The new campaign against racism in Britain tells only half the story

Photograph: Anselm Ebulue / The Guardian Tré Ventour 24 • Northampton • Writer and race equality activist “I remember when Mark Duggan was killed by police. It was my generation’s Stephen Lawrence moment.” From the Guardian  Race and racism.  Just now we’re  going through a surge fomented in the US and probably aggravated  on this side of the Atlantic by the frustrations of lockdown and the habit of imitation.  Longer term the abiding chronic issues have not been helped by …

Read more…The new campaign against racism in Britain tells only half the story

Slugger TV – the devolved nations fightback episode

This month, in episode 38, Slugger O’Toole’s deputy editor David McCann talks to Irish News journalist Allison Morris and Andersontown News columnist Andrée Murphy about the performance of the Northern Ireland Executive, the legacy of different devolved government strategies to ease the COVID-19 lockdown, and the Irish Government’s lack of cross-border consultation about their plans. Edited by Alan Meban and also broadcast (as a slightly shorter 30 minute edit) on Belfast’s community TV channel NvTv tonight at 20:35.

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths *updated*

Who is and is not being counted in this daily reported figure? What are the regional variations and why? We explain below.

Two sets of COVID-19 data are regularly being produced:

(1) Daily reports on the deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus (mostly dying in hospital, though may include some people discharged to care homes); and
(2) Weekly reports based on COVID-19 being listed on death certificates no matter where the person died — but there’s a delay to account for the registration process. (The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency intend to provide a further level of breakdown to include deaths in care homes.)

Ahead of the Stormont budget, should the Executive be rethinking its priorities?

With the first budget of the newly reconstituted Northern Ireland Executive expected shortly, there will be an opportunity to consider whether public resources are being directed appropriately to deal with Northern Ireland’s priorities for the decade to come. The table above shows UK public spending per person in each UK region for various expenditure categories for the 2018-19 fiscal year, in both monetary terms and expressed as a percentage of the UK average. For example, health spending in Northern Ireland …

Read more…Ahead of the Stormont budget, should the Executive be rethinking its priorities?

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales rank amongst the lowest countries in the developed world for the number of intensive care beds

The response to the Covid-19 coronavirus has raised questions regarding the capability of health systems to deal with an influx of patients requiring intensive care. It is estimated that one in seven of those who get Covid-19 will require hospital treatment, and out of those one in five will require ICU care. A widespread outbreak of Covid-19 would therefore put an unprecedented strain on intensive care facilities across the world. The chart above shows the number of ICU beds per …

Read more…Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales rank amongst the lowest countries in the developed world for the number of intensive care beds

The Beginning of the End of the United Kingdom

In 1918 the United Kingdom as it had existed was blown apart by a trifecta of landslides; a Tory landslide in Great Britain driven by a three-way split in the centre-left vote; a Sinn Féin landslide in most of Ireland; and an Ulster Unionist landslide in what would soon become Northern Ireland. This election is more most consequential than any in the 101 years since, and it too has been marked by competing landslides: a Tory landslide in England and …

Read more…The Beginning of the End of the United Kingdom

An hour-by-hour guide to election night

It’s almost over. The fights that didn’t happen, the interviews that didn’t take place, the ice statues that melted, an election campaign that would make even the most hardened election nerd feel like the kid in Matilda that had to eat all the chocolate cake, is nearly at a close. There is little to do but settle in for a long night of bar charts, ridiculous graphics, and the unique sight of watching politicians’ entire careers evaporate live on stage …

Read more…An hour-by-hour guide to election night

This Strangely Misfiring Tory Campaign Just Makes Me Wonder

This is a very strange election campaign from the Conservatives. The Tory messaging for the final week is all wrong. My browser is full of Tory ads calling on me to “Get Brexit Done” when everyone knows Boris is all about that; if anything, they risk alienating the key group of Remainers who voted Tory in 2017. The Tories are currently hanging on to just five-eighths of these voters, and any further slippage could be fatal. As far as potential …

Read more…This Strangely Misfiring Tory Campaign Just Makes Me Wonder

Book Review: The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999, by Margaret M. Scull

A rich and carefully-researched new book, The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999 (Oxford University Press, 2019), offers fresh insights on the changing role of the Catholic Church and the personalities that drove its interventions during that fraught period. The author, Margaret M. Scull, a post-doctoral research fellow at NUI Galway, writes in a clear, accessible style, ensuring the text will be of interest not only to scholars, but a general readership. There will be a Belfast launch …

Read more…Book Review: The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999, by Margaret M. Scull

Social media transparency data is giving real time insight on party strategy at #GE2019

The upcoming general election is the first general election in the UK where social media companies are publishing transparency data, showing which political advertisements are being displayed on the platforms, who is paying for them, and the amounts being spent. Facebook is, by far, the largest platform for social media political advertisements in the UK. In the first full week of the campaign to the 4th of November, there was £175k of spending on campaign related advertisements on the platform, …

Read more…Social media transparency data is giving real time insight on party strategy at #GE2019

