Between 2013 and 2019, an era of ‘austerity’, most of us noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of our public spaces and infrastructure – existing roads and pavements not maintained, school buildings getting shabbier, public facilities closing. During that period, Norfolk County Council oversaw at least £725m of funded infrastructure projects. Incredibly, more than £650m of this was for building or widening roads.
Norwich City Council has backed calls for the government to support a pilot for Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would trial providing a monthly income to all residents of the city, following a recent debate at City Hall. City councillors argued that all residents should receive this fixed monthly amount regardless of employment status, wealth and marital status.
by Liv Barnett
Academics are often accused of failing to make their research matter to audiences other than themselves. Anthropologists are particularly criticized for writing theories and ethnographies that not only go unread by non-anthropologists, but are also too inaccessible to those they may be writing about. Here I hope to try and explain a central aspect of my PhD research in Papua New Guinea and share some of the ways it has got me thinking about politics and economics in the UK.
The stereotyped anthropologist gets criticized for using the experiences of a usually colonised ‘other’ for their own project of producing knowledge that counters the taken for granted understandings people have of humanity or society in ‘the West’, which are presumed to be universal to human nature. This is a legitimate argument which has to be taken seriously. Therefore, I self-consciously use some of my observations in Papua New Guinea (enabled by the generosity of those who I lived with in PNG) and the ideas of European/western social theorists.
By Laura Potts
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
by Stu Lucy
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.Continue Reading
By Lewis Martin
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.
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.
by Stu Lucy
In my previous piece I outlined a theory that compared the woes of our current modern condition to a biological model of a disease increasing its prevalence across the planet, particularly in the Western world. Although slightly macabre, I feel it was necessary to characterise the systemic issue of unbridled growth in such a dramatic and sensational fashion – after all it is the fate of humankind, and well… the planet, we are talking about here.
I finished with a simple analogy calling for global treatment of this cancer that has befallen us since the mantra of growth has been so fanatically professed by economists, politicians, and industrialists alike. How though may we undertake such a gargantuan task that requires the remodelling of all aspects of our societies, from our education systems to popular culture to our entire global trade system?Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Humans move, we always have done and always will do. Our movement has evolved through the existence of our species from necessity – following the seasonal availability of food – to luxury, such as holidays and recreational travelling. While part of our species has been afforded the opportunity to travel around the planet in our spare time, absorbing the multitude of cultures and landscapes it has to offer, there continues to exist a drive to move to find something better, not for food, as in pre-modern times, but economic and/or environmental security. Economic, climate and conflict migrant populations are increasing year on year, and are so for one very good reason: a global disease.
by Laura Potts
The noteworthy Norwich art scene is home to many small gallery-like spaces that have a fast and frequent turnover of shows. Spaces such as Yallops, Nunns Yard and Studio 20 are home to a diverse spectrum of work, and as we enter the spring months they have become hives of activity swarming with artists and viewers. These spaces are important, vital – the work and people they house are integral to cultural independence in the city.
by Hannah Rose
On the 1st January 2008, a young woman called Eva walked along the promenade in Reykjavik with her grandfather. The sun barely saw the day as the rain came lashing in. It was the day that banks across the world would crash as phenomenally as the waves which battered the Icelandic coastline.
by Stu Lucy
Reasons for migration come in many forms.The now globalised and fully interconnected 21st century world allows people the capacity to travel great distances in search of work or a better standard of living for themselves. Increasingly though, more and more individuals, mainly from the developing world, are forced into the migrant sphere through no fault of their own. I have already touched on two types of migrant; those coerced by economic situations to move to foreign countries, as well as those unable to sustain themselves in their native environments as a consequence of various forms of climate effects. There is of course another migrant population that find themselves forced to leave everything they held dear behind as a result of more pervasive and damaging spectre: conflict.Continue Reading
by Justin Reynolds
Why, 10 years after a crisis of capitalism that has entrenched inequalities and insecurity, does the left still struggle to convince a sceptical public that an alternative economics is possible? That question was the focus of one of several intriguing sessions at The Norwich Radical’s recent War of Words conference. A new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) attempts to answer it.
