Across all of the contradictory actions taken and advice given by the UK government in response to COVID-19, there is one recurring theme: emptiness. From clapping for a financially dire NHS, to confusing slogans, the government is keen to portray the national response to this crisis as a unified effort with the consensus of the public, healthcare staff and politicians. It seems a sense of morale is being treated as the antidote, rather than investing in real measures to protect the public from ill health. These meaningless gestures in place of action are costing lives, particularly of the working classes.
A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.
by Jonathan Lee
A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.
The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.
Content warning: mentions xenophobia.
As the UK government stutters to find ways to deal with the looming end date for Brexit negotiations, the news is awash with alternatives, the prospect of ‘no deal’, leadership challenges and campaigns for a second referendum. While the fight goes on, one problem is becoming increasingly apparent, not just in the UK, but globally; where is the opposition to the creeping right-wing politics that is slowly casting its shadow over the world?
by Jonathan Lee
Ten Things Every Successful Social Justice Blogger Does.
Exasperated Writer Was About to Give Up, What Happens Next Will Have You In Tears!
The Five Worst Millennial Clickbait Headlines That You Just Won’t Believe.
Horrific isn’t it.
I was recently asked what my biggest pet peeve is about the way people talk about my generation. Perhaps the phrase pet peeve is one of my pet peeves. Maybe the fact that even the words – pet peeve – make me cringe, may say something about me and my reluctant membership of Generation Y.
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 N – Z with predicted outcomes to keep you all abreast of what’s to come in this Fine City. You can find A-M here.
The UK’s free-market economy as a whole is facing one crisis after another. That is why policy makers and businesses need to consider the co-operative option which offers products and services to our economy. Our corporate and political culture’s lack of innovation and strict adherence to the neoliberal free market means this is sadly more of a dream than reality. However, other nations have successfully replicated this alternative economic model to adapt to their own individual needs.
Content warning: article mentions homophobia, religion, Trump, and Farage.
Earlier this week, many of us watched on in horror as one of our potential Prime Ministers spouted his frankly archaic, illiberal views on Good Morning Britain. I thought to myself that alongside all the atheists, progressives and liberals of the UK, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s spin doctors and supporters must also be holding their head in their hands. His interview would have been seen by a large number of people and the further press coverage was extensive – surely this was the death blow to any leadership ambitions.
I suppose I have a lot of faith in our electorate and like to think that outing yourself as anti-choice, homophobic, and quite frankly medieval, on national television would ruin your political career.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: article mentions antigypsyism and racism
“The Gypsy and Traveller community complain that they don’t get enough media attention, but crime watch is on TV every week.”
This was the name of a team at a pub quiz I attended in Oxford recently. When it was read aloud, half the pub laughed and jeered. The other half remained silent, either through complicity or complete indifference. No one challenged the offending team, no one called out, no one made a disapproving noise. When the woman behind the bar saw my apparent discomfort, she asked:
“Sorry, are you a Traveller?”
Unsure whether she was apologising for the hate speech coming through the pub’s speaker system, or for the actual ethnicity itself, I answered:
“Yes I am.”
by Olivia Hanks
Outside onlookers would be forgiven for thinking that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had won the general election. From the scale of the jubilation among sections of the left, you wouldn’t imagine we still had a hard-right government, now propped up by the very-very-hard right. For some, the joy is purely that a Labour party which seemed irrevocably divided and defeated has reasserted itself as a credible force. For others, myself included, the reasons for optimism are more nuanced, because our hopes are not for Labour, but for a real, functioning democracy. That’s why we can join Labour supporters in rejoicing that young people came out to vote, that the UK rejected the vicious bile of the tabloid media and the arrogance of a Prime Minister who believed the election was a formality. It’s also why we are sceptical that a tribal Labour party still wedded to first-past-the-post is capable of offering the answers we need.
I was considered a youth once, only a few years ago in fact. Yes, I remember those days. Casting my first ballot in 2010 in favour of the Liberal Democrats; the Hung Parliament that resulted; the slight guilt I felt for being complicit in hanging said Parliament. But never fear, I thought, the politicians know what they’re doing. It’s fine. The Lib-Dems have partnered up with the Tories.
