Section: Politics

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Munira Mirza, no 10 and planned NHS revolution

Reece Stafferton

So what is the goal of this task force? No 10 won’t really say but speaking to OpenDemocracy, Kailash Chand, the former British Medical Association deputy chair, said he believed the purpose of the task force was part of a wider effort to drive forward more NHS privatisation…

Could a Dad’s Army government do more for farmers?

Andrew Brown

The UK holds very few cards and I can imagine the US being like Private Walker rubbing his hands with glee as he spots a desperate punter to take advantage of. We are constantly told that nothing will be allowed in that is below our high standards. If this is true then why are thousands of tonnes of oilseed rape being allowed in that have been grown using neonicotinoids? Will this stop at the end of the transition period? I doubt it. How can we trust the Government without it being law? They promised oven ready deals with the European Union (EU), and told us it would be the easiest thing in the world to make an agreement, and farmers would get more support payments.

War and order

Jayson Winters

Do we naively believe that capitalism (as currently pursued by the few, for the few) rests on a Keynesian economic system, complete with a good British sense of fair play? Do we think that capitalism is being used to strengthen our democracy?

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.

Nightingale hospitals – just sheds full of beds

Anna Girolami

Unluckily for Gove, Covid-19 has not gone away and now irate Tories are demanding to know why the Nightingale hospitals aren’t being used. They are pointing out that he can hardly claim that the NHS is on its knees when the Nightingales are empty.

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.
More from East Midlands Bylines:
• Leicestershire needs a green recovery
• Farmers feel abandoned by the Tory government
• Can Chesterfield be plastic free?
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.

Play GoViral! A great way to spread fake news

Jenny Kartupelis

Now, using the principles of ‘Bad News’, the team has developed ‘Go Viral!’, a game that puts you in the shoes of a purveyor of false information. It only takes about five minutes to play, so before reading further, try it yourself! See? Or as your Game Guide might have said: “Awesome!”

Open letter to East Midlands MPs

Hania Orszulik

Given the magnitude of this issue, it is essential that all MPs hold the government to this commitment to the British people, as stated on page 5 of the 2019 Conservative election manifesto: “Our deal… puts the whole country on a path to a new free trade agreement with the EU. This will be a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation”.

From zero to hero

Anna Girolami

Life is a zero-sum game. If you win, someone else has to lose. That’s right, isn’t it? More to the point, if someone else wins then you lose. It’s certainly true sometimes.

Greg Clarke ‘at his most woke’

Nathan O'Hagan

After being challenged on his choice of words by MP Kevin Brennan, Clarke quickly apologised and attempted to explain himself by saying he was “a product of having worked overseas”.

CANZUK and CPTPP: just naïve fantasies?

Stewart Tolley

CANZUK’s proponents have produced their own programme of proposals, which include freedom of movement between members, common foreign and defence policy and a near complete eradication of trade barriers.

Ashfield deserves better than Lee Anderson

Anna Girolami

While we wish Mr Anderson a speedy recovery, it does occur to us to wonder if perhaps he could take a little more care. The pictures in the press of his meeting with Johnson last week showed them standing close together with nary a mask between them.

Modern protest music: is anyone still listening?

Jayson Winters

The ‘punk movement’ of the late 1970s rose up out of a UK experiencing general strikes and cutbacks. The banning of the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen (1977) by the BBC only served to increase the appeal of the song amongst its target audience.

Dear Prime Minister

Cath Moss

Events have changed everything and, in the words of one of your predecessors, ‘events dear boys’ shape politics above all else. Now is your opportunity to be our Churchill, to bring the country back from the brink at the eleventh hour.

Whatever happened to the Norway option?

Carol Weaver

Polls show, given another referendum, more people would opt to remain than to leave the European Union (EU). But we have left the EU and cannot undo Brexit for the moment. Nevertheless, we have not left the single market and could have the option to stay – the Norway option. The Vote Leave government does […]

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.


CG Forrester

“The most frightening scenario is where the dispute remains unresolved on January 20, 2021, the date for the inauguration of the new presidential term, and the military is uncertain as to who is entitled to receive the nuclear codes as commander-in-chief.”