Philippa Lowthorpe’s recent film on the 1970 Miss World Pageant, Misbehaviour, has enjoyed the advantage of being released just before the lockdown, giving people no choice but to watch it from the comfort of their homes. But while undoubtedly watchable, the film’s approach to feminism and intersectionality notably erases contemporary feminist movements led by women of colour.
By Lewis Martin
Amatey Doku is right: student activism isn’t dead. In a recently published interview with the Guardian, the NUS Vice President of Higher Education proclaimed that students’ response to Brexit and their engagement with the People’s Vote campaign has shown that student activism is thriving anew, after years without a “unifying cause”. But what about the fight for free education that has been active on our campuses since 2012? For many activists in the last few generations of students, it was the issue that brought us together and gave us the skills to take the fight to the powerful. But for Doku, it was too “inward looking” to inspire a “genuine” movement.
By Jonathan Lee
CW genocide, ethnic violence
Between 1936 and 1945 the Nazis wiped out over 50% of Europe’s Romani people.
Whether they were choked to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, “exterminated through labour” climbing the stairs of death at Mauthausen, or shot in a mass grave dug by their own hands in Romania – the extermination of the Gypsies of Europe was carried out with deadly efficiency.
By Lewis Martin
Content warning: fascism, mass state violence
Last week the Spanish government approved the exhumation of the body of General Franco, the fascist dictator who ruled over Spain for most of the 20th century. Whilst this may not seem like a huge deal on the face of it, it is massive news in Spain and to those with an awareness of Spanish politics. Franco’s ‘legacy’ has been hanging over Spain since his death in 1975. This decision marks a major point of departure for the country.
If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.
unattributed African proverb
Protests and demonstrations are an important part of democracy. They allow the people the opportunity to express their feelings about the behaviour of the state and its agents. They are a chance to point out society’s ills to those who can do something about it. But do they truly make a difference? Do those who are targeted by the protests feel their impact or are they just able to ignore (or worse) any public displays of anger or upset?
The election of Donald Trump saw mass protests take place across the US. Protests in Gaza have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Every G7 or G20 summit is greeted by demonstrations. In Nicaragua, protests against the government intensified after flippant remarks by the President, Daniel Noriega, and his wife, the Vice-President, demeaned the people. There have been protests in India over the caste system and the Supreme Court, in Tunisia against the cost of living, in Venezuela over the lack of food and medicine, and high inflation rates. The Women’s March globally, protests against abortion laws, the list goes on but the changes do not. Too often nothing seems to change. This is not to say that change should happen purely based on a protest but many protests are about the same thing. So what is the issue?
It was too beautiful to last. The fragile truce established between Labour’s dueling factions after the party’s unexpectedly strong 2017 general election performance disintegrated just in time for this year’s local election campaign.
Despite everything, Labour still made gains, indicating that its simple anti-austerity message continues to have the capacity to cut through the interference generated by chronic internal feuding. But the result was hardly good enough to foster a new outbreak of peace.
by Stu Lucy
Last time we met I penned a reflective piece that acknowledged not only my privilege but also the de facto situation of millions of people across the planet, not least in Africa, forced to make the difficult decision to leave all they know behind, hoping for a better life in alien and often hostile lands many thousand of miles away. I’d like now to rewind to the very beginning of that process to try and suggest why it is so many end up making such a choice.
by Jonathan Lee
Last week President Trump, with a push of his tiny thumb, attacked Palestinian leadership via Twitter and threatened to cut all US funding to Palestinian recipients. His angry tweets were in response to unrest across the occupied territories following his December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “that the Jewish people established in ancient times”. Despite the fact this came from Donald Trump, he does pose an interesting point. How accurate is this claim? How far back do the State of Israel’s ties to the land really go?
by Lewis Jarrad
On the 9th-10th December, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) put on its 2017 Winter Conference in Liverpool. Taking place less than a month after their national demonstration, which advocated for free education and universal living grants funded by taxing the rich, the conference was a chance for student activists across the UK to strategise and discuss where we can go next in the fight for a free and democratic education system. Campuses represented included Liverpool, Manchester, UCL, UAL, KCL, Warwick, Sheffield, Abertay, Oxford and Cambridge. As a first year UCL student who was involved in the national demo, I went along to learn more about NCAFC and how I could get more involved in the campaign.
by Laura Potts
Education is amazing. It encourages the growth of passion for any number of subjects, and opens doors for many to enter into the field that that passion leads them towards, where their research work is often vital to the discovery of all sorts of new and exciting things.
