Category Archives: Explainer

So you’ve got a new council, but what do they do now?

Whether your council has changed party or not, there’ll be new councillors across London today preparing to step into office for the first time. Here’s what powers they’ll have.

Bins, not Brussels

Despite the talk of national issues swinging the vote, Councillors have little say on the major issues and work independently of the MP elected in a General Election.

Those voted in on Thursday will be focused on the local issues in their city or borough, rather than policymaking.

What kind of councils are there, and what are their roles?

Not all councils are created equally, mostly down to the size of the area and population.

County councils have the most power, with the ability to make decisions about education, transport, planning, fire services and social care.

For Londoners (and similarly in other metropolitan areas), each borough elects a council who can make decisions on roads, social housing, waste collection, education and social services.

Uniquely for London, as the city also elect a London assembly some of the bigger decisions for the city, are decided through City Hall and by working with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

How is the council made up?

Each London council is divided into 21 wards, and there are three councillors elected for each one. The party with the largest share of seats and councillors will be able to appoint a leader, who oversee the process.

Who gets a mayor?

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 15.58.31

Following the push for Scottish independence there has been a new focus on the devolution across the UK. This has lead to Mayors being appointed in larger regions for the first, such as South Yorkshire and Manchester. Dan Jarvis today won the first election in the region but, unlike Andy Burnham in Manchester and Khan in London, he will be able to carry on as a Member of Parliament.

In London there are also Mayors for four boroughs (Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets). This is instead of picking a council leader from the largest party in the council.

An elected mayor has more individual responsibility and are able to appoint a cross-party cabinet. While only four out of 32 boroughs opt for elected mayors, supporters of the system believe that it makes the council more accountable.

How much do councillors get paid?

As it’s not a full-time role, most councillors do not get a salary, but are offered compensation for their time and any expenses. The costs of each councillors vary, some will claim a couple of thousand of pounds, while others have been compensated over £20,000 according to the BBC.

You can find more specific details about London councillors on their government website.  

NHS breast cancer screening failure: What you need to know

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says up to 270 women may have died due to an IT failure that prevented some women from receiving their final routine breast-cancer mammogram invitation.

He told the Commons that up to 450,000 women didn’t get a letter to inform them of their screening. Mr Hunt has now announced an independent review and apologised “whole-heartedly” for the failure.

WNOL takes an in-depth look at some of the key facts behind the scandal.

What is breast cancer screening?

Breast cancer screening is a service offered on the NHS that aims to detect breast cancers at an early stage, often when they’re too small to see or feel. This is done by using an X-ray process called a mammogram.

Currently, this service is routinely offered every three years to all UK women aged 50-70.

The AgeX trial has been looking at the risks and benefits of offering the screening to women aged 47 up to the age of 73 to see if it is worth expanding the service.

Breast Screening Programme England, 2016-17: Women ScreenedBreast Screening Programme England, 2016-17: Cancer Detection

According to NHS Digital, 2,2 million women were screened in 2016-17 and more than 18,000 cancers were detected (see graphic above, reproduced courtesy of NHS Digital).

NHS figures show that in the UK, about one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, with the chances of it developing increasing with age. The chances of a woman developing breast cancer in her 20s is about one in 1,732.

What went wrong with the service?

Jeremy Hunt says the issue dates back to 2009 but was only detected in January, due to a new IT system introduced by Public health England that detected a number of women over 68 hadn’t received a letter inviting them for their last mammogram in the three years before their 71st birthday.

The Home Secretary said that the failure to send the affected women their invitation letters was due to a “disastrous computer error”. It hasn’t yet been confirmed if anyone died directly as a result of the error, but Mr Hunt said the estimates are that between 135 and 270 women may have had their life shortened.

What happens next?

It is estimated that 309,000 of the women affected are still alive. Mr Hunt said the NHS will contact these women to go for a screening if they are still residing in the UK and registered with a GP.

Any women between the ages of 68-71 who haven’t been contacted by the end of May are likely to have not been affected by the IT failure.

Women above the age of 72 will be offered access to a breast screening helpline number to help them decide if they require treatment or not.

