Category: Social issues

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The social contract, the ‘deal’ that makes us a civilised country, is under grave threat, but we aren’t even talking about it.

Mark E Thomas

Our social contract – the ‘deal’ that makes us a civilised country – is under grave threat both practically and philosophically. And we are not talking about it. Practically, the UK is in a grave situation. We are in the midst of a serious cost-of-living crisis which will plunge over half of the UK population into fuel poverty […]

Police intimidation of activists – a lesson from Poland

Tomasz Oryński

Recently I saw a story on West Country Voices. Two women wanted to sign up for a meeting with an MP to ask him an inconvenient question. As a result, they have been paid a visit by the police officer. This story never got attention it deserves. And it should. Because this is not only […]

Why doesn’t our government care about people? Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear West Country Voices, I think I distantly remember a time when governments cared for their people, nurtured them, assisted them, spent our money neutralising the corrosive causes of poverty and criminality. I get the sense that the ‘nouvelle vague‘ of the ultra-right wing is using us like lab rats in an experiment. Shrink the […]

Benefits on Trial: the calculated cruelty of the DWP

Neil Carpenter

Benefits on Trial is based on my work in Cornwall since 2012 as a volunteer advocate with adults who have a learning disability. In recent years, that work has increasingly concerned benefits cases: helping people with their applications for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); accompanying them to assessments; requesting reconsideration […]

Angry and hungry for change. Hangry!

Chris Tehan

There is much to be angry about in the UK in 2022… but the last few months have been exceptional. Unfortunately, so much Tory turmoil has absorbed our capacity for anger, distracting our attention from the real underlying issues which should be the focus of our outrage and provoke the question: “What has this bloody […]

A budget that says the quiet part out loud

Mark E Thomas

The Conservative Party have now been in power in the UK for 12 years. Over that time huge economic and social problems have emerged. It is clear that the UK needs a change in direction. And this is what Truss and Kwarteng promised. They have now shown very clearly how they intend to tackle these […]

You’ve no mandate for this! Letter to Sheryll Murray

Carl Garner

Dear Sheryll Murray,  I see that Kwasi Kwarteng, the least competent chancellor in living memory, has gone against all sensible economic advice and announced fiscal policies that almost instantly tanked the pound.  Please tell me your thoughts on a tax cut for the highest earners, whilst the absolute majority of your constituents will get almost […]

Johnson the worst prime minister? He will be eclipsed by Truss

Mark E Thomas

Johnson has a strong claim to be the worst UK PM so far in terms of “… wages, economy, COVID, poverty, … preserving democracy, etc, …” But before the history books are written, he will be eclipsed by Truss, argues Mark E Thomas. It is true that Truss has inherited (and played an active part […]

Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022

Editor-in-chief

The team at West Country Voices wish to commemorate the passing of Her Majesty the Queen and the ending of the second Elizabethan era. Most of us have lived our entire lives with Elizabeth II as our monarch. She has been a rare constant in a rapidly changing world and the embodiment of public service […]

Now is the summer of our discontent!

Mike Zollo

“Your government?! What a joke that is!” That was the sniggering reaction earlier this afternoon, albeit not in so many words, from our Danish neighbours in the Spanish village where we are spending a few weeks. OK, so it’s human nature to find it easier to recognise other people’s problems than to acknowledge our own, […]

‘It could never happen here’: the normalisation of the unthinkable

Richard Haviland

For many years, Alastair Stewart was an ever-present on ITV news. He always had a likeable demeanour, a pleasant voice, and a professionalism that made sure he never betrayed his political allegiances. He was everything a news presenter should be. But at last week’s Tory leadership hustings in Manchester, we saw a different Stewart. Freed […]

Tory promised land of milk and honey: the reality

Richard Murphy

The Tory leadership election is offering the party faithful an image of a land about to flow with milk and honey, so good are the prospects arising from the so far unspecified benefits of Brexit. The reality is about as far from that is it can be. In reality, this morning we have news of […]

The real risk is that the economy could fail this winter

Richard Murphy

How many people lived in fear in the summer of 1914, dreading what might happen? Come to that, what about 1939? People must have known that they were living on a precipice then, just as we are now. A disaster is about to happen, but there seems to be denial all around. The disaster that […]

Women’s football: what will the legacy really be? Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear West Country Voices, Even if we aren’t remotely interested in sport, I think we can all rejoice unequivocally at the success of the England women’s football team in the European championships; it’s an achievement to be celebrated. I’m sure I’m not alone in being delighted at their win if only because they have done […]

Where are the police when you need them? Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Andy Steel, from Devon, believes police failed to act appropriately when their urgent help was needed: Just because you live in a hidden, rural village doesn’t mean you can escape hit-and-run drivers. Not long ago a 17 year-old with a chequered motoring history ploughed into the front of my parked 1.8 tonne Land Rover with […]

The V5 scam – why aren’t the police or the DVLA bothered?

Anthea Simmons

This is quite some story. It was news to me, but perhaps you know someone who has also been a victim, or maybe you yourself, in which case this will resonate painfully. I am keeping the names and places anonymous for obvious reasons, but here’s the tale. A friend decided to sell her 4×4, partly […]

Children’s services should protect children not profit

WeOwnIt

Our children’s services are there to protect and care for vulnerable children in our communities, providing a lifeline for those in difficult situations. But doesn’t it seem wrong that private companies are able to run these services and prioritise profit over the children they are meant to protect? The government recently dropped its unpopular plans to reduce council responsibilities […]

Miss Snuffy is right about social mobility!

Mick Fletcher

To my surprise, I find myself agreeing with Katharine Birbalsingh, who tweets under the slightly eccentric name of “Miss Snuffy”. Birbalsingh is regularly referred to in the less serious type of newspaper as “Britain’s strictest headmistress” and her views go down well with the Conservative rank and file. I suspect that it is her strong […]

America the Beautiful

Tom Scott

O beautiful for RemingtonFor Smith & Wesson, ColtFor rapid-fire assault weaponFor barrel, stock and bolt America! America!God gave thy guns to theeTo spill the blood that spreads its floodFrom sea to shining sea! O beautiful for massacreSo swiftly carried outBy terrorist or teenagerBy godless or devout America! America!God gave thy guns to theeTo spill the […]

Tory pride and prejudice against the EU – it’s not new

Jon Danzig

On 25 February 2014, the European Parliament voted on an EU fund to provide food aid to those suffering extreme poverty in the EU.  The EU offered up to £22 million to help subsidise Britain’s food banks, but the money was blocked by the UK government. Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK. […]

Oh good! A new bank! Letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear West Country Voices, I saw this chap on TV the other day. Odd cove, but apparently one of us, albeit with a strange haircut and not quite the right accent. Lee something or other. Anyway, he said that we can feed ourselves for 30 pence per meal, if we can be bothered to cook […]