Section: Human interest

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Mr Drake goes to Siberia

Carolyn Thornborow, with additional research by Phillip Thornborow

I inherited some old photograph albums from my late godmother.  One of the albums was put together by her father (Mr Drake) and records his army service with the 1/9th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, which included time in Russia (1918-1919). The 1/9th Hampshires were originally a Cyclists Battalion of the Territorial Army. However soon […]

I will not hesitate

Shirley Martin

I will not hesitate to hesitate
I will roll-out our roll-down
I will blather on incessantly
absolutely go to town

The need for action is now

MJ Kellman

They used to say where there’s muck there’s money and it seems this is becoming increasingly more relevant to the plastic we throw away as rubbish each year.  Of 13 billion plastic bottles used every year in the UK, only 7.7 billion (59 percent) are collected for recycling And yet empty plastic bottles can be […]

Whose Ill-Gotten Gains?

Stephen Wilmot

Anyone who has benefited from living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has benefited from the proceeds of slavery. The effect of slavery on the people of Africa and the West Indies (poverty, instability and dislocation) is the shadow side of the prosperity, stability and security that many British people have enjoyed, with occasional interruptions, since the 19th century.

Free school meals

Anna Girolami

The free school meals saga chunters unedifyingly on. Yesterday, social media was full of debate about what exactly was being provided in the £30 food parcels that an eligible child receives once every two weeks. High profile celebrity activists such as Marcus Rashford and Jack Monroe have yet again been asking the awkward questions that never seem to occur to th

Part of the main

Jenny Kartupelis

A reflection on John Donne’s Meditation No 17 No man is an island,Entire of itself,Every man is a piece of the continent,A part of the main.If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europe is the less As Big Ben chimes the new year inThe Ode to Joy’s still ours to sing! We’re part of […]

What to say anew this boxing day

Shirley Martin

What to say anew this boxing daywith presents already goneand voices stretched, strained, long drawn outthose well-known grooves so thinly worn St. Stephen knelt and prayed aloudthat forgiveness might be foundby those who midst the clatterheard only rain of stone There was no music therethere was no soft fall snowflake airthere was no hush of […]

The Excluded – 3 million UK taxpayers

EM Bylines Team

These are often entrepreneurial individuals who take risks to create and establish new businesses or individuals who have no option but to work in a freelance capacity, such as performers and many others associated with our vital arts sector.

1/10 for the government’s Covid-19 response

EM Bylines Team

Layla Moran MP, chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said on Thursday, “We are concerned that the government’s approach so far has not worked and has left the UK mourning one of the highest number of lives lost to the pandemic, while at the same time bracing for one of the deepest recessions in its aftermath.

