Section: UK

Page of 5

The unkindest cut – real life stories

Sussex Bylines
Woman looking at the "Keep the lifeline" petition on her smart phone

We invited Sussex Bylines readers to share their personal experiences of how the government’s planned Universal Credit cut will affect them. We have already received some courageous responses that make for sobering – and in some cases, heartbreaking – reading…

UPDATED

The unkindest cut of all

Ginny Smith
Tories Foodbank Soup cans mural in London by artist Georgie

Despite dire predictions and warnings, Johnson’s government seems determined to cut the £20 a week “uplift” payments for Universal Credit recipients. Yet as critics of the move point out, this cut is not only cruel and ill-timed, but doesn’t even make economic sense…

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.

Afghan refugees desperately need our help…

Vivienne Griffiths
A line of child refugees in Kabul, Afghanistan

Government bungling together with Priti Patel’s inhumane Borders Bill and disastrous Home Office response have only served to hinder humanitarian efforts, both with the evacuation in Afghanistan and assisting asylum seekers here in the UK. Traumatised Afghan refugees who have barely escaped with their lives deserve kindness, compassion and support, not more hostility. Writer Vivienne Griffiths examines the horrifying events of recent days and offers practical advice for anyone iwanting to help refugees locally…

Coat of Hopes: a community-created pilgrimage to COP26

Ginny Smith
Barbara Teal wearing the Coat of Hopes before any patches have been added, leading a group in song on Newhaven Beach

From Sussex to Scotland: Coat of Hopes just embarked on an inclusive, inspiring, and uniquely creative 500-mile, 60-day pilgrimage to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. And at its centre is a community-made patchwork coat that is transformed as it travels…

UPDATED

Why we’re not going back to the office

Mo Kanjilal
Two office workers wearing masks on their computers

Rishi Sunak and the government are looking at ways to force people to return to work in offices, despite Covid being an ongoing problem, and despite the many proven benefits of working from home, especially for women and minority groups… In an updated version of her article from last year, Mo Kanjilal ponders what the Tory ministers’ real motivation might be…

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.

A win for rogue landlords as Tories block council licensing

Rick Dillon
Members of Acorn, the renters' union, protesting in Hove regarding landlord licensing

Lack of repairs creates misery for thousands in private rented accommodation. But getting councils to back a scheme that forces landlords to act is only the first step and, so far, applications to renew council licensing are being turned down by the Conservative Housing Minister Robert Jenrick.

Playing For England: Football and national identity

Mo Kanjilal
Image showing the England football team kneeling on the pitch with Priti Patel arriving in a tank and Boris Johnson streaking topless

The wonderful fact is that this team really does represent what it is to be English today. They represent Englishness and belonging. They inspire those of us from immigrant backgrounds to embrace being English and to be proud to support the team. Sport does have a way of doing that. And it is especially needed for a country that has been so divided in recent years.

Our Great British Seaside: a love affair celebrated in art

Rick Dillon

The British seaside is enjoying a renaissance this year due to Covid overseas travel curbs. Back in the day, far fewer holidaymakers went abroad, instead flocking to the nearest bit of coastline for fun regardless of sun, as can be seen in a new exhibition at Hastings Contemporary Seaside Modern featuring work by a range of 20th century artists span-ning 50 years, from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Sex, Lies and Videotape: Has cronyism finally had its comeuppance?

Vivienne Griffiths
Led By Donkeys poster featuring a CCTV still of Hancock and his aide in a clinch, highlighting government hypocrisy

While some expressed moral outrage, most people were more upset by the hypocrisy shown by the Health Secretary in brazenly breaking the social distancing guidelines that he himself had set, especially when so many who have lost loved ones to Covid had stuck to the rules…. It was only the unrelenting outcry from MPs, the public, and the media, that finally forced Hancock’s hand into “doing the decent thing” and resigning.

BREXIT VOTE FIVE YEARS ON

Defenders of Democracy: Steven Bray

Ginny Smith
Steven Bray wearing a blue top hat with a yellow and black 'Stop Brexit' ribbon. He has a Union flag draped around his shoulders and an EU flag in the background.

