THE GATHERING STORM OF AUSTERITY

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

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE

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by Jack Brindelli

Contains spoilers.

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.Continue Reading

IF CLIMATE CHANGE WAS AN ILLNESS, WE WOULD IMMEDIATELY START TREATMENT

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by Dr. Hayley Pinto

About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.

Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.Continue Reading

GOVERNMENT SLASHES COUNCIL FUNDING – THE GREEN PARTY VIEW

by Andrew Boswell and Richard Bearman, The Norwich Green Party

During the General Election campaign, the Green Party warned of another 5 years of continuing and unprecedented cuts to Local Authority budgets.  We pointed out that the coalition and Labour backed the ongoing austerity programme, and that only the Green Party, SNP, and Plaid Cymru opposed this assault on public services.  Unfortunately the election was strongly influenced by the TV party leaders debate, together with misleading sound bites and on-the-hoof policy changes designed to win over undecided voters.  The election outcome does not reflect the lack of public support for more cuts to local services.

But plans announced this week by Norfolk County Council are seeing more devastating cuts to public services in Norfolk.  Under its ‘Re-imagining Norfolk’ strategy, the Council has asked councillors and officers to plan for 25% of cuts to services in its Budget for the next 3 years.  Current government funding reductions, pushed through by the Tories nationally, will require the council to cut its services by at least 15%.  However the Labour, UKIP, and LibDem alliance has voted for plans to cut 25% instead of the required 15% to allow ‘headroom’. Continue Reading

THE FIGHTBACK STARTED HERE

by Jack Brindelli

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.

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POP POWER

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.

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LABOUR’S LEADERSHIP ELECTION AND THE SIMMERING TENSIONS IN THE PARTY

by Chris Jarvis

Almost immediately following the realisation that Labour had lost the General Election, various figures within the Party’s parliamentary ranks began licking their lips at the prospect of ascending to positions of leadership. With the dust largely settled, there are four announced contenders for the impending power struggle — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, and Liz Kendall, with Tristram Hunt all but announcing his candidacy on Question Time this past Thursday.

Although they vary in style, the minority of prominent issues and in the degree to which they purport reactionary views on welfare and migration, all of these candidates are firmly placed on the right of the Labour Party, both within parliament and outside of it. None of them are proposing a radical separation from the political trajectory the Labour Party has been on since the establishment of the New Labour project.Continue Reading

RECLAIM THE POWER: MASS ACTION CAMP, DIDCOT

As we have seen throughout history direct action has been central to inspiring social change – at this year’s Mass Action Camp in Didcot, from 29th May to the 2nd June, Reclaim the Power are inviting you to get involved.

by Lindsay Alderton, Reclaim The Power

With the re-election of the first fully Conservative Cabinet in Downing Street for 18 years, many have spent the last few weeks reeling in shock, fearing what lies ahead in the oncoming months and years. The implications are severe — over the last five years we’ve had a crushing run of bitter austerity measures, job losses, scapegoating attacks on migrant rights, mass sales of social housing, over a million using food banks, and suicides over benefit sanctions.

At a time when the world’s leading scientific community are imploring us to keep fossil fuels in the ground, our environmentally hostile government is pressing ahead with plans to scrap crucial subsidies for onshore wind farms, as well as championing fracking and investment in North Sea oil.Continue Reading

STUDENTS: END AUSTERITY NOW! JOIN THE NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

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?

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END AUSTERITY NOW – NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

by Romayne Phoenix and John Rees

by Romayne Phoenix, Chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity

Saturday June 20th will be the first time that we can all meet together after the general election and the shocking and unexpected result of the Tory Party in power.  This looks set to be a massive demonstration. We need to join up and celebrate the strength of our growing numbers and we need to celebrate each and every successful act of resistance.

by John Rees,  member of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity National Committee

There has already been an explosion of protest in response to the threat of an ever deepening austerity programme coming from this Tory government. In Newcastle, Cardiff, Sheffield, Peterborough, and many other places there have been thousands taking to the streets already. In Bristol seven young women, all A-level students, called a protest on a weekday evening and 3,500 people turned up to march through the city centre. But people want a national focus to demonstrate their anger.Continue Reading

THE GREEN PARTY MUST MOVE AWAY FROM ‘LIFESTYLE POLITICS’

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by Freddie Foot

The dismal election results are not only apparently a victory for ‘blue collar conservatism’ but potentially also Blue Labour or a renewed variant of Blairism. Two of the initial favourites for the leadership of the Labour party, Chucka Ummana (who has now removed himself from the contest) and Liz Kendell, are Blairites, and the media has been a flood with Labours failure to connect with ‘aspirational’ voters and business.

