Section: UK

A renaissance of affordable homes is needed in the North East

Stephen Lambert

One striking exception to this was the ‘Byker Wall’ development in 1968 to 1982 – a block of 620 maisonettes with colourful architecture and sensitive landscaping. Five years ago the estate was transferred to the Byker Community Trust and has £20m investment since 2012. It won an award in 2017 – ‘Best Post War Neighbourhood’ at the Academy of Urbanisation.

A mind to extend?

Colin Gordon

The tale is that stories, or scares, about possible attempts to extend the Transition have been coming out of the ruling Vote Leave faction in the centre of government. This faction, or some of its members, have been having an internal soap opera/meltdown moment and (ostensibly) losing some key personnel to the grey area of ‘working from home/gardening leave’.

‘Good Trouble’ for the international day of the child

Julie Ward

Children growing up in post-pandemic, recession-hit Brexit Britain will have many challenges as they face a shrinking job market, mounting debts and a future cut off from their European peers, denied the right to travel, work, live and fall in love across a union of what was 28 different countries.

Poetry Corner

Underworld

Judi Sutherland

At night, when the last train rumbles to the depot and the piston-draught dies down, the night shift keeps its silent hours; cleaning, repairing, watching CCTV screens of empty platforms, shutting down electrics with a key; trackwalking near Stockwell, where an engineer holds a Tilly lamp – he died in 1950 – and cowled monks […]

Review

‘Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods’: a reflection

Anne Yvonne Gilbert

If you haven’t read it, Uwagba’s purpose in writing was to “sum up the tithes of co-existing with whiteness”. Fair enough, if I was black I’d be shouting too, but then she goes on “I just wanted to communicate the burden of whiteness, the mental and emotional trauma. This burden is placed on black people by the “progressive, liberal people that I interact with.” Wait a minute! The progressive liberals fighting racism and injustice in all its forms? Those liberals?

Protest at the Port of Tyne on the eve of deadline for Brexit talks.

Louise Brown

“With the EU summit on 19th November being seen as the deadline for a draft Brexit Deal, a protest took place at the Port of Tyne. This was to highlight the difficulties we will face importing and exporting goods into and out of the UK, if we crash out without a deal or if a bad deal is secured. We cannot necessarily rely on a trade deal with the US either to bail us out because Biden has stated for this to happen the Good Friday Agreement needs to be respected which is not scheduled to happen with the Internal Markets Bill. With less than 50 days to go before the transition period ends, let us not forget that the North East stands to be the worst affected by a No Deal Brexit.”

The secret diary of Dominic Cummings, aged 48 1/2

Alistair Cowan

Later on, me and Lee went and had a smoke in the No 10 bike shed and talked about what a sissy BJ is hanging around with soppy girls. Lee is great. He’s dead hard. He showed me the flick knife he smuggled from his school trip to Boulogne.

Escaping the plague in the ‘otherworld’: a journey to Skye

Robin Tudge

So hitting the islands was very welcome. Off Mull, we watched seals watching us aboard a whale-watching boat tour, that took in Minke whales blowing and breaching, porpoises shyly showing their fins, and leery dolphins. We were treated to the whales, dolphins and flocks of seagulls and gannets cooperating to massacre a shoal of fish, the whales going deep to herd the fish to the surface, the dolphins corralling them, the gannets dive-bombing into the water at 60mph.

Resisting the far right in the North East

Stephen Lambert

There remains a real danger that UKIP or even Nigel Farage’s re-launched Brexit Party into the new Reform Party could become more racialised. If Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy and programme fails to deliver in the North and Midlands, these parties could enjoy a future resurgence in the region’s urban towns and coastal communities. They already hold a number of council seats in both Hartlepool and Sunderland, and they polled well in local elections in Newcastle’s east end.

The UK’s political generation gap is bigger than ever

Stephen Lambert

Age apartheid, with a generational divide in voting habits and political attitudes, has become a feature of post-Brexit Britain. For Stephen Burke, director of the think tank United for All Ages, the UK is increasingly divided by age and generation. The UK has an ageing populace. In 2020, the over-65s numbered 12.2 million, exceeding the number of those under-18.

Opinion

Johnson’s Groom of the Stool skips out of no.10 …

Scott Hunter

Witness, for example, the hesitation of the government earlier in the year to initiate a lockdown. Did we hear cautionary voices saying “the British will not acquiesce in this, they love their liberty too much”? (you certainly found them in the Spectator). But when the lockdown came, people just got on with it, clapped along, and failed to rebel at all (at least not until the famous incident at Barnard Castle.) So, when people started to become cynical about lockdown, who was behind it?

