Category: Politics


Campaigning methods for pro-Europeans: positive or negative?

Colin Gordon

Hope and fear are both powerful forces, in politics as in life. Often, they are two sides of a same reality. We hope for life and health, and fear illness and death. We hope for peace and security, we fear war and disaster. We hope for plenty, we fear poverty. People selling a product or […]

McDonald’s: I’m no longer “lovin’ it”

Peter Benson

The food shortage crisis engulfing hospitality sector has now claimed a new high profile scalp, Mc Donald’s. The tabloids are reporting  that customers of Mc Donald’s are fuming and furious with the lack of milk shakes and bottled water. There are also multiple reports on social media that North East based Greggs is also suffering from […]

APPG on Coronavirus: vaccinating children, booster jabs and global access

Carol Westall

The session on 10 August, began with questions to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) about the much discussed issue of vaccinating children. On the surface it seems obvious; vaccinate children so they don’t get sick with Covid-19 and vaccinate children so we get closer to the frequently discussed notion of herd immunity. The APPG […]


Opening tomorrow: Free School Meals: theatre inspired by Marcus Rashford

North East Bylines

Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty, Unfolding Theatre’s Free School Meals puts kids in charge in a new show about power, inequality and hope for change. Rehearsals are now well underway and the show opens tomorrow. It runs from 25 – 28 August. Inadequate food parcels During the pandemic, kids were given food […]

“They are crying and calling me”: help my lovely Afghani friend

Nicola Tipton

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this article. In my poem, I addressed violence against women and girls. The seventh stanza is, sadly, more pertinent than ever in the light of recent events in Afghanistan. I had been thinking about Afghanistan and Nigeria at the time of writing, but never dreamt, like the rest […]

Poetry Corner

Mr Speaker

Keith Johnson

He shambles, arrogant, And his words strut: “Two and two, Mister Speaker, Make five. A poem by Keith Johnson.

Chicken shortage: it’s peri-peri serious!

Peter Benson

Are you in a flap about the chicken shortage and worried about not getting enough of your favourite finger licking delicious chicken meal?  Well, if not you should be or perhaps you have not been in a supermarket lately. The reason for the chicken shortages in Nando’s and KFC  is an acute shortage of staff within […]

I’m a smoker

Peter Lathan

I started smoking when I was about 14 (1957 or thereabouts) and I smoked, more or less without interruption, until I was 71. I say “more or less” because I did try to give up on a number occasions – once I lasted four days and then my wife threatened that she would sit on […]

Women’s detention centre: monthly protests

North East Bylines

A coalition of local people and campaign groups from across the country will protest against the proposed detention centre in Consett, County Durham, on Saturday 21 August. This will be the third demonstration organised at the site and the first of regular demonstrations happening on the third Saturday of every month.  Inhumane practice of indefinite […]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Tees Valley responds to the Afghanistan Crisis

Scott Hunter

Middlesbrough mayor, Andy Preston, has been making the headlines, with an unambiguous statement of support for refugees from Afghanistan. Many here will welcome those humanitarian sentiments, published in the Gazette on 19 August. The Gazette article, however, moves swiftly on to discussion of the pantomime of incompetence in Westminster over the issue, and so does […]

Trade Unions: Thatcherism to New Labour

Stephen Lambert

With the election of a Conservative government in May 1979  a new style of PM – Margaret Thatcher was committed to restructuring the UK economy by creating more flexible and efficient labour markets. Thatcher was pledged to reform Britain’s trade unions and curb their power. Throughout the eighties conflict between organised labour and the Conservative […]

Teesside enjoys its Palmyra moment, as Redcar Blast Furnace is torn down

Scott Hunter

The destruction of Redcar Blast Furnace has begun in earnest, with the Teesside Heritage Taskforce on hand to record the action on film for posterity. Soon the people of Teesside will be able to survey the roofs of the never-ending warehouses of the freeport, monuments to low pay and tax evasion, as if that is […]


Stop the War coalition protest as parliament is recalled

North East Bylines

Protestors from Stop the War coalition have assembled in London today to protest against the invasion and occupation of other countries. This happens as parliament is recalled to debate the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. The message of the demonstration is ‘No more foreign wars’. Stop the War coalition says: “Boris Johnson is recalling parliament on […]

Why Rebel by Jay Griffiths: review

Nicola Tipton

If you have ever been a rebel, are an active rebel, or are beginning to think about rebelling this book is a must-read. Although it addresses climate change, in particular, and the author’s experience of being arrested at an XR protest and the consequences of this and her trial, it deals with so much more […]

Did Biden make an unwise choice in Afghanistan?

