The Royal Relevance

How long will it be until the Royals become irrelevant?

For the first time since 1963, The Queen has pulled out of this year’s State Opening of Parliament and the reading of the Queen’s speech. Her eldest son Prince Charles will deliver the speech for her.  After advice from her doctors, the Queen has had to pull out due to “episodic mobility problems”, reluctantly,  Buckingham Palace added. Naturally, as the monarch goes through her 96th year she is finally showing signs of slowing down. In the last year she has missed events at Easter, including the Maundy Service, whilst also announcing that she would not host royal garden parties this year. With this information we can start to look forwards to see how the future of the Royal Family will unfold and affect our lives. Questions on tax payers money and their relevance will of course come to mind, but what other options could the public have on the table if we decided on abolishing our constitutional monarchy and getting rid of the royal family? 

For starters, The Queen is still very popular. It is quite the feat to be able to have your favourite son caught up in a scandal with Jeffrey Epstein and still maintain a 75% YouGov approval rating. There is without doubt a vicarious fascination with the royal’s lives, whether that be through film and TV series like the Crown or any tabloid newspaper gossip columns pondering over the hidden political meanings of the Queen’s dinner table cutlery arrangements. The money they bring into the country too cannot be overlooked, but ultimately they provide the function of national spirit and are essentially morale boosters for the public. The flipside is that this moral booster costs the tax-payer roughly £67m per year. But aside from when Prince Harry had backlash for his questionable Las Vegas or fancy dress antics, or when Prince Philip had his car crash, or Prince Andrew’s Pizza Express defence for the allegations put against him – the biggest danger to the Royal Family’s survival is the Queen’s death. Could Prince Charles being the next person to be crowned and on the throne change our opinion on the monarchy?  His approval ratings are significantly lower than even Wills and Kate. 

So let’s say that we voted in a referendum on removing the Royal Family… What would happen if the Queen, or King of England simply said no? Well the monarch still acts as head of the armed forces so technically they are all under their authority, all armed force members still swear allegiance to the Queen. Hypothetically if the Queen or King did not wage an all out war on the UK, the next question would be what political system would replace the constitutional monarchy? The UK would need a new head of state. This of course could be the Prime Minister, who has similar constitutional powers now, but another option could be a form of semi-presidentialism, where the Prime Minister and another elected official both run the country. For option one, total parliamentary democracy, the situation would mainly consist of removing the monarchy and then formalising parliament’s powers that pretty much existed already, just without the Queen overseeing everything in a ceremonial fashion. Option two of turning into a republic with some form of head of state would be a more complicated matter, you would have to redelegate all the existing prerogative powers.

Either way, these options are in no way swift and simple procedures that could happen anytime soon – but with the inevitability of death, there will surely be some question asked soon about the future of the royal family.

All eyes on the North

All eyes turned to the North of Ireland this week where elections for the 90-seat assembly took place.

It was only weeks ago that The Politics Hour covered the then fortunes of the beleaguered power-sharing arrangements in the North after it was collapsed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as a protest against the Protocol. More on that later!

In March, the decision by the DUP that Paul Givan would walk away as First Minister, the top post in The Executive, also resulted in Michelle O Neill, the deputy First Minister, being removed from her post by default given the joint nature of the office, which is part of a mandatory coalition.

The DUP was criticised by its opponents of playing politics in an attempt to shore up hardline loyalist votes, even at the cost of bringing government institutions down at a time when vital legislation needed passed and the budget for the next three years had yet to be agreed.

Then followed elections last week, which saw historic results. Sinn Fein was returned as the largest party at Stormont which entitles them to nominate Michelle O Neill as the first republican, and nationalist, to the post of First Minister.

However, that can only happen if the DUP nominate for the deputy First Minister post. That looks extremely unlikely at this stage and the hiatus at Stormont looks set to continue, maybe for months, with the DUP insisting that the Protocol must be scrapped before any Executive is again formed.

So, what exactly is the Protocol?

The Protocol was born out of Brexit. In 2016, the majority of people in the North voted against Brexit in the referendum.

The Protocol was agreed as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, negotiated between the British Government and the European Union. It is designed to place checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and the North, and onwards into the EU.

This ensures that vital cross-border trade between the north and south of Ireland continues as normal and prevents a return of checkpoints along the politically sensitive border that separates the country.

