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...

Matthew Oulton argues in favour of resignation 

Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. Number 10 was unequivocal in its messaging during the early weeks of the lockdown. What they didn’t mention in the slogan above, apparently, was that the rules don’t apply if you’re the chief adviser to the Prime Minister. Reading from a prepared statement on Monday, Dominic Cummings tried desperately to explain to an irate public why he had gone against the lockdown he helped to implement, and also that it wasn’t technically illegal. Whilst he has so far been backed by Number 10 and the government, it’s time for him to resign.

Firstly, it’s worth addressing the purpose of lockdown in the first place. Before lockdown was instituted, the government was already advising people not to go out, but people mostly di...

May 26, 2020

In the early stages of the COVID-19 global pandemic, media in the UK focused mainly on China. How they were handling the virus and how it began were just some of the questions being asked. China is where the virus started, so this was natural. Slightly further on in the timeline, however, media reporting in the UK has shifted away from China, and onto our own government’s handling of the virus. China passed its peak long before the UK and has reported zero new cases on multiple occasions. Here in the UK, we are still experiencing thousands of new cases every day. Thus, a shift away from China as the focal point is equally understandable. Yet the questions posed at the start of this pandemic must continue to be asked and begin to be answered. 

It is now common knowledge that the scale, severity,...

May 25, 2020

A trade union is a radical organisation within society. The notion that workers should be able to collectively ensure they have rights at work, safety checks and fair pay may seem normal now, but was once defined by its radicalism against the ruling classes. From the levellers to the chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs to the Peterloo massacre, working class movements have been oppressed over centuries for daring to fight for rights within both work and their wider lives. 

Indeed, their very presence has been an intrinsic component of the Labour Party. Founded in 1900 to ensure those who undertook labour had representation within Parliament, the fused link between Labour and the trade unions remains to this day. In the recent 2020 leadership election, candidates on the ballot paper needed to either...

Yes, it’s time for more Covid talk. What a shocker. As too many of us are painfully aware, the Covid-19 pandemic is now totaling almost two months. With the date of freedom unknown, failures surrounding testing accessibility and now suspected figure manipulation, it is quite easy to relate to the tide of growing impatience. There is seemingly a lack of light at the end of this virus-contaminated tunnel. A devastating loss of over 30,000 has ravaged the country. Curbing Covid is clearly the government priority, with little justification needed. Covid woes temporarily aside, British spirit is remaining positive. ‘We will meet again’, but in what context? What about those the virus is leaving behind? The impact of illnesses unrelated to Covid-19 could arguably be more catastrophic than the initial...

May 14, 2020

The age of the media politician is well and truly upon us. From hits on social media to constant political interviews, long read profiles to politicians on reality TV shows (or the other way around in Donald Trump’s case), politicians are defined by their personality. It is easy for politics, unfortunately, to turn into a soap opera, where the focus becomes the different characters in the political arena rather than important policy developments. Invariably, this damages both the public understanding of politics and our attitude towards politicians. 

Media organisations too are under increased pressure. With falling advertising revenue and plummeting sales, not least during the coronavirus pandemic, a greater focus has turned towards generating clicks and headlines. Publications, whether online,...

May 13, 2020

On 4th May 2020, Conor Burns, a Conservative MP, resigned from government after a report from the House of Commons Committee on Standards found he had threatened to use his rights as an MP in a family financial dispute. Burns has a  chequered ten-year history in Parliament, including an investigation into racist remarks and accepting all-expenses-paid trips from the authoritarian Kingdom of Bahrain. He has been known to be a loose cannon in the Conservative Party for years.

This is a clear-cut case of abuse of power. However, removing Conor Burns from Parliament is not straightforward, even if there was adequate political pressure. The process begins with a recall petition from the Standards Committee which must be signed by 10% of the MP’s constituents. If this is successful then a  by-election...

May 6, 2020

Throughout education, we are always told to be as academically successful as possible. Why is this the case? Good qualifications are more likely to guarantee a stable, well paid job, that has a greater impact on the world. This can inevitably mean a better quality of life with more choices and flexibility. The education system then, it could be argued, is creating new generations of children that both accept the existence of an establishment and wish to become part of it. 

This is clearly damaging for children across the world who don’t succeed. Both the education system and society might paint them as failures for taking up lower paid jobs even if, as we have seen during the coronavirus pandemic, their work is vital. There is this concept of an ‘establishment’ above ordinary people, dictating d...

April 29, 2020

Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, immigration was a hot topic. The incumbent government appeared determined to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the UK. However, could this pandemic make immigration a hot topic for an entirely different reason? In other words, could it trigger a rethink of the government’s proposed ‘points-based immigration system’ and prompt a shift in the public’s attitude towards immigration?

Over the past few years, the desire to reduce immigration to Britain has slowly emerged from beneath the surface. One of the first prominent examples of this was Gordon Brown’s use of the slogan ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ in 2009. This might have been a protest against the EU’s core principle of freedom of movement. Since then, the desire to reduce immigration seems to...

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