By Lewis Martin
Last week’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham was met with sizeable protests, as you’d expect given the party’s actions in its eight years in power. Groups such as the People’s Assembly opened the weekend with their usual rally and march against the continued austerity measures being implemented across the country, to the detriment of many in society. I was lucky enough to witness and be involved in one of the most powerful protests, on the final day of the conference, when Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) led action against the continued rollout of the failing universal credit system and the ongoing cuts to benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
TW: Violence against women, domestic abuse, rape
By Abbie Mulcairn
The debate over the effectiveness of ‘traditional’ forms of campaigning like phone banking, door knocking, compared with ‘direct’ actions like demonstrations, protests and occupations, is long-running, but ultimately counter-productive. As part of this debate, direct action is often attacked for ignoring or speaking over the voices of ‘ordinary people’, or for having little impact in the ‘real world’.
by Martie Warin
I was born and raised in the pit village of Easington, close to the North East coast in County Durham. The Colliery was thriving and a great place to live when I was a growing up. There were plenty of jobs at the pit and everyone looked out for each other. It was (and still is in a lot of ways) a safe and caring community. Sadly, our way of life was turned on its head in 1993 when the wheel stopped turning, and despite a community rending period of strike action, the pits were closed. People suffered then, and continue to suffer the effects now. The cuts of recent years continue to rub salt into the wounds of these once proud people. Now I know coal mining is certainly not Green, but compassion and justice are!Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
On Saturday 9th I took part in the Anti-Racism and Anti-Austerity March in London, and it was during this event that I met two lovely young ladies of colour – one was Irish-Palestinian by descent (whose parents were both Catholic and Muslim) and the other was a Moroccan-French Muslim. It seemed rather fitting that, on this day, I chose to march against creeping racism in post-Brexit Britain alongside other people of mixed heritage.
by Robyn Banks
They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.Continue Reading
By Jack Brindelli
The world is in turmoil at home and abroad, and with rows over the savage autumn budget, and the ominously impending vote to bomb Syria, still taking up the majority of campaigners energies, it is easy for good news to fall through the cracks. Still, when a victory, or even a temporary stay of execution, is won, it is important not only to enjoy the moment, but also to ask why. This week the Junior Doctors stopped the government in their tracks, and goodness knows we could all use a formula for that.
by Matilda Carter
For a political analyst who swears by the idea that only parties on the centre-ground can win elections, Labour may just be about, to coin a phrase, to write the most-signed suicide note in history. Jeremy Corbyn, an opponent of the Blair-Brown ‘modernisation’ project and staunch advocate of socialism, is the front runner to become the party’s new leader, with odds that started as 100/1 becoming so short that Paddy Power has already paid out bets made in his favour over three weeks from the announcement of the result.
and a legal challenge
notwithstanding, the Labour that emerges from this election will be a very different beast. Top-down party management will be eschewed for the empowerment of the, now, huge number of members of the party, foreign policy will drastically change and, perhaps most importantly, Corbyn’s Labour will break the austerity consensus that has set over Europe.
by Jack Brindelli
The Norfolk People’s Assembly have voted in co-operation with the Norwich Radical to establish a local Radical Film Festival, with the inaugural festival expected to be hosted in February 2015. As we begin to make provisions for that though, we need ideas, practical and fantastic and everything in between. The first organising meeting for the festival will take place on Saturday the 1st of August, at 3pm in the Playhouse Bar’s Playroom, and is completely open to the public. But why does a cultural project like this even matter in the depths of Austerity? Can we really be wasting our time on building imaginary worlds when our real one is under such threat?Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
In the beginning of this year, the people of Greece voted in the radical left-wing party, Syriza — lead by Alexis Tsipras. They did this to send a message to Europe, a message that Greece cannot bear the weight of austerity anymore. But this is a message to which no one listened; instead, the Troika — consisting of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — continued to reel out Angela Merkel’s increasingly redundant party line that Greece has to meet its obligation.
This was how the people of Greece were to view it: as an obligation. An obligation to be treated by the rest of Europe like petulant children who need to be disciplined, an obligation to let their economy shrink to devastating levels, an obligation to stand by as poverty engulfs them.Continue Reading
by Matilda Carter
Before I came to Norwich as a student and became properly involved in party politics, I grew up in Arundel & South Downs: one of the safest Tory majorities in the country. It might have been tempting to have painted my left wing politics as the product of rebelliousness or a rejection of the suffocatingly middle-class surroundings I grew up in, but the reality is something very different. My left wing views are not a rejection of a stale, middle-class, conservative environment, but a product of a very different kind of English socialism that was in abundance where I grew up. It is this countryside socialism which the Green party must tap into if the left are ever to win in Britain again.
by Natasha Senior
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square.
Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation. We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.Continue Reading
by Antonio Esposito Ryan
Pablo Iglesias’ party Podemos is just over 100 days old, yet it threatens to dismantle the monotonous duplicity in Spanish politics. Both the centre left ‘socialist’ PSOE and the centre right Populares are under threat from the party’s recent surge in support.
Iglesias, a lecturer at the University Compultense de Madrid, was known for his hyperactive stunts — such as asking his students to stand on their tables and assess power. He is unique in his approach to critiquing power amongst his academic counterparts; consistently reminding his students to continually scrutinize power. Iglesias vehemently opposes the neo-liberal capitalist orthodoxy of Thatcher and Reagan, and created Podemos as a backlash response to the highly critical politicians deriding the anti-austerity ‘indignado’ protests of 2011 in Puerta Del Sol. The establishment moaned saying the protestors should create their own political party. Iglesias responded to the request with a miraculous result.Continue Reading
by Hannah Sketchley, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
The State Opening of Parliament is a frankly bizarre occasion. In the heat of the sun, lots of people wearing ludicrous uniforms parade around Parliament Square and the surrounding area, do a bit of figure marching and fence the public out of their roads to make way for the Queen. Following the poor woman being wheeled around in what looks to be a terribly uncomfortable gilded coach for several hours, in and out of the figure marching furry hats, she toddles into Westminster, reads a speech someone shoves in front of her and bang! The new government is consecrated, official and running the country for the next five years.
This year, the State Opening of Parliament is on Wednesday, May 27, and the Tories will have their government legitimised by every flavour of pomp and circumstance going. They will do so with just 37% of the vote, and with the consent of 24% of eligible voters in the UK.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli
At 12 noon on the 30th of May, hundreds of ordinary people will gather in Norwich’s Haymarket, as the Norfolk People’s Assembly hosts the local wing of a national day of action against the new Conservative majority government, after the general election earlier this month. We at the People’s Assembly are steadfastly opposed to the Tories vicious plans for Britain, and the implications they will have for the people of Norfolk. On David Cameron’s watch as Prime Minister, the country has become bitterly divided along the lines of wealth inequality. His government’s cuts have shamefully targeted society’s most vulnerable – from the disabled, to the unemployed.
by Liam McCafferty
Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?
by Freddie Foot
The dismal election results are not only apparently a victory for ‘blue collar conservatism’ but potentially also Blue Labour or a renewed variant of Blairism. Two of the initial favourites for the leadership of the Labour party, Chucka Ummana (who has now removed himself from the contest) and Liz Kendell, are Blairites, and the media has been a flood with Labours failure to connect with ‘aspirational’ voters and business.
Labour seems to be moving to counter what is admittedly a genuine threat of Blue Collar Conservatism driven by collapse of organised Labour and a relatively socially liberal Conservative party. This leaves a (by no means new) gaping hole fit for a truly progressive movement.Continue Reading
There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.
While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.
by Chris Jarvis
Although the Conservatives narrowly tipped themselves over the line to form a majority once all the seats were counted after polls closed on Thursday, the irony of the election is that the parliamentary arithmetic is actually less in the Tories favour than it was in 2010.
If you add all the MPs together who are likely to vote with the Tories on the majority of their programme, the number now stands at 350 — that is the combined total of UKIP, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist, and Conservative seats. After 2010, it stood at 371. That means that the combined weight of the progressive, or at least anti-Tory parties, are in greater number now than they were after the last election. Between the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, and Sinn Fein, there are 299 MPs, compared to 276 in 2010.Continue Reading
We’re now set for five more years of Tory government. It will be vicious, it will be brutal, it will be hard. Cameron will govern without caution, without concern for electoral prospects and without hiding the ideological agenda which has driven the direction he has taken the country since 2010.
Since 2010 we have seen the decimation of the welfare state, creeping privatisation of the NHS and education, and the hollowing out of the public sector. From now on, this is only set to get worse. What has been touted by the Tories as economic prudence and getting the country in order will be accelerated. The shrinking of the state will begin in earnest.
by Chris Jarvis
Imagine waking up on the 8th of May and the parliamentary arithmetic given by our obscenely anachronistic and antiquated electoral system adds up well. Imagine that between a grouping of progressive parties — Labour, the SNP, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and the SDLP — there is a clear left of centre majority in parliament.
And then imagine an alternative. Imagine that an array of reactionary and right wing parties, a smorgasbord of Eurosceptics, xenophobes, sell out liberals, and firebrand Northern Irish Unionists led by a buoyant Tory party are tipped over the mythical 326 towards cobbling together some form of government.
Which would you prefer?Continue Reading