Political unionism, which supported Brexit, rejects the protocol, citing it as a threat to the constitutional arrangements of the union. In September of last year, the leaders of the four largest unionist parties in the North signed a joint declaration reinforcing their opposition to the protocol.

So, what happens next?

Some may say “so here we go again” as Stormont again looks like it is about to be lunged into crisis. That has been the case five times since the power-sharing institutions were formed as part of the international peace treaty, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

If the DUP do not nominate a deputy First Minister, then an Executive cannot be formed. Ministerial portfolios, apart from First and deputy First Ministers, from the last mandate will continue to be overseen by previous Ministers for six months, apart from that held by the SDLP. Their Minister lost her seat last week and the party has since announced it will go into opposition in the next mandate. If the stalemate continues, the North could be set for another election in 24 weeks

No surprise then that the rhetoric from parties remains much the same as it did when we interviewed them a few weeks back. Thank you to Professor Jon Tonge for talking with me – if you would like to listen to the full discussion and interview available on Spotify – click here:

Kaliyah Smith

Special report on Cressida Dick

On Monday the 28th of March, Cressida Dick announced that she will officially step down in April from her position as Metropolitan’s Police Commissioner after months of mounting pressure to resign. But who really was Cressida Dick? What kind of legacy did she leave behind? And why did she resign? I’m Izzy McQueen with a special report on Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

A Long history in the force
Cressida Dick has a long 39 year history in the police force, after completing her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Oxford, she initially worked as a constable in the Metropolitan Police in 1983. Dick quickly found herself climbing the ranks from inspector to chief inspector a decade later, and then chief superintendent shortly after that. After her masters degree in criminology in the early 200’s, she became commander and head of the diversity directorate. Dick continued to succeed and become head of multiple operations, such as overlooking security for the 2012 Olympics, and subsequent positions in the following years until she was finally announced head Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 2017. 

Cressida Dick on the announcement:  “I could not be more pleased, to be appointed as the commissioner it’s beyond my wildest dreams”. 

She was the favourite to become commissioner and hopes for the future of the Metropolitan Police under her watch were high. “The first female commissioner, the first gay commissioner as well, it was a momentous step” as reporter Danny Shaw described the reception of her in 2017.  Dick vowed to reform the police force, however she found herself instead facing scandal after scandal.


Dick’s long history in the force before she became Met Police’s Commissioner was not without accused misconduct. Although she was largely welcomed into the position, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes protested her promotion from the start.

Jean Charles de Menezes

 Upon Cressida Dick’s appointment, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes released a joint response stating that “The message of today’s appointment is that police officers can act with impunity.”

 In July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes a 27 year old Brazilian, was mistakenly repeatedly shot in the head in London’s Stockwell Tube Station after police thought he was a suicide bomber. Cressida Dick was gold commander in the control room for the operation at the time, and the responsibility was largely laid on her head. At the trials inquest she defended herself and her coworkers for their actions only leading to more distrust.  “If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable on the operation, I don’t think they did.” Although in the court trial the Jury cleared her of any blame, her family and many others never did. 

Operation Midland

Between 2014 and 2016 Operation Midland was run with Assistant Commissioner Dick which looked into ultimately false claims by Carl Beech of a paedophilic ring of torture involving influential prominent figures. The price of such a mistake not only cost around 2.5 million, but led to falsely guided searches of former home secretary Leon Brittan’s home just six weeks after his death in 2016.

Stop and Search tactics

Since her appointment, the commissioner has come under fire for how stop and search powers have sharply increased and powers expanded under section 60 in 2019. This has subjected ethnic minorities across the country to “relentless searching without a demonstrable, legitimate purpose and sometimes several times a day” as Tory MP Rehman Chishti stated in a home affairs committee in 2019. Since then, statistics released by the Government show that individuals from a “Black or Black British background were searched at a rate 7.0 times higher than those from a White ethnic group”.

Sarah Everard 

Last year, Cressida Dick met calls from the public and senior MP’s to resign after the tragic kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of serving officer Wayne Couzens in South London on the 4th of March 2021. Whilst home secretary Priti Patel defended the commissioner’s position, Labour MP Harriet Harman wrote in a public statement that women’s confidence in the police “will have been shattered” and a change of commissioner was needed to show change in the force. Criticism against the commissioner came again just 9 days after Everard’s murder with outrage over the aggressive policing and shutdown of a vigil for Sarah Everard in London as Channel 4 covered it. 

