Category: Politics

All good things no longer come in threes

Sadie Parker

You could be forgiven for feeling exhausted. Since the general election in December 2019 – in itself a tiring and dispiriting event – it seems as if bad news, government incompetence and poorly judged behaviour have been relentless. When Boris Johnson dreamed of being “World King”, is this the type of prime minister (PM) he […]

If (or How to be Prime Minster)

Tom Scott

Boris Johnson has often boasted of his prodigious memory for poetry. In 2009, he informed readers of the Daily Telegraph: “I could do you a dozen Shakespeare sonnets, the whole of Lycidas (186 lines of the thing) and the first 100 lines of the Iliad in Greek… What is the point of education, what is […]

Somerset’s ambitious plan: carbon net zero by 2030

Oliver Patrick

The UK is committed to being carbon net zero by 2050; however, Somerset’s councils have declared they will work towards the same target 20 years earlier. So what is the scale of the challenge in Somerset and what part can we play, as a community, in reaching this ambitious goal? In 2019 all five of […]

NHS properties: what we all need to know

Mike Sheaff

In April 2016, Poltair Hospital near Penzance was sold to a property developer for £500,624. The site’s limitations were widely acknowledged, but there was a strongly expressed local view that the capital receipt should contribute to alternative local provision. The owner, NHS Property Services (NHSPS), would give no such commitment. In December 2016, NHSPS took […]

Gladstone: a British hero in Bulgaria

Paul Haviland

A slight figure moves through the crowd of protesters, capturing the anti-government placards and chants of “Resign Borissov!” on her phone  This is not London after the Russia report: Borissov is the president of Bulgaria. Protesters in the streets of the capital, Sofia, are happy to be filmed by the country’s most distinguished campaigning journalist. […]

Of ermine and short-tailed weasels

Sadie Parker

When you read through the announcement of honours and peerages — the Dissolution Peerages of 2019 and the Political Peerages of 2020 — and find that awarding the former prime minister’s husband a knighthood and the current prime minister’s brother a peerage are the least controversial items on the list, you know the country is […]

Life without medical supplies

Peter Barker

When he first visited Russia in 1995, Peter Barker found post-Soviet chaos meant medicine was in short supply. As the UK faces breaking of supply chains at the end of 2020, might we be facing a similar plight? I was involved in French twinning before I moved to Exeter. When I came here, I was […]

The ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ get forgotten again

Mick Fletcher

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation on 9 July, Gavin Williamson gave much-needed encouragement to the struggling further education (FE) sector when he said, “From now on, our mantra must be further education, further education, further education.” In a clear bid for support from the new Tory voters in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ […]

Power without a right

Ann Higgins

A constitution based on unwritten rules and gentlemen’s agreements is a poor defence against shameless and determined rule-breakers. Listening to interminable lectures on UK constitutional law many years ago, I little thought it would be at the forefront of a political power struggle some 40 years later. Yet such is the battleground for the current […]

Jane Austen and the slave trade

Mike Temple

Did Jane Austen have anything in common with the “Black Lives Matter” movement? Surely not! Our Jane is the nation’s favourite author – she’s on our ten-pound note and we are all, regardless of our political differences, “Janeites”. Some adore her for her love scenes, especially if spiced up with a little wet-shirt action; some […]

Council’s commercial gamble

Richard Wilkins

Is it right for local councils to turn to commercialisation to fill holes in their finances? Local councils are facing the biggest cuts to government funding since 2010, with the Local Government Association (LGA) revealing that, overall, councils will have suffered a 77 per cent decrease in government funding between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This represents […]

Stop the rot!

Sadie Parker
rotting fish

Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at Kent University, darling of the Right and a regular on the punditry circuit, recently made an astonishing claim. “Reaction to Gove’s [Ditchley] speech is revealing,” he tweeted. “One side has ideas about how to send power down not up, plus change government. The other side is still struggling to […]

Useless Eustice? No, he’s much worse than that

Tom Scott

This article references some vile, racist language which we have reproduced, rather than hide just how morally-repulsive some individuals are. Editor. George Eustice has risen from obscurity to become the smooth-talking frontman for some of the worst aspects of Brexit. In February, Environment Minister George Eustice was loudly booed by an audience of farmers at […]

Resistance and hope

Anthea Simmons

First of all, a big thank you to all those who are reading our articles. The response has been fantastic. We’ve only been going for eight days, but already we are amplifying the reach of writers who deserve to be read, voices which need to be heard and issues which must be exposed. It’s great. […]

Somerset powers up!

