This explains everything (or, at the very least, quite a lot)

I had an interesting conversation with my mother last night. That in itself is not, I hasten to add, sufficient reason to devote a blog post to it. But the topic of the conversation is, because it explains quite a lot about how our country has got itself into such a pickle about the European Union. Continue reading

On pastures new

I’ve been to the Lake District three times now. And each time I go there my love for this remote corner of the country grows a little bit stronger. But I’m very aware that I do little more than skim across the surface of this ancient and revered landscape. I do not truly know it. I do not understand it. And I most definitely do not belong. Continue reading

The Tories’ populist agenda seeks to silence the voices of reason

The Conservative Party conference has opened the floodgates to a torrent of populist policies aimed firmly at what Theresa May calls ‘ordinary working-class people’. The NHS is to become self-sufficient in British doctors. British firms will come under increasing pressure to hire British workers. Our military will ‘opt out’ of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The hard-working people of Britain, says Theresa May, will no longer be ignored by ‘the powerful and the privileged’. And she rails against those who see their patriotism as ‘distasteful’ and call their fears about immigration ‘parochial’.

The message is clear: If you’re working hard to make ends meet, the Tories are the party for you. Continue reading

Grammar schools are not the answer

The Prime Minister claims that her plans to create more grammar schools will enhance social mobility and will help to bring about a truly meritocratic society. They will, she says, create ‘a country that works for everyone’.

Sure. Because grammar schools proved so good at doing just that the first time around.

What Mrs May’s proposals will do, of course, is appeal hugely to the seething mass of baby-boomer Tory voters who just can’t wait to get us back to the good old days of the 1950s and serve as a temporary distraction from the Government’s shambolic approach to all things Brexit. Continue reading

A little perspective, please.

Quite a lot of people seem to have spent quite a lot of time over the last couple of days talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s train journey from London to Newcastle. And while the idea of a senior politician venturing outside the capital – and on public transport, no less – is verging on the newsworthy, I can’t help but think that we’re getting distracted from the things that actually matter. Continue reading

Our task now is to fight

This is not the future that I would have chosen for myself. Indeed, it is not the future that I did choose for myself in the referendum last Thursday. But we are where we are. And where we are is on the way out of the European Union. But this does not mean that we should just give up. Our task now is to fight. Continue reading

I feel numb. I feel angry. And I feel afraid.

When I went to bed last night, I felt confident that I’d wake up this morning to news that we’d decided – possibly even by a decent majority – to remain in the European Union. The reality, however, is very different.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, 52% of voters in yesterday’s referendum voted to leave the EU. And so begins the long and complex process of disentangling ourselves from the international network of like-minded countries that has been our home for the last four decades. Continue reading

Why I’m voting to remain in the European Union

I don’t remember much from my time at school, but one moment has remained in a dusty corner at the back of my mind for over twenty years.

I was at a weekend conference for teenagers to learn more about the European Union, which had brought together people like me from across the continent. And we spent a fun couple of days listening to and questioning representatives of the various EU institutions and learning about the different countries that we all called home.

On the first day, though, we’d all had to introduce ourselves and say where we came from. So there was me and a few others from the UK, some Germans, some Italians, and so forth.

But then this tiny, dark-haired girl from Spain stood up.

“Hello,” she said. “My name’s Maria. And I’m a European.”

A simple statement, maybe, but a profound one, too. And the cheering and applause that followed were as heartfelt as they were enthusiastic. Continue reading

The lunar eclipse

There’s something fascinating about the moon. It’s traditional among astronomers to grumble about the moon, and the full moon in particular, as the massive amount of sunlight that it reflects makes it nigh on impossible to see anything else in the night sky. But, personally, I’m a big fan of the Earth’s partner in crime. And so I was keen to make the very most of last night’s spectacular lunar eclipse. So much so that Molly (my Labrador) and I decamped into the garden for the night. Here’s our set up…

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Continue reading