Years ago (in the last century) I attended a conference at Lancaster University on arts and the environment where I met ‘artivists’ from Platform, a London-based collective of artists, educators and researchers who were undertaking extraordinary projects such as ‘Unravelling the Carbon Web’, which partly consisted of Platform members walking around all BP establishments including […]
Democracy is not democracy if the electorate does not have a chance to change its mind. I and many others were denied the opportunity to vote in the 2016 referendum simply because of our age.
Government A-Level debacle symptom of incoherent approach to data, and the opportunity this presents the North East
Everything about us is being stored as data and used in so many ways. This can be good for the services we receive as long as the government takes the right steps to protect us from misuse of our data.
This government made 11 U Turns on their own policies in the last 14 weeks. Whilst many of these have been welcomed, why did they get it so wrong in the first place? It does not inspire trust.
Cycling is a way of being considerate to your community, as it reduces pollution. And this is linked to another current issue: there are times when pedestrians and road users would be well advised to wear facial shields such as masks.
What is Democracy? Democracy is about giving the people a say. Not being told what to do, but having their views represented. The conventional way to do this is to have a parliament with people’s views represented by the candidate who gets the most votes in an election. Parliamentary Democracy In the UK, our parliamentary […]
There has been a rise of the far right in the last few years. Somehow it has become the new normal: acceptable and even respectable
We also have wider body language to help us decode how someone is feeling. For example, you don’t need to see someone’s mouth or even hear them speak to know if someone is bored. The fact their body is slumped over with their head in their hand tells us all we need to know!
The head of Ofqual, Sally Collier, has resigned today. This follows the turmoil around the A level and GCSE results this year. Originally A level students were given teacher assessments in place of exams. This was replaced by the use of a controversial algorithm based mainly on two key factors: the student’s prior attainment (in […]
As a kid in Italy in the late 1970s, I fell in love with a country called ‘Inghilterra’. This word translates as ‘England’, but at that age I was not aware of the four countries that make up the UK nor of the political issues amongst them. Inghilterra was the country of my favourite British […]
A personal reflection on a protest On Tuesday 18th August I joined a protest outside Chequers, the country residence of the Prime Minister of the UK. The group was there primarily to draw attention to the Russia Report. So much for taking our sovereignty back! In the words of Dominic Grieve QC, former attorney general […]
As the drama at the heart of Northumberland County Council continues to unfold, the enormity of the potential scandal may yet be revealed in full. It seemed to start when Chief Executive Daljit Lally was unexpectedly put on ’extended leave’ earlier this month. Prior to this decision, Lally had been worried about possible bias from […]
One in three companies expect to make redundancies by the end of September.
We didn’t set out to become Brefugees. What happened to us may well become more and more common as the UK’s Brexit recession sets in.
A contemporary review of Alan Bleasdale’s 1982 television series. Is it relevant today?
Gail Ward is one of the foremost activists in the UK on disability rights. She has an impressive CV when it comes to both raising awareness of the issues at hand, as well as fighting and winning battles on behalf of disabled citizens like her across the UK. She is currently standing for the position […]
Many commentators currently believe that ministers are scapegoating PHE for their own failures.
Today it was announced that the controversial ‘algorithm’ which decided A-level and GCSE grades would finally be abolished. This is a huge U- turn from the Westminster government. The algorithm was initially used as a way of standardising this year’s A-level results and was based largely on a student’s prior attainment as well as a […]
Education should be an essential part of a thriving vibrant democracy. However, on Thursday 14th August when A-level results were released this concept was in question. I had the opportunity to join a student led protest outside both Downing Street and the Department of Education on Friday 14th August. My daughter is scheduled to receive […]
Algorithms have been mentioned a lot in recent days. We hear that it was an ‘algorithm’ that was responsible for the ‘downgrading’ of A level results this year. In fact, there is nothing wrong with an algorithm. Of itself it is neutral. Neither good nor bad. Let’s take a closer look. Firstly, what is an […]
Local residents from the North East held a socially distanced night vigil outside the Nissan factory in Sunderland (Washington) on Friday 14th August at 9.30pm. The group is concerned about the effect of a No Deal Brexit on industry and jobs throughout the North East and particularly at the Nissan plant in Sunderland. Members of […]
On military philosophers and mercenaries Two striking discussions of Dominic Cummings have described him as a ‘mercenary’. The Newcastle social scientist and child poverty expert, the late John Veit-Wilson, commented in the Guardian that “it has long seemed obvious that Cummings was a highly articulate chancer and mercenary for neo-liberal US billionaires.” A reviewer of […]
Schools in the UK have been totally or partially closed since 20th March. This time has not been utilised well to make realistic and sustainable plans for reopening. Boris Johnson has argued that reopening schools in September with full attendance is necessary to restart the economy. He has subsequently put more emphasis on the concept […]
I used to work with a guy who was a fanatical NUFC supporter. So fanatical was he that he claimed to get more pleasure out of Sunderland losing a match than Newcastle winning one. Now we’re not just talking Newcastle v Sunderland games – haven’t had many of those in recent years! – but any […]
Following the statement by Dominic Cummings in The Times on 30th June, that he would like to “take an axe”, to planning laws, Boris Johnson has now publicly stated that he wants to “tear down the system and start again”. Obviously, a reprise of Cumming’s intentions, the result is essentially the same. Either way, chopping […]
The progress of the Agriculture Bill Can No Deal Brexit be averted? Good news. It can! If the House of Lords amendment passes when it returns to the House of Commons in September it may kill off the nightmare of a No Deal Brexit! This may surprise you. I did say “if”, but It’s a […]
Today it was announced that A-level and GCSE students in England would be guaranteed to achieve a grade which was no lower than their ‘mock’ grade. This begs a number of questions. Firstly, how accurate is a mock grade? Many of us have heard countless times the expression “it’s only the mocks”. As one Newcastle […]
Meeting one’s idol at any age is momentous. I met mine when I was just 18 and deeply immersed in local politics in Ireland, during the Summer of 1981. Politics was in my blood and I was active since the age of 16, in County Kildare, Ireland. My political involvement centred around the youth wing […]
On democracy, Brexit and Russian money It can be difficult to have any faith in our current democracy, but I suppose when we compare the UK to Russia or China or indeed some other countries, we might consider ourselves lucky. Democracy is defined as ‘The belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is either held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves’ (Cambridge English Dictionary) […]
During this challenging time, discovering and producing a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine in a short period of time is a formidable challenge, but not the only one. Despite the evident benefits of vaccines (10 million deaths were saved by vaccines just in 2010-2015), the influence of anti-vaccination movements is increasing. However, history shows us […]