Category: Politics

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!

Observing elections: a tool for democracy

Julie Ward

I was observing the USA elections as part of an international virtual civil society mission under the auspices of Democracy Volunteers. We observed in pairs, applying the ‘four eyes’ principle, attending online events and monitoring media reports. My partner and I were assigned New York State where Covid-19 has been rife since the outset and continued to dominate the headlines throughout the election period. I also undertook some additional media monitoring of the Chicago Tribune, reading on one occasion a concerning report of voter intimidation by a ‘Proud Boys’ flyer campaign near a polling station.

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.

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.