The court ruled that the met police ‘breached rights of organisers’ of the vigil marking yet another failing in the Commissioner’s handling. Yet, the Commissioner yet again defended her decision to stay in a public statement: “What has happened makes me more determined, not less to lead my organisation, I’ve listened to what people have said in the last week, I know that in the streets all across the UK women don’t feel as safe as we would all like women to feel, I didn’t want it to end like that lets have a review.”


When the Downing Street Parties scandal initially surfaced, the Met police were called upon to handle the allegations. Yet for weeks the Met Police initially refused to investigate the alleged illegal gatherings. It wasn’t until a cabinet office enquiry was about to reveal its findings that Cressida Dick finally announced a criminal investigation, which subsequently meant that the investigation could not be published. Allegations that the commissioner favoured government members were responded to by Dick in a press conference in January

These actions prompted renewed outrage at the Commissioner as the Met changed their decision over whether to intervene  four times during the party’s scandal. On Tuesday this week fines were given to members involved. This investigation is still ongoing today, but to think that the Police were not even going to investigate the parties and now they hand out 20 fines just exemplifies the mistakes made by the Met Police Commissioner. 

Charing Cross Officers revealed Whatsapp Messages

It appeared as though the commissioner was unsinkable. Able to escape situations and retain composure which others would not have been able to accomplish. However with the recent Charing Cross scandal, it appears the commissioners’ luck has run out.

 On the 1st of February, Police watchdog revealed the Whatsapp messages of Charing Cross Police Station officers which were filled with racist and misogynistic content. The messages mocked BLM movement, disabled people, women and made jokes about rape. The pressure on the Commissioner this time not only came from the public, but from London Mayor Sadiq Khan who has allegedly ‘pressured’ her into resigning after putting her ‘on notice’, unsatisfied with her response to the Charing Cross scandal. Pressure which Priti Patel has announced will be investigated. The commissioner’s resignation came just hours after she insisted that she had ‘no intention’ of leaving her post. This clash of power from all three figures may have consequences on London’s Mayor.

Overlapping Power

Patel has described Khan’s interference in Dick’s resignation as a move which has blindsided her, and she has condemned it as an overall “shambolic” decision. Khan’s decision to not involve Patel in the fate of the Commissioner’s future has led to tensions between the two figures. Khan has the legal power to enact such actions surrounding Police Constables. Yet, Patel has since ordered a review into whether the Mayor followed proper procedures with the handling of the Chief Constable and plans to introduce new rules to diminish London Mayor’s power in such future decisions. This move has been criticised by City Hall for “wasting tax payers’ money” in a “politically motivated enquiry.” However, Patel’s punishment for Khan has not ended there. Patel’s new proposal announced in March for a First Past the Post (FPTP) system for mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections would make it easier for Conservatives to win in places such as London.

Dame Cressida Dick’s legacy is one filled with scandals. And one which has seemingly failed to improve and diversify the police force she controlled, driven to resign from the mounting pressure she faced. According to The Times, the commissioner will leave this post with a pension in excess of 100,000 a year. After 39 years in the force and five years as commissioner, do you think that such a sum should be rewarded to someone who has caused this many scandals and issues in their career? Let us know at our Twitter page @LSRpolitics on the poll, and find the podcast on Cressida Dick on our Spotify page Liverpool Politics Hour.

Izzy McQueen

Saudi Arabian ‘Sportswashing’

By Scott Duke-Giles

Back in October 2021, the £300 million takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was completed and announced to the world. The enormous amount of money involved in this deal was obscene even by Premier League standards, as Newcastle comfortably became the club with the richest owners in the world. For context, the second richest owner of a football club is Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour whose estimated net worth is £17 billion, whilst the PIF is thought to be worth an incredible £315 billion.

This takeover has caused concern and controversy. From a footballing perspective, the extraordinary wealth of Newcastle’s new owners mean they can afford to buy and pay any player they need. This criticism has been levied at Manchester City, who have won the league three out of the last four seasons (and look set to triumph this year too). In creating an uneven financial playing field, it makes the league predictable and somewhat boring when rich teams can coast to the top because levels of expenditure are irrelevant to them. It is probable that the newly ‘moneyed’ Newcastle United will contribute to this problem in the future.