The breast screening helpline number: 0800 169 2692

There is more information at the NHS Choices website

Council Elections 2018: What we know

Despite major scandals including anti-semitism, the Grenfell fire and Windrush, the status quo appears to have  prevailed in the local council elections.

Watch live news updates here.

Here’s a rundown of how everything stands at lunch time on Friday.

Who are the winners and losers?

The Conservative will be breathing a sigh of relief, rather than celebrating but they’ll be able to spin this as an endorsement of Theresa May’s leadership. They lost Trafford but won back Barnet.

It’s Barnet that proves to be a worrying moment for Labour. They were only one seat shy of overall control, but the Conservative gained enough seats to take control and with an early report of a 70% turnout it looks as if though Labour’s internal anti-semitism row damaged their chances.

Labour won seats and lost control of one council, so a mixed return. Jeremy Corbyn is already spinning this as a night that proves his party has more stable support than predicted after a couple of scandals and they are “ready for a general election whenever it comes”.

Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley who has been a notable critic of Jeremy Corbyn, wasted no time turning to Twitter to declare the night a “failure”.

UKIP are undoubtedly the party that comes out of the election with the biggest problems. They’ve lost 96 council seats so far and on the back of poor results in last year’s General Election and it could spell a return to the fringes.

If there are any winners on the night, then it will be the Liberal Democrats. Whether it’s disillusionment with Labour and the Tories or a symbolic vote in regards to Brexit, they’ve managed to gain 40 councillors, including taking control of Richmond-upon-Thames from the Conservatives.

If the Conservatives lost seats, why is this seen as a good night for them?

They may have feared a Labour surge in the same way as happened during the General Election, but it failed to materialise.

While the results of the council elections won’t affect many of the national issues, there’s no doubt of Theresa May’s supporters seeing this as confirmation that the country still backs her.

What’s the picture in London?

The only councils to change hands in London are Richmond-upon-Thames and Barnet, both that seem in response to the national issues.

Richmond saw a huge swing to give control to the Lib Dems, potentially in response to their pro-European stance. The Conservatives lost 27 seats, Labour lost two, while the Lib Dems took 25 to take control, and the Green picked up four.


Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 15.22.03

London as it currently stands (Source:

Labour lost five seats in Barnet – one of their key targets – to hand Conservatives overall control. Campaigners claim that the anti-semitism row has plagued the party.

Elsewhere, Labour did see a swing in the city and made small gains but in Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea, key areas they targeted aggressively, they will consider the night a failure.

What are the commentators saying?

Owen Jones, who has been around the country campaigning for Labour, is adamant that this is was not the bad night the media is portraying for the party. Instead the party had just overpromised ahead of the vote, while the Tories’ low expectations meant they can easily claim a victory.

That sentiment was echoed by Matt Zarb-Cousin, Corbyn’s former spokesman

The Evening Standard say that Labour has been “humbled”

Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday took a less subtle approach

#MeToo and Time’s Up: What’s the difference and why do they matter?

me too march 2

Image credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP

What is #MeToo?

On October 5th, 2017 The New York Times published an exposé detailing multiple allegations of sexual assault made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Within the article, Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan were named as two of the countless women alleging he had sexually assaulted them.

One of his most vocal critics was actress Alyssa Milano, who tweeted: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within hours, thousands had replied with their personal stories, and #MeToo became a movement unlike any other, tackling the topic of sexual assault and harassment head on.

‘Me Too’ dates back to 2006, when activist Tarana Burke coined the term as a way to bring together and support victims of sexual misconduct, with a focus on young girls of colour. Burke was inspired to take action after she had a conversation with a 13-year-old girl who told her about the sexual abuse she was suffering at the hands of her step-father. She describes the movement beyond the hashtag as “the start of a larger conversation” with the goal of “disrupting all systems that allow sexual violence to flourish.”

What is Time’s Up?

As a result of #MeToo, a group of over 300 women in Hollywood were inspired to form the Time’s Up movement, widely considered as the next step for #MeToo. Safety and equal opportunities in the workplace are the main goals of the organisation, aiming to eradicate workplace inequality, citing the imbalance of power as the root of sexually exploitative behaviour.

me too prominent figures

Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and America Fererra are among the many high profile names backing the movements. Image credit: Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic; Christopher Polk/Getty Images; JB Lacroix/ WireImage

The group, spearheaded by the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington and America Fererra, aim to get new legislation passed to protect women in the workplace by focussing on issues such as equal work environments and equal pay. Christy Haubegger, a CAA executive who helped to launch Time’s Up, spoke to Time Magazine and had this to say: “Time’s Up was founded on the premise that everyone, every human being, deserves a right to earn a living, to take care of themselves, to take care of their families, free of the impediments of harassment and sexual assault and discrimination.”

