GENERAL ELECTION: A JEWISH LEFTIST’S THOUGHTS

by Tamar Moshkovitz

This was originally posted as a personal reflection, but the editorial team approached me after reading, and we thought it might find a different, perhaps wider audience on The Norwich Radical. 

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay silent on the lead up to this general election. Not only because I feel that it’ll be a major defining moment in the history of the UK – which it will; for anyone who’s not registered to vote yet, please do so here – but because every time I think about saying what I think I get hopelessly tangled up in the mess of being both Jewish and a leftist.Continue Reading

RHODESIA IN NORFOLK AND THE DANGERS OF BRITAIN’S IMPERIAL AMNESIA

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by Josh Doble

The unassuming small parish village of Southrepps, twenty-two miles north of Norwich, is the surprising location for a memorial to the former pariah state of Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. This is not necessarily a well-known site – it was stumbled across during a summer cycle – yet it represents an important space to demonstrate the wider political environment in rural Norfolk, and the area’s connections to right-wing pressure groups further afield. The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata – small-leaf lime trees – and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. The Sladden family are the ‘Lords’ and ‘Ladies’ of Southrepps Hall and have a close history with Rhodesia, historically being settlers themselves. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.

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SOCIAL PRESCRIBING – CURING LONELINESS IN OUR DISTANCING SOCIETY

By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation

In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.

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WARDS A-M: NORWICH CITY COUNCIL’S MAY ELECTIONS

world votes radical

by Anonymous

Read the Preview to the May Elections here.

This year, thirteen out of Norwich’s thirty-nine council seats will be up for election on May 3rd in thirteen different wards across the city. The big four parties (Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Lib Dems) are expected to be contesting every seat, possibly alongside some independent candidates.

The four different parties will have four very different set of objectives and aims, with hopes of defences and gains mixed in with aspirations of breakthrough success for some here in Norwich. With the release of nominated persons on Monday April 9th, here’s a breakdown of Wards A – M with predicted outcomes to keep you all abreast of what’s to come in this Fine City. Continue Reading

WE ARE EUROPE AND REMAIN SO

by Kelvin Smith

On the eve of the EU Referendum I published a piece, A European Life, that concluded: “My whole life has been lived in the context of this complex and sometimes conflicted continent and whatever the result of the referendum tomorrow, I am just one of very many British people who are not about to leave Europe. We are Europe.” Now, one year into the Article 50 period, one year from the deadline date of 29th March 2019, has anything changed?Continue Reading

A PROMISE OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION 100 YEARS ON

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by Justin Reynolds

The Balfour Declaration carries the same incendiary charge as when it was first published a century ago this week.

For most Israelis, the short letter expressing British sympathy for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine continues to be venerated as the first formal recognition from one of the world’s great powers of the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.

For the Palestinians it still stands condemned as an act of imperialist chauvinism according to which, in the withering assessment of the (Jewish) writer Arthur Koestler, ‘one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.’

The Declaration, so the conventional narrative goes, ignited a slow-burning process of settlement that had been edging forwards since the late 19th century.Continue Reading

THERESA MAY HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE NARRATIVE. HER PREMIERSHIP IS DOOMED.

by Toby Gill

‘The most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself.’ Alexis de Toqueville.

Give people an inch, and they will take a mile. This is what de Toqueville hinted at in his Ancien Regime et la Revolution, his celebrated account of the French Revolution. It was just as Louis XVI’s regime began to reform that the masses could take no more. Just as the promise of real change was made, the guillotine fell.Continue Reading

REVIEW: STATE AND SOCIETY, BY MARTIN PUGH

by Toby Gill

When Theresa May announced her snap election, I was travelling across Japan. At the time I was spending a lot of time on a variety of very slow trains (the famous bullet trains were somewhat beyond our budget). This gave me a lot of down-time to ponder my electoral choices, and consider which way I should vote. It also gave me a lot of time to read the latest tome of modern history I had picked up: Martin Pugh’s State and Society; a social and political history of Britain since 1870. It is not a politicised book; it markets itself as a rigorous work of academic history, designed to introduce new undergraduates to the period – a task it performs superbly.

However, this is a politicised book review.Continue Reading

THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

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YARL’S WOOD

by Alison Graham

Content warning: mentions violence against women, rape.

Britain has the greatest area of land dedicated to the indefinite detention of human beings in Europe. This is legal.

