Section: World

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Is Northamptonshire County Council the worst run council in recent history?

Stewart Tolley

Northamptonshire is not somewhere you would expect to make world wide news. Yet in 2018 the New York Times (more used to doing an exposé  on Donald Trump’s finances than reporting on English local government) reported the headline ‘As Austerity Helps Bankrupt an English County, Even Conservatives Mutiny’. The legendary incompetence of the Conservative run […]

Where are you on rejoin?

Cliff Mitchell
Where are you on rejoin? Cliff Mitchell For many of us, it is axiomatic that leaving the EU was a huge mistake that will damage our country and diminish our rights as citizens. Our future, we believe, must be as part of the EU so we can work together to address the very real and massive issues we face nationally and internationally. The UK has the potential to be a real force for good in the world but not if we continue down a path of right-wing populism and English exceptionalism. Some argue that now is not the time to campaign to rejoin the EU: it’s too soon, people have had enough of Brexit, we’ll be branded as sore ‘Remoaners’, we have to be patient, it’s going to be a long process to persuade public opinion of the case for rejoining. Others argue that if we believe our future lies with the EU, we should say so now, loudly and clearly, giving like-minded people a rallying voice and hope for a better tomorrow. Experience of street campaigning over recent years does suggest one thing: being crystal clear about your own position leads to a much more constructive debate with those who disagree. Your arguments are easily undermined if your position is unclear or ambiguous. Arguing for a People’s Vote for example was unconvincing and easily dismissed if you were unwilling to be clear about your own position on remain versus leave. It’s also hard to be passionate about an ambiguous position. The Leave campaign was successful based on stirring people’s emotions rather than presenting data and rational argument and there is still plenty of passion generated by Brexit just waiting to be channelled. Can that passion be sustained over a long, steady campaign for gradual, closer alignment with the EU? Will it burn itself out in a short rejoin now campaign that may not be successful? If we believe in the UK as a constructive partner in the biggest peace project in history, in working together with diverse people to make the world a better place, that the UK belongs at the heart of the EU, but we don’t say so, are we being dishonest and even unprincipled, leaving like-minded people feeling isolated? We are not politicians, probably don’t want to be, and shouldn’t try to be. We don’t have to adjust our position based on double guessing how our political opponents will respond to our next ten steps – leave that to the politicians, that’s their job. What we can do is be a voice for the huge number of ordinary people who are, like us, devastated at what has become of our country. Hope and a vision for a better future are in short supply right now. Why are we not providing that? Do we not understand how powerful that could be? We have a populist government committed to nothing except their own control of power, whatever that takes. But they are unbelievably incompetent and politics has never been so unpredictable. Brexit is an unfolding disaster, not the success Johnson and co. predicted or claimed, and populism around the world is not on the rise as Brexiteers expected – thank you Joe Biden, in particular. The Johnson government has, as a result, been wrong-footed and weakened. Right-wing populists, by definition, listen and pander to popular opinion. If popular opinion is that we would be better in the EU, then populist politicians like Johnson will listen. Our challenge is to channel public opinion to a shared rejoin position and we can’t do that if we remain silent or our stance is ambiguous or nuanced. Perhaps we are also trying to be too smart. For most of us it’s not our job to be politicians and we are not equipped with the Machiavellian skills required of that role. Remember the simplistic, emotional messages used so successfully to win the Leave campaign? Our message as individuals does not have to be the same as the messages from the main political parties, or even the main pro-EU campaign groups. But we should be clear and uncomplicated Ideally, we should all align behind a common, grassroots message. Most can agree that life will be better for all of us, for our country, and indeed the world if we rejoin the EU and take back our place as a force for good – and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. So whether you think we should campaign to rejoin now, or take a more cautious, step-by-step approach of gradually moving closer to the EU, make your position clear and principled – that way you are much more likely to persuade others of the way forward. /ENDS

For many of us, it is axiomatic that leaving the EU was a huge mistake that will damage our country and diminish our rights as citizens. Our future, we believe, must be as part of the EU so we can work together to address the very real and massive issues we face nationally and internationally. […]

Rewarding the ruthless: capitalism and psychopathy – a perfect marriage?

