Category: Politics

New batteries from old, or will it be just the same old story for Blyth?

John Jacobson

It is a really remarkable story for a company formed just over a year ago, on 31 December 2019, by one person living in Sweden with no experience of electric battery manufacture and with an initial 100 shares of £1 nominal value each. The company balance sheet to July 2020 … notes that “During the period from incorporation on 31 December 2019 to 6 July 2020 the Company has not traded and received no income….”

Vaccine hesitancy: a need for trust

Carol Westall

“Trust would be improved with local discussions within communities. One example was Bristol and a suggestion of mobile vaccination centres with the involvement of religious leaders and local organisations in discussions. Money could be ring fenced to organisations so that they can create some trust within their care organisations to answer questions directly. She thought that hearing the same message from someone in your community could change someone’s mind.”

Why I didn’t clap for Captain Sir Tom

James Robinson

Free, widely available public healthcare has long been exuded as one of the great successes of British history. However, Conservative rule has left the NHS close to breaking point.
Our health service needs cash, not claps.

Hares and tortoises in the Covid-19 vaccine race

Giuseppe Bignardi

Countries acting individually will not deliver the number of vaccines the world needs (Zosia Kmietowicz in the British Medical Journal on 6 February). Joint vaccine procurement schemes, as used by the EU and the African Union, are slower to set up but ensure equitable vaccine distribution at lower prices.

Child poverty: a matter of urgency

Kate Bredin

Despite the government’s frequent statements on levelling up the country, only 19% of the British public think it is doing all it reasonably can to tackle child poverty according to a new online survey carried out in recent weeks. The survey was carried out by the End Child Poverty coalition, which consists of more than […]

Under the spell of ‘Mr Newcastle’

Stephen Lambert

Historically, we’ve been here before. One variant of this can be seen with the rise of the charismatic town hall boss T. Dan Smith in Newcastle. Dismissed by many as a corrupt politician on the make, Smith is now the subject of an alternative perspective by writers ranging from former Wear Valley Lib-Dem leader Chris Foote Wood and Tyneside historian Nigel Todd.

Don’t say cheese!

Peter Benson

I feel new words coming on to describe the carnage that hauliers and UK business will be facing this year and they’re not pretty words. It’s going to be one hell of an ‘Annus Horribilis’, and those much-promised sunny uplands were just empty promises.

Peace hanging by a thread?

Peter Benson

We all know the history of Northern Ireland but on his last visit there Boris Johnson clearly said there would be no checks on goods imported into the province from the UK. General Election 2019: Johnson insists no NI-GB goods checks after Brexit – BBC News Could this political lie cause the peace process to unravel in Norther Ireland?

Making sense of what’s happening in Myanmar

Julie Ward

The support of the military appears to be the key to everything in Myanmar, for it is a military coup that has now catapulted the country back into the headlines with the announcement of a year-long state of emergency following recent elections which had returned Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s NLD (National League for Democracy) party to power after they received more than 80% of the vote. Moreover, she and other NLD members have been placed under house arrest, a move which has angered much of the population who have begun to protest by banging pots and pans and wearing black ribbons.

Educating the future electorate

Stephen Lambert

Let’s provide space in the national curriculum in the form of citizenship lessons for learning about democracy, democratic processes, rights, responsibilities and justice, and developing all students’ skills sets. This alterative is based on education and intellectual enquiry, not just surveillance – important as this is. For liberal and representative democracy to be real, people need skills, knowledge, confidence and contacts. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, called politics the ”master science” – its purposes being the common good of humanity.

The Scottish creel industry: on the brink of collapse

Diane Morphew

Scotland did not vote for Brexit, certainly not in the case of self -employed skipper Phil from Lochaber who works his eight-metre boat, Jaqueline, usually single-handedly. He works an eight-hour day usually six days a week, landing an average of 20 tons of mixed shellfish per year from around 300 creels.

Opinion

It’s still a man’s world

Peter Benson

By contrast, Labour has put forward 17 male and 17 female shadow cabinet members on The Andrew Marr Show. On Sophy Ridge on Sunday, 18 male shadow cabinet ministers and 17 female shadow cabinet ministers have made an appearance since the first lockdown.

“Never again”

Julie Ward

The narrative that someone else is to blame for our woes sadly continues to this day with politicians increasingly pandering to nativist calls to pull up the drawbridge and look after our own. “Britain First”, “Go home” and “Make America Great Again” are redolent of the calls that preceded pogroms.

Coronavirus: the blame game?

Alex Davison

The reason we were trying to keep infection rates down from the beginning has been to protect the NHS from becoming ‘overwhelmed’, with cases on top of the normal level of patients. But the truth is that the NHS is overwhelmed because it is underfunded in an ongoing effort to privatise healthcare and continue to bolster the pockets of the very richest not only in our own country but also the richest in the world.

Vaccine nationalism or solidarity?

Giuseppe Bignardi

Do vaccines produced in a country ‘belong’ to that country, until all needs of that country have been satisfied? This is the policy of the US administration and appears to be at the centre of the recent dispute between Astra Zeneca (AZ) and the EU.

Opinion

Unruly kingdom

Scott Hunter

In the other small corner, however, what is left of Scottish Labour is in a state of complete anarchy. They know that whatever they do, they lose face. If they support the ballot, there is the prospect of unleashing the wrath of Starmer, the withdrawal of support by Labour in England, and never getting on TV. If they boycott it, they become a laughing stock – once again, as in 2014, when the chips are down, the Labour Party is handmaiden to the Tories.

BREAKING

Farage’s new party gets its first councillor in Hartlepool

Yvonne Wancke

Reform UK, Nigel Farage’s re-incarnation of the Brexit Party boasted today that they had their first local councillor to date. This is none other than John Tennant in Hartlepool: former UKIP member, former Brexit Party MEP and one-time leader of Independent Union. No surprises really. So what is Reform UK exactly? Their website states that: […]

Save the student!

James Robinson

“The lack of social interaction is really difficult. The practical elements of my research were limited by the laboratory being closed, and I lost out on valuable research time. To adjust my work schedule was really challenging, and I have found the entire process stressful.”

Singing to breathe : help at hand for Long Covid

Carol Westall

People with Long Covid will be taught the breathing techniques of top tenors to help them overcome symptoms in a new NHS England therapy. Imperial College and English National Opera (ENO) teamed together for this programme in partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The programme uses the techniques used for singers to improve quality of breath and help manage the anxiety that breathlessness often produces. Singing is shown to help retrain breathing, so ENO Breathe is using lullabies and singing exercises to help improve those with shortness of breath.

A fourth way?

Owain Gardner

“Europe’s role in this weird psychodrama [England’s obsession with World War 2/Dunkirk Spirit, post-imperial failure and all that that entails] is entirely pre-scripted. It does not matter what the European Union is or what it is doing…”

BREAKING

Job losses announced at Nissan, Sunderland

Louise Brown

Nissan announced today that 160 jobs are now at risk. They confirmed that they are starting a consultation process with office-based staff. Although they say it will not affect production, this news is in stark contrast to their positive statements of last Friday which led Boris Johnson to boast of the “fantastic news for the brilliant Nissan workforce”. Not so amazing for the office staff though as it turns out.

Ignored, marginalized, disbelieved: this is Long Covid

Carol Westall

The evidence given was compelling and heart wrenching. It showed a lack of belief from some people, sadly including teachers and health care professionals. Schools ask for proof of the illness but of course, there isn’t any. What do parents do with a new illness?