Section: UK

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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.

Ways I listen to music

Bruce Smeath

“Leave Spotify on and go live your life for a couple of hours. Then come back and see what Spotify has selected for you. 90% won’t do much for you but that other 10% … that could be life-changing.”

NEW WRITER

Eco anxiety is real: but here are six steps you can take this week to tackle the climate crisis

Anna Ford

Eco anxiety is real and defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. But how can we as individuals really make a difference? Group action has achieved positive change already and it can again. This article highlights six practical steps you can take this week to tackle the climate crisis, including switching your bank to a more ethical provider, changing your energy supplier to one which uses 100% renewable energy, and pledging to rewild your garden.

See, Support, Report: a safe, effective way to react to racism

Rick Dillon

Structural racism is endemic in our society, but it can be challenged. Sussex Bylines shines a light on the nature of unconscious bias, the racial inequalities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and hears from Shamser Chohan, creative director of the social enterprise Communities Inc.

Violence against women must end

Rev Susie Courtault & Vivienne Griffiths
A lit tea light, shining a light on male violence against women.

Susie Courtault and Vivienne Griffiths interviewed five women aged between 12 and 72 about their experiences of male violence and abuse. They conclude that boys need to be educated to process their emotions and to understand that sexual harassment and violence are never acceptable.

YOUNG WRITER

Being black and British: the identity crisis I did not ask for

Paige Furlonge-Walker
Black British

Watching the Meghan Markle interview triggered difficult emotions for Paige Furlonge Walker, a young black British woman. The interview felt to Paige like an attack on all black people and all non-white folk. Paige felt angry, with nowhere to direct the momentum it gave her. This article is her doing something about it.

Cronyism and contracts continue – but nurses lose out

Vivienne Griffiths
Cartoon of chancellor Rishi Sunak offering a small bag of money to a nurse. Speech bubble saying "It's all there is", while in the background large sacks of money are visible, labelled 'Test Track Trace', 'HS2', 'NI tunnel'. 'Consultants', 'PPE contracts' and 'Levelling up'.

While nurses are offered a 1 per cent pay rise, multi-million pound Covid-related contracts have been awarded to “friends” of the government, often secretly and without going out to tender. Viv Griffiths reveals the cost of some of this cronyism and how it is being successfully challenged in the courts and even by the UK’s medicine agency (MHRA).

NEW WRITER

The mysterious case of the burnt banknote

Michael Green
Image of a burning £50 note; a Union flag in the background.

Conservative orthodoxy tells us that balancing the books of the public economy is both good business and good for business. The last ten years suggest that this is partially or wholly untrue. But why is this model so broken? Michael Green gets his hands dirty digging into the economy’s oily bits.

Going back to where you came from: Britishness and belonging

Mo Kanjilal

Meghan Markle talking about British society stirred up a lot of feelings for Mo Kanjilal and many other people of colour. The fragility of your legitimacy in being British if you are not white is always there. It might not be on the surface all the time, but it is always there, and you don’t know when it’s going to come to the fore.

DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY

Defenders of Democracy: Terry Reintke MEP

Ginny Smith

Terry Reintke attributes her growing awareness of inequality and the injustices in the world to the fact that she grew up as a German. Living with the knowledge that my grandparents and great-grandparents had a duty as citizens in a democracy to speak up for the rule of law, for minorities, and they didn’t really do that. That knowledge brings a level of responsibility and it is why politics and democracy have always played an important part in my own thinking.

Don’t just tell the bees, warn them!

Ginny Foster

In January, when bees are huddled together for warmth in their hives, the government decided to allow farmers to use Thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid, to treat sugar beet seeds as 2020 had been a bad year for the beet. The government must be made to see that neonicotinoids must never be used as they will always be a threat to bees, to nature, and to its much-vaunted green revolution.