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, a survey on sexual harassment in the workplace was conducted by the BBC in October. More than 2,000 British adults were involved in the survey, with the aim of providing updated figures regarding sexual harassment. This ranged from inappropriate comments to sexual assaults, at work or a place of study. Some of the findings from the survey are below:

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 14.57.46

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 14.55.51

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 14.59.27

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 15.00.47

While #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement are separate entities, they were both launched on the back of the courageous victims coming forward, triggering an unprecedented global crusade to end sexual misconduct and assault. Despite all that has been accomplished since the groundbreaking New York Times exposé in October, for now at least, time’s certainly not up for Time’s Up.

Organ donor ‘opt-out’ system approved. How does this effect you?


Image result for heart life line gif

GIF Credit: TheCat5001

What does the opt-out system mean? The UK government recently changed the process of how we choose whether we want to be part of the organ donor list. What does this mean for you?

First of all what is organ donation? It is when a healthy person gives an organ to someone who needs a transplant. There is no age limit on becoming a donor, but it is preferred that the donor doesn’t smoke or drink excessively and is generally in good health.

Wales made the switched to ‘presumed consent’ in 2015, meaning all deceased are automatically considered for organ donation. The rest of the UK are following suit as the bill has been passed and is now being finalised in the Houses of Parliament. The ‘opt-out’ system ensures that there are enough people on the donor list and will help to increase the amount of lives saved by organ donations.

Theresa May stated that in 2016 about “500 people died because a suitable organ was not available” to them, this new system can prevent this from happening again. Wales’ organ donations rose by 7% within the first year of the law change, consequently decreasing the list of people waiting for a transplant.

The previous system asks those who wish to become organ donors to visit the NHS website to fill out a form, which only takes a couple of minutes to complete. On the form, it allows you to select which of your organs you are comfortable with donating and if you wish to donate any tissue as well. Once the form is completed and sent off, you should receive an organ donor’s card.

It is also suggested that if you wish to become a donor, that you tell your friends and family about your decision, as they will be consulted about it after you die. This system doesn’t provide enough organ donors, so the ‘opt-out’ system was proposed.


Image Credit: JennyHursit/Kindey Research UK

The first reading of the bill was in July 2017 and it passed the second reading in February 2018, and is now being drawn up. It was brought to parliament by Geoffrey Robinson MP, and was passed without division. An individual must ‘opt-out’ if they do not wish to donate their organs after they die, otherwise ‘presumed content’ will take effect.

Some people say that there needn’t be a change in the law as it can shift the ownership of one’s body from being in charge of your own body to it being a possession of the state. It is preferred by some that a scheme be introduced to encourage people to become donors. Also, it can be uncomfortable to ‘opt-out’ as those who choose not to become organ donors may feel judged for their decision regardless of their reasons.

What organs can be donated?

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Small intestine
  • Tissue (from heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, eyes etc)
  • Corneas (tissue at the front of your eye)


What is ‘gaslightning’: from a play to the court room and Trump

Gaslighning pic

Cover picture:

Last week,after almost nine months from Kellie’s Sutton death, her partner, Steven Gane has been found guilty of coercive and controlling behaviour.

It’s a landmark case in the implementation of the relative legislation, as the concept has only been criminalised in 2015 and it’s the first time a conviction has been determined after the victim’s death.


‘Gaslightning’ was first introduced in 1944 from the Hollywood movie “Gas Light” in which a killer makes his wife think she is losing her mind. Used as a manipulative tactic to deliberately make the other person or entity question the reality they live, it has not taken long before the technique has got everybody talking in a society, where mental health and women independence are of extreme relevance.

The Girl on the Train: A 2016 movie in which the main character Rachel is victim of gaslightning by another woman, influencing her memory and capability of providing information of a crime to police


– In order to gain power over somebody else, perpetretors tell obvious lies with a straight face, leading the victim to be confused regarding anything that is being said to them.

