Recent Articles

Why a ban on ‘dangerous dogs’ doesn’t work

by Kate Belgrave     August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

This week, DEFRA is considering proposals to change the dangerous dogs act.

And rightly so – the act’s ridiculous breed-specific ban must be abolished and the act changed to shift all responsibility for dog control to dog owners.

I’ve been talking to SPCAs and dog control experts around the world this year. They say politicians who insist that dog control legislation should include breed bans compromise public safety, because breed bans do not reduce attack numbers.

They’re lobbying government to put proven dog control programmes in place:
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Abortion support network events

by Kate Belgrave     August 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm

The Abortion Support Network is a London volunteer organisation that provides accommodation for women living in Ireland who need to stay overnight when travelling to London for an abortion.

ASN also fundraises to help cover costs of abortions for women who struggle to pay.

So. If you’re a feminist and/or a believer in a woman’s (rather than the Conservative party’s) right to control fertility, you’ll open your wallet for: continue reading… »

How voluntary groups are being slashed

by Kate Belgrave     August 5, 2010 at 1:48 pm

The NCVO has been encouraging voluntary sector groups to share information about the effects that they expect public spending cuts to have on their organisations:

“All of these [public spending] cuts are sure to include some significant reductions across the voluntary sector – at least one third of the sector’s income is exposed to risk. More than 700 of you have already shared information about how these cuts will affect you – if you’ve not already done so, please do spare a moment to take our quick survey or email with your stories.”

You’ll find a spreadsheet with detailed responses from the 700 groups here. Voluntary sector groups are invited to continue to contribute to the list. I spoke to the NCVO – this work is ongoing, so the list will grow. And grow.

Twitter: @NCVO

Lewisham shows how poor people are all in it together

by Kate Belgrave     July 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

Last week I went to Lewisham Town Hall, where local Labour centrist legend Sir Steve Bullock was due to hold a cabinet meeting on service cuts.

Sir Steve’s cabinet is positioning the axe (with a perverse enthusiasm, some say) over £3m worth of services.

But that, alas, is not all. Weirdly keen to shine in this first leg of the coalition’s local government service-slaughter challenge, Lewisham council has bullocked ahead and forecast a budget gap of up to £60m for 2011 to 2014 (although it’s still in the dark about government plans for key grants).
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How Hackney cuts

by Kate Belgrave     July 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Have started to spend time with people in poorer boroughs who are likely to be affected by public sector cuts. Will post interview extracts while several of us work on longer pieces with video, and go back to people to see how they’re getting on:

I talk to Anthony Rhoden at a Saturday afternoon Hackney Unites clinic for people who need free workplace and employment advice. Two Russell Jones & Walker solicitors are there as advisors, as well a TUC and local union rep.

A longtime (now unemployed) chef and restaurant worker, Rhoden says that he is a Unite organiser for bar and restaurant employees -‘there’s a lot of problems in the catering industry – there were lots of problems even before the recession. It happened to me all the time – wouldn’t get paid, or wouldn’t get all my pay. People don’t know they have rights. You get bullied all the time.’

In a recession, though, people count themselves lucky to have a job, even if they’re abused in it. That’ll be nowhere more the case than in Hackney. Hackney’s unemployment figures are already the worst in London, with a June 2010 TUC analysis putting the ratio of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance to available jobs at 24:1. continue reading… »

Poor people: too declasse to save?

by Kate Belgrave     June 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

During the recent election campaign, I attended a packed parliamentary candidates’ hustings meeting in Lewisham-Deptford, my home manor.

I bring it to you now as evidence that anyone relying on the better-appointed to fight for public services should head out now to lie down on the M4 (I have been taken to task this week for criticising the middle class, but there’s often justification. We have a poll now that suggests people are prepared to make the poor pay for the banking industry’s excesses. I’ll be delighted if I’m proved wrong and parliament is stormed).

The meeting was just so appallingly civilised.

Five prospective MPs sat before the voting public in the middle of a recession, an expenses scandal, a public services funding crisis and – lest we forget – a war, and people just sat there and politely heard them all out.
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Women – hear me roar

by Kate Belgrave     June 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Right. Frothing a bit here, people.

Liberal Conspiracy – a site I generally love with a passion – has managed to find yet another educated, well-off woman to write a ‘women are victims and sad fannies’ piece.

I can’t tell you how furious this stupendously male vision of the female state makes me.
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Complete tits

by Kate Belgrave     June 12, 2010 at 1:33 pm

A nice young man known as @Article_Dan turns up on Twitter today to say that some old bag abused his wife in a Sainsbury’s cafe for breastfeeding her (Article_Dan and his wife’s) baby.

Says Article_Dan:

“My wife – the mother of our five month old daughter and four year old son – just spent the morning shopping in Sainsbury’s with the kids hanging of each arm.”
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The Labour people need

by Kate Belgrave     June 10, 2010 at 11:00 am

Never one to pass up on local democracy’s offerings, yours truly recently attended the new Lewisham council’s inaugural AGM.

I went partly because I pay council tax in Lewisham and like to clap eyes on the hapless schmucks in charge of it at the dawn of each municipal term’s disasters. There was another draw, though. It struck me that as one of Labour’s outright London wins at the recent elections, Lewisham had real potential as a pain in Cameron and Clegg’s mingled butt, particularly in the fight for local public services.

Lewisham is a place where Labour could round on the coalition’s cuts programme, and begin to restore the ‘tacit covenant’ that Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford believe Labour must have with constituents – ‘a covenant about housing, work and security, a sense of neighbourliness and community.’

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God, women and pigs

by Kate Belgrave     March 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Tomorrow, Amnesty International holds a panel discussion on the impact of religious fundamentalism on gay and women’s rights. The speakers are playwrights Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti and Jo Clifford, and artist Sarah Maple. I spoke briefly to Jo and Sarah about their experiences:

Keen churchgoer Jo Clifford knows exactly what it is to attract the ire of today’s irrelevant, but loud, Christian extremists.

Some 300 protestors turned out for the 2009 opening night of her play Jesus Queen of Heaven – a piece where Jesus Christ is presented as a transsexual, and in a skirt. The play, which was performed at the 2009 Glasgay arts festival, was part of an attempt by Clifford to appraise the hostility she faced in her own life as a transsexual. A committed and active Christian, she turned to the bible, and although she saw ‘no scriptural basis for prejudice against gays, or transsexuals there,’ she theorised that society may have taken its lead from ‘god’s suppression of the female aspects of his nature.’

Her cardinal sin seems to have putting Jesus Christ in a frock, and taking the public dime to do it. The Scottish Arts Council and Culture and Sport Glasgow were among the Glasgay sponsors: here’s The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson in small, gaseous, piece about the wrongs of funding transart and the BBC’s failure to give adequate airtime to homophobic rage. continue reading… »

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