Section: Politics

Censuring students while censoring history

Mick Fletcher
black and white photo, man with finger to lips. secret

You could hardly make it up.  At the same time as government plans to appoint a ‘free speech tsar’ to stop students cancelling controversial speakers it also intends to summon heritage groups to be told by a minister what they can and cannot say about British history. It’s ludicrous but at the same time deeply […]

Steve Baker: from St Austell to Austrian School

Tom Scott

A leading figure in the so-called Covid Recovery Group, Baker is a disaster capitalist with an impressive string of disasters to his name. In recent months, a group of hard-right, ‘lockdown-sceptic’ Conservative MPs has been lobbying vigorously for an early exit to lockdown. And one of the loudest voices in the so-called ‘Covid Recovery Group’ […]

Brexit and Cheddar

Richard Wilkins

What are the impacts of Brexit on the local businesses in the West Country? What changes have they had to make in this last month? Are their businesses better or worse off? In earlier articles, we have talked to companies involved in transport and natural beauty products. Now, we find out about one of the […]

From star to satellite – science in a post-Brexit world

David Love

In matters scientific, European nations do far better working together Our civilisation has advanced dramatically in the last few hundred years and we have only to look to the leaps made in science and technology to understand why. Yet how many people realise that a key element of science lies in cooperation between different nations?  […]

Is our democracy toast? Part 2 of the double-barrelled piece

Sadie Parker
Rees-Mogg standing in front of a burning forest with democracy fishing agriculture, food e-commerce and financial service all burning down

Fishers feel betrayed. Boats are in dry-dock, fish markets are bereft of trade, and five-generation businesses are facing bankruptcy. No Brexiter politicians are posing with them now. No Brexiter politicians are even listening to them now. Similarly, agri-food businesses, no matter how well prepared they were, are seeing the fruits of their labours spoiled, at […]

Has Brexit wrecked my life’s work?

Mike Zollo

“You may buy from us in English … but you must sell to us in my language!” This much-quoted maxim highlights the importance of language skills to international trade. What German Chancellor Willy Brandt actually said in the early 1970s was: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen […]

The hamster and the python

Anthea Simmons

Do you remember this from June 2016? Like us, you may feel a chill as you view it in the context of the report on the NHS from the influential, hyper libertarian thinktank, the Institute for Economic Affairs (‘IEA’), and the announcement of new ‘reforms’ to the NHS from Matt Hancock today, 11 February 2021. […]

Yet another fox in the NHS chicken coop?

Gonzo
artist illustration of a fox stalking a hen

When the late Captain Sir Tom Moore walked around his garden to raise over £39M for more than 240 NHS-linked charities last year, he exemplified a rich and long vein of philanthropism that runs through the UK. The idea of giving to charity to support those who are less well-off (or indeed other things like […]

Devon MP Anne-Marie Morris keeps Gove on his toes

Sadie Parker

A study by the Association for Computational Linguistics (AMACL) found that those who are ‘excessively polite’ are considerably more likely to betray peers or comrades than those who are not very polite. In short, overly polite people are the most likely to be potential backstabbers. Now, who does that remind us of? Michael Gove is […]

Letter to the editor: it was a gift!

Editor-in-chief

It was a gift! And what a gift! A golden opportunity! Ever felt that sinking feeling when you pressed the enter key without that one final check – is this really what I want to say?  And there’s no clawing it back. Yes, the European Commission made a mistake in threatening to invoke article 16, […]

Thank EU for our speedy vaccine approval?

Sarah Cowley

So much vitriol and gloating about the fact that (having signally failed in every other aspect of pandemic management) the UK government has a vaccine rollout plan that is proving so much swifter in delivery than the one across the Channel in the European Union (EU). Sluggish, rule-bound European Medicines Agency (EMA), the naysayers say: […]

May local elections: level playing field? Doesn’t look that way!

