DO PROTESTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

by Gunnar Eigener

If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.

                                                    unattributed African proverb

 

Protests and demonstrations are an important part of democracy. They allow the people the opportunity to express their feelings about the behaviour of the state and its agents. They are a chance to point out society’s ills to those who can do something about it. But do they truly make a difference? Do those who are targeted by the protests feel their impact or are they just able to ignore (or worse) any public displays of anger or upset?

The election of Donald Trump saw mass protests take place across the US. Protests in Gaza have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Every G7 or G20 summit is greeted by demonstrations. In Nicaragua, protests against the government intensified after flippant remarks by the President, Daniel Noriega, and his wife, the Vice-President, demeaned the people. There have been protests in India over the caste system and the Supreme Court, in Tunisia against the cost of living, in Venezuela over the lack of food and medicine, and high inflation rates. The Women’s March globally, protests against abortion laws, the list goes on but the changes do not. Too often nothing seems to change. This is not to say that change should happen purely based on a protest but many protests are about the same thing. So what is the issue?

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2017: THE YEAR OF THE YOUTHQUAKE?

by Bradley Allsop

Youth voter turnout has long been a topic of debate, controversy and worry in British politics. Always below the national average, it has plunged even more than other age-groups’ dovetailing turnout in recent decades, sparking expressions of concern (although comparatively little policy change) from political parties. This seemed to have changed last June, with sites such as Yougov and NME reporting large increases in the youth vote for the 2017 general election, with the figures suggesting the largest rise in youth turnout in British political history.

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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

IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #3 – WORKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #1 – FIRST STEPS

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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SHAKING UP HIGHER ED – TEF’S SILVER LINING

By Alex Powell

Late last month, we saw the release of the first batch of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results. The TEF has been the subject of significant student opposition, with a Save the Student survey suggesting that as many as 76% of students oppose the implementation of the TEF. I was an opponent of it myself, particularly of links made between TEF scores and the ability of institutions to raise their tuition fees, though this plan has been postponed until 2020.

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UKIP: THE ORIGINAL RADICALS

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by James Anthony

Following the recent elections both locally in Norfolk and nationally at Westminster, many of us will have been enjoying the demise of the entity we all know as ‘UKIP’ – the United Kingdom Independence Party. With many realising that their main objective of leaving the European Union has been all but completed, the electorate have decisively rejected their flimsy, populist, far right manifesto and consigned the party to the history books.

It’s hard to believe that they were ever a considerable electoral force, this year picking up just under 2% of the vote, losing all of their incumbent 145 local councillors and their only seat in parliament less than twelve months after their referendum victory. UKIP campaigners were keen to talk about voters returning to them, but this clearly didn’t materialise.Continue Reading

THE HARBOUR

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Anna Belozorovitch (Moscow, 1983 – ), ‘Il porto’ from Il Debito

The harbour breathes as everything changes;
it carries in its womb the still change,
the evolution to turmoil-based unexpectedness,
the summer heat. And it makes no soundContinue Reading

REVIEW: THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM, ADAM BUICK AND JOHN CRUMP

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by Laura Potts

On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.

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HAPPY TO BE ANGRY: THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT ROMANIAN PROTESTS

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by Mihaela Precup

“Romania is not sexy,” a fellow academic once told me. “Nobody cares what happens there, nobody wants to study it. There’s so little going on there that’s really exciting or new. ” I thought she was right at the time. After all, I was also always going on about the political apathy of much of my fellow Romanians, the very slow pace of change after the fall of communism in December 1989, as well as the indifference of post-revolutionary governments towards preserving the memory of the totalitarian regime and its survivors. Apathy and amnesia were, I thought, the two main curses of my people.

But four years ago, something finally started happening.Continue Reading

FRIEND SISTER COMRADE ENEMY

by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Edith Bruck (1932-), ‘Amica sorella compagna nemica’

Friend sister comrade enemy
for one gesture of yours my pain
could still change and dissolve
at the tip of a mulberry tree
on the sleigh of two planks nailed
by the boy who behind the stable
would caress between our legs with feathers so soft.Continue Reading

IS SPAIN’S NAME-CHANGING GAME-CHANGING?

by Carmina Masoliver

Since moving into my own place in the beautiful city of Córdoba, I’ve realised how important the aesthetics of our environment are to our well-being. Both inside and outside of the home, I feel uplifted, and can meditate on the simple pleasures of my surroundings. So for many Spanish people, the news that street names are being changed is a lot bigger than it might seem on the surface.

Franco’s dictatorship is an all-too-present memory, which I learnt more about when speaking to my abuelito, my paternal grandfather, about it. It divided the family, and although a majority of Spain looks back on this time with regret and sadness, there are some who still support his legacy. At such times where we are becoming more divided, and dominant groups increasingly scapegoat, discriminate against, and oppress minorities, perhaps this is an important message from a government which is currently in disorder.Continue Reading

THE SOURCE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Evelina De Signoribus (1978 – ), ‘La fonte’

The day when you have only one thought
the sea shivers and the wheat moves the field
everything calls for the return
though the roads have never been this many
to choose but one, clearlyContinue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE NHS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AN NHS WORKER

By Michael Champion

The NHS is the pride of the UK. Providing emergency and long term care free at the point of contact, Aneurin Bevan’s scheme is now in its 68th year. However, the pressures it now faces have increased dramatically. An aging population with increasingly complex healthcare needs has increased the quantity of high quality care required, and thus the demand for competently trained professionals. Coupled with multiple funding crises (including repayment of PFI and necessary maintenance of existing infrastructure) and bureaucratic reorganisations, the ability of the NHS to manage this increased demand has been tested, especially during periods of wider macroeconomic pressure.

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THE PARIS CLIMATE SUMMIT: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HUMANITY TO SEIZE

by Natasha Senior

For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.

The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.

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FAMILY PLANNING

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

1. Policy

They watched him play alone
with teddies in a queue
for so long
that sometimes when drunk
they made love to be illegal, but

rumour has it the lady from
the tea-shop had her second
needled out
in the dark places between
the legal buildings.Continue Reading