Section: UK

The glass ceiling hasn’t been smashed but it is fracturing

Stephen Lambert

As the psychologist Jussin (2017) notes girls’ low-take up of STEM-based and IT subjects has less to do with ability or discrimination than the fact that girls who excel at maths/science are as likely to be good at humanities based subjects. Young women she concludes are ”better all – rounders, but too few of those who are good at science choose it as their specialism post-16.”

Will todays parliamentary debate be the first step in preventing people with Long Covid believing they are forgotten and left behind?

Carol Westall

“There is nothing mild about Long Covid. Take Jane. She emailed me to say she’s 32, and was previously healthy and fit. Not your stereotypical person ‘at risk’ from coronavirus. Long Covid has affected her since April. She now has neurocognitive and mobility problems, and has crushing fatigue. Her partner, she told me, “has essentially become a full-time carer”. She’s not unique, she’s not an outlier – lots of people like Jane have emailed me.”

Roads to re-entry Part 2: What is needed to rejoin?

Colin Gordon

The Union would not, in my view, insist in its criteria for UK re-entry on setting the bar of virtue impossibly high. It would make a pragmatic judgement weighing the benefits and risks of UK membership in a range of domains from military and scientific capacity to cultural creativity, governance and accountability.

“Disabled and ignored”: the reality of Long-Covid

Carol Westall

Long Covid can destroy the quality of life, the ability to walk, work or eat without difficulty. It presents as a range of different symptoms suffered by people weeks or months after being infected, some of whom weren’t particularly ill with the virus in the first place. Fatigue is the most common problem, but breathlessness, a cough that won’t go away, hearing and eyesight problems, headaches and loss of smell and taste have all been reported.

Covid-19 vaccines: efficacy and safety

Giuseppe Bignardi

It is too early to say what is the most effective vaccine. None of the vaccine studies have yet been completed and we do not know what the efficacy is in the long-term or in relation to virus variants or in specific sub-groups such as immunocompromised patients.

The Brexit deal is bad news for North East England, but does it also offer a ray of hope?

Will Sadler

“Their biggest concern is that we end up in some kind of position where we’re not aligned to the European Medical Agency, we’re not aligned to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US, in which case, there are significant barriers to selling their products in (both) those markets. And that that’s a scenario which is absolutely awful for business.”

The fact that countries tend to trade most with those geographically closest to them suggests to me that despite the UK’s new-found freedoms, in reality we will remain closely aligned to EU rules.

“Every breath you take”

Carol Westall

“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every time you ache
Every sound you make
We watch over you….
Oh don’t you fear, ICU is here
When your poor heart aches
And your life’s at stake…. “

Now is not the time to undermine the government’s Prevent strategy

Stephen Lambert

Of course, strengthening surveillance is crucial. But the government need to take steps to better engage groups in anti-radicalisation measures delivered through a multi-agency approach. Central government is conducting a review into Prevent to help shed its ”toxic image” amongst some sections of the community. One important way to tackle potential radicalisation is through education and training.

Urgent essential actions to alleviate family poverty on Tyneside and in the North East

Sally Young

Over four million children nationally are now affected by child poverty. This is unacceptable. Moreover, help to give every child the best start in life is diminishing. It is true that funding has been provided for free childcare for children aged three and four and also for some two-year olds although not all can access it as there is insufficient provision for what is needed

The South Sea Bubble scandal: is it relevant in today’s politics?

Jackie Taylor

The bubble burst in 1720. The shares became irredeemable, and even banks and goldsmiths that had invested began to suffer and fail due to their inability to call back loans made from stock. Many of the claims made to investors, who by then were losing money hand over fist, were now considered to be fraudulent,– suffice for Parliament to be recalled in December 1720 due to deal with the crisis and outrage.

Goodbye to Berlin

Robin Tudge

Finally on a beautifully hot July afternoon I finished the novel. The next few hours I wandered around Kreuzberg, hearing the explosive cheers, then jeers and woe, from the locals packing out the bars as their team crashed out of the World Cup, while my initial elation slumped into a fatigue that saw me beered up, sprawled on a sofa in an all-night bar near Tempelhof, muttering ‘I just finished a novel. A f****** novel.