But it wasn’t fine, because that whole tuition-fee-£9000-a-year-wtf palaver happened. This is when I felt political disappointment for the first time, and I have most other times subsequently.
by Joe Burns
Progressives in the constituency of Norwich South have a difficult decision to make tomorrow. It is a decision that has come up many times before. Do you vote for the party that you most strongly align with or do you tactically vote to keep Conservatives out? It might be that few in Norwich want a Conservative government in power, but is voting for a weak opponent to the Tories a risk worth taking? Aren’t Labour popular enough in the city to win without the support of Green Party or Liberal Democrat voters? Weighing those odds is tricky.
In many constituencies around the country the decision is relatively easy. There are dozens of websites that can quickly and straightforwardly tell you which party to vote for in your area if you want to vote for the party with the greatest chance of keeping the Tories out. This is the case in zones where Tory and Labour candidates score closely and no other party comes close to matching them. If you’re a small party voter then your vote makes little difference to the outcome anyway.
by Joe Burns
In the county council elections that took place last week, Labour unquestionably took Norwich. They won twelve of the thirteen wards in the city. Although it is good news that the Conservatives continue to play no part of governance in the city, it is a sad day for true progressives. Voter turnout was a shameful 34.51 percent and the voting system we have means that even though more people voted against the Tories than for them in the county, they won the most seats. Obviously, as Richard Bearman (Norwich Green Party) says, we need a proportional representation system, but that is a matter for another time.
At county level, the Conservatives had a predictably great day at the expense of UKIP, whose past supporters seem to favour the dishonesty and intolerance of the current Tory government. Indeed, the views of many UKIP supporters have now been adopted by the Tories, most notable their stance on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.
Although The Green Party won four seats in the 2013 county council elections (all in Norwich), the defection of Adrian Dearnley to the Conservatives late last year meant that Norwich Green Party were left with three seats to defend in this most recent county council election. Unfortunately, voters seem to have turned away in favour of Labour.
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.
The victory of Donald Trump to become the 45th President of the United States has shocked and dumbfounded many. What does it say about the state of politics when the first female major party presidential candidate – who was, by far, the most technically qualified – is defeated by a man who has never held any political office?
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.
by Freddie Foot
A recent poll by Opinium has been touted as a depressing realpolitik electoral brick wall for the Labour Party. The poll on the surface shows a continued – and growing – commitment to centrist politics by the population, represented by liberal wings of the Tory Party and Neoliberal Labour, more than likely bolstered by general apathy.
The prominence of the centre is hardly surprising given that it covers a wide range of opinions and periodically incorporates, and equally periodically abandons, policy from both the left and right. This flies in the face of the idea that the centre of the past couple of decades – based broadly on a socially liberal but economically conservative agenda typified by New Labour and the Cameron years – is over.
by Olivia Hanks
Theresa May’s indication earlier this month that she will reintroduce selective schooling has reignited the debate on ‘social mobility’. Tory backbenchers believe the secondary modern system (or the grammar school system, as they insist on calling it) was good for social mobility, but various reports support the opposite view, that selective schooling entrenches inequality. Of the tiny percentage of children from working class backgrounds who attended the old grammar schools, two-thirds did not manage to achieve three O-levels.
Just last week, a key date in the university calendar fell for another year – the release of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS). The NSS, completed by thousands of final year undergraduate students each year, is a data collection tool that is used to promote competition and rank student satisfaction in universities across the country.
by Olivia Hanks
“Let local people decide!” urged George Osborne in his budget speech last summer, as he announced details of his plans for English devolution. What an excellent idea, as, on the face of it, almost everyone across the political spectrum agreed. Unfortunately, local people did not ask for devolution, had no say in deciding its form or content, were kept entirely in the dark about negotiations, and, in the case of East Anglia, are now to be ‘consulted’ on a deal of whose existence they are probably unaware and which, the Treasury has confirmed, there will be no opportunity to amend.
Report after report, from councils, public sector bodies and journalists, has enthused about the ‘golden opportunity’ to give local people a say in the decisions that affect them. Even those expressing serious reservations have praised the ‘principle’ of devolution — ignoring the glaring fact that when you examine the detail of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act, or of individual ‘deals’, this principle is conspicuous by its absence.
by Josh Wilson
Dear Richard, Andrew, Elizabeth & Adrian,
I joined the Green Party 6 years ago, just before the 2010 General Election. Previously I hadn’t been all that interested in party politics, but when looking through the manifestos for various political parties I was immediately drawn to the Greens. The joining together of economic, social and environmental justice made sense to me.
