Category: UK

Ash Dieback and the extinction cascade

Mick Fletcher

My children have never seen a full-grown elm tree, once one of the glories of the English countryside. My grandchildren may be the last generation to see an ash tree, a similarly well-loved feature of our current landscape. The Woodland Trust estimate that up to 95 per cent of the two billion ash trees in […]

Of ermine and short-tailed weasels

Sadie Parker

When you read through the announcement of honours and peerages — the Dissolution Peerages of 2019 and the Political Peerages of 2020 — and find that awarding the former prime minister’s husband a knighthood and the current prime minister’s brother a peerage are the least controversial items on the list, you know the country is […]

Life without medical supplies

Peter Barker

When he first visited Russia in 1995, Peter Barker found post-Soviet chaos meant medicine was in short supply. As the UK faces breaking of supply chains at the end of 2020, might we be facing a similar plight? I was involved in French twinning before I moved to Exeter. When I came here, I was […]

The ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ get forgotten again

Mick Fletcher

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation on 9 July, Gavin Williamson gave much-needed encouragement to the struggling further education (FE) sector when he said, “From now on, our mantra must be further education, further education, further education.” In a clear bid for support from the new Tory voters in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ […]

Power without a right

Ann Higgins

A constitution based on unwritten rules and gentlemen’s agreements is a poor defence against shameless and determined rule-breakers. Listening to interminable lectures on UK constitutional law many years ago, I little thought it would be at the forefront of a political power struggle some 40 years later. Yet such is the battleground for the current […]

Not another one!

Margaret Ellis

“Oh God! Not more courgettes!” they wail, as I return triumphant from the allotment with my basket heaped with produce. It is a truth universally acknowledged that an ‘allotmenteer’ in possession of a glut must be in want of a recipe – better still, recipes. What can we do with that sudden rush of produce […]

Jane Austen and the slave trade

Mike Temple

Did Jane Austen have anything in common with the “Black Lives Matter” movement? Surely not! Our Jane is the nation’s favourite author – she’s on our ten-pound note and we are all, regardless of our political differences, “Janeites”. Some adore her for her love scenes, especially if spiced up with a little wet-shirt action; some […]

Council’s commercial gamble

Richard Wilkins

Is it right for local councils to turn to commercialisation to fill holes in their finances? Local councils are facing the biggest cuts to government funding since 2010, with the Local Government Association (LGA) revealing that, overall, councils will have suffered a 77 per cent decrease in government funding between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This represents […]

The ground beneath my feet

Will Hazell

For Will Hazell, lockdown has been a time to discover and connect with the rich tapestry of landscape and history within walking distance of his home. Tucked beside a footpath near Falmouth, Cornwall, there’s a small gravestone with the epitaph “PUNCH OF MENEHAY A PAL 1937”, erected, apparently, to celebrate the legacy of a much-beloved […]

Stop the rot!

Sadie Parker

Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at Kent University, darling of the Right and a regular on the punditry circuit, recently made an astonishing claim. “Reaction to Gove’s [Ditchley] speech is revealing,” he tweeted. “One side has ideas about how to send power down not up, plus change government. The other side is still struggling to […]