Category: Home Affairs

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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.

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?

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 “

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.

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.

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.

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.

Please sir, can I have some more?

Sally Young

From the 1970s onward, successive governments have pulled back from the state provision of a nutritional meal. Remember “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher”? Usually the dogma was around the Nanny State – though I’m rather taken with David Baddiel’s comment that the ”people who most object to the Nanny State are nearly all brought up by nannies”. The growth of the food industry, junk food, consumer choice and fast food – also the drive of privatisation, reduction of council costs, crackdowns on benefits and the reduction in numbers of those entitled to Free School Meals resulted in a decimation of the school meals service.

Nuclear proliferation is still an issue even when Covid-19 has demonstrated that the real threat to our societies is not an imminent nuclear attack

Julie Ward

On October 24th the tiny Central American state, Honduras, became the 50th country to ratify a new international treaty banning nuclear weapons. This means that the measure will come into force 90 days later, which takes us to January 22nd, two days after the official inauguration of the next President of the USA. The Honduran ratification […]

Opinion

How bad recipes are deflecting attention from truthful debate

Louisa Britain

All in all, I would imagine you might just about be able to cover the full cost of this for ten pounds, if Aldi does sell a small chicken for £2 at all. Not being near enough to Aldi myself to just pop in, I rely on memory, which suggests that £3-4 is more likely. There are utensils to factor in. Do you have roasting tins, a stock pot, a reasonably good knife? Come to think of it, do you even have an oven and a hob?

Let them eat Christmas cake-Tory policy and child poverty

Lesley Anne

How have we come to this is the question I have asked most often in the last week, why is leadership on the most fundamental of issues coming from a young man of 22 with no political experience or ambitions other than to make sure children are fed. I think it’s clear Marcus Rashford’s own experience has given him a deep seated understanding and empathy; he knows what it’s like to be a child who is hungry and to feel the accompanying shame and stigma.

Lucy’s story

Louise Brown

With Lucy’s freedoms curtailed in so many ways she, and many other young people, are certainly having a tough time of it at the moment. With no nights out with friends allowed to ease the pain it’s going to be a long hard winter. Let’s hope Boris Johnson considers this during the current crunch time Brexit talks and gets a good deal for the sake of everybody but especially our young people.

Food glorious food!

Peter Benson

But this food bank, like all others throughout the UK, is likely to see a new surge in demand as furlough ends and new Tier 2 or 3 Lockdowns are announced, causing losses of tens of thousands of jobs. It’s estimated London could lose 200,000 jobs in ‘hospitality’, and hundreds of thousands more are at risk all round the UK. So, a huge crisis is developing as we approach Christmas.

Finished at 55?

Stephen Lambert

Despite the publication of the Augar Review, the last decade has seen adult and community education being starved of resources with the virtual disappearance of ‘night-classes’. Day-time opportunities for older adults to update their skills to become plumbers or electricians have been cut to the bone. Yet, these are things that could help the older unemployed worker get back onto the jobs ladder.

How low will Jenrick go?

Peter Benson

Critics pointed out that relatively prosperous towns such as Glastonbury (low-priority listing) were chosen for inclusion in the Towns Fund publication, but relatively poor towns such as Tynemouth (medium priority listing) were not. For medium-priority towns in the North East like Tynemouth, Sunderland, Seaham and many others, the chance of access to the Towns Fund has not just diminished, it has gone. They have been erased by a centralist, elitist government which focusses solely on the rich and powerful.

Is Britain returning to the Great Depression of the 1930s?

Stephen Lambert

Maconie argues that, 80 -years on, we’re going back to 1930s depression, deepening inequality in material condition and the growth of radical-right populism. It can’t be denied that we’re seeing a widening gulf between the north and south of England. Just as disturbing, we appear to be witnessing a big gap opening up between the cosmopolitan core cities of Manchester and Newcastle and nearby urban post-industrial and coastal towns where’s there much discussion about the ‘white working-class’ becoming marginalised, angry, left out and left-behind.

Enjoy your breakfast!

Peter Benson

We may compensate with a coffee and croissant, or biscuits at 11am, or eat more for lunch as hunger pangs set in, but imagine if you are a primary or secondary school student and this option was not available. Can you learn while hungry? Can you sleep if you are hungry?

Opinion

Mind your language!

Nicola Tipton

Is this acceptable behaviour from a man elected to serve his country? The use of the word speaks volumes and does have at least a hint of feudalism. It demonstrates exactly how some of the elite, public school educated, think of the general public.

What next?

Sally Young

The North East, with its skills and industrial know-how should be at the forefront of a green revolution. As others have already advocated, it has the potential to become an international hub of carbon neutral technologies and wind-related energy sources.

Opinion

Patriotism or Nationalism?

Gareth Kearns

Today, people are quoting Johnson. No, not *him*, not the buffoon. I mean Dr Samuel Johnson. A particular quote. This one: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. And I see what that Johnson was getting at, but most of the people quoting him do not. As Johnson would have been the first to tell you, language evolves. Meanings become nuanced. Indeed, sometimes a new term, a new word, a new reference is required.

Opinion

The North East is NOT (red) wall to wall Tory

Louise Brown

As for the red wall Tories who did get in, their seats could be fragile. We are yet to see any evidence of their promises to ‘level up’ the North East. This, along with a fall in popularity of the Conservatives due to the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis could mean blue could turn red again (or maybe yellow or green of course) in the next election.

Is Sunak leaving you out?

Peter Lathan

When, before the Chancellor’s statement, the Bylines editor suggested I wrote a commentary piece on government policy (i.e. change your mind every few minutes) as it related to theatre I said, “I wouldn’t dare write a political article – I suspect only every tenth word would be publishable!”