Controversy is not confined to the sporting realm though. The PIF is the ninth largest fund in the world and will have vast influence over the Premier League and European football. Dr David Wearing spoke on the topic of ‘sportswashing’ and the motives behind the Saudi Arabian takeover.

“The Saudi regime is not buying Newcastle United because they are great lovers of football and they certainly do not have a great concern for the people of Newcastle and their concern with Newcastle United’s fortunes.”

“They completed the takeover for two main reasons. First is what is called sportswashing, which is authoritarian regimes using sports to whitewash their public image around the world. We have seen this in lots of instances – the Chinese with the 2008 Olympic Games, the Russians and the 2018 World Cup, Qatar with their ownership of Paris Saint Germain and Abu Dhabi’s ownership of Manchester City.”

“The second reason for buying the club is to invest in the wider community as well. One of the ways authoritarian regimes in the Gulf and the Middle East bind themselves to the big powers of the Global North (US, UK and France) is by investing in these economies.”

Newcastle United have struggled on the pitch this season, but thanks to big investment in players during the January transfer window, they have managed to get themselves out of the relegation zone this weekend. If Newcastle stay up and when they start the climb the Premier League table, debates around sportswashing are set to intensify.

Listen to a feature on this topic:

Feature Image:

The 2022 Portuguese Elections – a centre-left comeback?

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa celebrates winning an absolute majority in parliament.

by Josie Ella Sawtell Cousins

The 2022 Portuguese Elections – a centre-left comeback?

by Josie Ella Sawtell Cousins

The 2022 Portuguese Elections – a centre-left comeback?

by Josie Ella Sawtell Cousins

Last Sunday, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa won a Third consecutive term with his Socialist Party securing an absolute majority in parliament.

The Socialist Party gained an unprecedented 41.7% of the vote, five points up and aequated to an increase of 11 seats to 2019.  The electoral results also put the Socialist Party ahead of the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) on 28 percent.

In response to the election victory Costa has said, “The Portuguese have confirmed that they want a Socialist Party government for the next four years … they want stability, certainty, and security.”

Following the electoral success of Germany’s SPD and Norway’s Labour Party a, many political academics have pointed to a comeback by Europe’s centre-left, a political movement that five years ago was in terminal decline. 

It seems the socialists Partys success in Portugal may be the icing on the cake. As Jon Lenley suggested in the Guardian “Costa’s win in Portugal continues comeback by Europe’s centre-left”. As Jeremy Cliffe highlithed in the News Statseman “Victory puts Portuguese Socialists at forefront of Europe’s centre-left comeback”

However, after speaking with Ms Ana Reimao, Lecturer in Portuguese Studies at the University of Liverpool, it seems the victory for the Socialists in Portugal hides deeper political shifts.

Firstly, as Ms Reimo highlighted, the most recent election may have marked the decline of coalition governments in Portugal. Since 2015, Costa has headed minority administrations propped up by two far-left parties. Last Sunday, the tables turned in Portuguese politics as

Costa gained a solid majority in Government.

Looking at in international level, it appears there is a significant decline in coalition governments. In 2020 Jacinda Ardern gained a landslide at the New Zealand election. Many political academics have suggested this may be due to Adhern’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, as Ms Remiao pointed out, and further highlighted in the electoral success of

Costa and Adhern’s, it appears in times of significant socio-economic upheaval, COVID-19 being a key example, voters are increasingly in favour for a strong and stable form of Government. In the case of Portugal, this means a solid majority to the Socialist Party to Govern.

Moving on, as Ms Remio noted, The 2022 Portuguese Elections also marked an electoral  decline in the far left. The left-wing BE suffered the single greatest losses, falling from 19 seats to five following the results. Furthermore, the communist PCP gained only 4.4% of the votes, marking a decline in seats from 10 to just six.

As many have pointed to, the decline in the far left in Portugal may have further consolidated the Socialist Party’s victory on Sunday. As Ana Reimo further points out, tactical voting may have been critical to the Socialist Party’s victory on Sunday, with many Portuguese voters tactically voting for the Socialist Party to prevent the rise of the far right.

This trend of tactical voting is nothing new for European electoral politics. At the 2017 French Presidential Election, OpinionWay found that among those that voters for Macron, only 65 per cent said he was their top pick for president rather than, for example, the “least bad” candidate.

So, in analysing the Socialist Party’s victory on Sunday, it may mark a comeback of social democracy in Portugal, but ultimately at the expense of the far-left. 

