Author Archives: James Cox

Budget 2021: Young people’s mental health missed

The Chancellor has given his Autumn Statement setting out the Conservative government’s spending priorities for the next year. Mental health care services, however, have been short changed and neglected once again.

The Government’s own budget research states that “Mental health and wellbeing have suffered during lockdowns, and anxiety and depression levels are now consistently higher than pre-pandemic averages”. Despite this, the Chancellor made no reference to mental health support in his speech and no new money for mental health services, let alone extra money to tackle the mental health crisis facing children and young people.

Hundreds of thousands of young people today are struggling with their mental health and far too often they cannot access support when they need it. Latest data from the NHS suggests that one in six young people now has a probable mental health disorder, up from one in nine in 2017. In a survey for YoungMinds in 2019, three-quarters of young people said they could not find support when they first needed it.

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Britain must commit to taking Afghan refugees

The unfolding military conflict in Afghanistan has long been leading to a humanitarian crisis. As British and American troops leave the country, the Taliban has continued its offensive march, taking towns and cities almost at will. At the time of writing they have entered the capital and look set to destroy Afghanistan’s fragile but growing democracy and replace it with a brutal regime.

British troops are currently evacuating UK nationals and are encouraging those who risked everything by working with Coalition forces against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to go through the resettlement scheme. This bureaucratic nightmare however can take months and even years to navigate, with the United States’ equivalent being even more complex. Without immediate action now, we are condemning those heroes and their families who risked everything to help our troops to the mercy of the Taliban.

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged and | 12 Comments

“How many children will die?” is the question we should be asking on international aid.

Just half a decade after the Coalition enshrined 0.7% of GDP spending to go to international aid into law, the Conservative government looks set to rip it out this week.

Given Johnson’s penchant for populism and his Chancellor’s desire to get public spending back to pre-Covid levels, it is not surprising to see international aid attacked so passionately and so disproportionately. ‘Foreign aid’ has long been the whipping body of the right-wing press, Nigel Farage, and the Tax-Payers Alliance.

Much like the European Union and freedom of movement, international aid has gone largely undefended. Whilst we see obvious merit in funding …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Enough talk about pacts, let’s make votes matter!

Last year, I participated in an experiment. After more than a year of solid campaigning in anticipation of a general election, I stood aside in favour of a formal electoral alliance of different parties devised in order to maximise their number of seats and try to stop Brexit. Whilst the success and tactical merits of the Unite to Remain alliance can be debated at length, it at least saw parties band together in common purpose and try to play the first-past-the-post system against itself.

This controversial proposal was consistently met by claims from anti-reform politicians, including the Labour MP in whose constituency I stood aside and tried to unseat, that we were being anti-democratic, denying voters their right to vote for the candidate or party they most believed in, and for trying to rig elections for our own political ends. There may well be some merit to these claims, but what these politicians have to confront is that the same criticism they had could be applied directly to FPTP.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

For World Refugee Day: Protecting climate refugees

International awareness of the climate emergency has arguably never been higher. The move to decarbonise much of our economy and society to tackle the causes of global warming at source has begun to accelerate. In the UK, we are even starting to have entire days and weeks where our national grid is powered without the use of harmful fossil fuels.

All of this action is taken to avoid the mass loss of life, livelihoods, jobs, and the environment that the climate crisis threatens. Other people living around the world are, tragically, already living with the consequences.
Of the estimated 65 million displaced persons around the world, 20 million are believed to have been displaced as a result of the climate crisis.

Currently, the United Nations operates under the 1951 Refugee Convention’s definition of refugees and legitimate claims of asylum. Like those fleeing war or famine, climate refugees have been displaced both as a direct and indirect consequence of global warming. Permanent destruction of crop yields, for example, has made living and working in some areas impossible.

Displacement and mass movement puts pressure on natural resources, services, and can ignite political tensions. Despite this, those seeking safety following displacement as a result of the climate emergency are not legally protected. As the climate crisis inevitably worsens year on year, millions more become at risk of being displaced with no protection; the vulnerable becoming more vulnerable.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Offer amnesty to end hostile environment

The Conservatives finally published their immigration white paper before the Christmas break, setting out their vision of how immigration policy would work after Brexit. 

The Lib Dem response was robust and clear, setting out redlines on scrapping the net migration target, limiting immigration detention and lifting the working ban on asylum seekers to name a few. But our approach to the estimated one million population of illegal migrations living and working in the UK seemed to be lacking a strong, decent and Liberal solution.

Windrush, after Brexit, was the biggest story of

Posted in News and Op-eds | 2 Comments
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