Beware the dog whistle patriotism of the Brexit scoundrels

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One of the great political adages is Samuel Johnson’s remark that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’.  And in a far-sighted nuance to this early political soundbite, he added that the true patriot is motivated not by a love of national institutions such as monarchy, but the greater collective good of the whole nation.

With Donald Trump now joining George Galloway, Nigel Farage, Marie le Pen and Vladimir Putin as those in favour of Britain leaving the EU, I can detect much of the Brexit camp’s faux patriotism seeping in from modern politics’ ‘scoundrel fringe’. Continue reading

We need to hear what Brexit means for Boldon & Benwell, not Boris and the bankers.

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I’ve been shocked by the recent ‘Panama Papers’ revelations.  We all knew that the rich stashed their wealth overseas away from the taxman, but the way it reaches to the top of British government is mind-boggling.

The Panama Papers point up the media’s importance as the ‘Fourth Estate’,  a watchdog against the rich and powerful.  The old saying goes, news is anything that someone does not want you to read‑ the rest is just public relations. Continue reading

My zen-like calm about our impending relegation

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This isn’t supposed to be what relegation feels like.  A relegation season starts like any other, picking up points but more importantly dropping just more than we need.  The drift into the bottom places, pressure on the manager, excitement, fear and nerves.

At some point, there’s supposed to be a turning point.  The losing streak becomes a battle.  The players start to put in a shift.  The points start to come in dribs and drabs. Continue reading

Is the referendum the first stop on a dead-end journey?

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I was too young to really have experienced British Rail.  I knew all the jokes about the delays and the terrible food, of course, but they always struck a false note for me.

Living in Newcastle journeys usually started with an InterCity 125. I didn’t really understand the jokes, because in three hours you were whisked from the edge of the country to the capital.

And the tickets were always so cheap!  With my young persons’ railcard, you could make the trip for pocket money prices. Continue reading

Who are the real scientists here?

Dltr: I am persuaded that there is evidence that carbon fibre masculinities is useful science whilst Sokalism is not.

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One of the interesting things about the Christmas break is that I really unplug from work.  Or at least from the daily humdrum, and that gives me the chance to immerse myself in things that are really interesting but can’t grab my attention on a daily basis.  It gives me a chance to take the time to follow something interesting and broaden my scientific horizons without necessarily having to justify the time it takes.  Continue reading

The Tories Powerhouse Plan: shaking it away to nothing

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There’s been a lot of enthusiasm in the press recently for city-devolution in the North of England.  The Government are creating new Mayors to streamline local decision-making as a first step in driving towards ‘the Northern Powerhouse’.

Across from Manchester to the north east, George Osborne was pictured everywhere in soft-focus photo-opportunities sitting alongside northern councillors.  Everyone was grinning broadly as they set their signatures on documents supposed to finally unleash the long-dormant power of the north. Continue reading

Losing my connection to my boyhood club

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It’s very difficult being a long-distance fan of a football club at the best of times when you’ve been used to being a local one.  Following a club like Newcastle is primarily about the match-day experience, of a few short hours when the city marches to the beat of its sporting heart.

So even with the joys of Twitter to keep track of the latest comings and goings, you don’t have the experience of Newastle United being everywhere from the coffee corner to the Chronicle.  And out of sight is all too quickly out of mind. Continue reading