Category: Democracy

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A gap year in Franco’s Spain

Claire Hill

Spain under Franco in the 1970s was full of inequalities. Claire Hill spent her gap year in 1971 teaching in Madrid, where she saw at first hand the poverty of ordinary people and met many young people who opposed Franco’s rule – as well as some who supported him.

Bring back fun: a manifesto for madness in dire times

James Joughin
XR protesters, dressed in protective clothing, pushing a small boat on large wheels.

With the prospect of a general election as early as next year, what can campaigners do to break the Tories’ grip on power? James Joughin explores progressive alliances, the ‘Portillo moment’ and Martin Bell’s surprise victory in 1997, as well as lessons to be learned from the Situationist International, the Sex Pistols and Extinction Rebellion.

Greed is not good

Tom Serpell

There is probably potential for greed in us all but it seems paradoxical that the worst proponents should be those with most; and that these can have such impact on the lives of those less greedy. Perhaps love of money really is at the root of evil.

Festival of Europe comes to the Brighton Fringe

Tamsin Shasha

The Festival of Europe is coming to Brighton on Sunday 29 May, with an afternoon of debate, poetry and music. Local MP Caroline Lucas will chair a discussion about democracy under fire, and the event features live music by the Undead Musicians Club.


Pride and shame: why I no longer feel proud to be British

Richard Haviland

“It’s some years now since I could say I felt proud to be British.” The British government’s sense of entitlement and lack of humanity towards refugees have changed Richard Haviland’s feelings of pride in being British to shame about what the government is doing: “I don’t hate my country, I just hate what they’ve done to it.”

Moral compass, pointing south: the Partygate fines

Alison Rees

Many of the public are content to continue with a PM whom they believe to have deliberately misled parliament and the public over Partygate, despite the thousands unable to say goodbye to loved ones during lockdowns. Alison Rees wonders what it will take for people to demand Boris Johnson’s resignation, when standards in public life have already sunk so low.

Marching with Ukraine: ‘Today we tell Putin he will fail’

Tamsin Shasha

Thousands gathered in the capital in a sea of blue and yellow. Tamsin Shasha describes the recent Stand With Ukraine march in London: “Our hearts soar. We are proud to be here. We are proud to challenge this government’s despicable response to the refugee crisis and their insistence on bureaucratic visas.”

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.

Follow the money: the rise and rise of the Russian oligarchy in Britain

Ginny Smith

Following the deregulation of the City of London and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, former KGB operatives and spymasters with expert knowledge of Western economic systems looted billions from the Soviet state treasury and stashed it into accounts in Europe and the US. Ginny Smith traces the rise of the Russian oligarchy in Britain and exposes its reach deep into the British establishment, the City of London and our political system.

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?

If your vote for change rarely matters, try this…

Robert Ellson

Does your voice get heard at elections? Probably not, unless you live in one of a few key ‘marginal’ seats. Robert Ellson reveals some shocking facts about our so-called democratic system – and why we need to fight for something better.

Knepp Estate: who controls and benefits from rewilding?

Ross McNally

Rewilding is all the rage yet there remain key fatal flaws in the model. First is the fragmented nature of rewilding in the UK. Second, it remains largely the domain of a handful of privileged people. Could greater democratic oversight help repair fragmentation?

Boris Johnson: the party’s over

Vivienne Griffiths
Photo of House of Commons with text overlaid: PM apologises in House of Commons for offence caused by aides joking about Christmas party.

Over the past few weeks a number of scandals have rocked Westminster and Boris Johnson’s position as prime minister. Vivienne Griffiths examines the fallout of the ongoing furore and its impact on the Conservative government and its leader.

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…

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…

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.

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.

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…