See:

A former inmate looks at the place in which her back was physically, literally, broken and says don’t give up. Women thread flowers through this border within a border within a border. The border is admitted only by the letters IRC. Green paint flecks cling to the toes of your boots. On a hill do not question whether the people with the kite-fluttering hands can see you.

Instead:

Is it rare to recall dreams. Where can I find this on gov.uk. If the guards are rapists what does that make the walls. How do you resist the lines you were born the right side of. How do you resist. Can love and hatred happen at the same time, and transform you equally. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about three. How about in the same place, at the same time. And built into the container itself – the beige, the smallness of the windows, the low shade of the roof, the two fields away from the road where no one is living. How are you. Do you need water. Can you read the sign from that window. Is this your first time. When will we deport Theresa. Is there a postcode for here. Have they repainted the fence. Is it really violent to kick it so that it thunders. Who is bringing the smoke flares next time, and in what colour. Do you need water. How do you resist. Is it violence when your window looks over an unreachable place, when that unreachable place is so blooming. Is it when everything is glass and unbreakable. What is the consensus on winding yourself at a border with a child’s party toy to say in a way I make noise therefore you are. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about four. How about one for each piece of sand on a beach in southeast Europe. Do you need water. Is this your first time. Is it violent. When this is all over, will people laugh at the theory of lying flowers on a has-been border, as if it were a wrist.

Featured Image credit: Jan McLachan


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BUT HE’S NOT RACIST

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by Candice Nembhard

I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.

Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.Continue Reading

SQUALOR, OVERCROWDING, EVICTIONS – THE TORIES HAVE NO ANSWERS ON THE HOUSING CRISIS

by Olivia Hanks

“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.Continue Reading

ALEPPO: A TRAGEDY WE WON’T LEARN FROM

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by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions genocide, conflict, death.

“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Aleppo draws its last few timid breaths, the global community sits back and watches as four years of war, suppression and ignorance engulf an ancient city, certain to go down, alongside the likes of Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur, as an abject failure of Western governments to fight the oppression of human rights and democracy that they have so carefully and vocally pronounced their desire to protect. Continue Reading

BRITAIN’S FUTURE PROSPERITY REQUIRES REVOLUTION. A RENEWABLES REVOLUTION.

By Natasha Senior

It’s high time we talked about our future. Forget about border control or the free market, they offer no insight. If we want this tumultuous, divisive year to mean something, we need to think bigger, bolder and shape our decisions around our vision. Let’s talk about an end to the draconian sweatshop conditions, imposed by the likes of Sports Direct, who have exploited free movement of labour to keep profits high and wages low. Immigration control is a quick fix and a distraction. They will always find a way to exploit and profit. What if instead we did away with these common low-skilled low-wage jobs, altogether. What if we put our faith in British industry again, but instead of labourers going down into the stuffy pits, lining their lungs with coal dust, they were breathing the cool, crisp air on the surface on a wind farm. I am talking about creating a thriving, prosperous renewable energy industry.Continue Reading

THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS YOU’RE READING THIS

by Zoe Harding

CW: pornography

Just a heads-up: The government knows you’re reading this.

Literally. Amidst the endless torrents of nonsense spewing from the ongoing Brexit negotiations (update: Theresa May throws up hands, announces ‘Fuck it all, God will sort it out’) and the dawn of a new chapter in the great story of democracy, the government the British people did not elect and didn’t really ask for passed some of the most intrusive legislation a British government has ever passed. The Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, is due to be signed into law in a couple of weeks, and it manages what can only be called a very British Government feat in being both poorly-worded and terrifying.

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POST-TRUTH NARRATIVES AND THE REWRITING OF BRITAIN’S PAST

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by Sam Naylor

Content warning: this article mentions homophobia and racism

“In Britain we use our history in order to comfort us, to make us feel stronger, to remind ourselves that we were always, always deep down, good people.” That was Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, describing Britain’s à la carte style of remembering at an exhibition opening in Berlin last month. This selective remembering is dangerous in itself, and when this approach is combined with current post-truth narratives Britain’s attitude to its past becomes very chaotic. Tracey Brown has argued that “the idea of a ‘post-truth society’ is elitist and obnoxious”, with good reason. But we need not apply this notion as all-or-nothing, without subtlety. Instead, we can understand a post-truth society as one that occasionally believes in emotive language and bombastic phrases over bland yet factual statements, rather than one which has ‘had enough of experts’ entirely.