– They deny everything the victim has seen or heard, even when they have got witnesses.
The process is gradual and the more the victim doubts of their life, the better the gaslighter plan work.

Random compliments
– Looking at gaslighter behaviour over time, often their actions don’t match their words.
Gaslighters try to bring the victim down all the time,making them believe to have no values, and randomly praise them for their quality. This aggravates the situation bringing a sense of uneasiness. The victim start believing their abuser is, after all, not that bad.

Everybody seems to be against the victim
– Gaslighters know really well the people dear to the victim, therefore they try to align them against the vulnerable individual, making them believe nobody is safe to trust.
Indeed, all the gaslighters are looking for is isolation which will then force the victim to only trust their abuser giving them more power to control.

Although in a strenuous and abusive relationship, gaslightning victims can sometimes spot the issue themselves, according to Robin Stern, author of the book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life,”.
They can check for the following possible ‘symptoms’:

-More anxious and less confident compared to when the victim has started the relationship with the abuser
-Feeling as if they are always at fault when things don’t go according to plan
-Doubting they’re being oversensitive (or unreasonable, not loving towards their partner)
-Apologising often
-Feeling isolated
-Feeling it’s hard to take decision
-Making excuses for their partner behaviour


Many psychologists have researched the now-legally punishable behaviour to define causes,consequences and eventual support plans, but as informed to The Sun by Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, a forensic criminologist specialist in coercive control, in case of extreme circumstances as of the victim’s death, the explanation of such act “may not always enter the thoughts of investigators — but it soon will. Kellie’s Sutton case has established that it’s possible.”

Unfortunately, there is no specific support for the victims of such relationships.
The first step is to recognise there is an issue within the couple (please note, the problem is not confined to couple, but could involve an entire family, or work relationships) and eventually seek help consulting a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.
Experts can help the victim explore fear and doubts arisen from the experience they have been through and eventually assist them with the development of coping skill to manage their anxiety. Rekindle and bond with people the victim has been isolated from is suggested by experts as the most effective way to regain control over reality, life balance and reinforce the sense of worthiness.
If you believe somebody you know is involved in a gaslightning relationship, you can seek advice contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline or calling 1-800-799-7233.


Truth has no agenda


The term ‘gaslightning’ became one of the most popular words in 2017 along with ‘fake news’,during the beginning of the most controversial American presidency.
Trump elected president of United States in January of last year has been then proclaimed by the CNN and other media outlets as nation’s gaslighter in chief.
Journalists from all over the world trying to uncover and report the truth have had an hard time.
Life, during the Trump’s era, has become fuzzy, a blurred line between the dream of making America great again and daily routine.

American citizens have been affected the most. During the long campaign for presidency, people asked themselves if the future Prime Minister was an actual fan of the Intelligence or against it, belittling the intelligence professionals work through mock quotes during the ongoing Russia hacking investigation.

Americans had to assist to the falsehood of Trump winning the election by a landslide, when instead was a clear narrow victory.

Trump 3

Trump on Twitter claiming to have scored a landslide


J. Pitney, professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College, elaborated a chart showing the Electoral College share won by every president since George Washington and found that Trump’s margin of victory ranked 46th out of 58 U.S. presidential elections. You can find the complete list here.

And besides that, people had to ascertain if Trump had mocked a disabled reporter or their eyes were lying to them showing something that had never happened in reality,like in the “Gas Light” movie when the killer dims the gaslights and pretends it’s only the wife who thinks they are twinkling, even when the room starts getting darker.
The list of statements and actions made by Trump is still long and people still have to get used to the gaslightning term gaining popularity in parlance, as new forms of political and domestic abuse take place at various rates across different countries, with the same goal of disorientating victims in order to obtain power and total control.

All genres of relationship are subject to some form of gaslighning, but before we reach a definite understanding of the phenomenon, it’s essential that we don’t end up flattening it and it will start to mean nothing. We cannot apply the term to all deceptive behaviours, but only in case of manipulative operations. The next step is to protect the victims in all circumstances, from dictators, bully leaders and abusive partners.



« Older Entries