Section: UK

The abominable hulks

Tom Scott

Priti Patel’s plan to use decommissioned ships as “processing centres” for asylum-seekers recalls one of the darkest chapters of British history. On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that home secretary Priti Patel had asked officials to explore the construction of a “processing centre” for asylum seekers on Ascension Island, a volcanic outcrop in the South […]

The dark side of the prom: Cold War Steve beached

Sadie Parker
Cold War Steve's artwork on Bournemouth beach depicting the positive side of the UK and its valuese

When asked whether he would be producing any new episodes of his famous satirical show, ‘The Thick Of It’, Armando Iannucci replied that British politics was now so silly, it was beyond parody. One artist who has, nonetheless, successfully satirised not just British politics, but populist politics around the world over the past four years […]

Dark day for the rule of law.

Anthea Simmons

The Conservative government has, this evening, voted AGAINST an amendment that “requires ministers to respect the rule of law and uphold the independence of the courts”. In what warped world could that be good news for any citizen of the UK? Johnson’s Internal Market Bill which could lead to the UK breaking international law passed […]

Why testing failed: the pandemic of privatisation

Helen Beetham

After a week back in school, my teenager had a temperature. My partner is vulnerable so we separated our household as best we could, and I started trying to book a Covid-19 test. Four days and many online hours later, the best I managed was a time slot at Bristol Airport – a four hour […]

Why a little light lawbreaking matters

Sadie Parker

The attorney general lived up to her ‘Cruella-Suella’ nickname when she attacked Shadow Justice Minister Ellie Reeve on 24 September last. Ms Reeve had asked a perfectly reasonable question, in a polite and proper way: “…there is a universal view among those who look to the attorney general to defend the rule of law that […]

Museums and galleries respond to the climate crisis

Virginia Button

The US west coast is on fire, the hurricane season is off to an early start and in the UK a year of unseasonal weather has resulted in the worst wheat harvest in decades – yet more reminders that climate change is a pressing and immediate global crisis. And, as leaves fall and mists rise […]

Mr President – a briefing as you assume your new role in January 2021

Eric Gates

Mr President: You asked us to brief you on the current plans to sell to the United Kingdom the next generation nuclear deterrent. In particular, you asked about the possible downsides that have emerged since the original presidential approval was given to the programme. In broad terms, Mr President, they fall into three categories. The […]

Hidden trade-offs make trade deals unpalatable

Sadie Parker

To say that farms are likely to be decimated by Brexit is inaccurate, because ‘to decimate’ means to cull one in ten. DEFRA was reported to be expecting at least one in four farms to go bust as a result of Brexit. Even DEFRA’s dire forecast may have been too generous. Last year, former National […]

Levelling up to new heights of corruption

Tom Scott

Few towns in the South West will receive funding from the government’s Towns Fund – and now we know why. In September 2019, local government secretary Robert Jenrick published a list of 101 places that would receive help to develop bids for funding from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. There was suspicion at the […]

Whose truth? Why we are at war with ourselves

Alex Pilkington

There is only one truth. Of course there is. We are often left speechless with disbelief or find ourselves incredulous with rage at the stupidity of our fellow citizens when they don’t believe what we hold to be the truth. Why don’t they see the truth? Why do they believe fake news? Why do they […]

Furore over food standards reaching fever pitch

Sadie Parker

On 22 September, the Lords inflicted a defeat on the government when it voted, in line with the government’s own manifesto pledge, for an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to uphold our food, animal welfare and environmental standards. What was the government doing voting against its own manifesto pledge in the first place? Government has […]

The soil depletion crisis – retired Devon organic dairy farmer spells out the hard truth.

Rory O'Connor

My current edition of ‘Grass and Forage Manager’, published by British Grassland Society, shows just how far many farmers have come in recognising their responsibilities to environmental matters over the last ten to fifteen years. Articles on livestock sustainability, growing herbal leys, locking in carbon with grassland and grassland management effects on earthworm communities are […]

The future of planning in rural areas

Mike Chapman

Rural communities in the recently created unitary Dorset Council area are working hard and democratically to make Neighbourhood Plans. The bases of these plans lie in the traditions and desire for continuity of small rural towns and villages. This cultural heritage is under attack now and is further threatened by proposed changes to the planning […]

Making capital out of Coronavirus – the Moonshot scam

Anthea Simmons

There’s money in misery. There’s cash to be made in a crisis. You can monetise just about anything these days, after all. The growth of the social media giants should have taught us that. This government is turning out to be world-beating at funnelling your tax and mine into the pockets of mates, donors and […]

Erosion of the rights of the less-abled: incompetence or social Darwinism?

Sadie Parker

“As a father of a disabled child, and the patron of the Disability Law Service, I’ve seen legal advice that suggests his [Johnson’s] government broke international law in how the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights of disabled people,” Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey told Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson in the House of Commons […]

Charity focus: What About The Children?

Jane Reddish

When I read the article by Dr Pam Jarvis in Yorkshire Bylines, I wrote to the Editor of my local Bylines to say how impressed I was by Dr Jarvis’s insight into the needs of young children, particularly because of my trusteeship of the charity What About The Children? The Editor-in-Chief asked me to let […]

Sir Thomas More speaks for Sir Geoffrey Cox

Anthea Simmons

Boris Johnson may think he has managed to sweet talk abstaining and objecting MPs into backing his heinous Internal Market Bill, but some, it seems, remain resistant to his blandishments and see the issue for what it is: an attempt to legitimise/democritise (make the MPs carry the can) the breaking of international law. Sir Geoffrey […]

Working class lass makes light work of Eton mess

Sadie Parker

Spare a thought for Boris Johnson. On 16 September, he had to face his worst nightmare across the dispatch box at Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs): a bona fide working-class woman. He was obliged to be careful and remain polite, because people in the former “Red Wall” seats might be watching to see how he treated […]

The abstainers are not all Remainers

Sadie Parker

“I may be wrong,” tweeted Tory MP Michael Fabricant the morning after a late night before, “and please correct me if I am – but aren’t all the Conservative MPs (and former MPs) now campaigning against the government’s pragmatic UK Internal Market Bill all ones who campaigned vigorously against Brexit? #plusçachange #correlationcoefficient #yawn” He was […]

Grenfell – gesture politics conceal dangers which remain unresolved

Sadie Parker

There are tragedies that transcend the normal accidents of life, searing themselves into the public consciousness. The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2014, in which 72 people lost their lives, 74 more people were injured, and 151 homes were destroyed, is one such event. Many children were among the dead and, in some […]