Category: Democracy

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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…

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.

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.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge

Sussex Bylines

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, we feature this selection of articles published in Sussex Bylines in the run-up to 8 March, along with other pieces about women who have fought for political representation, challenged prejudice, refused to remain invisible, and who have been proud to hold the banner of women’s rights high.

NEW WRITER

Off with her head!

Manek Dubash

For years, the Queen has been meddling in what laws are passed in this country – just one more example of a corrupt system weighted in favour of the wealthy.

NEW WRITER

If you’re going to lie, make it a BIG one

Hannah Chapman

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that the most dangerous lie would be a sneaky one, one that is reasonably close to the truth? One that kind of grows on the truth − on the fertile fabric of what we already know to be true. But no, it seems that a Big Lie is more potent because in order to believe it you have to disbelieve everything else.

Keeping the faith: an American story

Rev Susie Courtault

Susie Courtault explores the role of religion in US politics, examining the differences between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While Trump cynically used Christianity to court the right-wing evangelical base, Biden at his inauguration pledged to restore the soul of America in a truly unifying speech, imbued with heart and soul, and love cloaked in patriotism.

Greece: the mother of democracy

Richard Bernden

Has democracy ever been as threatened as it is now by populist strong men, serial liars, alternative truths and the eye watering wealth, power and baleful influence of big business?
With its history of democracy discovered, developed, lost and reclaimed, Greece reminds us of what we owe the past, how we conduct ourselves in the present, and how long it takes for great ideas to come to fruition.

Defending the rights of citizen journalists and campaigners

Rev Susie Courtault

While citizen journalists in the UK work to combat mainstream media bias, other countries arrest and torture the brave voices who speak truth to power. Susie Courtault examines the treatment of two women journalists, in China and Saudi Arabia, and fears for the future of human rights protection in the UK.

Johnson’s Brexit deal: For richer or for poorer?

Juliet Lodge

Juliet Lodge summarises reactions on Twitter to the last-minute Brexit deal agreed between the UK and the EU. With Boris Johnson’s early promise of frictionless trade abandoned, and parliament given just one day to debate the deal, what does the future hold for Britain’s relationship with its largest trading partner?

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.

DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY

Defenders of Democracy: Peter Geoghegan

Ginny Smith

Peter Geoghegan, investigations editor for Open Democracy, has played a key role in exposing some of the fault lines in our present democracy. In this interview with Ginny Smith he explains what has influenced him, and what motivates him to shine light into the dark corners of UK politics.

Brighton’s cameo in Lisbon’s revolution

Richard Bernden

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of Windsor is the oldest international agreement, anywhere, that is still in force. While there have been wars between England and France and England and Spain, there have been none between this country and Portugal. Friendly relations have endured for centuries. Even bottles of port all seem to have English names (Graham’s, […]