However, the modern system that has emerged as society has ‘advanced’ does not always prioritise the curiosity and growth that education cultivates over more material concerns such as financial gain. The increases in the various fees and costs associated with higher educational institutions and the shrinking of the creative curriculum at earlier levels often means that a passion for a subject is no longer enough. But as with any monolithic trend, alternatives have sprung up down the years.
On September 25th, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe called for one of those snap elections we all know and love. Unlike Theresa May, when the results were announced almost a month later on October 22nd, Abe managed to pull through and secure himself a majority in the Diet.
Japan is now swinging heavily to the right. With Abe possessing a mandate to attempt implementation of his main objective – revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution – is the country about to embark on a dangerous path of no return?
by Laura Potts
Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.
It has been suggested that the world famous Colman’s brand may soon break with a tradition more than 200 years old, of producing mustard and other products here in Norwich. Make no mistake – this is not nearly as trivial as it sounds, and would be nothing short of a local tragedy.
This may seem exceptionally daft, but Colman’s has so much history here in Norwich, it is tough not to be upset by this news. Colman’s Mustard has been based in Norfolk since 1814 when Jeremiah Colman formally set up his mustard and flour business in Stoke Holy Cross, just outside of the current Norwich city boundary. Later, Jeremiah Colman’s great-nephew Jeremiah James Colman established the production factory in Norwich in 1858, which still exists today. With business booming, royal approval was gained in 1866 with the granting of a Special Warrant as manufacturers to ‘Her Majesty the Queen Victoria’, helping our local mustard gain a global reputation and put Norwich on the culinary world stage.
Our society is governed by market forces. You can hardly sit through a news broadcast without the mention of stocks and shares, commodity prices or talk of the single market in relation to Brexit. It’s very easy to forget that markets are real, physical institutions that pop up around towns and cities across the country, sadly written off by many consumers in favour of large, corporate run supermarkets.
CW: mentions sexual harassment
A teacake and a portable phone charger. Unlikely objects to trigger a tirade against the state of academic practices in the UK, but here you are, about to read one anyway.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health
Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.
Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history.
by Laura Potts
‘If anything, art is…about morals, about our belief in humanity.
Without that, there simply is no art’
Norwich’s own Space Studios hosted Bridges, a fascinating exhibition by artists Marcia X and Karis Upton, earlier this month. Entering through a small alley, I climb stairs up to the first few works, which I find in a dark setting, immersing me in the exhibition. Up another staircase, long enough for me to begin reflecting on what I’ve seen, is a much lighter space, with works hung from the sloped ceiling. Afterward, I’ll go on reflecting for some time – the themes and issues that Bridges explores are of such magnitude that every viewer is forced to sit up and listen.
by Laura Potts
CW: Mentions violence against children
More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.
by Laura Potts
This year’s degree show was of striking magnitude. The work in all departments was of a very professional standard, with the textiles department in particular showing great craft and display skills with their breathtaking exhibition. These high standards were maintained throughout, even into the degree show shop, which housed snippets of work for sale.
The Forum is often described as a key landmark of Norwich, a grand glass structure which stands alongside City Hall and St. Peter Mancroft Church, overlooking the market. Intended as a building fit to mark the turn of the century, The Forum was opened in November 2001 and has since become one of the main meeting places in the city centre, truly a forum for the people of Norwich.
Many of those meeting there – enjoying pizza, coffee and the various exhibitions hosted within – may not realise the scale of destruction and loss of history that took place twenty-three years ago, pre-dating the grand building we know today.
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.