Political lessons from the Bard: musings on the Scottish play

Nicola Tipton

New Year’s Day, 2021. Boris has it all. Brexit done, a deal, and the premiership – just as ERG, Cummings, Farage etc wished for. Certainly a ‘weird’ alliance. Many of whom, having wreaked their havoc, have also vanished into thin air the ‘bubbles’ of the earth, or in their case, hedge-funded, tax avoidance futures with back up European citizenship and their concerns moved. Some to Ireland.

Bridging the UK’s ethnic and social divide

Stephen Lambert

The widening gulf between rich and poor in our capital city and elsewhere in the nation’s urban cores has undermined the sense that there’s a notion of a common way of life. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described London as a ‘tale of two cities’ shortly after the Grenfell Tower fire. Others have pointed to the sharp rise in radical Islamic home-grown terrorism in London and Manchester alongside far-right white supremacist violence resulting in the murder of the ant-racism campaigner Jo Cox MP.


Asian Dub Foundation – a force for solidarity and internationalism

Ade JBones Van Vliet

Emerging as a sound system concern and then band, Asian Dub Foundation have fused a wide variety of music styles (including, dub reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, punk, ragga, electronic and traditional South Asian genres), in a highly original, dynamic and incendiary manner, that has won them plaudits for over two decades. Seen as one of the most exciting of all live acts during this time, ADF, though not one dimensional or simply a ‘political band’, were never ones to shirk from tackling contemporary issues head on (capitalism, exploitation, racism, domestic violence, climate change…). One of their members even refused to accept an MBE some years back.

Dissolving into nature: an antidote to excess

Nicola Tipton

Squelching through mud, straightway the wood embraced me. Filled me with its magic; light filtering from the sun, low in the December sky. Chased away my troubled early dreams. Ears strained to hear the whispering wisdom of the trees … splendid in their nakedness… above white noise of distant traffic. Constant now, unlike April’s lockdown. M25. Where are all those people essentially travelling to? Small birds sing unseen and a crow calls.

Poetry Corner

New year’s wishes

Harry Gallagher

That everyone could see
we are all ants scurrying
round the palm of a sometime
benevolent mountainside.

“Look after our star” says North East for Europe

Jane Neville

While we are pleased we are not leaving the EU without a deal, the one that has been struck is not a good one. For example, businesses will still be hit hard with costs and delays from customs checks. We were told that leaving the EU would cut red tape, however, this appears not to be the case. We will continue to exist as an organisation to hold the government to account for their promises over Brexit. The EU gave the North East twice as much money per head than the rest of the country – we cannot believe this will be replicated by the government despite Johnson’s claims of levelling up the North East.

Are English grammar schools the engines of social mobility?

Stephen Lambert

Grammar schools were designed for that quarter of the population deemed ‘academic’, and secondary moderns for the rest. Selection was based on an IQ exam, the 11-plus, the brainchild of Cyril Burt, the psychologist. Passing the 11-plus was the visa to the local Grammar school. The system lasted till the 1960s when a number of left-wing intellectuals, including Tony Crosland and Michael Young, called time. The system wasn’t working. The time was right for the ‘comprehensive revolution’. In 2020, most young people in the region go to their local high school.

The democratic deficit behind Boris Johnson’s policies

Giuseppe Bignardi

The 2016 referendum on our EU membership was intended as an exercise in democracy, but it failed in many respects. The reality of our EU membership was compared with a nebulous Brexit project: many UK voters thought they were voting to retain a close relationship with the EU as Norway has. After a 51.9% majority in the referendum vote, an ideological minority has taken control of the Conservative Party and is imposing a hard Brexit.

Cardiac Arrest: an international rescue in the ‘heart’ of London

Peter Benson

John and I talked dozens of times over the following hours and days, has the pub or police called, is she still alive? We did not know but as the hours turned into days and the days into weeks, we were confident she was still alive and the stress started to ease away. We never got the call or a letter in the post.

Anti-Semitism may be seen as a feature of the far left but it has manifested itself in Britain’s far right

Stephen Lambert

Since 2009, Newcastle has witnessed a number of far-right protests, led by organisations such as the EDL, Pegida, National Action and North East Infidel, which at their peak attracted 1,500 demonstrators. In Gateshead anti-Semitic hate crime is at a high according to a report by the Community Security Trust. In 2017 hate crime in the Newcastle increased by 68 per cent compared to the previous year, with racial and faith-based offences making up 82 per cent of all hate crimes according to the 2017 Safe Newcastle report.