As touched on previously, Last Sunday’s election also marked the parliamentary gains of the far right. The Far-right party Chega increasing their Parliamentary seats from 1 in 2019 to a landmark 12, making Chega the third biggest party in the Portuguese Parliament. These significant Parliamentary gains mean that Chega now qualify to form a parliamentary group, granting them greater influence and profile within the Assembly.

In Cas Mudde’s 2019 book, Populism: A Very Short Introduction, he suggested that

no country is immune to nativist, authoritarian and populist appeals. It appears the Parliamentary gains of the Far-right party Chega further confirm Mudde’s suggestion.

This may be a comeback to Social Democracy, but this is also a resurgence of the far-right in Portuguese politics.

However, as Ms Reimo noted, the Socialist Party’s third term in Government may mark a decline in the prevalence of the the Far-right party Chega. As Ms Reimo highlights, at present, Chega seems to adopt an ‘anti-system voice’. However, as of last Sunday’s election, Chega now hold significant representation within Portuguese Parliament, potentially discrediting their ‘anti-system voice’. What’s more, the Parliamentary representation of Chega provides greater legislative opportunities for the Socialist Party to challenge far-right political discourse.

So, whilst this election marked the Parliamentary gains of the Far-right party Chega, the Socialist party’s outright majority my potentially mark a prospective decline in Chega, due to the challenges associated with legislative power. However, it is important to stress that this claim is dealing with hypothetical, there is no significant data to back this claim up.

The Socialist Party’s absolute majority in parliament may be a comeback to Social Democracy the victory. But the victory hides deeper political shifts within the Portuguese electorate, ultimately reflective of wider political shifts in Europe.  

However, as an ancient adage suggested “With great power comes great responsibility”. Following the 2022 Portuguese Election, the Socialist Party hold great legislative power. It is clear they now have great responsibility, particarly in their COVID recovery programme and in legislative challenges to the fa-right.  

Thankyou to Ms Ana Reimao, Lecturer in Portuguese Studies for talking with me – catch up with our interview on the most recent Liverpool International Politics show.

UCU STRIKES- from an international perspective

Today, strikes have begun across 56 universities today including the University of Liverpool. The University and College Union (UCU) have demanded a £2,500 pay increase for members, an end to “pay injustice”, a re-evaluation of the pensions scheme and zero-hours contracts action to tackle “unmanageable workloads”. But what does this mean for students? Do they attend or avoid classes, or should they join the picket itself?

On the one hand, the message from University of Liverpool’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Gavin Brown asks students in an open email to “assume all activities are going ahead and attend as planned unless you hear definitively from your lecturer or School Office that a teaching event will not take place”. On the other hand, the guild announced last night that their ‘preferendum’ (a referendum with more than one choice) on whether to support lecturers’ strikes passed. This was with 2184 points to fully support, 1564 votes to support UCU in their disputes but not in industrial action and 885 votes against. Subsequently they are calling on students to support the strike and not cross the picket line. Here are their six resolutions for the coming days:

  1. To officially support any industrial action that may take place.
  2. To release an immediate public statement showing support if staff take industrial action.
  3. To help educate students about any industrial action and explain why they should support it.
  4. To organise ‘teach-out’ events to bring staff and students together to learn and discuss a range of topics including the industrial action, trade unionism and higher education.
  5. To lobby the university to meet the demands made the University and College Union. 
  6. To not cross the picket line and safeguard students without ‘breaking the strike.’

But for international students and lecturers, even if they wanted to, striking isn’t really an option. International students with VISAS are required to have an 80% attendance rate to comply with their VISA. This means that they cannot miss out on more than just sixteen days of lessons. As a result, students are forced to decide between crossing the picket line to achieve attendance or risking deportation. For years, calls have been made for universities to stop monitoring the attendance of students during strikes by staff. Last year, the University of Liverpool came under criticism for warning undergraduates in an open email that it was “unlawful” to join pickets and for international students to remember they would be jeopardising their visa by not crossing the picket line.

 Ex- Liverpool University student Yidan Gao from Suzhou, China wrote to me about her troubles with VISAs and strikes in her time at the University. “I was really worried about my VISA situation, from first year to last I would be scared about getting ill and missing university and then when the strikes started me and my friends didn’t know what to do, we wanted to strike but how could we do that and risk getting sent back home?”

