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?
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…
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.
Banning face coverings in our new, post-Covid world of legally enforceable face mask mandates sounds implausibly ironic. But that’s exactly what has happened in Switzerland.
Local elections are happening across the UK on 6 May 2021. Their results affect us all. So why do the vast majority of voters not bother to cast their ballot?
The parallels between 1920s Spain and 2020s Britain are unnerving to say the least. Tom Serpell sounds a warning from history
This week’s Bylines Network podcast comes from Sussex: Mo Kanjilal and Stephanie Prior in conversation about the importance of encouraging representation at a local level.
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.
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.
Sanna Marin has led her country through the same crisis all world leaders have faced this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic. And while she does not get as many headlines as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, her record is impressive.
Following the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February, a growing civil disobedience movement has emerged, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to daily protest marches. Young people have been instrumental in mobilising opposition and ensuring global coverage of the demonstrations.
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.
As Kamala Harris took the oath to become vice-president of the USA, she became the first woman and the first person of colour in this role. People are inspired by her, what she represents and the role model she is. But is she being held to different standards because she is the first?
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.
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.
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.
After 10 years of tireless campaigning Stacey Abrams and her Fair Fight Action Team succeeded in flipping the state of Georgia to the Democrats for the first time in 20 years. Mo Kanjilal explores their work for voter empowerment and the lessons it holds for the UK.
What drives individuals to demonstrate, come rain or shine not to mention abuse, for a cause they believe in? Ginny Smith talks to 81-year-old street activist Alan Dornan to find out.
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.
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?
Having had to flee Chile after Pinochet’s 1973 military coup, Rossana Leal and her family settled in Scotland, where they were welcomed with open arms. Now basedin Hastings, Rossana is managing a buddy project that provides practical and emotional support for migrants and refugees in East Sussex.
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.
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.
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.
Why should a newspaper or its owner be free to do whatever they like, just because it’s a newspaper?
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, […]
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948) They’re invisible, intangible and all too easy to lose down the back of the sofa – but you really do need to hang on to human rights. Britain can look back with justifiable pride at a long […]
When Make Votes Matter Lewes began forming in early 2020, we knew we’d need to work hard to build connections in a time of painful political division – but not that we’d have to do so while social distancing. Yet the Covid-19 restrictions forced us to find new ways to connect – across parties, our […]
Meeting Gina Miller, you are struck by her energy, her determination, and her passion for social justice. Although her name first came to public notice at the time of the EU referendum, she has actually been a remarkably successful campaigner over a couple of decades. She was a driving force behind the introduction of the 1996 Special Education Needs Act, and later worked on the report and the draft of the Modern Slavery Act with the Centre for Social Justice.
Since the local elections of May 2019, councillors of all parties and the residents they represent have been thrown from crisis to crisis. The word ‘unprecedented’ has never been used so many times. The following events have coincided with my time as a local councillor: Brexit, a snap general election, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black […]