Category: Politics

Rishi Sunak’s budget ignores the NHS and social care

Giuseppe Bignardi

The government has failed to put together a plan to rescue the social care sector, despite Boris Johnson’s claim in 2019 that he would fix the crisis in social care “with a clear plan we have prepared”. The NHS also needs extra funding to deal with the huge backlog of non-Covid health needs. Rishi Sunak made no mention of either social care or improved NHS funding in his budget statement.

Crap for our carers?

Scott Hunter

The government’s pay award of 1% to NHS staff has received widespread condemnation for its parsimony. There has been further condemnation that workers in the care sector continue to suffer low pay and poor working conditions.

Poetry Corner

1% and a round of applause

Harry Gallagher

For all the zipped-up body bags,
for carrying your country without pause,
for tending all those beds,
for tending to our dead
you get 1% and a round of applause.

Opinion

Histrionics and persistence: Brexit is looking bad

Gareth Kearns

They’re desperate. They’ve been found out. They’re currently riding the unwillingness of their readers, and Brexiters generally, to accept that Brexit is now revealed to be a lie because so many of those very readers are complicit in facilitating that lie, and the consequences for the country are so grave. It’s a particularly potent brew of complicity because it was notions of patriotism and loyalty –in themselves perfectly fine sentiments – that were harnessed and weaponised to spur normal people into this betrayal of country and kin.

“Fair is foul and foul is fair”: lessons from the Bard Part 2

Nicola Tipton

Dunsinane becomes darker than hell itself. The porter declares, “But this place is too cold for hell. / I’ll devil-porter it no further.” Scotland is also increasingly described metaphorically as sick and diseased – just as the UK is, once again, being dubbed ‘the sick man of Europe’. The nation hosts a nightmare Covid-19 scenario, the economy is in a grievous state, and our national debt is eye-wateringly high.

Where’s the steel, tech and green industrial support in yesterday’s Budget?

Jane Neville

The budget missed a golden opportunity to spark a Tees Valley green revolution with targeted investment in future technologies. Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour’s candidate in the looming Tees Valley mayoral election, has joined Ed Miliband to flag up a missed chance to reshape manufacturing, rebalance the economy and prepare Britain for a low carbon world.  Shadow Business minister and former […]

A bright blue future for the Tees Valley?

Scott Hunter

The surprise inclusion of Darlington at the last minute, makes you wonder just what the strategy was. The press and social media response to yesterday’s announcement has been predictable – Sunak picks a site thirteen miles from his own constituency. It’s not so special; there are government departments in other parts of the country, even Treasury ones. And so on.

National service, secret service

Jim Walker

In 1954 all young men had to do two years of national service.  Unless you deferred it (to become an apprentice or go to university) you went straight from school, as I did.  It was a prospect that few relished.  But few went on to have quite the experience that I did. If you joined […]

Opinion

Digital friendships: taking back control?

Peter Benson

The pandemic has had a fundamental impact on millions of people all around the UK and globally. Demand for mental health service is rocketing in every corner of the world and just easing off on your mobile phone is not the sole solution but it’s a great start.

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.

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.

What we have become

Harry Gallagher

My original home town, Middlesbrough, built a couple of hundred years ago from nothing and peopled by outsiders from all over the world who came to work, has been home to many different cultures for as long as I can remember. Over recent years, somehow the football club attracted a fan from London, Yusuf Jama, […]

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.

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.

UPDATED

The end of the British seasonal workers?

Liam Campbell

With the end of free movement, immediately; many people will lose their jobs. But far worse than that, is the fact young people in the future will not have the same chances opportunities I had to experience things which will open your mind to the rest of the world.

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.”