Section: Society

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The £20 UC cut: the final straw?

Valerie Huggins

At the beginning of August, the headline in the Guardian stated “Johnson faces rebellion over ‘intolerable’ hunger and poverty in home counties”. Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe in Buckinghamshire (and lead Brexiter) was apparently shocked by the crisis in food insecurity after a study by Sheffield University researchers revealed that his constituency is one of […]

The housing emergency in Totnes (and beyond): Sandra’s story, part 1

AtmosTotnes

When we say Atmos will build 62 truly affordable homes, and that Totnes is experiencing a housing emergency, it is easy to lose sight of the human stories behind that. So @SaputoInc, we’re going to tell you one of those stories. Let’s call our teller ‘Sandra’… It matters that you hear her story, Saputo Inc. […]

A fair start? Poor children locked out of vital early years services

Valerie Huggins

I awake this morning to news of yet another example of the deceit underpinning this government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, in one of the most neglected areas of public policy: the support for our youngest children. According to the latest research by the Sutton Trust and the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust, England’s poorest children are being ‘locked-out’ […]

Was the mass murder in Plymouth terrorism? A letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear Editor, Re: Let’s not mince words: the mass murder in Plymouth was an act of terrorism I worry society is becoming too quick to judge and that we are too easily convinced we are right on every issue (having tapped into the opinions of people ‘like us’ on social media). During the Brexit campaign […]

An archbishop who prioritises English nationalism above honesty and social justice: latest recruit to the culture wars

Clare Knight

Meet the latest culture wars ‘warrior’, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, the second most powerful cleric in the land, admired by none other than that living embodiment of Christian values, Nigel Farage. Since we appear to be returning to a Henry VIII-style era, with a much-married autocrat dominating the political stage empowered by the eponymous powers of […]

Garden villages – are they as green as they seem?

Mick Fletcher

In August 2018 the government set out proposals for the creation of ‘garden communities’, intended to tackle the chronic shortage of housing in the UK and raise the standard of building development.  The name consciously harks back to the ‘Garden City’ vision of Ebenezer Howard but also reflects one of the stock cliches of property […]

Early years forgotten again

Valerie Huggins
child playing with wooden toys in early years class

I listened to Johnson’s levelling-up speech with hope in my heart that he would at last focus on the sector that has the potential to make the most difference to children’s life outcomes – early years care and education. In the speech, Johnson acknowledged that after ten years of Conservative government: “If you are a […]

Trans rights: let’s build bridges, not walls

Tom Scott
Icon symbolising division

The issue of trans rights is being used by the right as a wedge to divide the left. And, as the resignations of Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley as Green Party co-leaders show, the left has fallen headlong into this trap. This is an article I really didn’t want to write, prompted by the decision […]

The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy: WCB author event

Editor-in-chief
Data and Democracy

Join us on 13 July at 18:30 when we will be discussing ‘The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy’ with its author, Kyle Taylor. The event is free and whilst it would be best if you had read the short book before, it’s not a prerequisite. You’ll almost certainly want to read it afterwards! […]

Where this culture war is headed – we have been warned

Tom Scott
representation of culture wars

To understand where Boris Johnson’s culture war is heading, the case of Spiked is instructive – and not just because his senior adviser Munira Mirza is a veteran of the former far-left & now far-right cult. Spiked grew out of a Marxist sect that called itself the Revolutionary Communist Party. It prided itself on being […]

WCB event: the true cost of cheap food

Editor-in-chief
Pizza factory

The UK today: record foodbank use, hungry children, an obesity crisis and post-Brexit trade deals which threaten to decimate British farming and flood the market with food produced to lower standards, and the politicians chant the ‘cheap food’ mantra. The costs of cheap food are high – for humans, animals and the planet. What can […]

The UK’s shameful hostile environment is persecuting hope

Mike Zollo

“As I approached one of the drowned corpses on the beach, that of a young lad, the mobile phone in his pocket began to ring; I guess it was his mother or girlfriend ringing to ask if he had arrived safely …” The words of a Spanish Red Cross worker dealing with bodies washed up […]

The culture test: Welcoming new citizens or a way to stop immigration?

Mike Zollo

An elderly Italian lady, who has lived in the UK for 75 years and has British citizenship, was hoping that her niece could come over from Italy to be her ‘badante’ (carer). She said recently that her niece “can just come over with her ID card”… NO, post-Brexit she would now need an expensive passport, […]

Boris Johnson IS Pinocchio! How the Italian press see our PM – and us

Mike Zollo

Remember when Johnson senior accused the British public of illiteracy, saying they would not be able to spell Pinocchio? This was the evasive response to a Tweet calling Boris Johnson ‘Pinocchio’ – a liar. Now, who else can we think of who uses that sort of evasive technique?! The Italian press is still fascinated by […]

“I’m fine.” Coping with depression: a personal account

Lee Wilson

“He often thought it deeply ironic that if a depressed person walked into his office and said the world was so grim that he could not face it, he had to treat him as a sick man. Actually, the patient was right. He saw the truth only too clearly. But he was sick, because he […]

Toxic tribalism in politics got us into this mess. It has to stop.

Anthea Simmons

At last! Two things happen that all sane, honest and fair-minded people have been praying for! 1) Peter Stefanovic’s tweeted video compilation of Johnson’s very many lies to parliament surged through the 10 million views barrier and beyond, and finally began to gain some traction with both the media and politicians. and (partly as a […]

“Fascism has never gone away…” Letters to the editor from Spain

Mike Zollo

The following is a compilation of the comments made by members of Bremain (in Spain), most of whom are Brits living in Spain or who know the country well. These comments are their reactions to the West Country Bylines article Democracy breaks up from the inside, which went online on 25 February. Lisa Ryan Burton […]

Abandon hope all youth who grow up here

Sadie Parker

“Am I gonna sit here and say that Brexit is perfect, and your generation is gonna reap the benefits? No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute, and I can see that. We’ve got work to do…” So said Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, addressing an audience of under-30-year-old […]

Peaceful protest in action

Rachel Marshall

After a year of signing online petitions the government will simply ignore, this Saturday feeling a mixture of anxiety and compulsion, I went back to the streets to protest – while I still can – against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at one of the 25 protests that took place across the UK. […]

Has Brexit made us less safe?

Sadie Parker

Prior to the referendum and for a few years afterwards, Sir Richard Dearlove appeared to dominate the conversation on security, at least from a pro-Brexit stance. Dearlove is a former head of MI6, the British security service responsible for countering threats from foreign sources. His omnipresence and stark opinions drowned out the voices of other […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

Les rodomontades de Boris Johnson: How the French see us

Anthea Simmons

You won’t find too many fans of Boris Johnson in France. He is regarded as “a greedy pig who kidnapped our vaccine doses”. My sister-in-law commiserated with those of us in the UK who aren’t fans either, saying “You’ve got fascism. We’re getting it next year with Marine le Pen”. Great. Just what we need… […]