Den Cain
Capitalism and Psychopathy

Climate change is hurling the planet towards oblivion, yet investors continue to finance “dirty” industries. Politicians introduce only relatively minor measures to address the crisis. Industrialists push ahead with environmental destruction in the name of profit – in spite of the fact their own children and grandchildren will be among those to bear the most severe consequences.

Don’t let the Tories stop dissent

Richard Hall

Have you ever organised or joined a demonstration over something you felt strongly about? If the new Policing Bill being rushed through Parliament this week comes into law, in the future you could find yourself facing a jail term of 10 years if you do.Why? The reasons are set out by Chris Daw QC in […]

In terms of the monarchy, there is a way we can have our cake and eat it

Stewart Tolley

It has not come as a surprise but with the recent revelations about the monarchy, the republicans are having a field day.  #Abolish the Monarchy soon began to trend on twitter. Republic, the main lobby group for UK republicans tweeted with glee: “The monarchy has just been hit by its worst crisis since the abdication […]

The conversation men should have with each other

Simon Ferrigno

When I was 16, I witnessed a sexual assault. At school, of all places. This was in the 1980s, early on. I knew this was wrong but I had no idea how to deal with it. There were several of us around, mostly male. Most of us were probably as uncomfortable as I was. A slightly older boy grabbed a young woman who was passing by, touched her, pushed her. Laughing. Said she was asking for it.

Whisper who dares

Anna Girolami

We will have no recourse when the police silence us. No-one will have to resign or explain.


11 days ago, Sarah Everard disappeared in Clapham at about 9.30 pm. She was walking home from a friend’s house.

Vauxhall Motors

Ann C Holland

The company owner now is Stellantis, a merger of Fiat-Chrysler and Peugeot. The plant could be left empty. They could go for an electric car but the future looks as grim as it has for some time. Just in time supply chains won’t necessarily work with Brexit and Covid-19.

Why the Electoral Reform Movement Needs Nigel Farage

Stewart Tolley

Like many of my fellow Britons, I love a good pub quiz. I think back fondly to the pre-pandemic era when I was able to see my friends weekly for a chance to name obscure capital cities or try and eke out a song title from listening to music over a crackly speaker system. My […]

There’s something about Nadine

Anna Girolami

In this week’s furore over NHS pay, Nadine Dorries is front and centre again. Whenever the government needs someone to loudly defend the indefensible (in that tricky two day gap between announcement and U-turn), they invariably send Nadine over the top.

‘None are safe until all are safe’

Anna Girolami

Building healthcare resilience against future pandemics Yesterday, shadow health secretary and Labour MP for Leicester South, Jonathan Ashworth gave the keynote address at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) webinar on building healthcare resilience. Central Bylines was on hand to take notes and put together this summary. Unprecedented not unpredictedThe Covid-19 pandemic may be […]

The End of the Line?

Richard Hall

Dysfunctional families have long been the bane of sections of the British media and society – hated for their anti-social ‘f*** you’ behaviour, their casual attitudes towards marriage, their dependency on state handouts and the sometimes very disreputable characters they associate themselves with.

Block Party

Anna Girolami

In my East Midlands, progressively-inclined corner of the internet, I come across daily complaints by members of the public that their Tory MP has blocked them on social media.

A Sense of Identity: National Identity and the coming Census

Cate Earnshaw Dudley

Every decade a census is taken in England and Wales. This snapshot of all people and households gives information to help plan resource allocation, and will help future historians understand us. This year, there is a lot of chatter on social media asking the question ‘Do you feel European?’ with speculation whether we should, or […]

Travel free roaming for 47 years of my life

Ann C Holland

As a geographer and scientist I have spent my life viewing the scene and travelling wherever I could. Born in Ellesmere Port, aged 4, a friend and I regularly tricycled down to the Dock Basin where the Shropshire Union Canal met the Manchester Ship Canal. Today the Boat Museum is a major tourist attraction, whilst […]