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WHY ARE WE TURNING OUR BACK ON REFUGEES?

by Chris Jarvis 

Content warning: this article mentions xenophobia and racism

Last week, reporting and rhetoric on the ongoing migration crisis reached new lows. The Daily Mail, The Express and others ran inflammatory stories first casting doubt over whether or not child refugees were children after all and later calling on them to carry out dental checks on asylum seekers to ascertain their age, irrespective of the ethical abhorrence and scientific inadequacy of such a policy.

How has it come to this? How, as a society, have we got to the point where people fleeing conflict, living in makeshift camps and trying desperately to find a better life receive this as their welcome to our country, are referred to in these terms? When did we stop being a nation that offered help and support to those in need, a nation that welcomed migrants, a nation with cities built on the principles of multi-culturalism and melting pot? Don’t we have a long and proud history of granting refuge to those who need it?

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SEVEN WAYS THE TORIES HAVE UNDERMINED OUR DEMOCRACY

by Chris Jarvis

Since coming to power under the coalition in 2010, the Tories have repeatedly paid lip service to the principles of democracy. David Cameron’s concept of the ‘big society’ was outlined in democratic terms, where local communities would be empowered to have control over public services and community projects. ‘Localism’ and rhetoric around extending local democracy were key components of both the 2010 and 2015 Conservative Party General Election platforms.

Ultimately though, the reality is far from the picture Conservative ministers and strategists are painting. Through Cameron to May, the Tories have repeatedly undermined democracy in Britain and we are far worse off as a result. Here are just seven of the many ways they have done this.Continue Reading

CULTURISING NATURE – HOW WE’VE LOST OUR CONNECTION TO THE NATURAL WORLD

by Liam Hawkes

For many who choose to ascribe to it, environmentalism is a clear moral question. We have a moral responsibility to care for and not abuse our planet. This is possibly one of the most common and important aspects to any environmentalism as it provides a motivation for action. Not just sitting comfortably saying we should do things, but actually getting out there into the world and doing them. This active engagement with nature and the environments around us goes much of the way to ground environmentalism in the practical, not theoretical. This is why our own individual understandings of what and where nature is can be the key to unlocking the inner tree hugger in us all.Continue Reading

HOW SUSTAINABLE WILL BRITAIN BE POST-BREXIT?

By Faizal Nor Izham

With negotiations for Brexit to be finally executed come March 2017, as announced by Theresa May last week, a burning question yet to be properly tackled by the Conservative Party is: what exactly is their overarching plan to ensure future economic sustainability and prosperity for the country? Now that a major source of economic strength has been cut off (read: migrants), a fully laid-out plan to outline Britain’s steps towards continued economic growth in their absence has yet to be tabled.

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THE EU REFERENDUM – 12 WEEKS ON

by Kelvin Smith

The last trip was just before the EU referendum; through France, Spain and Portugal, preoccupied with the possibility of a leave vote, but knowing somewhere deep inside that it would never, could never happen. So much for gut feelings.

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PRETENSION IS A SCOURGE

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by Sunetra Senior

On Friday June 23rd 2016, millions of us woke up to the rattling reality of a momentous decision: the pound had plummeted to a 31-year low, our young people had lost the right to live and work nearby abroad, and oh yes – the UK as we knew it was now officially in a state of civil conflict. But this isn’t going to be another article about how we should respect the people who voted Leave – though of course we should – nor one that commiserates upon how we’ve tragically lost touch with the ‘underprivileged and disadvantaged’ of us, for the simple fact that it is the sole circulation – and indulgence of – such statements that is fanning the right-wing heat blowing an insidious hole through our country.

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NO LIMITS TO THE GREEN PARTY’S GROWTH

By Clive Lord

I almost invented the Green Party. Well, I only re-invented it a few months after it had been founded circa Christmas 1972. I attended a meeting as an enquirer in March 1973, at which I agreed with every word of the four actual founder members: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had just published Limits to Growth, which explained that indiscriminate economic growth could not go on for ever on a finite planet. It got one important fact wrong, and missed one other, but the gist was and is correct, and according  to the latest research by James Hansen, could be coming home to roost sooner than expected.

