Beyond Westminster

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…

Homeless in a Pandemic

9am. Friday 20 March. Full backpack, full suitcase, I present myself at Bristol City Council’s offices to let them know I am homeless during lockdown. Greeted by a battery of staff out front and a whiteboard marked “EMERGENCY CASES ONLY”, indicating the building’s coronavirus siege, I answer their triage questions and confirm that I am indeed an emergency case only. I talk…

“Do one legged ducks swim in a circle?” What does ‘Welsh Labour’ Mean?

Aneurin Bevan is venerated by all parts of the Labour Party, with seemingly every faction and politician casting themselves in his political image. In Welsh Labour, this is taken to the next level: “[Bevan] was mentioned by no less than five different speakers before lunch on the first day of Welsh Labour party conference in 2012”. This quote is taken from a…

An Open Hand

Keir Starmer has won the Labour leadership election, but it’s not yet clear what that will mean. Politics-as-usual has suspended for the moment anyway – will there be a conference this year? Will any of the things that normally mark a new leader’s tenure even happen? At this stage, it’s all deeply unclear. What is clear is that a variety of people…

Bad Education: The UCU and Casualisation

I’m very boring, and so I read a lot of reports by charities, think tanks and trade unions. The University and College Union (UCU) last month released a new report, “Second class academic citizens: The dehumanising effects of casualisation in higher education”. Based on research by Olivia Mason and Nick Megoran of Newcastle University, the report makes for interesting yet profoundly depressing…