2030 and the green industrial revolution

Richard Vann

The prime minister aims to lead the government and the country into a new green industrial revolution with a ten-point plan, issued on 18 November 2020. One might call it the Johnson revolution. The target is to make the UK a zero emissions country. That’s a tall order, because although our economy has been advancing rapidly for about 250 years, it’s mostly been at the expense of the environment.
The ten-point plan has many aspects. One is that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will not be on sale after 2030. This is a big challenge as 2.3 million vehicles were sold in 2019, but only about 1.6 per cent were electric. What about the heavy goods vehicles, diesel trains, diesel ships, and kerosene jet planes? They are a problem, and the answer is … a consultation! Whatever is decided, there is at least one cop out – to plant enough trees to absorb the carbon dioxide (CO2) that these modes of transport are producing. As it doesn’t really matter where the trees are planted, it’s perversely possible for some companies that have made a load of dosh from cutting down the rain forests to be given a new load of dosh for re-planting them.
Say the 2030 date goes ahead, what about all the disruption? For certain, there will be a lot of fuss, but nothing as bad as Covid-19. What about the infrastructure costs, like charging points and improving the roads? These costs will be great, but the chancellor didn’t baulk at spending about £400 billion on fighting the pandemic. The main problem with Rishi Sunak and his recent spending review is that he didn’t mention the green industrial revolution that was so important to the prime minister a week earlier.
This proves what we all suspected. The different aspects of government are like a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces fit together. Coherence is lacking. What is done this week will be undone next week. This helps to explain the inadequate response to Covid-19. Whatever means you might choose to fight the virus you would never choose our government to co-ordinate the action. At present we are in a climate emergency, but again we should not expect any help from government. Sunak was right when he said the individual, the family, and the community must become stronger. But he failed to mention that his government is so full of weaknesses that it should be ignored.
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More from East Midlands Bylines:
• Leicestershire needs a green recovery
• Farmers feel abandoned by the Tory government
• Can Chesterfield be plastic free?
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Apart from Sunak, will anybody else oppose this revolution? Well, why would an oil company vote for electric vehicles? Only if its main plan was to switch out of oil. And why would car manufacturers want to move from their cosy status quo to a scary new world? The large car companies will be forced to compete with the new kids on the block, such as Tesla, and some of our dearly loved brands may not survive. You can almost hear the gnashing of teeth as the day of Armageddon approaches. But the oil industry and the petrol car industry will still be using their influence and money to try to slow the green revolution.
So why has it taken the government so long to come up with this ten-point plan? Weren’t these environmental problems forecast 50 years ago? Yes indeed, but while our politicians were aware the environment was being brutalised, the natural world was not actually dead. The old oak trees in our parks and woodlands seemed to be taking the strain. Also, has the government ever got an award for being innovative? It hates change and has the power to ignore adverse comment. That is until now. At the moment more people are willing to side with Greta Thunberg than our dithering ministers.
What about U-turns? That’s something the government is good at when you consider environmental promises. The zero CO2 new houses promised for 2015 did not happen. Johnson’s promise of gas boilers to be phased out by 2023 has already been declared a ‘mistake’. U-turns reveal incompetence, U-turns promote distrust, and in all probability, U-turns will reduce the ten-point plan to dust. Is there any hope? Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on our government to bring about the green industrial revolution. Ordinary people and companies are making it happen. We’ve seen the need for change, and we’re not waiting until 2030.
It’s a popular revolution, not a Johnson revolution.

Lone parenting in the Leicester lockdown: cyberbullying

Ngozi Eneh

Close observation might reveal some emotions like laughter, anger, upset or sadness when using their device. If your child is swift to hide their screen or device when you are close by, that is another sign not to ignore. Other signs include withdrawal from others, depression, constant closing and reopening of new social media accounts, loss of interest in people or activities, avoiding all forms of socialising, even ones previously enjoyed.

No place to be – saving Europhiles

Stephen Wilmot

Professor John Curtice reported that identification as British or English was an important motivator for leave voters in the referendum, but identification with Europe and the EU was only significant for a relatively small group of Remainers.

What does ‘Equalities’ mean to you?

Gale Waller

We all have skills and talents though mine may not be the same as yours. For example, as a teacher my daughter has a reputation for excellent classroom management. I had the same reputation when I taught. She lip reads because of her hearing loss; I have excellent hearing, compensation for sight loss. Young people at the back of a class have no chance of private conversations in our classrooms!

How should we remember?

Richard Hall

Memorials are a feature of the landscape. They reflect moments in time in a variety of forms. They commemorate, celebrate, inspire and educate. They enhance their surroundings. They can have more sinister purposes too, such as intimidation and the reinforcement of personality cults.

No place to be – my country has ‘ceased to exist’

Stephen Wilmot

David Howard from Kingsbury, England, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons The protracted conflict over Brexit has reached its endgame, and it’s clear that, whatever the final shape of it, Brexit is done.   Boris Johnson has been instrumental in the outcome, but Brexit does not now depend on his political survival.  The Tory party […]

Can Chesterfield be plastic-free?

EM Bylines Team

Chesterfield Borough Council backed going plastic free in 2019 under its climate change policy, having declared a climate emergency in April last year.  It is a move with cross-party support that is currently being pushed again by the Liberal Democrats, whose Glynis Falconer is taking over the mayoralty. (The Borough is Labour controlled). They are […]

Halloween or Reformation Day?

Carolyn Thornborow

Pumpkins are appearing in the shops and some may have arrived on a doorstep near you.  Yes, it is Halloween, although whether trick or treat will be as popular this year is debatable. Halloween (more formally known as the Eve of All Souls Day) is celebrated on the same day as Reformation Day but in […]

The Culling of the Forests (an extract)

Shirley Martin

This is an extract from a longer epic poem, which we hope to see in a full length publication soon. It covers events over the past four and some years Britons! – an hour is coming an hour you’ve never seen before to the solid ground of institution an axe is now laid at your […]