Framing the Economy argues that progressives need to spend less time discussing the detail of economic policy and more on telling simple stories about how the economy works that people can understand. The project grew from a recognition that the right has long been better than the left at presenting ‘common sense’ understandings economic mechanisms.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Immigration is a complex concept., Sophisticated issues such as this are often reduced to simplistic and narrow trails of thought that exclude some of the intricacies vital in understanding the true scope of the issue. In my previous article, I attempted a brief, but lengthy, outline of aspects of economic history that I believe laid a foundation for the increase in migrants choosing to leave their home behind in search of a life they perceive could potentially produce prosperity. Intrinsically entwined into this history is a mechanism of production that, since the ‘great acceleration’, significantly contributes to environmental changes within our global habitat.
It is through this lens that I wish to proceed with this second piece on immigration, as I touch on a demographic within migrant populations forced from their homes by climate change.Continue Reading
by Justin Reynolds
Overshadowed by the perennial pain of Brexit negotiations and fresh flurries of speculation over her leadership, Theresa May’s trip to China earlier this month passed with little comment.
Democratic freedoms in Britain’s former colony Hong Kong were briefly discussed. A few business contracts were confirmed. And the shimmering outline of some future post-Brexit trade deal could at times be briefly discerned.
What was remarkable about the visit was scarcely noted:Continue Reading
by Bradley Allsop
Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”
by REFunding Economics
As the old saying goes, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’. This week, a coalition of economics students, academics and campaigners gathered to get inside the piper-paying process – the funding of economics research – to create an economics fit for the real world.
by Oliver Steward
The concept of a local currency is one way to encourage people to go to the high street through a creative use of supply side economics. A local currency would enable towns and cities across the country to stimulate economic activity in their floundering high streets. We need to encourage small business activity during this time of economic uncertainty, as small and micro businesses encourage entrepreneurship and form the backbone of our economy. Independent shops give our high street character and provide an incentive for people to visit our historic towns. The so-called ‘Death of the High-street’ is not just about national chains relocating, but the closure of small businesses. The use of a local currency would help reinvigorate it.Continue Reading
by Laura Potts
Last week saw the government’s Autumn budget released for public scrutiny. The report starts by stating that the United Kingdom has “a bright future”, with talk of an independent economy forging new relationships with the EU. This long term plan is meant to give voters the belief to take the long road with the government for a better Britain, but their sweeping statements do not at all sit in line with what I and many others would see as a ‘brighter future’. This is as true in the field of education as any other.
by Chris Jarvis
Political punditry’s busiest time of the year has come to a close, as most of Britain’s political parties have wrapped up their annual festivals of spin, spectacle and speculation – only Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Greens remain un-conferenced. What a season it has been.
Typically speaking, party conferences go mostly unnoticed, change little in the political landscape, and are quickly forgotten as the cogs of history whirr on unshaken. 2017 will be more than an aberration to that pattern. True, the ‘smaller’ parties failed to make a mark this time round too. Little of note came out of the SNP or Green Party of England and Wales conferences. The sole memorable moment of the Liberal Democrat soiree was the laughable assertions trotted out to the press time and again, that Vince Cable could soon be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. UKIP’s will only be recalled as the final subdued howl of Little England defiance as it casts itself into electoral and political irrelevance. That notwithstanding, this year was a bumper crop.Continue Reading
by Lewis Martin
Back in March, the MinoriTory government announced the idea of running fast track two year degree courses in the hope of saving students money. Last week the Times Higher Education supplement revealed that surveyed students from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be more likely to take this option up if it existed. Could the Tories’ apparently hare-brained scheme in fact be justified?
By Toby Gill
Part of a new series exploring the concept and consequences of ‘free trade’ from a variety of perspectives.
John, Tyrion and Ned lie patiently in wait. They have cornered their target, a colossal, fully-grown stag, grazing nearby. The three of them are in position, bows drawn, waiting to strike. Suddenly the stag bolts, leaping into the undergrowth. Tyrion jumps into pursuit. He knows he has little hope of catching the beast, but he does not despair – it is headed directly towards John’s position. The creature approaches the bush where John is hiding, its end clearly drawing near. But there is no shot. The stag runs past unscathed, and escapes into the night. Tyrion runs over to the bush, exasperated, ready to strike John with the back of his hand. But John is not there. He is around the corner – attempting to catch a rabbit with his pocket knife.Continue Reading
by Bradley Allsop
We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.
by Gunnar Eigener and Rowan Gavin
CW: mentions misogyny, anti-feminism, neo-nazism
Earlier this month, a writer and an editor from the Radical took part in the Amiel & Melburn Trust’s annual residential seminar. The Trust’s aims are “to advance public education, learning and knowledge in all aspects of the philosophy of Marxism, the history of socialism, and the working-class movement’. This year, the topic of the seminar was ‘Politics & Culture’, and the various intertwinings and intersections thereof. What follows are thoughts and reactions about the seminar from our contributors.