Considering the future of Northern Ireland

A panel considered how to engage in a friendly and unthreatening conversation about the future constitutional arrangements for Northern Ireland. This was held as part of a concluding reflection on the Holywell Trust’s series of 35 Forward Together podcast interviews. The panel comprised author Julieann Campbell, the commentator Denis Bradley (who was co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past and former deputy chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board) and Maureen Hetherington of the Junction, plus myself as the …

Read more…Considering the future of Northern Ireland

Creating a shared and integrated society

A discussion on how to create a shared and integrated society was held as part of a concluding reflection on the Holywell Trust’s series of Forward Together podcasts.  The panel was author Julieann Campbell, the commentator Denis Bradley (who was co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past and former deputy chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board) and Maureen Hetherington of the Junction, plus myself as the person who conducted the interviews for the 35 podcasts. We began by …

Read more…Creating a shared and integrated society

The Conservatives are failing to make headway in the Brexit supporting North and Midlands

At the next general election, the Conservatives’ hopes of regaining the overall majority in the House of Commons will rest on winning a substantial number of seats from Labour in Brexit supporting areas in the North and Midlands of England. This is especially true given that they can expect to lose seats in Remain voting areas in London, the South East and Scotland. The map above compares the results of the 2016 EU referendum on a constituency basis (with seats …

Read more…The Conservatives are failing to make headway in the Brexit supporting North and Midlands

Is Brexit A Rerun of the 1930s?

We’re living through a rerun of the 1930s. It must be so, because everyone on my social media timeline tells me so. It seems to be taken as a given that Britain, like all Western societies, is a seething pit of racist, authoritarian, sentiment, itching for an undemocratic strongman to overthrow democracy and civil liberties. So, on the subject of Brexit, the Left and the Right, Leavers and Remainers, all fear the Tommy Robinsons and the Wall of Gammon that turns up at …

Read more…Is Brexit A Rerun of the 1930s?

A bridge across the Irish Sea is a ridiculous idea, but the ferries between Northern Ireland and Scotland are the most expensive in the UK

When Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Minster for the Union and Novelty Infrastructure Tsar Boris Johnson visited Belfast last month for a Conservative Party leadership hustings, he re-iterated his previous support for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland. It was “the kind of project that should be pursued by a dynamic Northern Ireland government”, as he optimistically phrased it. It is worth re-iterating just how stupid this idea would be. Such a …

Read more…A bridge across the Irish Sea is a ridiculous idea, but the ferries between Northern Ireland and Scotland are the most expensive in the UK

What would happen at GE2019 if it is more like the 2019 European election than the last general election?

Previously, I looked at what might happen at a future general election using the 2017 general election results as a base and a YouGov poll to redistribute votes to see how a new general election might pan out. This poll gave the Tories a 9 point lead over Labour in second place, and accordingly in such a scenario the Tories would win a majority despite a historically low vote share, albeit with a smaller majority if the Lib Dems, Greens …

Read more…What would happen at GE2019 if it is more like the 2019 European election than the last general election?

The Unite to Remain alliance will have a mountain to climb to prevent a Conservative victory at the next general election

After several months where the Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives have been locked in essentially a four-way tie in the opinion polls for the next British general election, the election of Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader and prime minister has led to the Tories having a consistent lead over their rivals. The Tories have a lead of around 10 percentage points over Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who remain essentially tied on around 21%. The …

Read more…The Unite to Remain alliance will have a mountain to climb to prevent a Conservative victory at the next general election

UN Report: The Full Picture of Poverty in the UK is Obvious to Anyone who Opens their Eyes

“[T]he full picture of poverty in the United Kingdom, much of it the direct result of government policies… is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes. There has been a shocking increase in the number of food banks and major increases in homelessness and rough sleeping; a growing number of homeless families…” – Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on poverty in the UK (22 May 2019) “I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire …

Read more…UN Report: The Full Picture of Poverty in the UK is Obvious to Anyone who Opens their Eyes

General election seat forecasts are no longer useful

For much of the last century, general elections in Great Britain have been largely predictable affairs. Aside from the odd Liberal, SNP and Plaid Cymru MP returned here and there, Westminster elections were a battle between Labour and the Conservatives. The relationship between the opinion polls and election results was straightforward; most constituencies were either safe Labour or Tory seats, and it was well established that a few points gained or lost in the opinion polls could predict the winner …

Read more…General election seat forecasts are no longer useful

The Brexit Party look set to dominate at the European Elections in Great Britain as the Conservatives collapse

The Conservatives are on the verge of being virtually wiped out at this Thursday’s European election, whilst the Brexit Party look set to improve on the 24 seats that Ukip won at the 2014 poll. Using the data from this YouGov poll and analysis on the number of seats won by the vote received in the 2014 election, I estimated the probability of each party winning each seat in each European constituency. The Brexit Party would be, by far, the …

Read more…The Brexit Party look set to dominate at the European Elections in Great Britain as the Conservatives collapse