Category: Politics

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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.

OpinionUPDATED

The divided states of America: reflections on the election

Scott Hunter

I checked back and found accounts that were full of grandchildren and family gatherings. And, noticeably, short on political messaging. These were people who would be appalled at the idea that they might be seen as zealots for a political cause. These people wanted to convey the impression that their kids and grandkids were their world. Everything else came second. All Facebook users use the medium to project an image of themselves. These were no less valid than anyone else’s.

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.

Tynedale Transformed: the second Sunday throughout winter

Yvonne Wancke

Following its festival launch, Tynedale Transformed is now holding a series of events throughout the winter called The Second Sunday, where they will hold events around a particular issue. The topic on Sunday 8th November is,” From the High Street to the Villages; Keeping our Communities alive”:

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.

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.

You write the songs

Robina Jacobson

Each of the songs in the album contains a truth and a mood of our times. In their different ways they narrate the course of our lives since the referendum in 2016, and what is most remarkable, through their combined wealth of intelligence the artists offer us hope. Listen to ‘Tea with the Devil’ by Rosemary Schonfeld and you will smile at the clever portrayal of an urbane Devil who has pocketed the consciences of Prime Ministers and Presidents, or throw your arms in the air with delight as Mitch Benn sings all the things you ever wanted to say but didn’t dare.

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?

New coronavirus exit strategy backed by MPs, scientists and health professionals launched today

Kate Bredin

The proposed first step, Control, sets out nine measures to reduce the R number (rate of transmission) below 1, including developing an effective national Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) program; improving clarity of communication around measures required; organised clear media updates on local infection rates; devolving power back to local authorities to deal with local outbreaks; and full financial support for anyone required to self-isolate.

Review

The Untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer

Nicola Tipton

It is not a book to be rushed. I read a chapter at a time, and for want of a better word, ‘meditated’ on its contents, let it sink into my mind before I moved on. I did not read more than one part on any single day and sometimes I only read one chapter and spent time trying to put into practice what I had learned, experienced, through the words.

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.

Weardale Railway: an opportunity for a unique community

Owain Gardner

Yes, the railways in 1963 may have been old fashioned and a bit dirty but they provided a space where people could talk in an unhurried environment and also, certainly if you read the references to railways in Howards End, an environment where the whole gamut of life could be seen.

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.

To have and have not: the north’s growing education class divide

Stephen Lambert

The stark reality is to many disadvantaged youngsters living in inner-city wards and the outer-council estates are trapped in over-crowded housing conditions where there’s little space to do homework. Many lack personal computers or laptops – termed ‘digital exclusion’ – a situation compounded by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Je suis Samuel

Julie Ward

the ‘Go Home’ message belongs to the Conservative government. It was the thrust of a Home Office campaign instituted as part of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ which saw the command emblazoned across vans parked in prominent places. State-sponsored xenophobia and ‘othering’ has historical precedence and it doesn’t end well.

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.

Poetry Corner

The Lords of Misrule

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

On the banks of the Thames Between Vauxhall and Ranelagh Big Ben strikes for the masked ball. Welcome to the Pleasure Gardens one and all! A Parliament of Fouls in a world-upside-down, Carnal carnivalesque, Masquerading as government The Lords of Misrule hail Clown Prince Boris, See his gilded masque, bumbling persona, How jolly, how funny, […]