Beyond Westminster

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Unions

I love trade unions. I really do. I’m sure we’ve all heard the clichés: we have unions to thank for weekends, working time restrictions, maternity leave, sick pay and the minimum wage. They’re clichés because they’re true.  I’m a rep for my union branch, and it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I’ve helped win concessions from employers, defended…

Great Teachers Will Never Be Enough If Children Can’t Read

Think about a child you know. How sure are you that they can read?  As a secondary school teacher, I would regularly sit down with the parents of fourteen-year-olds at parents evening, and inform them that according to our software, their child had a reading age of eleven. “But I’ve heard her read fluently”, the parents would reply, aghast, “ her primary…

Marcus Rashford: Campaigning from Experience

Photo Credit For nearly a year now, Marcus Rashford has been making headlines as one of the UK’s most effective – and unlikely – campaigners. Since joining forces with food charity FareShare last March, the 23-year-old footballer has fought non-stop for constructive measures to be taken against child hunger and poverty. The last eleven months have seen him relentlessly putting pressure on…

Review: Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London by Owen Hatherley

Red Metropolis is a strange book, largely because, somewhat by its own admission, it’s not really a book at all: it’s somewhere between an overgrown essay and a coping mechanism. This is not to say that it is bad (quite the contrary: it is good) but to say that it is somewhat hard to pin down, accordingly, somewhat hard to write about.…

Removing Richard Leonard Won’t Solve Scottish Labour’s Woes

Photo Credit: Kevin Walsh As night follows day and as summer ebbs away into autumn, one facet of human existence  remains unaffected by the challenges of the novel Coronavirus. I am speaking, of course, about Scottish Labour’s ability to mire itself in yet another leadership crisis.  James Kelly kicked off proceedings by resigning as a justice spokesperson on the evening of the…

The UK’s Hi-Vis (but Invisible) Workforce 

(Picture Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/9191500878) After Boris Johnson’s address last week, my phone was vibrating endlessly with messages: ‘Looks like I’m back at work tomorrow then’  ‘Social distancing is over lads’  ‘Surely we’re not being sent back yet, there’s still thousands of people dying.’ The contradictions on show in these messages are damning. The Coronavirus crisis is by no means at an end, but the…