Go North West drivers were on strike for a total of 85 days this year. (Credit: Unite the union, via Tribune magazine.)

Originally published in Tribune magazine, 22 May, 2021.

After 85 days on strike, Manchester’s bus drivers have forced corporate giant Go Ahead to abandon its plans to fire and rehire almost 500 workers — it’s a victory not only for them, but for workers across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, many have paid tribute to key workers for keeping the country running. But not Nigel Featham, Managing Director of Go North West.

Last year, Featham’s company announced Reset 2020, a plan to stem its alleged annual losses of £1.8 million at Queens Road Depot in north Manchester. As part of…


Image: Andy Barton.

Originally published in The Meteor, 11 May, 2021.

The picket line outside Queens Road Depot exhibits camaraderie, community and the carnivalesque. Solidarity is undoubtedly strong in the communities supporting the bus drivers in their ‘fire and rehire’ industrial dispute with Go North West.

I’m standing in a small school playing field in Cheetham Hill in north Manchester in April. The lunchtime sun, welcome after a long winter, warms the 150 or so people gathered in good spirits supporting the picket line at the nearby Queens Road bus depot.

Big red marquees stand in one corner, out of which catering services…


Greater Manchester must retrofit 60,000 residential and commercial buildings a year to be zero carbon by 2038.

Cooperatives and small businesses have led the way to make homes fit for the future, but not on the scale needed due to financial restrictions, skills shortages and inappropriate supply chains.

Local authorities will need to work with contractors and communities to make Greater Manchester green and prosperous.

A report brought to Manchester city council at the end of last year made for bleak reading. It stated that up to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings in Greater Manchester would need retrofitting every year…


The pandemic has made clear what really matters to our economy. Let’s restart it selectively, writes Alex King

This article appeared originally in The Independent on 21 April 2020.

As the government announced that lockdown restrictions would continue for at least another three weeks, the Office of Budget Responsibility, the Treasury’s official forecaster, made a bleak prediction. It warned that GDP could fall by 35% in the coming months, the worst quarter for UK GDP on record, with unemployment rising by more than 2 million to 10%.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund estimated in its latest World Economic Outlook that 2020 would witness the worst global economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It said world…


Just months ago, the government described these workers as ‘low skilled’, now they’re the ones keeping our country going

This article was originally published in the Independent.

Amid the first nationwide school closure in modern British history, 10 Downing Street this week published a list of “key workers”: those deemed “critical to the Covid-19 response” in a bid to ensure that the country continues to function during the pandemic.

The list consists almost entirely of public sector and critical infrastructure workers; NHS staff, social workers, the police and military, and those working in energy, utilities and transportation.

The list also includes “those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision…


During the 2019 election, I canvassed in five marginal constituencies in the North West and one in the South West, all of which Labour lost.

Credit: Getty Images

We were brimming with confidence and with hope. “We are ready. Bring it on.” The country’s public services on their knees, Brexit stubbornly unrealised, an acute climate crisis. It was ours to win, or lose, we thought.

We played, we chucked everything we had at it, and we lost.

Now we reflect and tell a story of what went wrong, being honest with the diagnosis.

Every weekend I went canvassing in marginal constituencies. Along with…


Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

I never thought I would say this but —

Defending champions New Zealand are out of the world cup. England are just one win away from reliving the glories of 2003 and lifting the Webb Ellis cup for the second time.

With England’s victory, the mythology of the invincible All Blacks has finally been broken. Prior to yesterday, since 2010, New Zealand had won 112 international matches — and lost just 11. They have been hailed without argument as the “most dominant team in the history of the world.”

But the age of Kiwi rugby supremacy is now over.

To…


On 26 August, 1978, East Germans woke up to the headline banded across a special edition of Neues Deutschland: “Der erste Deutscher im All” — the first German in space. Travelling alongside Russian Valery Bykovsky as part of the Soviet Union’s Interkosmos programme, Sigmund Jähn the cosmonaut spent almost eight days orbiting the Earth. He took photographs of all countries of the world on an East German Karl Zeiss MKF-6M multispectral camera, pioneering the photographic technique.

Transformed into a celebrity overnight, Jähn became a heroic figure for the people of East Germany, for decades overshadowed by the West. The East…


Credit: BBC.

Lemn Sissay, award-winning and internationally acclaimed poet, was stolen from his birth mother and given to a foster family. He was thrown out by his foster parents at the age of 12 and sent to several children’s homes. He has written a memoir to tell his story of loss and healing, and he spoke to The Meteor about his reasons for publishing the book.

Poet, performer and current chancellor at the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay was born on 21 May 1967 in Billings Hospital near St Margaret’s House for unmarried mothers in Wigan. His mother, an Ethiopian student, refused…


Credit: PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Stepping on stage at the Durham Miners’ Gala the weekend before last, Jeremy Corbyn had decided to talk about climate change. ““Labour will superpower a new industrial revolution for the north with a record investment blitz,” he said. Then came the masterstroke. “Where the mines fuelled the first Industrial Revolution, renewable energy will deliver Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution and 400,000 new jobs. As the miners were given shovels and axes to dig for coal, Labour will give the North the tools and support it needs so you can deliver your future.” …

Alex King

Writing about climate breakdown, culture, employment, history, politics | words for The Independent | Red Pepper | Tribune | Research Fortnight | The Meteor

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