Claire Wright

Ministers have ruled Devon County Council must go to the polls on Thursday 6 May, despite the country being in the midst of a deadly pandemic. The government directive runs directly counter to its lockdown policies, which have seen the closure of schools and many businesses. “We must ensure a level playing field for those standing for election, […]

Pecs, flags and vaccines

Anthea Simmons

Action Man Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View (or ‘less view, please’ as one wag tweeted) is quite keen on posting shots of himself in various stages of disrobement, albeit often at the beach. He has even appeared semi-naked lathering up Dove shower gel for an ad run in the USA. He’s rather […]

The Chairman’s tale

Eric Gates

As chairman of a small parish council, I have watched the recording of the Handforth Parish Council meeting with concern. Perhaps I am fortunate that the ethos of the council on which I serve is to represent the community; party politics are not evident. I know that we all have our own views on subjects, […]

Cornwall: climate emergency or business as usual?

Tom Scott

In 2019, Cornwall Council declared a climate emergency – but you wouldn’t guess it from some recent developments. Cornwall Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in January 2019 was accompanied by similar declarations by numerous Cornish town and parish councils, and was warmly welcomed by environmental campaigners. It seemed local councillors had finally grasped the […]

Iconic Somerset cider business hit by Johnson’s trade deal

Richard Wilkins

The first thing people ask when they find out you are from Somerset is “how much cider do you drink?”  The apple-based drink is synonymous with our county. It has imprinted itself on our culture, forming much of our history and traditions. For instance, wassailing is an ancient West Country cider festival which ensures a […]

Cornish gems – a box set of articles

Editor-in-chief
Cornish tin mine on the coast

In case you missed them, here’s a collection of articles from Cornish writers or on Cornish (or Isles of Scilly) subjects. Please share! You are our distribution network! If you have a story to tell, please get in touch: cornwall@westcountryvoices.co.uk; devon@westcountryvoices.co.uk; dorset@westcountryvoices.co.uk and somerset@westcountryvoices.co.uk Look out for box sets from Devon, Somerset and Dorset!

Jackie Weaver for prime minister?

Sadie Parker

I first became aware of Jackie Weaver when Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent at the Financial Times, put up a poll asking the public, “Who do you want as PM [prime minister]?”. The four choices were Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson, Ed Davey and Jackie Weaver. Keir Starmer was winning comfortably, but Jackie Weaver was in […]

Would you take a beating for democracy? #StandWithBelarus

Rachel Marshall

It’s six months since unpopular dictator Alexander Lukashenko surprised everyone and no one by winning the presidential election in Belarus – once again – by an unusually high margin against impossible odds. Every weekend since has seen protests throughout the country. For many weeks there was genuine optimism that this time, something would really change. […]

Gav’s latest whoopsie cost £425m and a Cornish school is not happy

David Hencke

Company predicted “successful business performance” on the back of feeding poverty stricken children The spectre of poor children going hungry during the Covid 19 crisis is something the government have had to be put under pressure to remedy – notably by Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer. But now it has emerged that even when […]

The clerk’s tale

Anna Andrews

With the appalling behaviour of some Handforth Parish Councillors having gone viral, parish councillors and clerks all over the country must be cringing with embarrassment. The councillors in question should be ashamed. They have brought into question the whole principle of democratic representation at grassroots level, and all parish councils are now in danger of […]

Seesaw Corona war

Terry Riordan

As a retired microbiologist I’ve watched events over the last year with horror and anger. Following the recent excellent Debunking Covid Myths by Emma Monk and the inimitable piece by Femi Oluwole, I want to discuss some grey areas and the significance of new developments, and suggest how we move forward. In many ways the […]

After the flood…

Anna Andrews

On 22 January, after Storm Christoph hit the UK, George Eustice said on camera that 70 homes had been flooded. Given the pictures of inundated towns across England and Wales, this figure seemed something of an understatement, with the Daily Telegraph, amongst others, reporting a figure more than five times higher: Storm Christoph: Around 400 […]

The Tory MP and a £20bn stealth tax on business

Mick Fletcher

I tend to think of Robert Halfon as a decent sort of chap who just got into bad company and so ended up as the Conservative MP for Harlow. He styles himself as representing the working-class Conservative voter and probably has more genuine sympathy with that group than many of his colleagues, who seem suddenly […]

Beeswax and bloomers

Mike Zollo
Woman in jeans, back view with anti Brexit stickers on pockets

Continuing Mike Zollo’s article on Devon companies hit hard by Brexit red tape. You can read part 1 here. Gilboy’s Beeswax I have been in business restoring antiques for 27 years. Over the past five years our business has been fortunate to change and evolve from a local service to an international e-commerce business. We […]