Section: World

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“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 […]

A briefing note for POTUS: time to review the UK’s ‘closest ally’ status?

Eric Gates

Eric Gates imagines a very necessary briefing for President Biden in the wake of developments on the UK side of the pond… Mr President; you were briefed after your election about the United Kingdom’s  request to acquire the next generation nuclear deterrent from us. Since then, the UK Government has published a policy paper entitled […]

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… […]

Remain’s favourite filmmaker: David Nicholas Wilkinson

Sadie Parker

In February the London Screenwriters’ Festival ran an inspiring online event that gave screenwriters and filmmakers a much-needed boost. The early part of the year is traditionally a low-point. This year, in the midst of lockdown number three and after the hardest-ever year for the arts (despite the clamour for content), the mood was particularly […]

Hey, Jean! Meet genealogy!

Sadie Parker

A woman called Jean caused a stir when she phoned in to LBC and told David Lammy, the UK’s Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, that he wasn’t English. He was born here, grew up here and all his sensibilities are English, but that doesn’t count, according to Jean. He can […]

Nigel Farage and a very murky forest

Tom Scott

Nigel Farage has joined forces with a Dutch fund manager found to have misled the public to promote “carbon offsetting” through forestry. The conspiracy theorist behind Cornwall’s weirdest hotel is also involved. So how exactly does this motley crew intend to save the world? Eyebrows were raised yesterday when a company calling itself Dutch Green […]

¿Cómo nos ven? How the Spanish press sees us

Mike Zollo

“Always look at both sides of the argument before you decide”, my father used to say in his wisdom when I was young. His life’s experience had taught him that: he had grown up as a young man who was categorised as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1939, yet who volunteered to join the British Army […]

From mines to vines: exchanging the seeds of destruction for the fruits of hope.

Editor-in-chief

In the ever-expanding desert of negative news come these joyous oases of compassion and positivity. Women in War and International Politics (WIWIP) at King’s College, London and Roots of Peace have collaborated to bring an exciting panel event to discuss the role of women in de-mining and post-conflict reconstruction through sustainable agriculture in Afghanistan, and […]

Zebra crossing in the Masai Mara

Valery Collins

Driving through the Masai Mara Nature Reserve, I had to stop to let a herd of zebra cross the track in front of me. And not just zebra: wildebeest and the occasional giraffe as well. Mine was the only vehicle for miles around and wild animals were the only pedestrians on the vast open plain. […]

Global Britain – a fake ambition

Mick Fletcher
British bulldog with union flag bandana collapsed tired on decking

One of the ways in which the current government remains popular despite clear evidence of corruption and incompetence is by selling comforting illusions to its core supporters.  The idea of ‘Global Britain’ is one such fantasy. It paints a picture of a country that ‘punches above its weight’, is a ‘sovereign equal’ of a trading […]

The royal row and tabloid tyranny

Mick Fletcher

Good drama can hold up a mirror to the world and the real-life drama unfolding around the British royal family certainly does. What it shows reflects very badly on aspects of our culture, particularly the sheer toxicity of much of the tabloid press. Less obviously at the moment, it also has a serious message about […]

Trading the orchard for an apple

Sadie Parker

Department for International Trade (DIT) tweets are easy to distinguish from those of other government departments by their exuberant use of emojis. “Good to speak to my counterparts from across the EEA EFTA states about our live negotiations on a new trade deal,” tweeted junior trade minister Ranil Jayawardena after the meeting on February 25th. […]

Should charity start and end at home?