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FIVE WAYS TO MAKE THE GREEN PARTY BETTER

by Alan Borgars

We, the people of Britain, currently face a difficult and uncertain future, especially in light of the recent decision to vote to leave the EU by a margin of 3.78%, or just over one million votes. The United Kingdom still suffers from a self-serving, cold-hearted, money-loving government whose main intent is to keep themselves in power indefinitely by any means they can and continually oppress everyone who is not rich and powerful.Continue Reading

CORBYN OR REVOLUTION

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

THE GENERATION GAME

by Kelvin Smith

The older people I know are not rejoicing about the result of the referendum. They are sad, angry, shocked. They are doing what they can: signing petitions, writing to their MPs, looking for rays of hope in (to borrow and reclaim the phrase purloined by the current xenophobic tendency) a country they do not recognise. An additional hurt comes from a feeling that, on top of this, they are being demonised; portrayed as self-satisfied and uncaring as they bask in their privilege of free education, secure pension rights, a place to live and a little money in the bank. The word ‘baby-boomer’ has become a term of abuse. ‘Pensioner’ has become code for selfish old bastard.

The principle of the secret ballot means that the British voting system cannot provide definitive information about the demographics of the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ votes, but this has not stopped the press from putting forward as fact the idea that older voters were the reason for a ‘leave’ majority. I have not seen any statistics that explain this except for a reliance on polls that we all now know are unreliable. But then this has been a referendum based on lies so there’s no reason to think this should be any different.Continue Reading

WHY ANOTHER EUROPE IS POSSIBLE: INTERVIEW WITH MARINA PRENTOULIS

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by Olivia Hanks

With just over six weeks to go until the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, the Remain campaign has two considerable problems. Firstly, the EU is so flawed, so bloated and undemocratic, in the eyes of virtually everyone, that it is very difficult even for those who will be voting Remain to get truly excited about it. Secondly, at the head of the campaign is David Cameron, a man so universally disliked by people of all political persuasions that it is a miracle he continues to cling to power.

There is very little in the lead Remain campaign to offer hope or inspiration to anybody. The three key points on the home page of Britain Stronger in Europe read #Better Economy. Better Leadership. Better Security’, which, reading between the lines, might be interpreted as follows: “We’ll make sure Britain keeps consuming the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate, while ensuring all the resulting wealth is concentrated at the top. Oh, and we’ll see to it those dirty foreigners don’t get their hands on any.”Continue Reading

THE MORALITY OF TAX

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by Olivia Hanks

I’m writing this because I’m unhappy about small businesses not paying tax.

Yes, you read that right.

We all know about the coffee chains and technology giants that are siphoning off society’s wealth and making no contribution; I’m talking about the small, local businesses that are the real lifeblood of every town’s economy.Continue Reading

LET THE WORLD SHAKE: THE LYRICAL ACTIVISM OF PJ HARVEY

by Jake Reynolds

On October 2nd, 2011, PJ Harvey appeared on The Andrew Marr Show alongside David Cameron. As soon as Marr mentions that Harvey’s then-latest album, the glorious Let England Shake, tackles ‘a big political subject, in this case Britain and war’, Cameron grits his teeth and asserts that he is ‘very keen’ on the album. Harvey’s polite laugh is the kind we all offer when confronted with a mildly xenophobic taxi driver.

‘Do you think they [the government] are doing alright on culture?’ Marr asks. At this point, Harvey gently and articulately condemns the ‘100% cuts’ in her home county of Somerset. She laments the notion that economic growth in Tory Britain is viewed as the only worthwhile goal. Bizarrely, Cameron awkwardly nods, as if a brief and sudden shot of humanity has temporarily penetrated his reptilian hide. She is, of course, swiftly and patronisingly cut off. ‘You’d better go and get your guitar ready,’ Marr says, clapping his hands together. And so the camera crops her out and focuses back on the men in suits.Continue Reading

THE EASTER RISING: ‘WE SERVE NEITHER KING NOR KAISER’

by John Sillett

Ireland was Britain’s first colony and British imperialism has done all it can to hang on to it. The Easter Rising of April 24th1916 followed a long history of the Irish seeking to be a free nation through armed rebellion. However the 1916 rising, although a failure in itself, had distinct traits that previous rebellions did not have.

