Section: UK

Budget 2021: what we already knew but hoped we wouldn’t need to hear

John Jacobson

In the days before Budget Day, 3 March 2021, various government ministers and the Chancellor continued to give little previews, some tantalising titbits of what might be in the upcoming Budget. It made it seem, as was noted on Radio 4 Tuesday’s PM ‘more like Budget Week’ than Budget Day. Such was the fervour that […]

A missed opportunity for North East children in today’s budget

Daisy Windsor

Today’s Budget was a really important opportunity for the Chancellor to acknowledge the child poverty crisis we have in this country – and to set out a long-term, sustainable plan to tackle this growing problem so that all children and young people in places like the North East can thrive….

“Dammit man, what are we fighting for?”: a paltry £400m ascribed to Arts regeneration in The Budget

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

In real terms £400m is a proverbial drop in the ocean and so our cultural capital as a society is in real danger of ultimately being lost to those who can afford it, be allowed to contribute to it and therefore own it. Without arts or culture our worldview narrows – because they give us the vital experience of knowing thoughts beyond those in our own heads and famously enable us to ‘walk around in someone else’s shoes’ (To Kill a Mockingbird).

The changing face of British holidays

Liam Campbell

As we begin to take the first tentative steps out of the pandemic people’s thoughts are beginning to turn to the ideas of their first foreign getaway in over a year. After such a long and difficult winter, it is no surprise that holiday bookings have seen a 600% surge. However, when guests return to their favourite destinations, they may find their trips feel very different to how they did two years ago.

A stronger constitution?

Dylan Neri

“The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that have any right in it. That which may be thought right and convenient in one age, may be thought wrong and found inconvenient in another. In such cases, who is to decide, the living, or the dead?”

Opinion

It’s about time we all raised our game

Jake Turnbull

I too am an insufferable middle class, North East liberal. And it’s about time we all raised our game. I once heard about a heart surgeon who, talking about his work, said something quite surprising. With his patients, he didn’t worry about whether they would have a second heart attack. Of those that survive, only […]

Brexit and orcas, a ‘whale of a time’ for British sailors

John Jacobson

A survey of members by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) in October 2020 found there would be ‘almost 900,000 UK boaters whose plans will be disrupted by the change in travel rules on 31 December’. Responding to specific questions in the survey, ‘53% of UK boaters boating abroad said they will be ‘greatly affected’ by the limitations of the Schengen rule’.

Covid memorial day

Julie Ward

It is incumbent upon us, the people, to take a lead in honouring the victims of the pandemic. The campaign suggests simple actions on 5 March such as putting a candle or picture in your window, walking to a hill top, sitting on a beach, or just closing your eyes and thinking about those we have lost.

Some yuletide memories

Jim Walker

When the war started, I was only four years old, so I don’t really remember much about Christmastime until about 1942…

A red box letter

Sally Young

This letter is being sent to the current Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in the hope he might pull it out of his budget box next Wednesday 3 March, to make it the foundations for his announcement.

Beware of the freedom-loving rhetoric

Giuseppe Bignardi

It is good to have a roadmap, but is it wise to have dates if we are really going be guided by “data not dates”? Now that dates have been announced, there will be a formidable resistance to change them, regardless of the data.

“A day-to-day battle just to make the new arrangements work”

John Jacobson

During questioning of the witnesses by members of the Committee it was clear that many of the current difficulties were not just teething problems, and could get worse when waivers on import checks and rules of origin expire in about four months. Some current business models were now unsustainable and could not survive.

Music

Sophia’s new single brings her sound to a new level

Yvonne Wancke

Filled with confusion, unanswered questions and mixed emotions, Stay explores the journey to revealing how you really feel. Sophia explains: “the track describes a certain feeling, when you’re in a situation you never want to leave, you just want to forget everything else, lay all your feelings on the table and stay in that place forever.”

Changing the system

Julie Ward

What we can do as citizens is to ensure there is a viable planet for our grandchildren to inherit. “Eat less meat… educate yourself… hold your parents to account… follow the money… Your money is either buying a hotter or a cooler climate,” said Eno.

Opinion

Abolish private education

Jim Walker

Only 7% of the age cohort attend private schools. But 65% of Johnson’s cabinet, 65% of senior judges, 59% of civil service permanent secretaries, 57% of peers, 52% of diplomats and 51% of journalists were privately educated.

A potted history of youth culture

Stephen Lambert

Since the late 1990s we’ve seen a multiplicity of conflicting groups and styles ranging from young people involved in acid house parties with its repetitive beat and new drugs such as blues and ecstasy to Goths dressed in black and white makeup and into art drawn predominantly from middle-class backgrounds. Recently ‘Rap’, ‘Emos’ ‘Skaters and the much maligned ‘Chavs’ as noted by Owen Jones have appeared on the social scene.

Take one leave one: “love in action”

Yvonne Wancke

Take One Leave One (TOLO) is based on a very simple idea. If you need a winter coat (or similar) you take one, if you have a coat to spare you leave one. It is described by the scheme’s founder, campaigner and investigative journalist Stefan Simanowitz as “love in action.”

Panic attacks and anxiety: it’s good to talk

Peter Benson

I never expected that a regular, wintry morning train commute to London Bridge station would see me ending up in the back of an ambulance. This particular morning in November 2018 started like any other work day as I took my 07:59 train, albeit delayed. I got no seat, which was unusual, the carriage was […]

North East People

My teenage years

Jim Walker

From 1945 until 1957 we spent our summer holidays in Wales. At first, my parents hired a cottage called Gaerwen a few miles south of Cardigan and later another cottage, called Gwtws, just south of Fishguard.

Inspiring young women to challenge and call out inequality

Yvonne Wancke

International Women’s Day on 8 March is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme for this year is ‘Choose to Challenge’ with the aim of calling out gender bias and inequality and creating an inclusive world by challenging what we see and celebrating the achievements of women.

Poetry Corner

Kite

Nicola Tipton

From the side hatch,
across the river,
I saw four walkers
on the tow path opposite –
Two couples and a dog-
Standing still in distanced line
their backs toward me,
heads upturned…

Cross border services working group reports to the House of Lords

Kate Bredin

British citizens resident in the EU were protected by the various Citizens’ Rights Agreements (CRAs). They were all assured that they could continue their lives after Brexit in broadly the same way as before. The WA/CRAs did not make good on this promise, failing to protect major rights such as the full recognition of professional qualifications.

Is Britishvolt two timing Blyth?

John Jacobson

On Valentine’s day this month Britishvolt, the investor for the proposed ‘Gigaplant’ car battery manufacturing development for Blyth, professed its love for Northumberland in a Facebook post. The ‘post’ featured in a previous North East Bylines article highlighting the company’s changed affections from its earlier avowed intentions to locate the facility in Wales. The day after, on 15 February, Italvolt announced its plans in a press release for a new 4 billion Euro ‘Gigafactory’ to be built in an as yet undecided location in Italy.

Dear Mr Opperman: an open letter to the Tory MP for Hexham

Carol Westall

The UK has recorded over 3.9 million positive cases of Covid-19; of which more than 15,449 live in Northumberland. This means that, at least 390,000 people in the UK and 1,545 in Northumberland will continue to live with debilitating effects of Long Covid for many months, if not years, to come. Long Covid is the hidden health crisis of the pandemic.

North East People

Unsupervised play

Jim Walker

The window didn’t shatter, so I thought that I had proved my point. But it turned out that I hadn’t. Anne, Peter’s little sister, had been looking out of the window at the time and had got the fright of her life when an airgun pellet made a neat little hole in the pane of glass she’d been looking out of and had shot by her left ear, just missing it.