CW: discussion of racial slur
Twiglets, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with twiglets. Everything about them disgusts me. Their burnt and bitter flavour, their odd withered and gnarled appearance and the quantity in which I consume them. Likewise, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with Bill Maher and his show Real Talk.
by Toby Gill
When Theresa May announced her snap election, I was travelling across Japan. At the time I was spending a lot of time on a variety of very slow trains (the famous bullet trains were somewhat beyond our budget). This gave me a lot of down-time to ponder my electoral choices, and consider which way I should vote. It also gave me a lot of time to read the latest tome of modern history I had picked up: Martin Pugh’s State and Society; a social and political history of Britain since 1870. It is not a politicised book; it markets itself as a rigorous work of academic history, designed to introduce new undergraduates to the period – a task it performs superbly.
However, this is a politicised book review.
by Eli Lambe
Rich with reference and metaphor, Ali Smith’s Autumn is a triumph. Published incredibly quickly following the chaos of the EU Referendum in June 2016, it fully captures the feelings of isolation, division, and distrust that seems to have characterised the 12 months since. The atmosphere of unreality is masterfully tied together with dream-sequence, ekphrasis, and lies. The principal character, Elisabeth sums it up concisely as an eight year old in 1993: “It’s about history, and being neighbours.”
Two things that have become clear with the election of Donald J Trump as President – elect. Firstly, America’s status as a sole superpower and its Exceptionalism is coming to an end, and secondly, the liberal international order, rooted in principles of international law and community and defined in part by American hegemony, has been turned upside down. The world is in an increasing state of flux.
While it is undergoing a process of reordering, the likelihood is that global affairs may not be very responsive to the will of the United States either through its diplomatic capacity, its institutional structures which it retains its legitimacy, or through hard power. Authors such as Kupchan go further, arguing that America must prepare for the decline of the West, correlating with a decline in its own position.
Earlier in the summer of 2016, Norfolk County Council voted to continue their commitment to resettling fifty Syrian refugees around the county. The motion passed overwhelmingly, but the UKIP group on the council refused to support it, their leader claiming that “we have to look after our own first”. It’s disappointing that this sort of attitude prevails in Norwich. Those opposing the resettlement scheme may claim that refugees are hurting British culture — but to me, (especially in Norwich) it is in our culture to help those most in need.
Most people in Norwich may not realise just how much we have done as a city historically for refugees — and how much we owe them for our continued success.
Since moving into my own place in the beautiful city of Córdoba, I’ve realised how important the aesthetics of our environment are to our well-being. Both inside and outside of the home, I feel uplifted, and can meditate on the simple pleasures of my surroundings. So for many Spanish people, the news that street names are being changed is a lot bigger than it might seem on the surface.
Franco’s dictatorship is an all-too-present memory, which I learnt more about when speaking to my abuelito, my paternal grandfather, about it. It divided the family, and although a majority of Spain looks back on this time with regret and sadness, there are some who still support his legacy. At such times where we are becoming more divided, and dominant groups increasingly scapegoat, discriminate against, and oppress minorities, perhaps this is an important message from a government which is currently in disorder.
Since the reign of Al-Hakam II, who ruled from 961 to 976, Córdoba has been considered a centre for education after a plethora of libraries and universities were opened. Just recently, a new statue was erected in the city centre, which is full of beautiful statues, making an already picturesque city even more so. This particular one seems another symbol for education – with a woman holding open a newspaper. As a language teacher, it’s also a little-known fact that Córdoba has one of the highest concentrations of language schools.
Córdoba is also the largest urban area declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the main attractions is the Mesquita, the Mosque-Cathedral. I found out about the city’s rich history from a free walking tour, where we stood outside the building. But I was able to go inside for free, deciding to wake up early one morning. Having just come to Spain after travelling in South East Asia, I was reminded of the grandness of such places of worship.
By Chris Jarvis
Content warnings: mentions execution, torture
Throughout the twentieth century, as ‘socialist’ regimes sprung up across the world, their leaders and key figures were consistently deified in the west. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Guevara, Chavez, Allende; all were adopted as icons of the revolutionary left, with posters of them adorning walls across the world, and their words taken as gospel. For a time, much of the left in Europe and the USA endorsed Stalinism, even as the true horrors of the gulags, the famines, the mass executions, the anti-semitism began to be revealed. The unbelievable death toll of Mao’s ‘great leap forward’ was brushed aside by apologists. Colonel Gaddafi was revered by many as a valued comrade, even as he ordered mass executions and dismantled trade unions.
