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.
The Covid-19 crisis has rusted the already weak links holding the UK’s food supply chain together. From just-in-time logistic strategies to a desperate reliance on imported goods and labour, supermarkets have struggled to keep up with panic buying, farmers have feared that their vegetables will rot in fields, and farm to table supply chains have been hugely disrupted.
It is exposing our food system’s incapacity to respond to emergencies in the short-term, whilst also beckoning reform in terms of its sustainability in the longer-term.
by Lotty Clare
We are all actors in a global hegemonic food and agricultural system that is increasingly undemocratic, unjust, and dominated by corporate interest in the hands of a rich minority. Part 1 explored how this has happened and the impacts of power concentration and intensification of agriculture globally. Much of the food we buy from supermarkets is packaged in plastic, , and has thousands air-miles attached to it as it has often been shipped across the world before reaching our trollies. The public has lost a connection to the land and lacks any kind of relationship to where its food comes from, and how it is grown, and indeed there is a great deal of ignorance around food production, nutrition, storage and even cooking. Sadly, it is ultimately the poorest and more marginalised people in society who are impacted the most by food poverty, having to buy and consume cheap food with poor nutritional value. Amidst rising levels of food poverty in the UK, we also have vast amounts of food waste on a household and commercial level, as about ⅓ of food is wasted.
by Lotty Clare
Land is a topic that is not at the centre of political news or conversations in the UK, yet land and how we value it is central to environmental, social and economic sustainability worldwide. Land is central to food security, culture, conflict and peace, and society as a whole. Food is a human right, and yet it is a commodity privy to the powers of the market, and not guaranteed for many people. Power is concentrated in the hands of a few mega corporations who monopolise global agriculture and food systems.
Since the Norwich poetry scene largely consists of current or former students and local writers, a chef originating from Cairo doesn’t seem to fit the mould. But Salah El Nagar has achieved local fame, both for his widely translated Arabic poems, and for his cooking. By day, he runs Ramses Egyptian Food, usually located in the market in the heart of Norwich city centre (he also runs pop-up stalls at venues around the city). By evening, you can find him at the Birdcage, promoting acceptance, diversity, and gender equality through his poignant and witty poems.
CW: mentions of torture, violence, assault
For a few years now so-called leftists have been acting as cheerleaders for Syria’s President Assad. The apparent logic seems to go something like this: “American imperialism is abhorrent, so naturally we will embrace America’s enemy – Russia – and by extension, Assad as our friends.” Let me be clear: in this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend. It is perfectly feasible to recognise that Russia is an imperialist power and serial abuser of human rights without legitimizing America’s terrible track record of imperialism, occupation and human rights abuses.
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. In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green have brought together perspectives from across the sector to explore the possibilities of post-fees HE. In the final instalment, the series editors summarise the visions for the next chapter of UK HE that the series has laid out.
There is more energy, debate and innovation on the left now than there has been for decades. Capitalism’s multiple crises, and the inability of its defenders to respond to them, are beginning to translate into tangible political opportunity. This series sought to capture the essence of some of this historical moment and direct it towards thinking about what we want our university campuses to look like, beyond the staple progressive policy of scrapping tuition fees. A project in unashamedly utopian thinking, it recognised the very real possibility that free tuition might be a reality in the near future, and sought to explore how this requires the left to think practically about what comes after and where our energy should be focused next.
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
As I mill around town needlessly purchasing disposable junk to wrap in trees so I may conform to the widespread Western orgy of consumption that is Christmas (sorry), I can’t help but notice that they’re everywhere. Costa, Nero, Starbucks, Coffee #1, it seems you can’t walk more than 100 metres before passing one of the acceptable narcotic dispensaries so many of us rely on to get through the day. It’s time to close this short series of food, and now drink, related pieces with a quick overview of coffee and its long and eventful relationship with Africa.