Category: Politics

The South Sea Bubble scandal: is it relevant in today’s politics?

Jackie Taylor

The bubble burst in 1720. The shares became irredeemable, and even banks and goldsmiths that had invested began to suffer and fail due to their inability to call back loans made from stock. Many of the claims made to investors, who by then were losing money hand over fist, were now considered to be fraudulent,– suffice for Parliament to be recalled in December 1720 due to deal with the crisis and outrage.

Goodbye to Berlin

Robin Tudge

Finally on a beautifully hot July afternoon I finished the novel. The next few hours I wandered around Kreuzberg, hearing the explosive cheers, then jeers and woe, from the locals packing out the bars as their team crashed out of the World Cup, while my initial elation slumped into a fatigue that saw me beered up, sprawled on a sofa in an all-night bar near Tempelhof, muttering ‘I just finished a novel. A f****** novel.

Political lessons from the Bard: musings on the Scottish play

Nicola Tipton

New Year’s Day, 2021. Boris has it all. Brexit done, a deal, and the premiership – just as ERG, Cummings, Farage etc wished for. Certainly a ‘weird’ alliance. Many of whom, having wreaked their havoc, have also vanished into thin air the ‘bubbles’ of the earth, or in their case, hedge-funded, tax avoidance futures with back up European citizenship and their concerns moved. Some to Ireland.

Bridging the UK’s ethnic and social divide

Stephen Lambert

The widening gulf between rich and poor in our capital city and elsewhere in the nation’s urban cores has undermined the sense that there’s a notion of a common way of life. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described London as a ‘tale of two cities’ shortly after the Grenfell Tower fire. Others have pointed to the sharp rise in radical Islamic home-grown terrorism in London and Manchester alongside far-right white supremacist violence resulting in the murder of the ant-racism campaigner Jo Cox MP.

Review

Asian Dub Foundation – a force for solidarity and internationalism

Ade JBones Van Vliet

Emerging as a sound system concern and then band, Asian Dub Foundation have fused a wide variety of music styles (including, dub reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, punk, ragga, electronic and traditional South Asian genres), in a highly original, dynamic and incendiary manner, that has won them plaudits for over two decades. Seen as one of the most exciting of all live acts during this time, ADF, though not one dimensional or simply a ‘political band’, were never ones to shirk from tackling contemporary issues head on (capitalism, exploitation, racism, domestic violence, climate change…). One of their members even refused to accept an MBE some years back.

Dissolving into nature: an antidote to excess

Nicola Tipton

Squelching through mud, straightway the wood embraced me. Filled me with its magic; light filtering from the sun, low in the December sky. Chased away my troubled early dreams. Ears strained to hear the whispering wisdom of the trees … splendid in their nakedness… above white noise of distant traffic. Constant now, unlike April’s lockdown. M25. Where are all those people essentially travelling to? Small birds sing unseen and a crow calls.

“Look after our star” says North East for Europe

Jane Neville

While we are pleased we are not leaving the EU without a deal, the one that has been struck is not a good one. For example, businesses will still be hit hard with costs and delays from customs checks. We were told that leaving the EU would cut red tape, however, this appears not to be the case. We will continue to exist as an organisation to hold the government to account for their promises over Brexit. The EU gave the North East twice as much money per head than the rest of the country – we cannot believe this will be replicated by the government despite Johnson’s claims of levelling up the North East.

Are English grammar schools the engines of social mobility?

Stephen Lambert

Grammar schools were designed for that quarter of the population deemed ‘academic’, and secondary moderns for the rest. Selection was based on an IQ exam, the 11-plus, the brainchild of Cyril Burt, the psychologist. Passing the 11-plus was the visa to the local Grammar school. The system lasted till the 1960s when a number of left-wing intellectuals, including Tony Crosland and Michael Young, called time. The system wasn’t working. The time was right for the ‘comprehensive revolution’. In 2020, most young people in the region go to their local high school.

The democratic deficit behind Boris Johnson’s policies

Giuseppe Bignardi

The 2016 referendum on our EU membership was intended as an exercise in democracy, but it failed in many respects. The reality of our EU membership was compared with a nebulous Brexit project: many UK voters thought they were voting to retain a close relationship with the EU as Norway has. After a 51.9% majority in the referendum vote, an ideological minority has taken control of the Conservative Party and is imposing a hard Brexit.

Cardiac Arrest: an international rescue in the ‘heart’ of London

Peter Benson

John and I talked dozens of times over the following hours and days, has the pub or police called, is she still alive? We did not know but as the hours turned into days and the days into weeks, we were confident she was still alive and the stress started to ease away. We never got the call or a letter in the post.