By Zoe Harding
I know you’re sick of elections. I know you’re sick of polling. I know you’re deeply, deeply sick of campaigns, and I’m sorry about that.
But in my opinion? We need a second referendum, as a minimum. Brexit is looking more and more like a disaster with every passing minute, and someone, somewhere needs to find the political will to halt it. If the British people have to vote again so be it, because nothing I’ve seen in the past 12 months has done anything to demonstrate Brexit as anything other than a heaping pile of bollocks with a Union Jack in it, especially now Theresa May’s government has hobbled itself with a poorly-planned election.Continue Reading
by Bradley Allsop
For the third time in a year an earthquake has rocked the political establishment, upsetting polls, pundits and precedent alike. Yet this time, unlike the division and isolation of Brexit, or the utter horror of Trump, we instead have hope. Snatching insurgence from the jaws of implosion, Labour and the broader left have risen to the edge of power. Yet whilst the election result was an excellent start, surviving the challenges our society faces will require much more. We need to build a movement which aims for nothing less than a complete transformation of our society. It is crucial now that we do not succumb to hubris or allow ourselves to be absorbed by the internal Conservative party debates – we need to use the time granted by their division to plan, organise and mobilise the movement that will transform Britain.
by Laura Potts
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.
by Edward Sudall
Economics in the west and UK is dominantly neoclassical. Other schools of economics are ignored to such a degree that they are mostly unknown to the voting public – who too often generalise economics as merely The City. Alternatives are rare even among education courses – often tokens.
This narrowness endangers human development because the failings of the neoclassical style of economics can be corrected by integration of alternatives. It skews politics also: the economy (that is the neoclassical one) is used as an inarguable defence for political policy, supported by the contradictory argument that economics is apolitical. Neoclassical economics pretends to be a science, shunning the political economy moniker and parading incomprehensible statistics as evidence, but this is wrong. Neoclassical economics, like anything outside natural science, is based on complex value judgements intersecting with politics.Continue Reading
By Bradley Allsop
We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.
by Richard Worth
Depending on how you feel, questioning whether we live in a democracy is either incredibly stupid or incredibly scary. In a democracy, every member who is eligible helps to decide how they are governed. Essentially everyone has the same voting power, the same level of influence over government, and the same means of expressing that influence.
But in reality this is an idealised version of democracy. In truth, we admit that there simply isn’t time for us to all have a say in every matter that affects us. Instead we elect officials who more or less represent what we want; accepting that they may stand for a few policies that we don’t agree with but we take the rough with the smooth. After all, the nature of democracy means one doesn’t get their choice every time. It’s the nation’s consensus.Continue Reading
By Laura Potts
More than 43 000 people come every year from overseas to study in the UK; a vast spectrum of people with differing backgrounds, cultures and interests/abilities. An international student’s experience of learning abroad goes further than just their degree. They encounter a different way of life that may enrich and enhance their own. They each bring with them a unique set of capacities, a wealth of ideas and innovative potential solutions that create a stimulating multicultural academic environment for all. But adapting in this way is often difficult, as I’ve learned recently speaking to international students at my university.
By Olivia Hanks
Richard Murphy is in some ways an unlikely figure. A tax expert and former accountant, his views are resolutely anti-establishment: asked on air in 2012 to name the greatest threats to democracy, he responded “Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young”. Yet despite having some vociferous critics (as you would expect for someone whose raison d’être is forcing the wealthy to pay their share of tax), his influence is now being felt: as the architect of country-by-country reporting, which requires corporations to publish figures for every country in which they operate so that it is clear when profit has been moved into low-tax jurisdictions, he has helped to create a framework for taxation transparency worldwide. Country-by-country reporting has now been adopted by the OECD and the EU.Continue Reading
by Olivia Hanks
The graph that emerged recently showing the unprecedented fall in global sea ice coverage was a chilling sight for many. Not, though, for Labour MEP David Martin, author of a European Committee on International Trade document celebrating climate change as creating new opportunities for the economic development of the Arctic”.
The comment, spotted and lambasted by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, might seem extreme in its suicidal logic: we’re burning down the house, but look, we can use the newly exposed rafters for more firewood!
By Robyn Banks
I’m in the break room at work choking on my out of date sandwich. I’ve just been informed by two of my colleagues- good, down to earth working class people who probably think I bang on about my degree too much- that Boris Johnson is a “lad”, and I have no idea what to say. But none of us have any money, I want to shout. And he wants us to have less! Before I can respond, the conversation moves on to laughing about his hair, which is much more tolerable. Later, as I complain about Trumps victory, I am told that all I want is for “everyone to sit in a circle and hold hands”.
by Candice Nembhard
In times of national or personal struggle, we have long since turned to our favourite books, records or films for companionship and reassurance. We find comfort in these creative endeavours – the note of a song or the rhythm of a sentence – that often mirror the nuances of daily existence. Yet, whilst we use these tools of communication, we have yet to fully support them with our time, interest and money. With authorisation from government officials, local authorities have seen their arts funds and budgets cut consistently since 2010. Consequently, libraries, art galleries and museums have been affected most, with numerous closures occurring across the country.Continue Reading
by David Malone
We need to have a serious debate in the party, first and foremost, about finance and economics. It seems to me that one of the defining facts of our times is that around the world the established political parties have surrendered to the idea that economics and finance no longer need to be under democratic control. This is wrong and dangerous.
by George Laver
On Wednesday 18 May, the ceremonial state opening of parliament accompanied by the Queen’s speech took place. Pomposity and excessive grandeur aside, what it meant for the radical mind was something altogether divergent from the norm; a fresh load of unpicking and semantics in which to delve in order to blow away the proverbial smoke from the mirror. The point of interest, however, came with the Queen’s declaration – without a hint of irony – that we all must “live within our means”. Undoubtedly, this opened up a lot of questions to be answered – whose means? what is this statement saying? why are we to live within them? – within the broader context of class society.
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
by Olivia Hanks
The Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson wrote in The Guardian last week about the challenges posed to society by automation. Rapid developments in artificial intelligence over the last few years have brought this issue to prominence once again, and spawned a proliferation of articles saying, effectively, “We know we said this in the 60s, but this time we mean it — robots are going to take over the world!”
The fact that fears of mass unemployment caused by machines proved largely unfounded in the 19th century and again 50 years ago doesn’t mean that we should ignore this issue. Far from it — it presents us with an opportunity to rethink our entire approach to work.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis
It’s no secret that the Liberal Democrats are far from the most popular political party in Britain today. After the General Election, they were left with just 8 MPs, and were ousted from their position as junior coalition partners in Government. For the preceding years, they attracted mockery, ire, and ridicule in equal measure, not least from young people and students, a group who once made up a significant proportion of their voter base – especially in the dizzy days of Cleggmania.
I’m still fascinated, then, by the fact that they have managed to maintain a sizeable membership through this time, including among young people. Why would a young person join the Liberal Democrats, and why would they remain active in the party? This intrigue is what led to me interviewing Charlie Kingsbury, current co-chair of Liberal Youth, as part of a series of interviews focusing of the role of young people in shaping British politics.Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
Star Wars. One of the biggest franchises not only in its field, but spanning a multimedia galaxy, has now become even larger after being acquired by Disney. Ranging from books to comics, toys to videogames, music to clothing, costumes, and theme parks. Drawing in accolades, from die-hard fans to casual viewers, from across the world. Star Wars. One of the most impactful, politically muddled, and bizarrely misguided products – and symbols – of Western media.
It was inevitable. As a self-professed nerd, casual toy collector, avid comics-reader, in the presence of one of the biggest releases in cinematographic history about to hit screens worldwide, I could not not dedicate an article to Star Wars. As a Norwich Radical writer, on the other, I also cannot not recognise the immense (infinite?) power and sway the franchise holds, in popular and consumer culture. Just how much of it is really looking forward, and how much is stuck in A Long Time Ago..? Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
When George Osborne took to the stage at the Conservative party conference, he had an air of confidence that spoke volumes. He tapped into a sense that has been palpable for a while now, the widely held belief that he is the saviour of the British economy. Soaked with ambition, he painted for us his bold and vibrant vision for Britain, creating a northern powerhouse and putting the working, taxpaying people at the heart of his plans. He decreed his party the builders of Britain and the only true party of labour whilst unapologetically championing his more liberal politics. Then as the applause rolled in, showering him with reverence and adoration, the next five years unfolded in front of me and I could see this man winning the 2020 general election. The thought of it made me feel sick to my stomach.Continue Reading
by Matilda Carter
When the right-wing press are not engaging in personal abuse and out of context smearing to discredit Labour’s new leader, they occasionally give their opinion on his policy. The most discussed by far is what has been, slightly unfairly, dubbed Corbynomics. The premise is simple: in recessionary times allow the Bank of England to print money to fund infrastructure projects essentially transferring money from the financial economy to the real economy. It may seem like a silly idea, but the Bank of England has engaged, since the financial crash, in a kind of Corbynomics by proxy: printing money to sure up bank balance sheets, making them more likely to lend and slowly, whilst transferring through several financial institutions, stimulate economic growth and liquidity. That’s called Quantitative Easing.
The biggest objection to Corbyn’s policy from the right-wing (other than laughable comparisons to Zimbabwe) is that by directly politicising monetary policy and creating money out of thin air to build infrastructure, inflation will rise. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, alongside former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie and former leadership candidate Yvette Cooper, have made a logical argument that inflation rises always hit the poorest hardest.Continue Reading
by Colin Hynson
Derek Wall Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the Ruins and a Road to the Future.
Pluto Press, 2015. £13.00
In the last months of 2011 countries across the world witnessed an explosion of protest under the banner of ‘Occupy’. Inspired by uprisings of the Arab Spring and the Indignant movement in Spain and angered by the effects of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, large groups of anti-capitalist and anti-corporatist demonstrators took over public spaces and set up camp. The Occupy protests in New York and in London were the ones that occupied most public attention although there were Occupy protests in many cities across the world, including on Norwich’s Hay Hill.
The Occupy protestors were subject to all of the usual attacks and criticisms from conservative commentators and pundits and there was one thing that they all agreed on. It was easy to see what the protestors were against but much more difficult to find out exactly what they were for. There was no list of demands, no manifesto and no programme of action. Yet for many supporters of the Occupy movement this wasn’t a weakness but a sign of strength. It allowed diverse groups from environmentalists to socialists and anarchists to come together and draw attention to a problem that needed fixing, i.e. capitalism, whilst agreeing that there were many ways that could solve that problem.Continue Reading
by Josh Wilson
The Greek financial crisis has done what all news stories do when they do not have an abrupt or exciting ending. It has faded from the homepages of all major news websites, to a small box down the page a bit and eventually only being found by using the search bar. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes, but it was just a month ago that Greece voted on whether to accept austerity measures and have since been systematically ignored by their government and international creditors.
In that crucial referendum on whether to accept or reject further cuts to services and higher taxes in order to release bailout funds, 61.3 per cent of people voted against austerity. Yet just days after this democratic exercise, it was shown to be nothing more than a democratic sham.Continue Reading
by Colin Hynson
Uber and Airbnb, the two poster–children of the ‘sharing economy’, have found themselves in the public spotlight for several months. One reason for this is their rapid growth. Uber, an on–demand taxi service, is now operating in 290 cities worldwide, over one million Uber trips are taken daily and the number of new drivers registering with Uber is growing by 50,000 a month. Airbnb, the room–rental service, now has vacancies in over 190 countries and has been used over 35 million times since it started in 2008.
This growth has led to both companies being described as ‘disruptive’. They have come in and shaken up taxi and hotel businesses across the globe. This has led to a backlash. In London and Paris taxi drivers have held rallies protesting that their livelihoods are being threatened. There are also legal challenges as cities from Delhi to Montreal and Brussels have clamped down on both companies.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 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 David Peel
Outside the Finance Ministry in Athens is the Camp of Struggle, where cleaners sacked from their jobs by the previous government of Greece, as part of its EU-imposed austerity regime, demand their jobs back.
We are now months into the anti-austerity Coalition, led by Syriza, and the cleaners have not got their jobs back, despite promises from Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis. Syriza pledged to introduce legislation to rehire them, alongside thousands of others. It hasn’t. The cleaners have said that if Syriza does not deliver, they will turn their protest against the new popular government. And for now, polls continue to show Syriza has popular support, and would win another election, but the fragile unanimity in its own ranks is fracturing.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli.
Naïve. Egotistic. Hypocritical. Russell Brand has been labelled many things since his infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman one year ago – by detractors on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the established political spectrum. Predominantly the key focus of the ‘discussion’ on Brand has been guided, not so subtly, toward scrutinising a single assertion in that initial interview (despite Brand offering a plethora of other views in that interview and since – to the extent he wrote a book); the assertion that voting has become irrelevant to the bulk of society, as the mainstream political parties lurch uniformly rightward.
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
by Ella Gilbert
Originally published at Concrete.
The grad season is upon us: the time for sweaty palms, nervous, tipsy grins and synthetic wizard robes. Thousands of third year students graduated this week amidst cheers and storms of applause celebrating three years of (mostly) hard graft. Like the rest, I was pleased that it was all over and happy that I could finally get my hands on a tangible recognition of all that work. There was one small hurdle though: the small matter of a certain pompous ceremony. I’m not sure there are many people who relish standing in a billowing Harry Potter gown in front of 800 people, but looking like a prat was lower on my agenda than it might otherwise have been. Sure, I was worried that I might stack it up the stairs or walk off the stage by the wrong exit, but more than anything I was rehearsing what I was going to say to the man I would have to refuse to shake hands with before collecting my certificate. Unfortunately for me, my ceremony was presided over by Edward Acton, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of UEA who will be replaced by David Richardson this coming September. In the run-up to this day, I’d gladly, and perhaps misguidedly, trilled that I would refuse to shake the hand of a man who had overseen such a shocking and deplorable track record of management during the course of my university career. Now, I had to stick to my guns and actually do it.
by Dan Swain
Norfolk People’s Assembly will join hundreds of others at a march and rally in support of the July 10th strikes for fair pay in the public sector. Nearly 1.5 million workers across the country will be on strike across 8 different trade unions. In Norwich, workers and supporters will meet at 12 noon in Chapelfield Gardens for a mass march and rally. People’s Assembly supporters will also be visiting picket lines across Norwich, beginning with the Unison picket outside the City Library.
by Ella Gilbert
One of the most fundamental rules of science that any student will learn is the importance of objective thought. The strength of scientific observation lies in the ability to weigh up evidence without assuming pre-defined outcomes, while investigating all possible hypotheses with equal exactitude. The triumvirate of ‘reliability, accuracy and precision’ are concepts drilled into students throughout their education, and the importance of withholding judgment until conclusions can reliably be drawn is underlined in experimentation and practice. Indeed, the process of science in itself is about careful, reasoned consideration of the available evidence, rigorous data analysis and logical extrapolation and conclusion. Science’s strength lies in its claims to objectivity – it wouldn’t work without it. Any deviation from these well-defined parameters and rules constitute ‘bad science’, tainted with opinion, ideology or personal belief. So, in this context, can science be radical? Or should it?Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli.
The Norfolk People’s Assembly staged a mobile protest throughout the city of Norwich on Saturday afternoon (June 14th). The demonstration, which came as part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut, targeted Vodafone stores in particular, after the communications giant admitted it paid “little to no income tax” in the UK.
At a time when many ordinary people are scared and angered by spending cuts to public services, education and the NHS, the event in Norwich seemed to capture the mood of the public. Some passers-by commented that were they to behave in the manner of Vodafone they would be “locked up”, whilst others congratulated the local anti-cuts activists for taking a stand. However, the welcome was not all friendly.
by Elliot Folan
Last month, it was revealed that UEA plans to raise accommodation fees for university students by up to 9%. Students have already come forward to say that they would not have been able to afford the new prices, and the students’ union has raised questions about accessibility and affordability. Yet the second big story of the fee rise is an issue of democracy. It was reported – and the university declined to deny – that student union officers were told they would not be consulted on the fee rise, and that the university had no intention of consulting them at all. In other words, on an issue that is of material concern to thousands of new and continuing students on our campus, management felt it necessary to completely ignore and override the wishes of our elected representatives.
Such contempt for democratic procedure is standard practice at UEA, and they speak to a wider problem of opaque decision making and lack of accountability on our campus and in the university system generally. There are three more examples of such undemocratic decisions.
by Mattie Carter.
Political debate often takes a binary form. We cast the left and right as two belligerent armies, fighting for the control of the political and economic apparatus of government and we dehumanise those who disagree or object to our values as part of an amorphous mass of evil. If you oppose aspects capitalism, then those on the right will cast you in the light of a statist, Stalinist, pseudo-intellectual and if you mention any benefits of the system then the most diehard socialists will dress you down with all the fervour of a zealous priest, preaching platitudes and quotes from Das Kapital. This is not something we should necessarily take the blame for, as much research suggests that it is a borderline insuppressible instinct, in fact I do it several times in this article, but I open with this because I’m about to attempt to defend believers in the global free market economy.