As these new strikes begin, whether you choose to cross the picket line or not, it’s important to remember our privilege in being able to decide whether or not we want to support the strike. Additionally, we should remember when seeing international students crossing the picket that the consequences for them are far more severe than for non-international students.

If you’d like to find out more on strikes, why they are happening and what students think, tune in to our podcast from last week to hear more:

An alternative look at COP26: Who is missing?

By John Cordner

The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, or COP26, took place between the 31st of October and the 12th of November and was meant to be a holistic event bringing together all those on the planet who have a stake in the damage being done by climate change. With COP being such an important event, the question has to be asked about who isn’t there? Who doesn’t have ‘a stake’ in the climate?

With most large scale media focusing on who was at COP, what was being debated and whether resolutions be found, I chose to examine who isn’t part of COP26’s goal to “coordinate action to tackle climate change”. The three groups I cover that are not at COP26 are political leaders, major fossil fuel companies, and climate activists deemed too radical.

A theme can be found in the leaders who chose not to attend. They are authoritarian politicians with their power and support linked to their respective states’ economic performance. This issue is especially applicable to Vladamir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China. Both men are leading countries that export and produce coal, oil and gas and any climate change commitments would almost certainly involve scaling back of these industries. To learn more about these political leaders and to hear about the
most controversial of them all, Jair Bolsonaro, click the link at the bottom to
listen to the whole story.

The exciting part of this story is examining
climate activists and why they oppose COP26, especially when considering the
conference is meant to be a huge step forward in platforming activists and
pushing green politics and agendas. In the aftermath of COP, world leaders did
little to address activists’ claims that COP is pointless so long as many of
the political parties and politicians involved receive lobbying money and
campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. No significant commitments in
that area were discussed, let alone considered for passing. While fossil fuel
companies have been excluded from COP, these climate activists argue that they
can never truly push for a green plan as long as politicians continue to take
large donations from fossil fuel companies.

But how many leading politicians are taking money from fossil fuels? According to The Guardian, the Conservative Party, which sent many delegates to COP and organised the conference, has taken £1.3 million from fossil fuel interest groups and climate sceptics since 2019. Statistica estimates that Joe Biden’s 2020 Presidential Campaign received $1.6 million of donations from oil and gas companies. Furthermore, an analysis of all attendees conducted by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, and Global Witness shows that 503 individual attendees from different countries have directly taken money from fossil fuel industries or are affiliated with fossil fuel lobbyists. This indicates that the argument made by the activists may be true and explains their exclusion from the conference if they want to
break up the structures that earn a lot of politicians a lot of money.

Furthermore, nothing has been done to address climate activists’ issues with the lack of developing state representation at COP due to vaccine shortages. While most developed economies have been able to use the vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19 from preventing attendance at COP, many developing nations have vaccine programs still in their infancy. It is not practical for developing countries to be sending large delegations to COP; this includes many African, South American and Asian nations. Activists argue that the conference should have been postponed for one year to allow these developing nations to send delegations. These are the countries most at risk from climate change because of their geography.

Click the Spotify link below to here to hear all
of these topics discussed in-depth, and the full Liverpool Politics
International Show here –

Featured Image Credit – Alamy Stock Photo

A Fortnight On: How hopeful can we be of change following the tragic death of Sir David Amess?

By Scott Duke-Giles

Almost two weeks on from the shocking murder of David Amess, a Conservative MP since 1983 and in the constituency of Southend West since 1997, politics seems to have predictably returned back to normal.

The 2021 budget announcement and the regrettable (if seemingly inevitable) resurgence of covid-19 cases dominate the headlines this morning, with little to no mention of the deceased MP. Of course, this is to be expected – stories cannot stay in the news forever. However, those hoping for some improvements to be made in bolstering the protection of our representatives are worried that there will be no positive change following this tragic incident.

The inquest hearing, held yesterday Wednesday 27th October 2021, lasted under five minutes as it was adjourned pending the outcome of criminal proceedings. Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old from North London, has been charged with murder of Sir David Amess and preparing terrorist acts.

Last week I sat down with Professor Andrew Russell, Head of the Politics Department at the University of Liverpool, to discuss the political impacts of the murder and whether we can expect any positive change from it:

“Any reset that would actually make it more difficult for members of the public to have contact with MPs would be hard. But they might have to look at the security of these meetings and ensure that maybe people are vetted or searched on the way into surgeries.”