Kindness breeds kindness

Daisy Windsor

It doesn’t matter if you missed World Kindness Day. It can go on all year. And kindness really does breed kindness. It is infectious in a good way, and it makes the giver of kindness feel so good. It really is win-win!

Poetry Corner

Littlehampton

Alex Corrin-Tachibana

We called you Auntie Anne in Worthing, 2 hours away, by the sea. I owe you a letter. I have one of yours from 2014, you’d been to The Nutcracker with the ladies from choir, had a Chinese, and were keeping busy because you have to keep going don’t you Alexandra? You’d say. Letters, about […]

UPDATED

How low will Jenrick go? UPDATED

Peter Benson

The public accounts committee (PAC ) of MP’S issued a highly critical report on the actions of Mr Jenrick on the 11th November with the chair of the PAC suggesting that the distribution of funds gave “every appearance of having being politically motivated “

Carbon capture: where there’s green there’s gold

Julia Mazza

Then there’s the politics. Tees Valley’s Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen has claimed ownership of the CCUS idea, a handy way of shoring up support for his new mayoral role. The South Tees Development Corporation has no Labour representatives on its board. After the May 2019 local elections of the five member councils – Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Darlington – the Labour Party controls no council outright.

A real living wage is good for both North East workers and employers

Stephen Lambert

6,500 British employers now pay their staff the Real Living Wage of £9.30 an hour including Newcastle and Sunderland Councils. The implementation of the RLW has benefitted 1,200 city council employees. These staff are primarily based in schools or are ancillary workers, such as cleaners and cooks. Most are £1,100 better off as a result of this pay policy.

A writer in Covid times

Peter Lathan

There’s very little happening in theatre – but just wait five minutes for that could change at any time as the government keeps changing its mind, knee-jerking to everything that catches our masters’ attention – so news and reviews are very thin on the ground, and as for writing new plays…

Logics of corruption: the UK state response to the Covid-19 crisis

Colin Gordon

A common theory is that the disaster of Covid-19 suits the UK Brexit regime’s interest by distracting from and/or explaining away the disaster of hard Brexit – a kind of a gigantic diversionary narrative or ‘dead cat’ tactic. This could, incidentally, imply that the regime has no particular interest in managing the pandemic, as long as it can avoid or divert blame for its failure.

SMART Lockdown 2.0?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Education is important and must continue. But extending the half term holiday from one to two weeks would have been timely, achievable and provided a useful firebreak, possibly followed by specific, more realistic policies to suppress infection in educational settings when they reopened. For example, some countries have mandatory face coverings in classrooms and have adopted school rotas for pupils above the age of thirteen, as advocated by our National Education Union.

The welfare state’s forgotten army?

Stephen Lambert

The notion that the ‘family’ no longer cares about its older kin and has abdicated its responsibilities to the state is misplaced. Pre-industrial society is often portrayed as ‘The Golden Age’ of the family and ageing, when older relatives were respected and cared for by their own families. The assumption was that people lives in ‘extended’ type families. This is a myth.

World War 1 ended 102 years ago: we won the war but not the peace

Giuseppe Bignardi

The reality of the subsequent peace treaty turned out to be different and the German perception of betrayal contributed to the rise of Nazism in Germany and to WW2. What really destabilised the new democratic German Republic was the imposition of exorbitant war reparations onto a country with a devastated economy and a starving population.

Poetry Corner

From Peterloo to Tolpuddle

Harry Gallagher

From Peterloo to Tolpuddle, Jarrow to Orgreave, there’ll be no further uprisings today sir, we read the press, know what to believe. The daily tales spin an almighty weave about who’s to blame, wouldn’t you say sir from Peterloo to Tolpuddle, Jarrow to Orgreave. We’ve learned when to smile, when to grieve and follow our […]

Know your rights

Julie Ward

The attack on our rights can be seen in a global context whereby a plethora of rights are under attack from right wing illiberal governments. However, that this should be happening in 21st century Britain is a shock for many who always thought the UK was less prone to the populist agenda of ‘taking back control’ regardless of the self-harm that might be inflicted and the freedoms and progress that might be undermined.

Opinion

Would you pay for a hug?

Peter Benson

How sad it is that real people and human interactions have been left behind in the need to shelter or shield from Covid-19. And how distressing to hear relatives talk about being denied a visit to their loved ones in a care home where a familiar voice or a song can bring back such happy memories.

Revisiting the Youth Training Scheme in the North East

Stephen Lambert

Falling profits, automation and the demise of heavy industry meant that the number of new jobs was shrinking in the region’s manufacturing industries. By 1981, the number of apprenticeships had halved since the mid-1960s peak, when over a quarter of male school leavers got an apprenticeship.