Category: Politics

Call for treasury jobs to come to the Tees Valley

Jane Neville

“Our town centres are the beating heart of the Tees Valley’ local economy. They are our culture, leisure and retail hubs, and we should be doing all we can to promote increased footfall – especially as we look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Why the voting age should be 16

Stephen Lambert

Other groups aren’t penalised for lack of knowledge or engagement in politics by being denied the vote, so it doesn’t make sense that 16 and 17-year olds should have to be ‘model citizens’ in order to gain he right to vote.

Size matters: what next for the UK?

Peter Benson

We all know that Scotland voted to remain in the EU and that the Scottish National Party (SNP) is determined to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence as soon as possible. But what of Northern Ireland which also voted to remain, could they also leave, and the UK really shrink in size?

Opinion

Seven parliamentary principles and the deadly sins

Nicola Tipton

The government needs to be made accountable and its proposals need to be properly scrutinised as a matter of urgency. We should be worried. Furthermore, the far-right mob mentality is becoming increasingly evident to all now. We have been far too complacent and taken for granted our hard-won freedoms, rights and democracy. What has happened in America should be a lesson to us all.

Wither Britain?

Robin Tudge

What does the British brand now deliver? We took back our blue (black?) passports from the EU, only to have them made by a French company in Poland, their import delayed by Dover border chaos, and far-right thug Steven Yaxley-Lennon, a.k.a. Tommy Robinson laughing that he has an Irish passport affording him freedom of movement – um, because the Brexit he sought has devalued the beloved British passport, robbing us of freedom of movement.

Opinion

Where’s Labour?

Scott Hunter

The response to Starmer’s recent statements indicate that there has been some kind of trade-off, whereby the price of unity is the absence of discussion, and an acquiescence over Starmer’s apparent preference for pragmatism. In reality that is a dangerous strategy.

Digital poverty

Peter Benson

The Good Law Project has also identified links between Computacenter, the company which has won contracts of at least £198m for the supply of these laptops and the Conservative Party. The founder of the company Sir Philip Hume and his wife have both made donations to the Conservative party with the latest being £100,000 for the 2019 General Election. Questions have also been raised on the price being paid for these basic laptops.

No jobs for the boys: the Northern Ireland experience

John Woods

The divided communities followed different paths after the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA opted for politics and disarmed, bar a rump of dissidents in remoter areas. Their communities always valued education and new opportunities were readily seized on. Loyalists were less fortunate as competition for ‘their’ state jobs increased and the automatic right to follow fathers into the shipyards vanished.

Are things really so rosy for the Nissan Plant in Sunderland?

Louise Brown

The reality remains, however, that although Nissan has the zero tariffs they wanted, there still remains other barriers to trade – namely custom checks which will raise costs, cause delays and ultimately make them less competitive. Every time the plant has to bid to make a new model there, this is when we will see the truth of how good the Brexit deal really is. Let us not forget the Sunderland Nissan plant did not win the bid to make their new electric car, the Ariya, there due to concerns about Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s family

Giuseppe Bignardi

When Stanley Johnson, Boris’ father, stood in front of the cameras to explain why he had applied for French passport, he said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly, I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather”.

“Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile”: the inauguration of the 46th President

Julie Ward

Biden might be the 46th President of the United States but it’s the women and girls of America who are taking a lead in so many ways, from Kamala Harris as the first black woman and Asian American to hold the office of Vice President to Jill Biden’s commitment to continue her work as a teacher and working mum whilst also officiating as First Lady, this administration looks and feels like never before.

Bridges and troubled waters: the effect of Brexit on Ireland

Judi Sutherland

I’m guessing Amazon will be thinking hard about starting up an Irish website and sourcing products from places other than the UK. We heard rumours in late December that they have been searching for warehouse space in Dublin. In the meantime, we’ve been advised that the best thing to do is to open an account with Amazon.de, which has an English language option. There is of course no reason why a product made in China for a Dutch company should have to go anywhere near the UK, but like so many companies that have hitherto treated the UK and Ireland as a single entity for trade purposes, Amazon seems not to have thought this through – yet.

Russians, Tories and the North East

Julia Mazza

Fedotov is former head of a subsidiary of Lukoil, Russia’s largest oil company. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently reported on a 2008 review by Russian state pipeline enterprise Transneft, of huge commissions charged by contractors during construction of the US$4 billion Siberia-Pacific pipeline. Fedotov was Chair of two companies thought to have benefitted – VNIIST and IP Network, but his name was never mentioned in the inquiry and no charges were brought. The review was revealed by opposition figure and Novichok survivor Alexei Navalny.

The memories that make me me

Peter Lathan

I’m standing below High Force on the River Tees, looking up at the most impressive waterfall in the North of England. It’s in full spate, crashing down both sides. I’ve followed the river down from Cow Green Reservoir, alongside the water as it races down Cauldron Snout, and I’m on my way to Middleton-in-Teesdale. A great riverside walk.