Gareth Kearns

President Biden came off vacation to talk to the American people about the collapse of the Afghan government before the Taliban. You can read the full transcript here. Read it so you know what we’re talking about, but don’t read it for an insight into our situation today. It is, as our American chums might […]

Over 160,000 North East children to be hit by £20 Universal Credit cut

North East Bylines

Regional child poverty campaigners have renewed calls for the government to reverse an impending £20 a week cut to Universal Credit after figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions today(17 August 2021) confirm for the first time the number of children and young people across the North East who will be directly affected […]


Petition to making lying in the House of Commons illegal reaches over 120,000

Ron Tocknell

Lying is generally frowned upon but only in certain circumstances is it actually illegal. Being economical with the truth when filling out a tax return, for example (fraud) or giving a false witness statement in court (perjury). But lying in the House of Commons is, apparently, just fine as long as the said liar happens to […]

Why do girls outdo boys at school and college?

Stephen Lambert

Throughout the country girls are outperforming boys at every stage in the educational system from early years Sats, GCSEs, A-levels, university admissions and degree classifications. In the North of England they are more likely to get three top A-level passes. This year more women have been accepted for university than men. Six out of 10 […]

North East business and the EU deal

Joyce Quin

The government continues to be in denial about the difficulties businesses across the UK have experienced in exporting to the EU since January of this year, when the terms of the Prime Minister’s deal with the EU came into effect. That these difficulties have particularly affected firms in the North East was shown in a […]

Lorry driver shortages, empty shelves and Brexit

Yvonne Wancke

Retailers right across the country are struggling to find enough lorry drivers to ensure that they have enough stock in the coming months and in particular for the festive season. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has estimated that there is a current shortfall of around 100,000 drivers. If anything this is set to become worse. […]

Learning to live with Covid: the pandemic is not over yet

Giuseppe Bignardi

To get close to normality we must accept the pandemic is not over yet For some politicians “learning to live with Covid” is a mantra that means allowing high numbers of infections. However, we may get closer to normality if we accept that we cannot yet return to full normality. In comparison with other countries […]

Dear Michelle Donelan, universities’ minister

Connor Lamb

When I started university in September 2019, I was expecting a lot of things. I was expecting to make some new friends and get to know a new and diverse range of fellow students. I was expecting a pristine environment where I could study my passions in a stimulating, supportive and relaxed community. I was […]

No ‘levelling up’ for the North East: another broken promise

Yvonne Wancke

The North East is set to lose millions of pounds this year because of Brexit. This is despite the Prime Minister’s repeated promises of ‘levelling up’. A number of traditional Labour voting areas in the North East switched their votes to support Boris Johnson in the 2019 election, in part because of a desire to […]

Will the real Ben Houchen please stand up?

Scott Hunter

Who advises Ben Houchen?  You might have supposed that it was the officers of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). Until last week, that is. When he announced that he would seek to ensure that a referendum would be required before Teesside Airport could be sold, he crossed a line, and cemented what many had […]


Jolly boating weather and educational opportunities

Robina Jacobson

Ah, Henley again, and jolly boating weather. On Thames or on Tyne, we can at least ‘swing, swing together’ for the river waters find their own level and are widely accessible. If the same could be said of playing fields, grand school facilities and small class sizes we might all fare better. North East exam […]

Why has the TES decided not to cover Further Education?

Anya Cook

The go-to education publication TES announced on Twitter last week that it will no longer cover further education from September. No real reason was given and in stating that journalists had already been reallocated tasks, it was confirmed as a done deal. There are other publications, of course, but writing for sector specific audiences only […]

Congratulations to GCSE students in Newcastle Central from Chi, MP

North East Bylines

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, gave her congratulations to GCSE students getting their results today, after 18 months of disrupted learning and revised assessments. Chi said: “I want to congratulate every student receiving their results today. The last couple of years have been very difficult, and you should each be really proud of your […]

Hartlepool’s storm in a nuclear teacup

Julia Mazza

A war of words has broken out in Hartlepool about early discussions on a possible offshore radioactive waste storage facility. Material in the Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)  would be stored one kilometre below the surface in concrete containers. The opening salvo came from a press release by Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen: “I have […]

Newcastle students should be proud of their achievements

Stephen Lambert

This summer once again saw a rise in the number of Newcastle students achieving good AS/A-level results, BTEC First and national awards and GCSE results. Given the many months lost in face-to-face learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic city students should be proud of their achievements. Access courses for Newcastle students Furthermore, hundreds more adults […]

Durham Miners’ Gala: Little Big Meetings and the truth about Thatcher

Julie Ward
Durham miners banner

Boris Johnson’s crass comments praising Margaret Thatcher for closing the pits in the 1980s and wrongly attributing her with green credentials have been roundly condemned by leading figures connected to the Durham Miners’ Gala. It is the second year running that Gala organisers have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel the iconic ‘Big Meeting’ due […]