The method of subjugation of Ireland by the British was Landlordism and the use of planters — the bringing in of English and Scottish Protestant settlers to work the land in what was a Catholic country. Surpluses from the country estates were sent to absentee landlords in Britain. Attempts before 1916 to free the country from foreign rule rested on a leadership by the Irish gentry and middle class traders and farmers. This nascent native ruling class — which also included settlers who had assimilated into Irish culture — proved unable to lead a decisive struggle for national liberty.Continue Reading

A HEATHROW HOOLIGAN IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

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by Ella Gilbert

I’m writing this in something of a state of shock. Yesterday, following a hastily shortened trial, and alongside twelve others of the #Heathrow13, I was found guilty of aggravated trespass and being ‘unlawfully airside’ (as it’s known in the biz – whatever that biz may be) and told that it was “almost inevitable that you will all receive immediate custodial sentences”. Everyone else was evidently shocked too. There were gasps in the public gallery as this bombshell was dropped, and cries of “shame on you!” from supporters watching.

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YES, AN ELECTORAL PACT WOULD BENEFIT LABOUR AND THE GREENS

By Elliot Folan

Once again, talk of a Green-Labour electoral pact has come back into the public eye, thanks to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn daring to not express outright hatred for Caroline Lucas, a position taken as suggesting a possible pact. Regardless of Corbyn’s actual intentions, the news item has gotten people discussing the possibility of a pact once again. As I suspected would happen, when I first wrote a piece on this issue earlier this year, there’s been a sceptical and sometimes angry reaction from some elements within the Green Party. One member, in particular, outlined their position in a Bright Green article, saying that “there are no guarantees, no accurate statistics, that suggest ‘Lefty’ electoral pacts will win seats”. I’d like to respond to anti-pact sentiments, and to that article in particular.Continue Reading

THE 10 BIGGEST POLITICAL LOSERS OF 2015

By Chris Jarvis

2015 has been a tumultuous year for politics. From the rise of the SNP to the shock victory of the Conservatives in the General Election and from the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party to the decimation of the Liberal Democrats, it has been a year like no other. As the year draws to a close, our Co-Editor, Chris Jarvis offers analysis as to who are the 10 biggest political losers of 2015.

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THE 10 BIGGEST POLITICAL WINNERS OF 2015

By Chris Jarvis

2015 has been a tumultuous year for politics. From the rise of the SNP to the shock victory of the Conservatives in the General Election and from the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party to the decimation of the Liberal Democrats, it has been a year like no other. As the year draws to a close, our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis offers analysis as to who are the 10 biggest political winners of 2015.

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MOMENTUM IS NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER

By Chris Jarvis

I’ve been a member of the Green Party of England and Wales for five and half years, and as such, I’m often criticised for sticking my oar into the internal affairs of other political parties, particularly in relation to my views on the Labour Party and its electoral and political strategies. But when it comes to the Labour Party, I just can’t help myself.

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UNITING THE FIGHTS – JUNIOR DOCTORS, AUSTERITY AND WAR

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.

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EMIGRATION: WHY ARE PEOPLE LEAVING THIS ISLAND?

by Gunnar Eigener

If countries were named after the words you first hear when you go there, England would have to be called ‘Damn It’.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms

As the Conservative government struggles to find its beating heart and resolve the issue of immigration both here and at the root cause, another issue is steadily making its way to the surface – although it is unlikely to garner as much attention as its opposite issue – emigration. At the moment it isn’t so much about the numbers as it about the reasoning: why are so many people eager to abandon the United Kingdom?

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THE CHANGING FACE OF POVERTY IN LONDON

By Natasha Senior

I often hear that too many Westminster policies only benefit London. This part is technically true. London is not only the financial capital of the UK but the financial capital of the world—a fact reflected in how disproportionately powerful and wealthy it is compared to the rest of the UK. The country’s government and national media are both based in London which invariably means that the issues discussed will tend to be skewed towards the area (something I only realised when I moved away). But for all the ways you could describe the city’s privileged position—even if your personal choice of adjective is less than favourable (crowded, impersonal, selfish… etc.)—try to bear in mind what exactly you’re describing. Is it the City of London or the citizens of London? Because the distinction between them represents two profoundly different worlds, divided by wealth, housing and opportunity. This is a divide that deepens every year at an alarming rate.

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HUMAN RIGHTS FOR SALE

By Gunnar Eigener

“The State shall protect human rights in accordance with the Sharia”
Article 26, The Basic Law of Governance, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have been let onto the UN Human Rights Council. Who thought this would be a good idea? Well, apparently the UK and US governments do. The US State Department welcomed the news, while the recently exposed deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia leaves us with little doubt over how the government feels about this appointment. David Cameron’s inability to justify the secretive deal in an interview with Jon Snow shows just how hollow any beliefs he proclaims to have in defending human rights are.