Opinion

Roads to re-entry Part 3: Beyond division – truth or surrender?

Colin Gordon

The existing Pro-European campaigning organisations are the available components of what should be a national, bipartisan civil society movement for UK re-entry to the EU. A collegiate and diverse movement with vigour and public presence may be more effective than a monolithic entity with homogenised messages and narrative.

The lost boys of the North East: why are the region’s young men trailing behind young women at school?

Stephen Lambert

Educationalists are divided as to the reason why young white working- class men are doing less well at every stage in the school system while young women are doing better than ever. The children’s Commissioner in Growing Up North puts it down to poverty and poor material circumstances in the home. There’ some evidence that teachers are not strict with boys. They are more likely to extend deadlines for written work, to have lower expectations of boys, and tend to be more tolerant of low level anti-social behaviour in the classroom.

Umbrellas and democracy: #FreeHK53

Julie Ward

During the first week of January more than 53 Hong Kongers were arrested on suspicion of breaking this law, mostly as a result of their political actions in 2019 when they organised and stood in primaries ahead of a planned election in order to go to the polls with a slate of pro-democracy candidates. Amongst those detained were journalists and trade unionists.

The glass ceiling hasn’t been smashed but it is fracturing

Stephen Lambert

As the psychologist Jussin (2017) notes girls’ low-take up of STEM-based and IT subjects has less to do with ability or discrimination than the fact that girls who excel at maths/science are as likely to be good at humanities based subjects. Young women she concludes are ”better all – rounders, but too few of those who are good at science choose it as their specialism post-16.”

Will todays parliamentary debate be the first step in preventing people with Long Covid believing they are forgotten and left behind?

Carol Westall

“There is nothing mild about Long Covid. Take Jane. She emailed me to say she’s 32, and was previously healthy and fit. Not your stereotypical person ‘at risk’ from coronavirus. Long Covid has affected her since April. She now has neurocognitive and mobility problems, and has crushing fatigue. Her partner, she told me, “has essentially become a full-time carer”. She’s not unique, she’s not an outlier – lots of people like Jane have emailed me.”

Roads to re-entry Part 2: What is needed to rejoin?

Colin Gordon

The Union would not, in my view, insist in its criteria for UK re-entry on setting the bar of virtue impossibly high. It would make a pragmatic judgement weighing the benefits and risks of UK membership in a range of domains from military and scientific capacity to cultural creativity, governance and accountability.

“Disabled and ignored”: the reality of Long-Covid

Carol Westall

Long Covid can destroy the quality of life, the ability to walk, work or eat without difficulty. It presents as a range of different symptoms suffered by people weeks or months after being infected, some of whom weren’t particularly ill with the virus in the first place. Fatigue is the most common problem, but breathlessness, a cough that won’t go away, hearing and eyesight problems, headaches and loss of smell and taste have all been reported.

Covid-19 vaccines: efficacy and safety

Giuseppe Bignardi

It is too early to say what is the most effective vaccine. None of the vaccine studies have yet been completed and we do not know what the efficacy is in the long-term or in relation to virus variants or in specific sub-groups such as immunocompromised patients.

The Brexit deal is bad news for North East England, but does it also offer a ray of hope?

Will Sadler

“Their biggest concern is that we end up in some kind of position where we’re not aligned to the European Medical Agency, we’re not aligned to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US, in which case, there are significant barriers to selling their products in (both) those markets. And that that’s a scenario which is absolutely awful for business.”

The fact that countries tend to trade most with those geographically closest to them suggests to me that despite the UK’s new-found freedoms, in reality we will remain closely aligned to EU rules.

“Every breath you take”

Carol Westall

“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every time you ache
Every sound you make
We watch over you….
Oh don’t you fear, ICU is here
When your poor heart aches
And your life’s at stake…. “

Now is not the time to undermine the government’s Prevent strategy

Stephen Lambert

Of course, strengthening surveillance is crucial. But the government need to take steps to better engage groups in anti-radicalisation measures delivered through a multi-agency approach. Central government is conducting a review into Prevent to help shed its ”toxic image” amongst some sections of the community. One important way to tackle potential radicalisation is through education and training.

Urgent essential actions to alleviate family poverty on Tyneside and in the North East

Sally Young

Over four million children nationally are now affected by child poverty. This is unacceptable. Moreover, help to give every child the best start in life is diminishing. It is true that funding has been provided for free childcare for children aged three and four and also for some two-year olds although not all can access it as there is insufficient provision for what is needed

Riots in the USA: whatever happened to democracy?

Julie Ward

This is no Hollywood blockbuster. This is real life in the richest country in the world where the outgoing president has been using his last vestiges of power to auction off indigenous lands and vast tracts of the Arctic to fossil fuel companies, to stuff the courts and other institutions with Christian fundamentalists opposed to women’s rights, and to execute prisoners on Death Row who might have expected clemency from the Biden administration.