Coronavirus and freelance journalists

The following is a text on which the NUJ statement published on Monday 16 March 2020 is based. See the official statement for links to further relevant material. The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis that will affect everyone to some degree, whether or not they are infected with the COVID-19 virus. Workplaces are shutting […]

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A heartfelt plea to one-nation Tories

A letter sent to the Royston Crow, but as yet unpublished… Going by the Conservative Party election leaflet recently distributed to Royston households, I have to ask whether our longstanding MP Oliver Heald agrees with either its content or the party leader whose face adorns it. Sir Oliver is one of that dwindling band of […]

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On Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson, and the no-deal Brexit blame game

My MP, Oliver Heald, a Conservative who campaigned with me for Remain during the 2016 EU referendum, has written to say that blame for a no-deal Brexit will lie with those who voted against Theresa May’s deal. Below is my response to Sir Oliver.   Royston, 30 August 2019 Dear Oliver, Transferring responsibility for a […]

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A minor setback in European copyright reform

As a freelance journalist I am disappointed by the close vote in the European Parliament today against the recommendations on copyright reform proposed by parliament’s JURI committee. Still, on the bright side I look at the vote as a minor setback that I and my fellow copyright holders could turn into an opportunity. The matter […]

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Brexit, fake news and fraud

The following is a letter submitted three weeks ago to the Royston Crow, but which they have declined to publish… The claim that EU accounts have not been signed off in over 20 years (Peter Chilvers, postbag 22 February) is what is known colloquially as ‘fake news’. It is an example of the adage often […]

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Sodium scooter delivers tellurium for 2d diodes

Nanotechnology at the level of chemical physics doesn’t normally attract popular attention, but a recent paper in Nature Communications is worth highlighting given its implications for the use of two-dimensional materials in electronics. Graphene is the best known 2d material, and much has been said of its wondrous properties in various applications including electronic components. […]

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Nord Stream 2 is a danger to Russia as much as Europe

US Secretary of state Rex Tillerson has in a speech delivered today in Warsaw warned that the planned Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline between Russia and Germany presents a major threat to European energy security. Tillerson’s concerns are justified, to a smallish degree, but the language is alarmist, and hides the fact that […]

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Capital, politics and techno-ethics – an unwholesome threesome

When political and business leaders pontificate on ethics, as England’s acting prime minister Theresa May has done today in Davos, you should immediately check for your purse. Davos, aka the World Economic Forum, is an annual excuse in mutual backscratching and deal-making among the world’s uber-rich (pun intended) and politicians, democratic or otherwise. The democratic […]

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Bayeux Tapestry – a hostage to Brexit?

President Emmanuel Macron has for reasons best known to himself agreed to loan the priceless Bayeux embroidery to England, as part of a political exercise in highlighting the strength of Anglo-French relations. One hopes this magnificent object doesn’t become a hostage to Brexit, with England using it to blackmail France in future Anglo-European diplomatic manoeuvres. […]

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Fatal parastatal and the collapse of Carillion

For most of my adult life we’ve been fed an ideological line that the state provides nothing of economic value, and all that matters is private enterprise. With Thatcherism and monetarist dogma, the crisis of ownership in 1970s industry made way for deregulation and privatisation of state-owned firms, natural monopolies included. This in turn led […]

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