Anti-Semitism may be seen as a feature of the far left but it has manifested itself in Britain’s far right

Stephen Lambert

Since 2009, Newcastle has witnessed a number of far-right protests, led by organisations such as the EDL, Pegida, National Action and North East Infidel, which at their peak attracted 1,500 demonstrators. In Gateshead anti-Semitic hate crime is at a high according to a report by the Community Security Trust. In 2017 hate crime in the Newcastle increased by 68 per cent compared to the previous year, with racial and faith-based offences making up 82 per cent of all hate crimes according to the 2017 Safe Newcastle report.

Spanish grapes and Big Ben bongs

Dr Jayne Hamilton

The North East is a melting pot and no amount of British nationalism can erase that. The Big Ben Bongs at 11 pm on December 31 to herald Britain’s freedom from the EU signify nothing other than blatant English nationalism. This will be a date in which I lose part of me, detached without will; it’s not a new year heralding something new, it’s a death. The death of the future I had planned for myself, right up to retirement. It’s out of my control, a sort of prison without visible bars.

A plan to power up the north

Jane Neville

“For too long power has been held in the hands of the few and our current mayor has failed to address this; instead of asking for more powers, or challenging the government on the big issues; he has been too happy to take what’s been given, accepting a poor deal on Covid-19 support, failing to get new powers around tackling mental health, or around housing and early learning.”

Opinion

The Brexit deal: taking back control?

Carlos Conde Solares

Yet let me spare a thought for the UK government’s ‘choice’ to cease to participate in the Erasmus programme. This is a gratuitous, nasty, vindictive intergenerational middle finger to the British young, whom overwhelmingly voted Remain in 2016. Of all issues, Erasmus was by far the easiest to resolve.

Opinion

Happy Friday

Yvonne Wancke

No Prime Minister can cancel Christmas: no more than he can damage our resolve and our spirits. He cannot take away what we value most, family, friends, hope, determination, love, peace and justice. Solidarity friends.

Poetry Corner

The ballad of father Boris

Alistair Cowan

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse
However, outside
That wasn’t the case
Father Boris was waiting
A mask on his face.

MP’s letter to the PM: back to normal after Easter?

Carol Westall

With cases once again rising across the country combined with the relaxation of restrictions over Christmas, we can already expect another deadly surge in cases early in the new year. The NAO’s worrying findings, however, raise the prospect of further spikes throughout 2021 and contradict the government’s claim that we will be ‘back to normal after Easter”.

Letter to a conservative MP

Nicola Tipton

I would argue that this latest, and necessary knee jerk reaction, is a result of the shambolic response to Covid-19 from the beginning. The government has been late in its reactions. The government has learned nothing from being late in its reactions through the year, and totally squandered time during the summer when this should have been planned for. The Tories are responsible for not being prepared from the pandemic exercises several years ago.

First commons debate on Long Covid is secured by Layla Moran MP

Jane Neville

Layla Moran MP said: ‘I’m pleased we’ve been able to secure this important debate on Long Covid, which is long overdue. The APPG on Coronavirus, which I chair, has submitted recommendations to the Government on this, and the debate will give us the opportunity to hold them to account and represent our constituents suffering from it.

Opinion

Gordon Brown, the Scotland problem and the tale of two Brexits

Scott Hunter

Now it would be unwarranted to deduce from the opinion of a single bigot, the mindset of English Brexiters as a whole, but we have all seen comments like this before; in recent years applied in equal measure to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, while the Libertarian ideology of Cummings and his associates does not exclude Scotland per se, parts of England’s electorate do.

New poll: Brexit transition needed as transport crisis deepens

Carol Westall

We have seen images and videos of trucks at a standstill, unable to cross the border. BBC News 21/12/2020 reported: ‘The government and trade groups have warned of “serious disruption” after France blocked arrivals of UK passengers for 48 hours over concerns about the new coronavirus variant. Freight lorries cannot cross by sea or through […]

Trucking hell

Robin Tudge

Why would they come? Even if they could cope with the added discomfort of waiting for days either side of the Channel, by dint of turning Kent into a massive Portaloo park, it doesn’t work. With the opportunity cost of missed work elsewhere thanks to delays, that hauliers are paid by the kilometre, and inertia earns nought, and the risk of penalties for later deliveries and spoiled goods … they won’t come.

Opinion

It’s beginning to (not) look a lot like Christmas: greetings from Ireland

Judi Sutherland

Here in Ireland we had a longer autumn lockdown than you’ve suffered in the UK, including a 5km travel restriction from mid-October to December 1st, and even now, a request to stay within our county. In our case, that would allow us to sample the delights of Dublin City, but we have restrained ourselves, having no wish to actually go looking for the virus, like the famous shellfish vendor; “She died of a fever, and no-one could save her, and that was the end of poor Molly Malone”.

Parental grief: coping with bereavement at Christmas

Carol Westall

Henry Dancer Days is a charity supporting children with cancer and helping their families with life changing essentials. This includes providing support with physiotherapy equipment to help with winter heating bills, and even buying tablets and mobile phones enabling the young people to have a crucial connection with loved ones during their long spells in hospital getting treatment.