke

Today, Mike Hill, Labour MP for Hartlepool, has resigned with immediate effect. This will prompt a by-election. Mike Hill has been the MP for Hartlepool since 2017. It is believed that his resignation is connected with an ongoing investigation on claims of sexual harassment. A spokesperson for Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party said, “We have been informed […]

North East People

My first jobs

Jim Walker

So commerce was not for me. What next? “I’ll try teaching,” I thought. My brother John was now a vicar and a governor of Staveley Road Secondary Modern School in Chiswick, London. I wanted to see what teaching was like and he got me a temporary job there. (This was when you didn’t have to have a teaching qualification in order to teach; you just had to have a degree.)

What a week to be a woman

Sally Young

The heavy-handed response by the Met Police to the vigil, at Clapham Common, for Sarah Everard, was the leading story on Sunday. Peaceful vigils were held in Glasgow, Nottingham and elsewhere. The awful irony of this was not lost; that the murder of a woman by a serving a police officer, ends up with more women being man-handled by the Police. Sunday was also Mothering Sunday.

Opinion

A morally corrupt government?

Peter Benson

The Chancellor, fixated on his own image and the Prime Minister, preoccupied with paying for an opulent £200K redecoration of his Number 10 flat is only the start. The Justice Secretary wants to restrict peaceful protests and the Health Secretary has handed out PPE contracts to a mate. But the icing on the cake is […]

Nuclear power: at what cost?

Julie Ward

On 11 March 2011 a huge earthquake off the coast of Japan cased a Tsunami that caused devastation to the north east coast of the main island. The nuclear power plant at Fukushima was inundated causing a power failure and a meltdown of three reactor units, resulting in radioactive leaks into the atmosphere and the […]

Opinion

Full of sound and fury, signifying something….

Gareth Kearns

There is an old philosophical thought experiment that you will have heard of. It goes like this – “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This old chestnut persists because it so beautifully demonstrates how language and meaning can impact upon how […]

Find the missing millions

Stephen Lambert

To some experts, the most troubling trend is the drop by up to 40 per cent in the number of ‘attainers’ – teenagers at college or sixth form who are mean to join the register prior to voting age. A generation is in danger of missing its first taste of democratic participation, and perhaps never acquiring the habit of voting. This year’s local, Mayoral and Police and Commissioner elections could have a major influence on young people. The outcome could impact on job prospects, apprenticeships, climate change and finding somewhere affordable to live.

Poetry Corner

Reclaim the night

Harry Gallagher

She came in peace to reclaim the night,
with her sisters, a candle and a thimble of hope,
which wept itself out under flashing blue lights.

Poetry Corner

Ghost apple

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Escaping the final harvest,
haunting a lichen-limbed nest,
the ghost apple hangs transparent
where once branches bent
laden with wanton fruit,
swollen to a pregnant glut.

“Step by step towards rejoin”

Andrew Adonis

My platform as Chair will be ‘Step by Step Towards Rejoin’. Nothing less than rejoining the European Union is either acceptable or practical as our ultimate goal. For Britain’s security, prosperity and influence as a nation we must be full participants in the world’s largest free-trade bloc that lies on our doorstep. But accomplishing this politically in the current climate must be achieved in stages. That is not to be tentative – as anti-Brexit parties and politicians have been over the last year – but to bring as many people as possible with us on this journey.

Recipe

Newcastle (veggie) sausage pie

Yvonne Wancke

I once made this recipe for a friend who came to visit (actually the non-veggie version). He had driven many miles on a motorbike from the south on a crazy wild and wet night. The food went down pretty well! I know it’s a but late for winter warmer food but hey, this is England. […]

Poetry Corner

Worth

Harry Gallagher

Striplight eyed, Eve tumbles out
to mourning’s waking arms,
home to bed’s hollow belly,
the longnight’s deadweight
gushing from her soul
into the pillow’s soft shoulder.

Opinion

Can the North East do a Biden?

Julia Mazza

The Republicans weren’t just beaten by a superior presidential election campaign, but with a four-year grassroots fight to weaken their authority and prevent the Trump agenda from becoming law. With some adjustments we can copy their game plan.

Simply sheepish: year 1

Emily Hunter

Crucially we came up with the concept of ‘sheep made out of sheep’. I’d been going to craft shows for years and always picked up a random needle-felting kit but I’d never come across a kit that made a virtue out of the type of sheep being crafted from its very own wool. I knew very little about sheep despite my grandma having a farm full of them! The pandemic struck and I set to work researching sheep breeds, the qualities of their wool, and which would work together well in a collection.

UPDATED

#No to Hassockfield

Julie Ward

The hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March is #ChooseToChallenge. This hashtag is also behind the rallying cry of a new campaign #NoToHassockfield which has been established in response to the announcement by the Home Office of the creation of an Immigration Detention and Removal Centre on the site of the notorious […]

Women’s detention centre in Hassockfield

Yvonne Wancke

At an online meeting this weekend, residents expressed fears that the women, many of whom have fled from cruel and dangerous situations in their home countries, were to be locked up in ‘prison style’ conditions for 23 hours a day.

Rishi Sunak’s budget ignores the NHS and social care

Giuseppe Bignardi

The government has failed to put together a plan to rescue the social care sector, despite Boris Johnson’s claim in 2019 that he would fix the crisis in social care “with a clear plan we have prepared”. The NHS also needs extra funding to deal with the huge backlog of non-Covid health needs. Rishi Sunak made no mention of either social care or improved NHS funding in his budget statement.

Poetry Corner

Endurance

Nicola Tipton

Two hundred years ago
this February in Rome
Keats died.
Aged 25.