Labour seems to be moving to counter what is admittedly a genuine threat of Blue Collar Conservatism driven by collapse of organised Labour and a relatively socially liberal Conservative party. This leaves a (by no means new) gaping hole fit for a truly progressive movement.Continue Reading

THE PLACE FOR POETRY: PERFORMANCE

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Place for Poetry’ conference at Goldsmiths took place from the 7-8th May, and I attended it with She Grrrowls, as well as within my poetry collective, Kid Glove.

Hannah Silva, known for her success as a poet both on page and on stage, delivered her research on ‘Repositioning Performance.’ It was filled with quotations, energy, and analysis of a Salena Godden performance. Immediately it linked to the ever-complex discussion about the page/stage divide, connecting to Malika Booker’s paper later, as well as the She Grrrowls Q&A, whereby BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) poetry is positioned as ‘performance’ or ‘spoken word.’Continue Reading

BE AWARE OF MENTAL HEALTH, NOW MORE THAN EVER

by Aaron Hood, UUEAS Students with Disabilities Officer

Mental health has always been an immensely important issue, I don’t know about you but I think something which effects as many as 1 in 4 people ought to be taken somewhat seriously. Given the results of the election the issue will be more important than ever. Heartless welfare cuts, draconian welfare sanctions, and secure and dignified work becoming even sparser. In such desperate times we will need each other more than ever.

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ANTI-TORY MPS ARE GREATER IN NUMBER NOW THAN BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION

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There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.

While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.

by Chris Jarvis

Although the Conservatives narrowly tipped themselves over the line to form a majority once all the seats were counted after polls closed on Thursday, the irony of the election is that the parliamentary arithmetic is actually less in the Tories favour than it was in 2010.

If you add all the MPs together who are likely to vote with the Tories on the majority of their programme, the number now stands at 350 — that is the combined total of UKIP, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist, and Conservative seats. After 2010, it stood at 371. That means that the combined weight of the progressive, or at least anti-Tory parties, are in greater number now than they were after the last election. Between the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, and Sinn Fein, there are 299 MPs, compared to 276 in 2010.Continue Reading

A NATION DIVIDED: TIME TO REBUILD THE FIGHT

by Chris Jarvis

We’re now set for five more years of Tory government. It will be vicious, it will be brutal, it will be hard. Cameron will govern without caution, without concern for electoral prospects and without hiding the ideological agenda which has driven the direction he has taken the country since 2010.

Since 2010 we have seen the decimation of the welfare state, creeping privatisation of the NHS and education, and the hollowing out of the public sector. From now on, this is only set to get worse. What has been touted by the Tories as economic prudence and getting the country in order will be accelerated. The shrinking of the state will begin in earnest.

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THE AGE OF REASON REDUX

by Jack Brindelli 

It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.

There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.

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THE PROSPECT OF A PROGRESSVE ALLIANCE IS TRULY EXCITING

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?Continue Reading

TIDAL ANNOUNCED NEW ELECTION STREAMING SERVICE FT. MUMFORD AND SONS

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.Continue Reading

6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANALYSIS #2: THE GREENS

2014 has proven to be a particularly good year for the Greens: adding a third MEP to their tally in the European Elections, outpolling the Liberal Democrats consistently over the last few months and seeing an astronomical increase in membership – most notably in their youth wing. The rise of the most left wing of the mainstream parties has largely gone unnoticed by the media bubble, swamped as it has been by UKIP’s insurgency.

Success for the Greens won’t plateau with the year gone by though, and 2015 will see developments of greater significance. Below are six things that are likely to happen to the Green Party in the coming 12 months.

by Chris Jarvis

1. Caroline Lucas will keep her seat

Brighton Pavilion, the sole parliamentary constituency that the Green Party currently holds, will stay Green despite a strong challenge from Labour. Caroline Lucas has consistently demonstrated her commitment to radical politics, her constituents and standing up to the political establishment. This has won her many admirers, both inside and outside of Brighton, and in combination with the fact that since 2010 it has been confirmed that voting Green is not a wasted vote, this means that Brighton will return a Green MP in 2015, probably with an increased majority.Continue Reading