September 16, 2020

Rishi Sunak’s summer statement was found to be underwhelming by many professional economists, with many of the macroeconomic decisions left for the Autumn budget. Rather, Sunak focussed on sector-specific interventions to ensure the economy survived through the summer. One of these sector-specific interventions was a glamorous sounding but relatively cheap scheme: Eat Out to Help Out. Customers throughout August received 50% off up to £10 every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday The scheme came in relatively cheaply for the government, making up around 2% of the total spending announcements, however the societal impact is large. August has become a mini food festival with foodies and restaurants benefitting, however the scheme has been criticised for threatening a second wave.

The primary logic behin...

August 30, 2020

The Institute for Government describes the National Security Advisor (NSA) as the “central coordinator and advisor to the Prime Minister and cabinet on security, intelligence, defence and some foreign policy matters”. They are crucial in creating a coherent approach to national security policy and the government's response to major crises both at home and abroad through their oversight of the National Security Council and their leading of the National Security Secretariat. All four previous NSAs have been civil service appointments, however, Boris Johnson has made the first political appointment to the role in the form of David Frost, a move which threatens the impartiality and scrutiny previously given by the role.

The “stepping down” of Mark Sedwill and the introduction of Frost reflects a cle...

August 18, 2020

One of the staple parts of the coronavirus pandemic, from a news perspective, was the daily government press conference. Every evening at 5pm, a minister and - generally - two scientific advisers, would disclose the latest number of new cases and deaths from or with COVID-19. For many, it was a daily ritual during the height of lockdown and represented the situation’s severity. Over time, the weekend briefings were removed before the press conference was stopped altogether. Now, in a bid to return to some form of ‘normal’, coronavirus press conferences will only take place when important announcements need to be made.

However, a government daily press conference looks set to commence from later this year. Currently, the Conservative party are hiring a Spokesperson who will be the government’s fa...

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...

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