Valerie Huggins

In the UK, times are hard and budgets stretched. One in five children are living in food poverty. There is increasing use of food banks. More homeless people are sleeping on the streets. It is hardly surprising that there are growing calls for us to reduce the amount we send in overseas aid to other […]

Brace for denial

Mick Carter

Introduction This is an article inspired by the BBC podcast How They Made Us Doubt Everything. It explores the techniques used by those wanting to delay or stop action on climate change, and the disproportionate impact these have had on public opinion. I am not a climate scientist but my work has been connected with […]

Two nations divided by a common language

Eric Gates

The quotation about “two nations divided by a common language” is variously attributed to Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, with Winston Churchill famously quoting it. For the moment, let us leave aside the assumption that the United Kingdom is only one nation, noting simply that one of the two possible originators was actually Irish. […]

Letter from America: healthcare in the US box set

John from across the pond

As Centene Corporation, an American health insurance giant, takes over 49 NHS GP surgeries and practices and the very real fears of creeping (galloping?) privatisation grow, we thought it was a good time to remind ourselves of what US healthcare looks like for ordinary people. Editor

“Democracy breaks up from the inside”

Mike Zollo

Officer sacked for celebrating the sins of father Wednesday 19 March 2014, The Times “Spain’s military has dismissed a senior officer for celebrating the anniversary of an attempted coup by his father in 1981 which threatened to destroy the country’s young democracy and turn it back into a dictatorship.” This report in The Times in […]

You can’t lie your way to Mars: the cosmos, awe and wonder with Ann Druyan

Sadie Parker

“Touchdown confirmed,” a woman’s voice announced over the public address system. “Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the sands of past life.” The NASA control room erupted. Staff were on their feet, their arms raised in a victory ‘V’, whooping and hollering. The only difference between this and past scenes […]

Would you take a beating for democracy? #StandWithBelarus

Rachel Marshall

It’s six months since unpopular dictator Alexander Lukashenko surprised everyone and no one by winning the presidential election in Belarus – once again – by an unusually high margin against impossible odds. Every weekend since has seen protests throughout the country. For many weeks there was genuine optimism that this time, something would really change. […]

Coping with Covid-19 in a ‘pueblo blanco’

Mike Zollo

I’m afraid I am one of those people who feels ill whenever I am confronted with the jingoistic boastfulness, British exceptionalism and tribalism generated by Brexit.  It is especially sickening to see it amplified in any public statements made by the Government in connection with the pandemic. I have never been willing to be dragged […]

The return of decency

Sadie Parker

I hadn’t meant to cry, but I couldn’t help myself. There were so many moments to pull on the heartstrings. Watching newly-promoted Eugene Goodman, the officer who had held off a braying mob just long enough to allow senators to escape from the Capitol only two weeks before, accompany Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris to her swearing […]

Five local MPs back ‘Stop genocide trade’ amendment

Sadie Parker

In an otherwise disappointing round of voting on Lords’ Amendments (LAs) to the Trade Bill, during which Tory MPs yet again voted en masse to weaken parliamentary oversight of trade deals, there was one bright spot. Lords Amendment Number Three to force the UK to withdraw from bilateral trade agreements with any country the High […]

Quadruple cheese Brexit whammy

Anthea Simmons

“We managed to get a shipment through to Europe which took SIX days instead of ONE. Rejected because it’s no longer fresh. We’ve paid the carriage to send it out and we have to pay to ship it back. We have to bin the cheese. We have to refund the customer. We also LOSE the […]

The UK’s drug policy failure. Lessons from Portugal

Paul Delaney

We must consider alternatives to criminalisation and incarceration of people who use drugs, and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies. –Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, on World Day Against Drugs, 26 […]

The US has foiled a coup, but could we?

Mick Fletcher

Several writers, including West Country Bylines’s Tom Scott and Sadie Parker, have drawn attention to the disturbing parallels between the anti-democratic activities of Trump in the USA and Johnson here. Many, however, are reluctant to accept that Johnson is in effect Britain’s Trump, despite the fact that this dubious accolade was bestowed by none other […]

Something lost to find again

Catrina Davies

Catrina Davies discovered her true self in Europe. In September she left Cornwall for Portugal, from where she reflects on severance, belonging and betrayal. When I was ten my parents took me and my sisters to France for a week. We drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, all squashed into our Citroen AX, disembarked in […]