On Friday at the County Council Annual General Meeting (AGM) you all abstained from the leadership vote, knowingly handing power from a Labour-led rainbow coalition to the Conservative Party.
by Elliot Folan
With the London Mayoral election nearly upon us, opinion polls for the contest are finally beginning to emerge in force. And each one of them tells the same story: Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, is in the lead.
He wasn’t always. Back when the race for the Mayoral nominations began, Khan and the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, were much closer – at one point Goldsmith had an 8-point lead. But as the race began in earnest, Khan opened up a large lead that hasn’t gone away. Currently, a simple average of polls in the last month (7th March-7th April, when the last poll was conducted) puts Khan on 54% to Goldsmith’s 46%.
by Alex Valente
Unless you’re an internet native, have dyslexia, or just didn’t read it, the title of this piece is probably irritating you to no end right about now. It took me a while to intentionally write ‘wrong’. I do not apologise.
I was having a conversation with an ex-student and friend a couple of weeks ago, about how language is being dealt with by certain university courses, and we stumbled over some of the commentary brought about by Nietzsche and Cixous. The points, respectively, boil down to: we use language to create truths that underpin our concept of reality; that reality is predominantly, and prescriptively, structured — mostly in a kyriarchal way. While I am not disagreeing entirely, the danger is to view language as more of an abstract entity than what it really is.
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.
In the years following the Second World War, Britain had shifted in ways many thought impossible. In the 1950s, amidst the fading colonial legacy of a crumbling empire, with increasing levels of immigration and the decreased faith in the power of the free market led, the country’s middle class felt stranded. These revolutionary changes in the country’s fabric radically challenged the ideas they had been raised to adhere to in the name of success. Middle England was holding out for a hero – and boy did Ian Fleming’s gin-swilling womaniser give them one.
James Bond is a cultural artefact – an ideological snap-shot, emerging initially as the embodiment of the established order, in order to defend it. Such was the archetypal appeal of the character, and so in tune was he to the fears of the middle class, that he soon moved seamlessly between mediums. In a world where Britain’s influence seemed to be waning, and where marginalised races and genders were pushing for equality, Bond showed Middle England could still have it all – no wonder he’s cited as being David Cameron’s inspiration for foreign policy, 007 is a conservative’s wet-dream.
As part of a new government clampdown on immigration, Theresa May recently unveiled new plans to ban international students from working during their studies — replacing current laws enabling them to work up to 10 hours a week — as well as forcing them out of the UK upon graduation. This is in spite of the fact that the country continues to suffer from skills shortages in many industries.
The plan is part of the Conservatives’ pledge to cut net migration to ‘tens of thousands’ by 2020. About 121,000 non-EU students arrived in the UK from June 2013-14, while only 51,000 were reported to have left — resulting in a net influx of 70,000 migrants.The move followed a previous plan by May to force overseas students to return home after they have graduated, which had been blocked by the Tory leadership. The party’s previous pledge, from its 2010 general election manifesto, would have required students to leave the country and re-apply if they want to switch to another course or apply for a work permit.
by Mike Vinti
The future of the BBC is uncertain. Despite John Whittingdale’s assurances everything is going to be ok, you can’t help but wonder — if they’re abolishing grants for disadvantaged students, cutting disability benefits and generally meddling in the NHS, why would they save the BBC? As the Tories start to enact their new budget, it seems nothing is safe.
The cuts have already started. Though its programming has been weak in recent years, the loss of BBC Three is symbolic of the Tories plans for the rest of the broadcaster. It hardly seems like a coincidence, especially in the context of Osbourne’s refusal to scrap the free license fee for over 65s, that the BBC’s youth-focused channel was A) its most neglected or B) the first of its services to go. The Tories’ cuts to the welfare state have disproportionately affected young people ,and if previous attempts are anything to go by, so will its gradual disintegration of the BBC.
This will be easy for Cameron and his underlings in the department of Culture, Media and Sport to achieve. The BBC has been losing young viewers and listeners from its TV and Radio stations for years.
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.
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.
Let’s get something perfectly straight. The proponents of 21st century capitalism do not want to be your friend. As much as the likes of Starbucks and Apple might wax lyrical about fair-trade, rainforest friendly, organic, aspirational community funds,, they are not interested in improving your living standards, and they don’t care if you dream big, or live with dignity. They have only one true desire; —they want to bleed you like a stuck pig until your veins run dry, and their cups overflow with crimson cascades of our life-force. Metaphorically… more or less.