Growing up in Norwich gets you used to quite a few things about the city. If you’ve been here for as long as I have, you stop noticing the churches hidden on street corners, the city walls poking out from behind trees — even a massive castle overlooking the city just becomes part of normal life. Staying on in Norwich for university allows me to get to know the city through the eyes of people who haven’t lived here for quite so long.
Odd discussions of Norwich with university friends often involve chatting about places and buildings, and being known as a local, I often end up giving directions to people. If ever in these talks I mention our City Hall, most responses I get are “what?” and “where?” and this to me is a massive shame. City Hall is often forgotten by Norwich residents and ignored by those visiting. It’s a building that represents us like no other and suits Norwich just perfectly, and we should learn to love it.
by Sam Naylor
Content warning: this article mentions homophobia and racism
“In Britain we use our history in order to comfort us, to make us feel stronger, to remind ourselves that we were always, always deep down, good people.” That was Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, describing Britain’s à la carte style of remembering at an exhibition opening in Berlin last month. This selective remembering is dangerous in itself, and when this approach is combined with current post-truth narratives Britain’s attitude to its past becomes very chaotic. Tracey Brown has argued that “the idea of a ‘post-truth society’ is elitist and obnoxious”, with good reason. But we need not apply this notion as all-or-nothing, without subtlety. Instead, we can understand a post-truth society as one that occasionally believes in emotive language and bombastic phrases over bland yet factual statements, rather than one which has ‘had enough of experts’ entirely.
by Chris Jarvis
Content warning: this article mentions xenophobia and racism
Last week, reporting and rhetoric on the ongoing migration crisis reached new lows. The Daily Mail, The Express and others ran inflammatory stories first casting doubt over whether or not child refugees were children after all and later calling on them to carry out dental checks on asylum seekers to ascertain their age, irrespective of the ethical abhorrence and scientific inadequacy of such a policy.
How has it come to this? How, as a society, have we got to the point where people fleeing conflict, living in makeshift camps and trying desperately to find a better life receive this as their welcome to our country, are referred to in these terms? When did we stop being a nation that offered help and support to those in need, a nation that welcomed migrants, a nation with cities built on the principles of multi-culturalism and melting pot? Don’t we have a long and proud history of granting refuge to those who need it?
by Zoe Harding
Nearly every building in east Mostar bears war wounds. Tumbledown ruins stud the streets like broken teeth. The imposing concrete hulk of an abandoned bank juts into the sky over midtown, surrounded by parks and covered in graffiti. The famous Old Bridge over the river Neretva is notable both for its beauty and the fact that these marks are absent. Destroyed in 1993 by Croat tanks, the Old Bridge is one of the few things in this wounded city that has been properly rebuilt.
UNESCO plaques stud Old Town, listing countries that donated money to rebuild the bridge and the surrounding areas. It was a tourist landmark before the war, and it feels like the only part of Mostar the world really cares about — certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any money to clear the minefields on the surrounding hillsides, or to treat Bosnia’s tens of thousands of post-war PTSD victims. Tourists don’t visit them, after all, so it’s not like the spirit of international co-operation applies in the way it does to the pretty scenery in Old Town.
by Liam Hawkes
Religion gets a pretty bad rep in the media, and some of the time it is justified. The following reflections are not intended to directly deal with the oppressive histories (and some present-days) of particular religious doctrines. Instead I want to reflect on the structure and nature of faith and spirituality, to investigate the effect it can have on our everyday lives. These reflections are in part inspired by my experiences of the faith of others, looking from the outside. This semi-voyeuristic experience of faith and spirituality led me to question the structure and direction of my own beliefs and how they could be grounded in a kind of blind faith.
I do not want to claim that religion is just a passive component of a believers’ personality, because a lot of the time it very much defines and shapes their understanding of themselves, and their world. No matter what history faith has had, or the extremes fundamentalists go to, or the religious violence which has permeated human history, there is something fundamentally fascinating, and ultimately useful, about faith and spirituality. I think that a knowledge of the comparative structures of religions and experiences of spirituality can enrich our lives, and we should not ridicule or dismiss those with strong faith in their religion.
by Chris Jarvis
Anniversaries are strange things. Almost exclusively, they consist of rose-tinted, uncritical and nostalgic assessments of whatever they seek to commemorate. 2016, forty years since the ‘birth’ of punk, appears no different. Expect Union Jacks, safety pins galore and excessive images of John Lydon in BBC sanctioned documentaries. Expect descriptions of how important Malcolm Mclaren was to punk’s success, claims that New Rose was without contention the first punk rock single and a neat lineage where pub rock became punk – a very British phenomenon.
