July 11, 2020

Boris Johnson has announced plans for a new ‘Commission of Race and Ethnic Disparities’ in order to review racial discrimination in the UK. This has been proposed in the wake of weeks of protest after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in the US. 

The new review is seen as a recognition by Number 10 that enough is enough, and that the UK has to do more to tackle racism. The commission will examine all aspects of racial inequality in our country, including in employment, health and education. The hope for the Prime Minister is that such a commission will enable future action instead of hollow positive words, on what is an extremely pressing issue in modern Western society. The review’s aim is to set out a “new positive agenda for change”, said Mr Johnson.

It all sounds wonderful...

Theatres are in a state of crisis. The Creative Industries Federation estimates that there will be a combined revenue drop of £74 billion in 2020 for creative industries with an estimated 400,000 jobs at risk of redundancy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, as the CIF points out, the country faces a "cultural catastrophe." Yet so far the government has done very little, if anything, to help, with no promise of an emergency bail out fund. Whilst the culture secretary Oliver Dowden has allowed theatres to re-open but without live performances, it rings hollow in an industry built around live performances. This has prompted widespread outcry from leading theatre professionals who put together an open letter demanding governmental support for the arts. Prominent signatories include Ph...

June 30, 2020

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick and former Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey were mired in separate controversies last week. Jenrick had allegedly accepted ‘cash for favours’, approving a property development of Conservative Party donor and former Daily Star & Express editor, Richard Desmond, following a £12,000 donation to the party. The development approval has since been reversed. Long-Bailey had retweeted an article in The Independent that purportedly contained an anti-Semitic trope. By the end of the week, however, Jenrick remained in his post and Long-Bailey had been sacked.

Wrongdoing in both cases is highly contested, especially with both cases relying upon inference to substantiate their allegations. Various interrelated considerations, ho...

June 26, 2020

‘Ruling Britannia’ is perfect for understanding why political reform is necessary.

Andrew Marr has been an astute, dominant political commentator for decades. Formerly Political Editor at the BBC, he has hosted the flagship ‘Andrew Marr Show’ every Sunday for 15 years, where an array of politicians and media commentators assemble for interrogation on the latest political developments. Alongside this, he has written a number of books on history and politics. One of his earlier works, ‘Ruling Britannia: The Failure and Future of British Democracy’, is a sterling, incisive read. That the book was published in 1995 makes the words within no less relevant or important.

Within the book, Marr, then chief political commentator at the Independent, takes readers by the hand and explores the murky, obtuse a...

June 18, 2020

As the United States enters its fourth week of protests against the heartless killing of George Floyd, the UK has responded in solidarity of Black Americans, performing their own rallies and protests all over the country calling for an end to systemic racism. Certain commentators question the comparison and relation between the two nations, arguing that the police brutality and history of slavery is far more severe in the US than it is in the UK. Emily Maitlis, for instance, questioned George the Poet on BBC Newsnight with the phrase ‘it’s not the same is it?’. These last few weeks have pried open a Pandora’s Box of British racial injustice stemming from the country’s imperialist past. The difficulty remains in how to solve the disheartening and abhorrent reality of a society destined to neglec...

June 17, 2020

As the government announced that primary schools were to reopen on June 1, many teachers’ unions and the British Medical Association have and continue to express their deep concerns about the health implications of this decision. It is undeniable that the government has handled the COVID-19 crisis disastrously – Boris Johnson’s absence of five Cobra meetings on the virus, the government’s failure to supply sufficient PPE, the decision to not take part in the EU scheme of bulk-buying ventilators, and Johnson *actually* defending Dominic Cummings after breaking the lockdown rules to travel 260 miles are to name only a few. No words seem to adequately describe the horrendous situation we are currently in.

With the highest death toll in Europe and a figure continuously rising, it seems absurd to man...

June 17, 2020

Whilst the #BlackLivesMatter movement has existed for about seven years since the shooting of Trayvon Martin, its presence as a household term has peaked and waned throughout that time. The last few weeks following the death of George Floyd have brought the Black Lives Matter movement to its most recognised and established point during those seven years. However, there are concerns that this support will fade over the coming weeks and months, that as BLM fades from Instagram’s algorithm, it too will fade from people’s minds. Posting a black square is a well-meaning show of support, but it can often be performative. #BlackoutTuesday had more than double the posts than the George Floyd petition had signatures.

The very fact that it has taken seven years for the Black Lives Matter movement to reach...

June 16, 2020

The fall of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol has sparked fierce debate across the country and the globe. The statue was captured during the Bristol Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday 7th of June, and subsequently submerged in the River Avon -  the very river in which Colston drowned 18,000 slaves – as a sort of poetic justice. 

It isn’t hard to see why Edward Colston was the object of the protestors’ dissent on Sunday. Whilst Colston is celebrated as a former MP and a major financial contributor to Bristol, he made his fortune through human suffering – specifically, the suffering of black people. Between 1672 and 1689, Colston’s ships are believed to have transported around 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas. Closely shackled together, hundreds of enslaved people...

May 29, 2020

Just shy of six months since his successful election, Boris Johnson should be riding high, yet his position as Prime Minister seems oddly precarious. After fighting off a nasty bout of coronavirus his leadership has stalled amidst crises surrounding political failings and personal mishaps surrounding the pandemic. Once he gets past the immediate devastation, Johnson will stumble into a series of debates about the Union, Brexit and ultimately his leadership.

While all nations have suffered under the coronavirus pandemic, initial data suggests that excess deaths in the United Kingdom are higher than elsewhere in the world. This is largely due to a failure to protect care homes from becoming infected, indeed the age profile of the virus means almost half of Covid-19 deaths have occurred in the over...

May 27, 2020

The ongoing debate around reopening schools hit the headlines in the past weeks, with the Daily Mail taking aim at education unions, imploring

them to drop their opposition and “Let our teachers be heroes”. Teachers then are the latest group dragged into the rhetoric of heroism.

This language pervades lockdown Britain. Nurses are heroes, essential workers are heroes, Captain Tom is a hero. Now, the Mail has declared, teachers are being held back from a glorious charge into the valley of heroism by the pesky NEU and its ilk, who’ve demanded that teachers only return when the right safety measures are put in place. Do teachers want to be heroes? One poll by the NASUWT of its members found that only 5% thought it was safe to return. Do they have to be? Since the Mail’s headline, the unions’ resist...

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