And we know it too. Capitalism, like any self-respecting cannibal, wears a human face — but it sits uneasily with us. Subconsciously we know that even in a world where it is the dominant ideology, it has all the sincerity of a crocodile’s grin. That’s why we all need a sanctuary — a place of refuge from the dull buzzing rhetoric of productivity, aspiration and progress that continuously echo round our heads every time we tune into society.
To say May was a difficult month to be a radical would be something of an understatement. In the fallout of a general election result that cannot be described as anything other than catastrophic, it was difficult to salvage much in the way of hope for the coming 5 years of Conservative majority rule. If you thought the Coalition years were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This time out, David Cameron’s stinking band of free-market extremists aren’t so much promising to cut down to the bone, as breaking out their probably-not-even-metaphorical bone saws in preparation for an amputation.
In what East Anglia’s lone Labour MP Clive Lewis recently described as the “sea of blue” that is Norfolk, that’s reflected by the repugnant new “Reimagining Norfolk” strategy announced on the 1st of June by County Hall. Over £169million in new cuts have been green-lit by the Council, which is aiming to reduce spending in adult social services, children’s services, fire and rescue services — you know, the unessential luxuries of life. Presumably this means the Council are “Reimagining Norfolk” as a Mad Max-style, demented desert dystopia, where the disabled, unemployed, poorly paid and terminally ill will have to barter with water companies in order to extinguish their child’s flaming carcass for an extortionate price.
by Mike Vinti
It has been three weeks now since David Cameron Inc. and things haven’t exactly started smoothly — there have been protests up and down the country, the SNP are already pissing off half of Westminster, and the new Cabinet is somehow worse than the old one.
Hanging over it all is the question of what the left is going to look like over the next five years and how best to fight the newly upgraded conservative government and their inept, yet terrifying, policies for the new parliament.
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 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?
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.
2014 has been a rocky year for the Tories. The one piece of good news throughout the year comes from the narrowing of the gap between themselves and Labour. In spite of this, the shrinking of the Labour poll lead has not come as a result of a resurgence of Tory support, but instead from a drop in the number of people saying they will vote Labour. Rather than winning over legions of new voters, the Tories are simply losing support at a slower rate than Labour. Add to this third place in the European elections, the assent of UKIP and the defection of two MPs, followed by losing the by-elections in both of their seats, the past year has been difficult. There’s little indication that 2015 will be any easier.
by Chris Jarvis
1. The Tories will scrape past 30% of the vote in May
Five political parties vying for votes in England means that the traditional splitting of large chunks of the electorate between the Tories and Labour is largely over. Combining this with the existence of a surging SNP in Scotland, a steadily rising Plaid in Wales, and what looks to be the closest battle between the two largest parties since the 1970s, the likelihood of any party emerging with between 35-40% of the vote is astronomically low.
by Georgia Elander
Things are looking good for the Green Party. This week the Green candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election won nearly five times as many votes as the Liberal Democrat candidate; a YouGov poll revealed that the percentage of people who would vote for a Green candidate with a chance of winning is greater than the percentage of people who would vote for a UKIP candidate who could win; and this week too, the Greens polled at 8% nationally – a record high. In recent weeks, the party have outpolled the Lib Dems on several occasions, and membership as well as vote share is rising – the party has grown 80% this year alone.
When you look at the current political landscape of the UK, this success is not really surprising.
by Jack Palmer
Like any well-trained student, I’ll open with a quote. It’s one from the forever-sniffing, forever-scruffy, cultural critic and contemporary theorist Slavoj Žižek: “We need theory more than ever today. We should not feel terrorized by this false sense of moralistic emergence: ‘no time for theory, people are starving’ and so on. My god, it is only through theory that we have at least a hope to learn what to do!”
Žižek’s assertion is a provocative one: it challenges our understanding of that word ‘theory’. In the scientific sphere, ‘theory’ means a comprehensively proven idea – one, crucially, that forms the foundation for knowledge. In the humanities by comparison, ‘theory’ is abstract: it’s speculative, faddish and maybe even a little indulgent. But the claim staked here is that theory in the humanities is not all groundless conjecture; for Žižek it’s vitally grounded, and where the real work of thinking happens.