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THE DEATH OF THATCHERISM?

by Alex Hort-Francis

Corbyn’s first week shows direct democracy is essential to empower his supporters, and keep his enemies at bay.

Watching the Andrew Marr show the morning after the Labour leadership election felt like waking up in a fictional alternate history; people like that never get into positions of power in the real world. Along with coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s win was an interview with the cyborgified brain of Adolf Hitler, who criticised Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, followed by Keith Richards on what his coven of deathless vampire musicians thought about the resurgence of Britain’s left.

The prompt media attack on Team Corbyn has been equal parts predictable and absurd. Within hours of his appointment as shadow chancellor the internet was plastered with the irrelevant factoid that John McDonnell once whimsically commented he would, were he a time traveller, return to the 80s and assassinate Margaret Thatcher — a premise I’m hopeful Chris Mullin turns into a feature-length tv drama.Continue Reading

DREAM MACHINES

by Jack Brindelli

Popular culture moves in mysterious ways. For years it can seem like a particular trope or sub-genre has died off before bursting from its suspended animation and illuminating our screens once more. For years it appeared vampires and zombies had been permanently banished to the cinematic shadows before rising triumphant from their cultural tomb, terrifying new generations of cinema-goers at the turn of the century. Similarly, in 2015, the robot seems to be undergoing something of a resurrection. For the past decade considered clunky and kitsch, Artificial Intelligence has suddenly monopolised the top-billed releases of the year – droids are back in the big-time. The question is why?

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COUNTRYSIDE SOCIALISM

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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.
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ROBIN SONG

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I descend / Toward the brink… – Thomas Hardy

The robin pegs its washing on the line, following a feud
in which a red snuck its way into whites. Its dark eyes
probe the meadow, robed in dismembered scarecrows.

It seethes at a pinkish shirt, and curtly calls for the culprit
to come forward. I will find you, it chirps, I will take joy
in severing your spinal cord, in hanging you to dry.Continue Reading

FIGHT AUSTERITY – MARCH ON THE STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT

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

TIM FARRON COULD SAVE THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

by Chris Jarvis

Media outlets are covering the Labour Leadership election to the point of saturation, with countless people both within and outside of the party throwing around suggestions as to why Labour lost the election, and therefore who would be best place to succeed Ed Miliband. On the one side, there have been bitter New Labourites, such as Peter Mandelson and Dan Hodges who have been clamouring that Labour’s problem is that it has spent the last five years purporting some form of utopian Marxism, that is so radically unelectable that the party must lurch rightwards in order to appeal to the mythical floating, ‘centrist’ voter and in doing so, select a Blairite leadership candidate.

Likewise, many on the left, including ten of the 2015 intake of Labour MPs have argued instead that to emerge from their election defeat in one piece and to reconnect to the five million voters who left Labour since 1997, the party must oppose austerity, must challenge, rather than pander to, big business, and reject the recent neoliberal past. Resulting from the election and this subsequent debate, commentators have suggested that Labour is going through a process of ‘pasokification’ or else that is unable to effectively define what its purpose is, viewpoints not solely confined to the left – Channel 4’s Paul Mason has suggested that Labour is facing an existential crisis.Continue Reading

RALLY AGAINST AUSTERITY NORWICH

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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.

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THE AGE OF REASON REDUX

by Jack Brindelli 

It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.

There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.

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TIDAL ANNOUNCED NEW ELECTION STREAMING SERVICE FT. MUMFORD AND SONS

by Mike Vinti

On May the 7th our fair isles will take to the polls. Across this (hopefully) green and pleasant land, the great multi-headed beasts, known to our political class as hard-working families, will be herded into schools and council buildings to cast their vote. It’s going to be, without a doubt, the most anti-climactic, and longest, election of our times. And what’s worse, E4 won’t be on all day.

But there’s good news guys!  Jay Z’s new streaming service, Tidal, and your corporate Media overlords have teamed up to bring you a brand spanking new, musical, multi format, interactive #Election2k15!

To a soundtrack of thundering synthetic drums and the beeps of Britain’s metaphorical life support machine, the great shamans of the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and *whisper it* Sky, will debate, debunk and defibrillate #Election2k15:  Now That’s What I Call Democracy.Continue Reading

THE MASQUE OF APATHY

by Jack Brindelli

Last week, legendary British director Mike Leigh announced his next film project was to be a dramatisation of the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre. Leigh reportedly plans to begin in 2017, two years before the massacre’s second centenary, and cited its “universal political significance” as to why it was such an important story to re-tell now. That universal significance, the political mainstream would have you believe, was as a fable to remind us of the importance of using our right to vote. People died fighting for your vote after all.