Inadequate as such histories are, they are demonstrative of the problem we have with understanding punk as a cultural occurrence. Debate rages amongst fans about whether punk was ever grassroots, whether it was ever political, whether any of the anti-establishment ethos was ever genuine, or instead fabricated by an astute record industry seeking to find the new zeitgeist. Adherents to either theory will read selectively into the evidence and ignore anything which would disprove their dogma.
by Aline Zouvi
Comics journalism covering the impeachment of Brazil president Dilma Rousseff, and what it means for Brazil as a whole.
Latest news update – not covered in the comic – is from 09.05.16: the impeachment vote has currently been annulled.
by Jess Howard
Since Daesh first made itself known at the turn of the 21st century, a significant number of religious and historical buildings, artefacts and objects of cultural significance have been destroyed, in what the Secretary-General of The United Nations Ban Ki-moon once described as ‘a war crime’. In response to this, a series of art works have been created to replicate the objects that have been destroyed since Daesh first established itself, which leads us to consider the ways in which artistic reconstruction benefits culture and society.
by Micha Horgan
Stumbling across George Plunkett’s photo collection, my immediate thought was: ‘looked cool back then, what happened?’ The photos, which were taken on the dates listed, have a Tardis-like capacity to take the viewer back to a Norwich long since gone. It was a time of quaint cars, hand-painted signs, curiously shaped buildings, stylish hats, trench coats and inherent glamour – most of us can’t help but love it.
This habit of romanticising the aesthetic of times past begs the question: ‘Why is it that we find the past so appealing?’
I first came across Richard Yates’ work through Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the screen adaptation of Revolutionary Road. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the book in HMV, for something ridiculous like £1, that I actually read his work. I loved them both equally. Maybe I’m just a sucker for all things retro, but I felt he was extremely talented at capturing the human condition in characters who were entirely believable; both romantic and tragic. His ability to do this seemed to extend to a variety of characters and situations when recently reading his Collected Works.
by Jess Howard
With the threat of terrorist attacks and war seeming to dominate every newspaper front page and website, it can be easy to ask if we should still place any importance on the visual arts. With daily news telling us that more and more people are dying, starving, or becoming homeless, many may ask if we should concern ourselves with art at all. But, when we really consider it, we can see that an aversion to what may be deemed frivolous and unnecessary is actually completely impossible.
I went to see ‘Suffragette’ with a lot of mixed expectations. I’d heard the reviews weren’t that great, my mum described it as ‘slow’ and there’d been criticism for the lack of BME women in the film (zero). There were also issues of Carey Mulligan’s accent and the fact the film was advertised as having leading roles by herself, Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter. These may seem like minor points, but they reveal deeper issues beneath their surface.
by Jonathan Lee
Kon mangel te kerel tumendar rroburen chi shoxa phenela tumen o chachimos pa tumare perintonde.
“He who wants to enslave you will never tell you the truth about your forefathers.”
In the mid to late 19th century, Bucharest was a city typical of the reformist changes of the era. The influences of the Late Enlightenment and Romanticism in cultural arts were emerging in public administration, economics and politics. The growing call for egalitarianism across Europe had given birth to revolutionary movements and philosophies, out of which Marxism, Idealism and Existentialism, to name a few, began to take shape. Bucharest saw increasing civil mobility as anti-aristocratic sentiment spread, culminating in Prince Bibescu renouncing the throne. The increase of Liberalism across Europe was matched by feats of human endeavour and the creation of centres of intellectualism in the major cities of the continent.
In Bucharest, the Grand Theatre of Bucharest was constructed in 1852, a modern water supply network was put in place and the Cișmigiu public gardens were created. During the mid to late 19th century the city was transformed by gas street lighting, the creation of the University of Bucharest, a tram system and the establishment of the National Bank of Romania. The wave of modernity and reform which was sweeping the continent was becoming ever more present in the visible character of the city.
