Section: UK

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Midlands farming sold out: ‘it’s crass and it’s wrong’

Simon Ferrigno

Stanley has farmed 700 acres of land with his parents for the past 12 years in the region. The farm is a mixed arable and beef and mainly tenanted farm on which the family have native longhorn cattle, a breed that was classed as rare until recently. Stanley clearly loves his cattle, and talks with passion about the many dozens of native sheep and cattle breeds that hover near extinction. He fears a Free trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia, said to offer Australia zero tariffs and quotas, will tip these breeds over the edge alongside most of the people who rear them.

The Midlands After Brexit

Cliff Mitchell

Trade figures recently released for the first quarter of 2021 (1Q2021) provide worrying clues as to the impact of both COVID-19 and Brexit on the Midlands economy. One thing that is clear is that long-term planning has never been harder – previous economic trends have been blown out of the water by the pandemic lockdowns, the uncertainty of the transition period, and the confusion of post-Brexit trading.

Central Bylines ‘rona round up

Anna Girolami

Today sees the launch of step three of the government’s roadmap to get us out of lockdown. Today, I can go to a sauna (yeah..no), have a meal inside a pub (blessèd relief, it was snowing here last week) or stay overnight with my in-laws (I’m more likely to go for that sauna, to be honest). It all sounds wonderful. Our region has been in one sort of lockdown or another almost continually since November last year, bar a brief and lethal giddy spell over Christmas. It’s been hard but it’s worked – by the end of April, new cases, hospital numbers and deaths were all down, down, down.

The citizens who stayed

Alice Knight

I am lucky enough here in Derbyshire to have my post delivered by someone who came to England from Poland in 2005. He is courteous, friendly and helpful. I have often wondered what his impressions are of life in the UK, especially how he had been impacted by the Brexit experience.

“IDAHOBIT” day: progress for LGBT+ rights stalls

Bryan Manley-Green

t’s hard to believe that it’s just 31 years ago, on 17 May 1990, that the World Health Organisation finally declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. This important date was subsequently chosen as International Day Against Homophobia, which first took place in 2005.

Bringing European music to schools

Ann C Holland

In 1992 we lived and worked in Dorset. A beautiful count where I was Deputy Head of Lytchett Minster School.

Two of my colleagues were language teachers and together, we decided to create a European fortnight of theatre, music and food to celebrate the Union. Most of the staff and students got involved, and we produced several Spanish and French plays, held three concerts and hosted a Brazilian/Portuguese dance group who happened to be visiting Bournemouth.

If not now, then when? – Enough of the excuses

Joel Bates

In the early stages of the pandemic, excuses centred around its unexpected nature. The government was ‘doing its best’. Fast forward to the peak of lockdown one, suddenly making excuses was much harder than it had been. An enormous death toll, failure after failure, it was proving more difficult to defend the government’s actions, or rather, inactions.

It’s a gas, gas, gas

Anna Girolami

Anaesthetists, on the whole, have a chip on their shoulder. We are the single largest hospital specialty in the NHS and, in our own view, we pretty much run the place. Try having surgery without an anaesthetist, or a baby or a critical illness or a chronic pain issue or an intravenous dialysis line or.. I could go on, but you get the point. In essence, we (yes we, I worked as an NHS anaesthetist for ten years) provide the physiological bedrock upon which all other specialties have to stand to perform their work.

Boris’s Culture War

Stephen Wilmot

Since last summer Boris Johnson has established himself as a committed culture warrior. With his union jacks, his imperial nostalgia, his right wing appointments to media bodies and his denunciations of radical protest, he is clearly imposing an authoritarian nationalist agenda on the country. In effect he is recruiting the machinery of the state to shift Britain’s cultural centre of gravity to the right.

A Union disunited?

James Lindsay

Although one seat short of a majority, the SNP performance at the recent Scottish Parliament election should not be underestimated nor its implications for the future of the UK. The hybrid list-constituency electoral system in Scotland was specifically designed to prevent Westminster-style one-party dominance and yet despite that the SNP came so very close.

The day the music died

Ann C Holland

The stark change to the lives of the UK’s musicians and actors is heartbreaking. Prior to 31 December 2020, lockdown aside, a musician could jump onto Eurostar, pass speedily into France or Belgium and carry their instrument without paperwork, tariffs or red tape to their venue. Maybe for a week, maybe for a whole season. Post-Brexit, only 90 days is permissible.

The Death of Dalian Atkinson

Anna Girolami

Last year in Minneapolis, a black man was killed by a white US police officer. Two weeks ago, officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in a landmark court case that was reported around the world and hailed by the US president himself as a “giant step forward” against systemic racism […]

Just not cricket

Anna Girolami

Today is 4th May, we are deep into spring. This year’s county cricket season is three weeks’ old and Derbyshire is already languishing at the bottom of their group. Despite Covid-19, despite the Big Bash League, despite the razzamatazz of the Indian Premier League*, cricket remains the quintessential game of the English summer. The gentle […]

Vaccine Fog

Lindsay Neil

The vaccine environment is a complex mixture of commercial and political interests, investment in novel science and technologies, substantial commercial profit, collapsing national economies and geopolitical reputations in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Thus creating ‘Vaccine Fog’.

The downgrading of our right to protest

Central Bylines Team

In yet another ‘dialogue de sourds‘ with my MP, I recently emailed them about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB) currently going through Parliament. As so often, the reply I received was deeply unsatisfactory. But more than unsatisfactory was their use of language.  Distortion, deflection and (mis- or re) direction are employed to […]

Reading the room: the European Super League fiasco

Richard Hall

The European Super League is no more. Like the famous Norwegian Blue parrot, it’s bereft of life, expired and ceased to be. I’d like to imagine those behind it were thinking of it as a welcome and imaginative idea that would raise morale after a year of Covid lockdown. Instead, they were hit with a […]

Not so super now

Tom Pratt

In 1972, Pink Floyd recorded ‘Money’, a razor sharp satire about wealthy people. Fifty years on, the lyric “Think I’ll buy me a football team” has never been more current. This week, the birth and death of the planned European Super League (ESL) shone a spotlight on how the pursuit of wealth has corrupted the […]