John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for November, 2019

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In the Tory heartlands of the commuter belt, remainers may revolt | John Harris

Monday, November 11th, 2019

They may win this election, but the increasingly extreme Tories are losing their traditional support in the home counties

Back in September, Boris Johnson had a meeting with some of the 21 Tory MPs who were about to lose the party whip over their opposition to a no-deal Brexit. He was warned that if he was prepared to risk the hardest of Brexits, he might lose crucial parliamentary seats – reliably Tory places where a majority backed remain. One of the people present was Anne Milton, the MP for Guildford, the large Surrey town won by the Tories in 2017 with 55% of the vote and a 17,000 majority. She says she expressed her fears of defeat, only to have them thrown back at her. “If Guildford’s lost, it’s lost,” said the prime minister, and that was that. Two months later, Milton is standing as an independent, Guildford may well be a four-way marginal – and one of the election’s most fascinating stories is rolling on.

As people are priced out of London, they are bringing a more cosmopolitan culture with them

Related: Britain is less polarised than the media would have us believe | John Harris

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Beyond Brexit, Corbyn and Johnson: Stoke’s politics of hope – video

Friday, November 8th, 2019

In the 2016 referendum, John Harris and John Domokos watched the Staffordshire city vote heavily to leave the EU. Since then, some remainers say they have grown tired of hearing vox pops from leave areas such as Stoke. But away from the election’s noise and the political polarisation in the city, which has made one local MP’s life incredibly difficult, there are trailblazing efforts to turn Stoke around, which we can all learn from

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‘Treacle of bureaucracy’: report on special educational needs is a huge relief for parents like me | John Harris

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Far-reaching Commons inquiry finds families struggled with lack of accountability, buck-passing and unlawful practice

Being the parent of a child with special needs and facing the education system’s serial obstacles and complexities can leave you bereft of hope. The world of special educational needs and disabilities – or SEND – is a sea of acronyms, arcane officialspeak and labyrinthine processes, to the point that those of us at its heart often feel completely lost.

But if there is a key cause for optimism, it is the recent report by the Commons education select committee into the SEND system. What a tremendous relief to pick up the report last week and be instantly be hit by its bluntness. The product of 18 months of work by cross-party MPs, its 127 pages focus on the practical results of the 2014 Children And Families Act, and drastic changes to special needs provision in England against a background of cuts and political confusion and paralysis.

Related: ‘People give up’ – the crisis in school support for children with special needs

Related: SEN assessment: one of the Cameron era’s most howling disasters | John Harris

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Elections used to bring us solutions. The 2019 general election won’t | John Harris

Monday, November 4th, 2019

In the confusion of today’s cynical politics, where scandal and lies seem to be priced in, nothing is ever achieved

From the politicians who reluctantly voted for it, to the millions who must now make a choice and cast their vote, everybody surely knows it: this is a very, very weird election. I mean that not just in terms of the borderline absurd timing, nor the sense that it will not resolve the fundamentals of Brexit, but much deeper tensions and contradictions.

Large chunks of the public seem weary, and ill-disposed to both main parties; to ask a lot of people who they might vote for is to invite long sighs and eye-rolls, and suggestions that the whole thing is ridiculous. It has always been the case that when politicians, party activists and the media dissolve in excitement and passion, most people tend to keep their distance. But now the gap is so big, and political outcomes seemingly so random, that there is a resulting sense of big events happening almost by accident.

In the digital age, capitalism has constructed ways of blindsiding its opponents and distracting the public at large

Related: Key contests and changing tactics in Britain’s general election

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