Richard Wilkins

Somerset powers up as cutting-edge green energy storage scheme gets turned on. South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has proudly turned on the largest council-owned battery storage system in the UK. Located next to a National Grid substation near Taunton, the site – purchased in 2018 – has been transformed, in partnership with local and international […]

Dorset MPs: end of term reports Part II

Sadie Parker

Michael Tomlinson, Conservative MP for Mid-Dorset North Poole (Government Whip). By convention, whips don’t speak in parliamentary debates, and so there are no parliamentary interventions to report on for Michael Tomlinson. His name often appears on motions debated in the House and he frequently acts as a teller in votes. Whips also do not give […]

End of term reports: Dorset MPs Part 1: a mixed bag…

Sadie Parker

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East (Chair, Defence Committee). Tobias was frequently in the news this session, whether it was being the only Tory MP brave enough to put in an appearance on Good Morning Britain to face a grilling by Piers Morgan, or calling for aid for his beleaguered constituency when 500,000 flocked […]

Government plans to weaken nature protections

Miles King

I’m not much a Zoom enthusiast but the invitation to listen to Defra secretary of state George Eustice give a “major” speech on the environment, via Green Alliance, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. So, having finally got zoom to work on my computer, I sat and listened to him talk for 15 […]

Order! Order! End of term reports for Devon’s MPs

Dumbledrone

As parliament goes into recess again, how have Devon’s 12 MPs performed since our bleak midwinter election? Dumbledrone buzzes around the county to take a look at which voices are reaching Westminster from Devon. Neil Parish of Tiverton and Honiton continues to make his heaviest contributions in the areas of agriculture and food, and took […]

Overpriced fish and chips

Catrina Davies

Cornwall’s future, as an increasingly commodified playground for people who choose to have their real lives elsewhere, looks bleak. In the post-coronavirus, climate-emergency world, we have to dream better, argues Catrina Davies. I grew up in Cornwall doing low-pay, low-status jobs and being obediently grateful for tourism. Mining was finished; fishing and farming in decline. […]

Trident for the South West?

Stewart Britten

Britain’s Vanguard submarines, each armed with eight US Trident ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, have been patrolling the seas since 1994. An issue bitterly contested in the 1980s has now, for most of us, sunk beneath our consciousness like…well, a submarine. But will it stay that way? In the 1980s, US ground-launched cruise missiles were […]

Blocked by the ‘burdensome estate’

Mick Fletcher

The Strawberry Line is an ambitious project to provide a safe off-road path for cyclists and others, linking the communities along the southern boundary of the Mendip Hills.   It seeks, as far as possible, to follow the track of the old railway line of that name, famous for the boxes of fruit it hauled to […]

Build! Build! Build!

Margaret Ellis

What will our future look like? The government is faced with three major events which will affect our lives for decades to come – the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and climate change. A return to what we regarded as normal is neither possible nor (for many) desirable. So it was that the government began to set […]

Collateral damage: the plight of the excluded

Anthea Simmons

You have not been forgotten. We will not leave you behind. We are all in this together.” So tweeted Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer at 17:56 on 26 May. Sounds nice, huh? What a shame that it isn’t true. Some 3 million taxpayers, at a cautious estimate, feel utterly forgotten, completely left behind and not […]

The bucket list

Anita G

Anita moved from the Netherlands to Cornwall with her family in 2014. They were blissfully happy here. Then the referendum came and her husband was diagnosed with cancer… Young Matt: “I get so angry sometimes. People are so unthinking. They say ’We just don’t want any more newcomers, that’s all. People that are here can […]

Welcome to West Country Voices

Anthea Simmons

Welcome to the first edition of West Country Voices, a new online paper for people in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Run by volunteers and showcasing local writers, West Country Voices will be scrutinising and calling out those in power, challenging the narrative spun by the mainstream media, and giving a voice to those with […]

Barbarians at the gates? The Russia Report and why it matters

Tom Scott

At long last, we can read the Russia Report prepared last year by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). Boris Johnson had gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent this document ever seeing the light of day, and succeeded in blocking its release before the general election in December 2019. Arron Banks of Leave.EU had […]