Author: Tom Serpell

Angry retired lefty living in rural Wealden. Lover of family, friends, drawing, most things Spanish and decent government. On Twitter @leftwithnoparty

Language matters!

Tom Serpell

We must call out lies and lazy language when it can cover up the truth or cause hurt and offence to others. With the language used in the new populism at play in this and a number of other countries, it is important we develop a new form of hearing-aid – one which can distinguish between excuses, lies, bigotry and truth.

Corruption is infecting our politics from the very top

Tom Serpell

In any other country, the buying of seats in the legislature, the donation of huge amounts of money to one political party in return for favours, and billionaire oligarchs purchasing property in the heart of the capital, would rightly be described as corruption. Why should Britain be treated any differently, Tom Serpell asks.

After Johnson: be careful who you wish for

Tom Serpell

The Conservatives may need to elect a new leader within weeks if Prime Minister Johnson, already precarious in his role, is removed either by his own hand or by his fellow MPs, if not by the Metropolitan Police. Nonetheless, could a weakened Johnson be politically more attractive in No.10 than any of the alternatives?

SUSSEX PEOPLE AND PLACES

Sussex has its very own link to Europe. Let’s cherish it.

Tom Serpell

Newhaven is important in Sussex history and could be in its future. Brexit may be unhelpful but does not prevent travel. Tom Serpell and his wife cherish their local route to France to remind themselves of life beyond these shores and continue to enjoy another culture every bit as civilised and interesting as our own.

Refugees and Sovereignty – Two birds with one stone

Tom Serpell

Taking back control of our borders was, for good or ill, a cornerstone of Brexit, fetishised by those who tell Johnson what to do. As the UK government weeps crocodile tears over deaths at sea of asylum seekers driven to desperate measures to reach their place of safety, it refuses to enact the simplest and most decent of solutions to the problem: to create safe routes to this country.

The mask of the clown – what lies beneath?

Tom Serpell

There are a constant stream of examples as to why this government, majority or not, should be called to account. But does not each event already seem to be ancient history, even though it happened only a few weeks ago? Each egregious episode, each headline, is followed hot-foot by the next. Although each one stains the government’s record, the next pushes its predecessor back into oblivion.

You say you don’t want the Government to privatise the NHS?

Tom Serpell
“N4S” by secretlondon123 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The health service belongs to and is free to us all. The very fact of public ownership makes it directly accountable to us, its users. Take the assets into private hands and at a stroke, priorities change, from delivery to dividends. Once control passes to investors, these can decide on pricing, location, frequency, quality and scope of services.

Is devolution the UK’s best route to fairer voting and true democracy?

Tom Serpell
Tiny polling station for pixies in a colourful children's playground

The results of devolved elections are almost always more proportional than UK general elections, which means that smaller parties are better represented in devolved legislatures and single-party majorities are rare. But the lack of understanding about how local economies work and the lives of the majority of people makes for poor targeting, underfunding of actual needs and both a perception and reality of unfairness.

WHAT SUSSEX MEANS TO US

Over six decades of [East] Sussex

Tom Serpell
A glider flies over the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex

One of our most prolific contributors, Tom Serpell, takes a break from article writing to give us a succinct breakdown of his relationship with (East) Sussex from the 1950s to present day…

Refugees Work: so why not let them?

Tom Serpell
Migrant workers in the fields in the USA

Refugees could make a contribution if this country would only allow more in and let them work. This would relieve desperate people of the dangers of life in camps, on the road or under the control of smugglers. It would enable them to demonstrate their skills and commitment to this country. It would add to the workforce and enrich our culture. This surely constitutes a win-win.

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND – how can land be treated as personal property?

Tom Serpell
Private property sign on a barbed wire fence in the UK countryside

Over the centuries, and particularly in the last hundred years or so, there’s been a decrease in wealthy land-owning aristocrats, an increase in “self-made” rich businesspeople, and therefore a larger number of owners participating in the real estate market. Yet shockingly, around half of England is owned by just 1% of landowners, and they are almost entirely a mixture of corporations, oligarchs and aristocrats. Tom Serpell asks: should anyone actually be entitled to claim ownership of land?

What legacy do you want to leave?

Tom Serpell
An adoring grandfather holds up his infant grandchild, who is smiling back

A retired, lifelong left-of-centre activist ponders what constitutes a meaningful legacy, and worries his generation is failing to leave the next with the right kind of wealth…

Spain in Sussex

Tom Serpell
View of the Sussex Downs, on top of the Seven Sisters.

I love Spain. Spanish Spain. My wife and I must have our Spanish holiday! Despite the efforts of the NHS, it looks likely that we will not be able to enjoy a visit to our favoured haunts this year − again! What to do? The profiteering hospitality of the West Country, much as I love […]

Shifting values and value in a time of Covid

Tom Serpell

The question of the degree to which market forces should determine remuneration — especially for those in public service – is a thorny one. Do we let the market decide? How can such work be valued? Tom Serpell explores these and other questions thrown into sharp relief by the Covid pandemic.

How Covid has challenged political certainties

Tom Serpell

Political certainties have been jettisoned by a combination of Covid and Brexit. Tories traditionally hold the purse strings tight while Labour demonstrates a greater tendency to spend on public services but today, we’re seeing unprecedented levels of public spending increasing. Tom Serpell explores the implications for political loyalties.

Is democracy in Sussex really too much to ask for?

Tom Serpell

In a democracy every citizen should have the right not only to vote, but also to have someone in parliament who speaks for them, which simply does not happen in First Past the Post races. For Sussex, and the rest of the country, a fair proportional representative voting system seems overdue.

Should people’s kindness excuse government from duty?

Tom Serpell

Dolly Parton; Bill Gates; Marcus Rashford, heroes all! Trussell Trust; Sussex Hospices; Help for Heroes, all saints. Or are they? Doing things for others is political activism which is as rewarding for those who do it as for those who may benefit. But much of it should not be happening.

Three little words to save democracy

Tom Serpell

Remember ‘Lock her up!’ and ‘Build the wall’? Surely not a manifesto for government yet the foundation for Trump’s victory four years ago. We live in an age of populism in which messages matter more than manifestos. Even backbench Tories are complaining that their leadership routinely bypasses them, parliament and democracy.  Rule by the people, […]

Is democracy a sham?

Tom Serpell

In the centuries since the English Civil War and the Putney Debates it has become customary that democracy is seen and promoted as the most desirable basis for governance, whether at state or local level. Rooted in the concept of human rights, democracy seeks active engagement of all qualifying citizens in selection of policies and […]