Five years on from the EU referendum vote, Ginny Smith interviews “Mr Stop Brexit”, Steven Bray. A coin dealer from Port Talbot, Wales, Bray became a national and international symbol of UK resistance against Brexit and inspired thousands of others to join his protests at Westminster.

PODCAST

Pride podcast special with Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Sussex Bylines
Brighton Pride August 2019

In this week’s Bylines Network podcast, Chris Davis in Brighton and co-host Connor Lamb in Newcastle (North-East Bylines) have a lively and revealing discussion about what Pride means to them and share their personal experiences of growing up queer. They also interview the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who is only the second British MP to be open about living with HIV. Their conversation proves fascinating, covering everything from the history of Pride to its subsequent commercialisation, and the empty virtue signalling or “Pride-washing” that some corporations are now guilty of. And they don’t shy away from asking perhaps the most contentious question of them all: which Brighton Pride headliner was better – Kylie or Britney?

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?

Tracks of a Trickster – who does Boris Johnson think he is?

Rev Susie Courtault
A satirical photo tableau depicting Boris Johnson and new bride Carrie Symonds in the rose garden with body bags piled high

Because adultery and abortion are considered sinful in the Catholic Church, a large number of Christians (who take their faith very seriously) are appalled that a serial adulterer, and someone well known to have abandoned his children, could get away with taking the sacraments in Westminster Cathedral. Yet reinventing himself is part of his raison d’être. I suspect he has no particular attachment to being able to take the sacraments and went along with the whole process because he had no strong opinions either way — and that is exactly what a trickster would do.

NEW WRITER

Bum note – does Johnson’s government hate choral singing?

Ruth McDermott
Photo of a Heathfield Choral Society concert from before Covid

Many activities that prolong exposure to heavy breathing have been given the go ahead for indoor activity, such as working out at the gym, laughing with mates down the pub or chatting over a meal at a local restaurant, not to mention thousands of fans gathering at a football stadium to watch a game, no doubt doing what fans will – hugging, celebrating, chanting and singing! So why has the Government banned all amateur choirs from rehearsing indoors?

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…

DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY

Defenders of Democracy: A C Grayling

Ginny Smith
Portrait shot of AC Grayling

AC Grayling, philosopher, author, eminent academic, journalist, social media activist…and champion for Remain is profiled by Ginny Smith in Sussex Bylines’ popular Defenders of Democracy series.

OUR FUTURE, OUR VOICES

Podcast: Our Future, Our Voices

Sussex Bylines
Close-up of a microphone.

This week’s Bylines Network podcast features three young hosts, who are all also involved in various regional Bylines: Kerry Pearson in Grantham, Jules Greenbank in Bristol, and new host Chris Davis in Brighton.

OUR FUTURE, OUR VOICES

Social media: a nettle, thorn and rose

Charlotte Rawlinson
Close-up shot of a young woman typing on her mobile phone.

Social media has great power. In a world increasingly dependent on technology and digital appliances, our lives are well connected and shared with ease. The miles between us are no longer obstructions, just mere inconveniences undermined by online messages and the occasional video call. But, as we all know, with such great power, comes even greater responsibility to understand social media’s impact on everyday life.

OUR FUTURE, OUR VOICES

Lockdown on campus: how not to run a university

Finn Joughin
Close-up of chainlink fence.

A young man leaves home for the first time to begin his adult life adventure. Excited to be off to his first choice university where surely learning opportunities are guaranteed and his physical and mental welfare safeguarded. But Covid19 and the subsequent lockdown put Manchester University to the test and it didn’t score well.

EUROPE DAY

What does Europe mean to you?

Sussex Bylines
EU flag, with one start missing.

Sunday 9 May, is Europe Day: an annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe and the anniversary of the historic ‘Schuman declaration’. Here we feature some personal testimonies from Sussex people who feel strongly connected to Europe and the EU.