Section: UK

Hell or High Water?

Graham Hurley

The TV pictures from Kabul last weekend were apocalyptic: thousands of desperate Afghans converging on the airport, families and a handful of belongings crammed into their cars. Already refugees in the face of the breaking wave of Taliban at the city’s gates, many of them chose to spend the night parked up around the airport […]

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 […]

The great co-ordination

Graham Hurley

Gleichschaltung is one of history’s most sinister euphemisms. The word is German and it means ‘co-ordination’. Hitler and other architects of the Third Reich used it to build a totalitarian state that purged Germany of all opposition. From 1933 onwards, das Volk, the people, were urged to march in perfect formation towards a future that […]

It could all have been so very, very different

Anthea Simmons

For the purpose of this article, let us accept that the Conservatives are in power and were in power when some of the events referred to occurred. Readers may say “But what if it had been Corbyn or Starmer?”. Please set that alternative scenario to one side. I am looking at what was genuinely a […]

Construction costs exacerbated by Brexit

Anthea Simmons

Our eye was caught by this thread on Twitter which we are reproducing with the author’s kind permission. It prompted some further research into costs and an interview with a carpenter with a business in renovation and conversion projects in Devon. More from him below. Conversation with the dads at my son’s footie training yesterday […]

Brexit: civil war by other means?

James Chater

Conflict is at the core of the UK’s historical development, and bad government is nothing new. Throughout the nation’s history the same perennial bones of contention keep recurring, and successive Westminster governments have failed to settle them. This is demonstrated once again by the way the continually unfolding Brexit fiasco has reopened old wounds. I […]

The UK cannot afford Sunak: he is a massive threat to our well-being

Richard Murphy
Chancellor Rishi Sunak laughing

It was claimed in the Guardian yesterday that Rishi Sunak had written to the prime minister to ask for a relaxation in Covid travel regulations. He had. The populist in No 11 was trying to out-popularise the populist in No 10. You could not make up the scale of Covid recklessness on display when debate should be […]

Electric cars: the rhetoric vs the reality

Anna Andrews
empty road under beautiful sky

“We bought an electric car thinking we were doing the right thing… but it’s cost us a lot to set the whole thing up.” So said my friend Trisha, after she read my “Net zero” article in West Country Bylines and thought our readers might be interested in her experience of buying her first electric […]

When two tales go to war, one point is all that you can score…

John D Turner

Early in 2016 Boris Johnson wrote two reasoned articles on Brexit, one for and the other against, but only offered up the one for publication. He wrote the two articles to determine which campaign would give him the best chance of getting into Number 10. One has to give him credit for taking a reasoned […]

Anti-vax cranks and Putin’s mafia state: an unholy alliance

Tom Scott

How is it possible that thousands of people in our country are persuaded to assemble in Trafalgar Square to applaud anti-vax cranks and far-right extremists such as Piers Corbyn and Katie Hopkins? What kind of delusional mania brings people to cheer the malignant, attention-seeking narcissist Kate Shemirani as she calls for doctors and nurses to […]

Dominic Cummings: is my enemy’s enemy my friend?

Sadie Parker

It’s the classic logic riddle: You are at a fork in a road on the border of two lands. Two guides stand guard at the fork; one always tells the truth, the other always lies. They know that one way leads to a land of comfort and safety, the other to danger and death. You […]

Levelling up? Freedom Day? The dark reality behind sloganeering populism

Phil Syrpis

The debate about ‘levelling up’ prompts this summary of the Johnson government. The Johnson government excels at ‘sloganeering populism’: ‘Get Brexit Done’, ‘Global Britain’, ‘Freedom Day’… and now ‘Levelling up’. The rhetoric projects energy and is meant to show a governmentt devoted to ‘the people’s priorities’. Behind the rhetoric, one might hope for some substance, […]

West Country Bylines is one year old: much to celebrate; much more to do

Editor-in-chief
birthday candles

West Country Bylines (WCB) launched a year ago with the help and support of Louise Houghton at Yorkshire Bylines, Mike Galsworthy and Tom Brufatto at March for Change and the blessing of Peter Jukes and Simon Colegrave at Byline Times. Run by a team of volunteer, citizen journalists, editors, proof readers and a picture editor […]

We are in grave danger of being boiled frogs

Anthea Simmons
Frog n a bucket

I’m going to repeat the boiled frog analogy (in which no frogs will be harmed…unlike us and our democracy). The unfortunate creature (metaphorically-speaking) is in a pan of cold water which is slowly, slowly being heated up. The frog adjusts his tolerance levels as the water changes from a pleasant coolness to a mildly uncomfortable […]

Discord not development: Robert Halfon’s recipe for the ‘left behind’

Mick Fletcher
young pupil completing exam paper

If further proof was needed that this administration is more concerned to play politics than to govern the country well, the recent report of the Education Select Committee provides it. The committee chose to tackle an important and urgent issue – the failure of our education system adequately to prepare large numbers of young people […]

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! […]

Truss is no support for cheese

Anthea Simmons

Blessed are the cheesemakers, for they will inherit Liz Truss’s vision of the earth. Trade secretary Liz Truss is famous for her obsession with cheese. Unfortunately this zeal does not translate into recognition of the damage done to the UK’s cheese businesses by Brexit. Instead, it manifests itself in maniacal enthusiasm for miniscule trade deals […]