The slaughter itself took place on St Peter’s Field, Manchester on the 16th of August 1819, when a crowd of up to 80,000 ordinary people gathered to demand that they be represented by parliament. When local magistrates called for the arrest of radical orator Henry Hunt, an armed cavalry charge sent to capture him and disperse the crowd murdered 15 civilians in cold blood, and wounded as many as 700 — an act of ‘heroism’ that seems to inspire the London Metropolitan police to this day.

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FEVER PITCH: FOOTBALL CAN BE A FORCE FOR RADICAL CHANGE, RATHER THAN A HINDRANCE

by Jack Brindelli

This, my latest contribution to the Norwich Radical, was all but written an hour before I finally submitted it. My sermon on the overlooked politics of football fandom was signed sealed and on the brink of being delivered. I already had plenty to talk about. It’s been a long month of big themes in the footballing world. Over the course of February, the Beautiful Game has been at the centre of almost every kind of debate there is to be had — and it has popularised these debates in a way that most of us laptop radicals could only dream of.

First, there was uproar when man of the people, Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore poo-pooed the idea clubs should pay their employees a living wage in the wake of a record £5.1billion television deal — at which point Labour leader Ed Miliband literally missed an open goal to popularise his party’s campaign for a living wage, in an election year. Then there was the moment Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated a goal for Paris Saint Germain tore off his jersey to reveal 50 tattoos, later revealed to be names of people suffering from hunger throughout the world in a bid to raise awareness about global inequality — proving he has a conscience to match his not-so-starved ego in the process.  And then of course there were infamous incidents involving Chelsea fans barring a black man from riding the tube in Paris — and of West Ham fans mocking the disabled, reported by TV pundit Kevin Kilbane — provoking widespread condemnation, not least from football fans themselves.

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MAGNA CARTA: THE TRUTH OF THE DOCUMENT

by John Sillett

On the 800th anniversary this year of the signing by King John of the Great Charter.

We are told the Magna Carta is the foundation of the rule of law in England. This is partly true. The Charter was a truce between a power obsessed and ruthless king and his power obsessed and ruthless supporters who thought he had overstepped the mark. All law represents a truce between contending forces in society.

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A GREEN RE-INVIGORATION OF WELFARE IN BRITAIN: VIEWS OF NORWICH NORTH CANDIDATE ADRIAN HOLMES #1

by Adrian Holmes, Green Party Norwich North candidate.

Following the economic slump in 2009, the incoming coalition government announced an austerity program to tackle the budget deficit. Since 2010 the main thrust of these austerity measures has been to cut public spending and, in particular, to reduce the welfare budget. People on benefits including the disabled and those with chronic illness, are being targeted by the government in an attempt to get them into work and off the benefits system.

The Work Capability assessment (WCA) was introduced by the last Labour government, creating a new bureaucracy to test the right of welfare recipients to continue receiving benefits. The assessments, carried out by private contractors, have placed stress on people with disabilities to justify their right to help. The cost in wasted resources in holding the assessors to account is also high; with an increasing number of appeals being found against the companies used to carry out the assessment.

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NORWICH CLAIMANTS UNION

by Norwich Claimants Union (NCU)

The Norwich Claimants Union represents the coming together of claimants, workers, union representatives and city councillors to oppose and intervene in government policy regarding the deliberate and calculated erosion of the welfare state. To achieve this, the government supported by the mainstream has demonised claimants. They have become the scapegoat for our failing economy and societal degradation.

Since the recession of 2008 this campaign against claimants has gathered momentum. However it is worth remembering that the recession, bank bailouts and austerity programs was the result of the miss selling of financial products, namely derivatives. The effect was to transfer wealth away from our financial system and into the hands of a relatively small number of ruling capitalist elite.Continue Reading

ROMANY GYPSIES: MODERN APARTHEID IN WESTERN EUROPE

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by Jonathan Lee

Numbering around ten million, Romany gypsies constitute Europe’s single largest minority ethnic group and are almost certainly the continent’s most discriminated against. The Romany people uniquely bear both the intense scrutiny of outright persecution and the simultaneous off-hand dismissal of their very identity, allowing and even justifying racism to go unchallenged.Continue Reading