VOTES AT 16: IT’S TIME FOR TORIES TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS

by James Anthony

In January 2018, it was announced that sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Wales will be given the right to vote in their local elections, under proposals set out by the Welsh Labour government. Along with Scotland, where votes at sixteen is already reality, Welsh policy will now be at odds with England and Northern Ireland where the voting age for any sort of election is eighteen. The idea that someone who is exactly the same age and has just as many years in education as another can be denied the right to vote based on location is extremely unfair. Perhaps it’s time the Conservative government reconsider their position on the voting age.

If the national government are seemingly ok with this being a regional disparity, why not allow it to take place in areas where there is clearly a desire for it? Just under two years ago, Norwich City Council voted unanimously for a proposal which asked for Norwich to be used as a possible ‘pilot area’ for allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to participate in local government elections. Disappointingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any official response to this request from the government although if it exists, I suspect it would be in essence – ‘piss off’. Continue Reading

PAVEMENTS, POTHOLES, AND POLLING DAY

by James Anthony

Having been a candidate in a local election last year, I spent a lot of time telling people ‘vote for me’, and as a candidate again this year, I’m doing much the same thing. The more I think about it however, it’s the first third of that phrase that is truly the most important part, and although local politics may not be all that exciting – it is something that affects everyone – above all we need to convince people simply to ‘vote’.

Part of this is acknowledging that the majority of people don’t even vote in local elections, and far fewer get excited about them. It’s a huge issue that turnout usually sits at well below 40% in local elections, but an issue that is difficult to examine as a political activist. In the run up to polling day I am surrounded by activists who (quite rightly) put a lot of time and effort into campaigning locally, and the dedication of my colleagues and political opponents never fails to impress me. As activists, we have to learn to accept that most voters don’t get quite as excited about it all. We need to view things from a different perspective if we want to see why turnout is so low and what we can do to improve it.Continue Reading

365 DAYS WITHOUT CHANGE — HOW THE ARTS AFFECT OUR ENGAGEMENT WITH CONFLICT.

by Jess Howard

Content warning: this article contains upsetting images.

In 2015 I wrote an article on an image of a Syrian child’s lifeless body being lifted out of the sea on a beach close to a Turkish resort. The photograph shocked people around the world at the time. It demonstrated the severity of the Syrian conflict, as the child in the photograph, and his family along with him, had been attempting to travel to Greece to seek refuge. September sees the anniversary of the photograph being taken, but how have our attitudes to photography and conflict changed in the past year?Continue Reading

ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? ARMCHAIR ACTIVISM – A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

By Josh Clare

The thing which I most enjoy about each Christmas since I learnt that there wasn’t a magical man bringing me countless gifts is the time available for reflection. This year as I sit by the open fire of my mother’s house, far too full on turkey next to the sleeping dog there is only one thing that I can think – how lucky I am. Sure, I have a rigorous job, but it’s certainly nothing like the dirty, tiring job my dad had or the chicken farm jobs my far-too-young mum had to take on as a child. I’m the first generation in my family to be enabled to think for a job and when I stop to contemplate about what that means I’m so grateful for the sacrifices that others have made to get me here but also, sadly, embarrassed by how I’m spending my opportunity, my ability.

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WHY EVERY STUDENT’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION SHOULD BE TO TAKE A PROPER LOOK AT POLITICS

by Josh Clare

I’m going to start this article as you should start every new year; by taking a few minutes to have a look back at the events which transpired. Instead of the traditional twelve month ponder though, let’s think about the past 55-ish months (or 1703 days for you maths fans).

It’s just a whistle stop tour of my (patchy) memories but I recall something about university tuition fees going up a bit, the NHS being squeezed, some guy with a pint being on TV a fair bit, the film council and a load of other quangos being cut, Scotland considering leaving the Union, recession, recession, recession, the Olympics, dubious corporate tax arrangements, the London riots and revolution in North Africa. A lot happened in these past 243 weeks.

We mustn’t dwell too long though, it’s easy to spend the first few days of 2015 considering what you did or didn’t do, and well, that’s just not good for the soul. So, to the future reader, to the future.

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