ARTICLE 50 AND THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING OPPOSITION

by Olivia Hanks

The debate over Article 50 has brought out sharp divisions in British politics, with Tulip Siddiq’s departure from the Labour front bench potentially the first of several resignations. Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation that he will impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to back the triggering of Article 50 has caused discontent within his party and outside it, for its message to the government is: do what you like – we won’t make a fuss.

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OUR DEMOCRACY REQUIRES WE MAKE 2017 THE YEAR OF THE EXPERT

by Olivia Hanks

All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.

2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.

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THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

WHY THE LEFT SHOULD CARE ABOUT CELTIC INDEPENDENCE

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by Tara Debra G

Flags don’t build houses”, said Jeremy Corbyn last year, criticizing Scottish nationalism and the SNP. Well, no, they don’t, but neither does an unelectable party, so swings and roundabouts really. But he does have a point: nationalism as a political framework doesn’t inherently support leftist values, or the working class, or is particularly anti-capitalist.

In fact, the strongest argument I hear against Celtic nationalism from the English left is that it doesn’t solve the foundational economic equality at the heart of class oppression in the UK. I’m a Welsh nationalist and I agree. But the left shouldn’t care about Celtic independence because it’s intrinsically anti-capitalist, because it’s not that – the left should care because leftist ideals should encapsulate anti-imperialism.

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AFTER TRUMP AND BREXIT, THE LEFT NEEDS TO REDISCOVER CLASS ANGER

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”.

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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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SOCIAL EQUALITY, NOT SOCIAL MOBILITY

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.Continue Reading

GREENS NEED TO BE AT THE FRONT OF THE FIGHT FOR A PROGRESSIVE BREXIT

by Amelia Womack

Like almost half of the country,  I woke up pretty devastated on June 24th. It’s now been a month since the result was announced, and we’re only just beginning to get hints of the ramifications – whether it’s the collapse in funding to research, or the threat of EU nationals here potentially being kicked out as they’re used as a bargaining chip for the Brexit negotiations.

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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

BREXIT — THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES STARTS NOW

by Josh Wilson

For all those who voted and campaigned to leave the European Union I would like say congratulations, we may have had a difference of opinion but that shouldn’t leave any animosity between us. For all of those that voted and campaigned to remain within the EU, like myself, it is okay to cry. It is okay to feel upset, angry and disappointed. It is not easy to let go of something you believed in so passionately. The future is scary; it is uncertain what direction the country will now head in, whether we will enter into another period of recession and who our next Prime Minister will be now David Cameron has said he will resign. But this is exactly why we must come to terms with the fact that Brexit is going to happen, and the fight has only just begun.

The referendum was largely fought between different sides of the right-wing of British politics, but the opportunity now lies with the Left. I truly believe everyone on the Left, whatever your party affiliation and which ever way you voted must unite and galvanise around a campaign for a progressive exit from the EU. This view was recently aired by Paul Mason in the Guardian, although in fear of being a hipster, I thought of this before it was ‘cool’ (You can read Paul’s more eloquent article here). In this article I want to cover another angle and lay out some of the biggest battles that are going to be thrown our way in the very near future.Continue Reading

A EUROPEAN LIFE

by Kelvin Smith

I was born shortly after the end of the Second World War in a nursing home that overlooked the Mersey, open to the world, “on the stream of trade” as my school song had it.

At primary school we drew Spitfires and Hurricanes in aerial dogfights with Junkers and Messerschmitts. There were bomb-sites in the towns and cities and there were Emergency Water Storage Tanks (marked EWS) everywhere. My first non-English words were Hände hoch and Achtung, closely followed by Frère Jacques. My parents had few foreign friends, although a Dutchman, a fellow chemist, had stayed with them in the early 1940s and he returned home with a broad Lancashire accent. “Reet bloody champion”, he would say.Continue Reading

WE ARE WHAT WE VOTE

illustration adna fruitos democracy

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, homophobia, mass shooting, murder

Our world seems to be approaching a turning point. Donald Trump is now, essentially, a nominated US presidential candidate. The chances of the UK leaving the EU are realistic, potentially paving the way for German and French referendums. Resistance to antibiotics is climbing to dangerous levels just as the Zika virus furthers its reach. The damage to the environment continues unabated. A man walked into a nightclub and killed many innocent people, either in the name of religion or because he was, sadly, unable to connect with his sexual identity. There seems to be a sense of things unraveling across the globe.

While this might understandably seem like the end of days to some, the truth is slightly blander although maybe just as unpalatable. We have allowed ourselves to get to this point. Us. You and me. Certainly not always by choice but we have allowed a system to continue that relentlessly sabotages us over and over. Time after time we let in those we know deep down will do us no good. Certainly the system seems rigged and that we are, in essence, voting for the lesser of how ever many participating evils there are. But the lesser evil is still evil. It’s not hard to understand why Russell Brand pushed the notion of not voting.Continue Reading

THERE IS NO THIRD BOX TO TICK: ‘LEXIT’ IS NOT AN OPTION

by Elliot Folan

So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.

I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.Continue Reading