Section: UK

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So much misinformation around Covid… but what does the science say?

Louise Serpell

Social media has started to undermine the importance of scientific evidence, with people instead reporting hearsay and personal anecdotes as “proof” of whatever opinion or belief they are Tweeting or blogging about. But this is not evidence… Professor of Biochemistry Louise Serpell examines the dangers of scientific misinformation and advises on ways we can all learn to separate scientific fact from fiction…

Who will police the police?

Allegra Chapman
Downing Street police guards seen through the railings

Since Sarah Everard was murdered in March by a serving police officer, 81 women have been killed in the UK at the hands of men. How are women supposed to feel safe on our streets if the very people whose primary job is to protect us are instead disregarding, mocking or killing us? Can women trust the police? And perhaps more importantly, should we?

Labour conference buried gem: Land laws reform to stop the “free-for-all”

Rick Dillon
Labour Party Shadow Secretary for Housing Lucy Powell speaking at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Sept 2021

Forget Starmer’s speech, McDonald’s resignation and Rayner’s expletives, says Sussex Bylines writer Rick Dillon, who attended much of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week. Far more important were the under-reported land laws reform proposals, some put forward by the Hastings & Rye local party and passed enthusiastically by delegates, that would stop the developers’ planning free-for-all and could finally fix our nation’s housing crisis…

TOXIC SHOCK

For the birds: Brexit’s latest shock, a toxic threat to our water system

Ginny Smith & Rick Dillon
a yellowhammer bird in a tree

The safety of our water systems is now threatened due to the shortage of HGV drivers who deliver the chemicals needed to decontaminate wastewater. This is therefore a problem stemming directly from the consequences of Brexit – and one which, among many others, was predicted in the government’s own Operation Yellowhammer report, which laid out disaster contingency plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which has now become reality.

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…

UPDATE ON COP26

Giving voice to climate activists – and the coat arrives!

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?