“There’s always a moment where you think change might be possible. Although I have to say in 2016 when Jo Cox was murdered when campaigning for the 2016 European Union referendum, that did not fundamentally change things. In both the murders of Cox and Amess, what we have seen are deaths of pretty ordinary, nice people.”

“There’s a lot of stuff in the press in the last couple of days about the need to take the hatred out of politics, but perhaps that’s a lesson that newspaper editors need to bare in mind as well. I am relatively optimistic that there is an opportunity here to ask a fundamental question about the regard in which we hold our political rulers and whether we show enough respect for those who put themselves forward for public service.”

Listen to the full interview with Professor Andrew Russell and the rest of last week’s show here –

Feature Image Credit: HCA Barbieri News –

Liverpool’s pilot events scheme shows no significant rise in cases in the area

Liverpool Public Health officials and scientists revealed there was no significant increase in COVID cases following the pilot events that took place in the city

The series of events included a three-day business festival commencing on the 28th April, a two day nightclub event taking place on the 30th April and 1st May, and concluded with a Sefton Park gig on 2nd May.

Attendees were required to take a test prior to the events, and up to seven days after the events. Once inside the venues, attendees were not required to socially distance or to wear face coverings.

More than 13,000 people attended events across all venues and dates. Only eleven out of the 13,000 who attended tested positive for COVID at or after these events took place. Those who tested positive were followed up by track and trace.

The research team behind the COVID pilot events said that between 25% and 43% of respondents returned a PCR tests after the events took place. The 43% that returned a PCR test were attendees of the Blossoms Sefton Park gig. Organisers at the event had created an incentive that meant those who returned a PCR test could win tickets to a future gig, which increased test returns.

Examining the data of the Cheshire and Merseyside regions saw no significant increase in the spread of COVID, in what is encouraging news for the hospitality and night-time industry, which Liverpool’s economy largely relies on.

Matt Ashton, of Liverpool Public Health, said that the events were “undoubtably a success” and that the pilot scheme was “incredibly important” in the reopening of the entertainment and hospitality industry.

As part of our special features programme, we spoke to Liverpool student and event goer Tom Haslam, who described the event as “quality” and one of the best moments of the year. He was able to return negative tests both before and after the event.

We also spoke to 24 Kitchen Street venue manager Josiah Worth, who told us of 24 Kitchen Street’s own struggles with the pandemic, changes and improvements to the venue and what’s next for 24 Kitchen Street after reopening.

Our Liverpool Pilot Events special feature is available on Spotify and Soundcloud streaming platforms now.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: Considerate or negligent to fundamental rights?

Photo by Kyle Bushnell on Unsplash.

Tomorrow on the 18th of May the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will reach its committee stage in the House of Commons. The controversial Bill passed its first reading in the House on the 9th Of March and has drawn much ire ever since.

In the last two months thousands of people across the country have filled to the streets to express their disapproval of the Bill’s proposals. Their biggest gripe? The section of the Bill which they feel threatens their ability to do just that. Potentially the most unpopular section of the Bill, the recommendations of changes to how protests are policed has received substantial criticism. With a motive for reducing disruption caused by protests, this part of the Bill looks at setting limitations on how they are conducted.

The UK show’s segments on the Bill featured an interview with Matt Parr, who the Home Secretary commissioned to lead a report on the policing of protests. In this discussion he stressed the importance of finding the right balance between accommodating the right to protest and protecting the public from disruption.

Its fair to say that based on some of the public reaction,  there is at least a large vocal group that feel the Bill has failed to strike this balance. Chants of “Kill the Bill” have echoed across different cities in the last several weeks, demonstrating the perceived threat felt by some regarding right to protest peacefully. This has seen various activist groups speak out in the name of protecting their future capacity to create change by encouraging and organising protests against the Bill.

The UK team’s feature also included discussions from campaigners from Friends of the Earth and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. Comments from these campaigners further illustrated the concern of this legislation imposing on fundamental rights. They also spoke of the importance of calling people to action to dispute the potential legislation, stressing their hope that enough disapproval from the public could lead to a U-turn from the government.

With there still being several stages to pass before these proposals would be implemented it seems likely that more backlash against the Bill will take place. A week on from the Queen’s speech which outlined future legislation, one cannot help but wonder what the future of protesting within the UK will look like as well as how tumultuous the issue may continue to be.

Listen to the feature on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill here: