I warmly congratulate the three writers of “The 27” (TNE #278) on such a comprehensive, poignant and totally necessary article. This afforded the reader significant backstories to the tragic tale of so many lives lost in the Channel.
Their pictures were heartbreaking. So many of the public, invidiously persuaded by the government, just see “illegal immigrants”, but there are no safe and legal routes, and so these young people risk everything for a better life.
Their frail dinghy could not support them and no one else supported them in their time of greatest need. But courtesy of this so well-researched article, we can see their hopeful faces with everything to live for and nothing to die for, and feel a collective shame on their behalf.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Thank you for “The 27”. Our toxic beliefs about refugees and other migrants must be challenged and changed.
Jason Solomons’ “Banality of Hostility” (TNE #278) is a good reminder of how Theresa May behaved when in the Home Office.
She now appears a sensible, benign person compared to Johnson. But our desire to see the back of him must not blind us to the fact that pretty much the whole bunch of Tory adherents are deplorables, whose ideology has parted ways with values and integrity.
Re: “Art of the grift” (TNE #278). NFTs must be the most depressing “artistic” development yet. They play to all that is the worst in the art world – overpriced pictures, art as a commodity and art as a mark of status.
Tulips, decorative plates, Beanie Babies and now NFTs. At least when the bubble burst on the first three you actually owned something physical.
“Revenge of the Brexit Ultras” (TNE #278) perfectly summed up the dilemma for the Conservative party and Britain post-Boris Johnson. He won the referendum through lies, won the position of prime minister because his predecessor could not make Brexit match up with his lies, has lied his way through his No10 years and is lying again as they try to pry his fingers off the dispatch box.
Now his party and his country have to come to terms with the fact that they have been repeatedly lied to, and been gullible enough to fall for those lies. This will take a long time. Those expecting the next Tory PM to overturn the worst of Johnson should think again.
Boris Johnson has lied and lied again in parliament, and not just about the parties. His false accusations about Keir Starmer were contemptible.
His rants about the fastest-growing economy in the G7 are true – for one quarter only. To regard our response to the pandemic as “world-beating” is but words – with over 150,000 deaths being the highest in Europe and £8.7 billion wasted in PPE.
But my anger is not now towards Boris Johnson. It’s towards the Conservative party. The party which I’ve voted for all my life. They have failed to act and openly support his cavalier, disingenuous approach.
As a retired teacher, I often wonder how our young people feel, knowing that the prime minister of this country has refused to “tell the truth” about his rule-breaking during Covid lockdown. I wonder how they react, having endured two years of broken education, lessons via Zoom, confined to their homes, with laptops that were promised but never materialised, and exams that were botched?
Truth is a precious commodity. What lessons are our young people learning from Boris Johnson? Lie, prevaricate, point the finger at others, bully MPs, blame the civil service, bluster and get away with it?
Writing about Polish metal group Behemoth’s frontman Adam Darski (“The Faith and the Fury”, TNE #278) refers to Jerzy Urban, who is also accused of blasphemy, as an “88-year-old journalist”.
Urban has a lot of history. Under Communism, he was a government spokesman and propagandist between 1981-1989. He used to refer disparagingly to Lech Wałęsa as a “Gdansk citizen” and never by name, and of course he defended the imposition of martial law by the Communist party.
Re: Paul Mason’s “Our Divided Kingdom may never be able to come back together” (TNE #278). I’m a UK national living in Austria, which ruled an empire of 52 million in 1910. Now two autocrats, two world wars and over 100 years later it is a small (if now prosperous) nation of 8.9 million.
The reputation of the UK only goes so deep and hides deep-rooted myths of class consciousness and exceptionalism. Brexit has stripped this surface of social adhesion away completely and it will be a long time before it heals. And when it does, the make-up of the “British Isles & Northern Ireland” will be very different from the present.
The UK in its current form is dead. It will limp along for a few years more, but as soon as another Scottish referendum is granted, we will be off.
Polls show that 75% of the 16-25 age group are solidly yes. That mirrors the 65+ group who are solidly no, but changing demographics will erode that away.
The irony is that if Westminster grants a referendum now, they stand a very good chance of winning but every year they refuse, the thin grey line gets marginally thinner.
When we go, expect a border poll for NI too and I would expect a rise for Plaid Cymru in Wales, especially if Scotland gets Efta or EU membership.
In a publication that prides itself on forward thinking, surely there is no place for such crass sentences as Josh Barrie’s insular, insulting opening line (“Good news everyone: Veganuary is over”, Taste of Europe, TNE #278).
By wilfully ignoring the sensibilities of the many millions of vegans in the UK and Europe, such words in print are surely a great way to lose readers.
I have always enjoyed Tanit Koch’s column but “Taughtology” (TNE #278) is sublime on so many levels – not least the story about a teacher called Mrs Nutkin and her squirrel stickers! Danke schön indeed.
May I offer in return my anecdote from Germany circa 1977 – of an accidental Spoonerism rather than a spelling mistake. This was the era of chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and a colleague related to us one day the story of a gathering of all the (many!) Schmidts in the Federal Republic, attended even by the Bundeskanzler himself: “Auch der Kandesbunzler war da”. How we chortled.
James Ball is right to suggest that maybe not all TNE readers will have the same views on the major issues of the “culture wars” (“21st Century Reformation, #TNE 277). To make the reverse assumption is to enter the disturbing world of identity politics, where the individual is demoted to being just a member of a uniform identity group.
Since the Remain “identity group” is so large, representing 48% of the country, its members are definitely going to have a broad range of views on all the different issues of the “culture wars”.
It is striking but not wholly unexpected that the Tories have broken yet another manifesto pledge by failing to match billions of pounds worth of EU development funding for UK nations and regions after Brexit.
The government pledged in its 2019 election manifesto that a new Shared Prosperity Fund would “at a minimum” match the £1.5 billion a year in EU regional funds returned to the UK from its EU membership contributions, and “reaffirmed” that commitment in last October’s Budget.
These “EU structural funds” were designed to support economic development and reduce regional inequalities, particularly through investment in small businesses, skills and innovation, the green economy and other infrastructure projects.
However, according to Westminster’s Treasury Committee, this fund that is set to launch in April will only be worth £400 million in 2022, rising to £700 million in 2023-24 and to £1.5 billion in 2024-25.
It is clear that despite UK government assurances, the funding promised will not be delivered. Like so many aspects of Brexit, this is yet another broken promise.
It is almost enjoyable to follow the slow demise of the worst prime minister we have ever known in this nation – at least in my long lifetime. But I, along with many others, am growing impatient at the relatively trivial aspects of Boris Johnson’s reign that are in the limelight. I am longing to see him openly blamed for the worst and most damaging act of destruction for which he is guilty.
I remember the lies and falsehoods since 2016 and before that brought about our harmful and tragic severance from Europe. How many thousands of small and medium businesses have suffered? Is the rest of the world waiting for the “politically correct” moment to launch an attack on the Brexit tragedy? Surely, it must be time by now for BJ and his apology for a government to be held to account?
Chalfont St Giles, Bucks
Jonty Bloom (“New Borders Red Tape is choking British business”, TNE #276) points out that the UK is forcing self-inflicted defeats upon its exporters with Brexit-inflicted red tape and anti-EU dogma.
Where is the clear opposition alliance and vision to energise the electorate? Keir Starmer plods forensically on but is almost in lockstep with the government. He sees the harm of Brexit as a done deal and makes no attempt to inspire a deeply disillusioned electorate where only marginal seats swayed by tabloid news agendas count.
As we enter an obvious period of crisis, social conflict, fiscal mess, financial hardship and economic uncertainty, it is way past time the unions got their houses in order.
Any decent person agrees that the right of a worker to withdraw their labour is fundamental to workers’ rights. In an era where large industry is a distant memory and infrastructure institutions were long ago privatised, strikes are increasingly self-defeating.
It is decades past time for unions to grow another string to their bow.