In British summertime, gardens across the country provide a beautiful illustration of how social class permeates even the choice of flower that people will grow if they have the chance or inclination.
Around the start of July, you will start to see some outrageous colours as dahlias begin to bloom. Dahlias are originally from Mexico, they can be found as far south as far as northern Colombia. A plant of the Aztecs, a scream of psychedelia. First brought to Europe in the 1790s, they were inevitably given a colonial name: after Anders Dahl, one of Linnaeus’s pupils. Dahlias have no scent and rely on colour to attract pollinators and have evolved a startling colour range: every part of the rainbow except blue.
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.
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.
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.
by Katherine Lucas
Since its formation in 1993, UKIP has prided itself on its anti-system rhetoric.
Under Nigel Farage’s wisdom, UKIP has latched onto fears about immigration, and in doing so, has done enormous damage to the working classes. Put simply, inciting racial tension is in no way beneficial to a social group that includes people who come from all over the world.
Perhaps it should be of little surprise that a party run by a former inner-city London stock broker do not have the interests of the working classes at heart, but that is certainly not in line with his promises. Through exercising ‘divide and rule’, Farage has injected tension among those who previously stood a better chance of securing change through collective action.
Last week, legendary British director Mike Leigh announced his next film project was to be a dramatisation of the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre. Leigh reportedly plans to begin in 2017, two years before the massacre’s second centenary, and cited its “universal political significance” as to why it was such an important story to re-tell now. That universal significance, the political mainstream would have you believe, was as a fable to remind us of the importance of using our right to vote. People died fighting for your vote after all.
The slaughter itself took place on St Peter’s Field, Manchester on the 16th of August 1819, when a crowd of up to 80,000 ordinary people gathered to demand that they be represented by parliament. When local magistrates called for the arrest of radical orator Henry Hunt, an armed cavalry charge sent to capture him and disperse the crowd murdered 15 civilians in cold blood, and wounded as many as 700 — an act of ‘heroism’ that seems to inspire the London Metropolitan police to this day.
For an exhibition with such an empowering title, I was intrigued to see what was being shown. Displayed at the Design Museum, it presented a timeline of women’s fashion until the present day. That said, the question of power was up for discussion, from the tiny corsets that squish women into an hourglass (arguably, the most dominant shape shown to be desirable throughout history), to the laughable early swimming costumes that showed an aversion to exposed flesh (it was simply a waterproof outfit).
On one hand, I couldn’t help but feel that aspects of fashion should be questioned and critiqued. In the Victorian period, women cinched in their waists with these corsets, and added fabric to their hips to emphasis the same shape that women are now striving to achieve through cosmetic surgery and Gok Wan’s cinch belts (the former sometimes having led to deaths). Surely, our bodies are not simply a fashion statement?
by Robyn Banks
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.
On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.
by John Sillett
On the 800th anniversary this year of the signing by King John of the Great Charter.
We are told the Magna Carta is the foundation of the rule of law in England. This is partly true. The Charter was a truce between a power obsessed and ruthless king and his power obsessed and ruthless supporters who thought he had overstepped the mark. All law represents a truce between contending forces in society.
by Jonathan Lee
Numbering around ten million, Romany gypsies constitute Europe’s single largest minority ethnic group and are almost certainly the continent’s most discriminated against. The Romany people uniquely bear both the intense scrutiny of outright persecution and the simultaneous off-hand dismissal of their very identity, allowing and even justifying racism to go unchallenged.
Why would an atheist radical historian go to church? My answer would be that history is an attempt to find out who we are. Churches are, invariably, the oldest surviving buildings in European cities, towns and villages and by closely reading them we can discover how class, status and power shaped the lives of the people through, sometimes, over a thousand years of time. The ‘we’ is everyone coming to the Radical site; whether Norfolk is home or a new place and from whatever ‘faith’ or ‘non-faith’ background you come from.
This is the story of a journey to one remarkable Norfolk church; a journey passing through the suburban necropolis of Toftwood to what Tourism Norfolk would, no doubt, call the ‘market town’ of Swaffham, although many years have passed since the market destroyed the ‘market’.