by Hannah Rose

Luke Wright’s eighth solo show The Toll is a razor dipped in sugar: Ian Duncan Smith is a “jiggling tit” and rumour has it that a lion stalks the good people of Essex. It’s an hour of truth or dare, but not without the candid insight that self-reflection demands of performance poetry. Wright connects with his audience through just the right amount of personal anecdote tinged with good times and bad, and a generous scattering of cultural and political satire.

Brexit, Question Time and John Betjeman. It’s all in there. This line is hard to walk when it’s just you on the stage—too much waxing-lyrical about good times with your mates and you’ll bore your audience. Equally, too much of the dark stuff and the lights go out. People don’t generally pay £12 to be brought down by bad news.Continue Reading


By Clive Lord

I almost invented the Green Party. Well, I only re-invented it a few months after it had been founded circa Christmas 1972. I attended a meeting as an enquirer in March 1973, at which I agreed with every word of the four actual founder members: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had just published Limits to Growth, which explained that indiscriminate economic growth could not go on for ever on a finite planet. It got one important fact wrong, and missed one other, but the gist was and is correct, and according  to the latest research by James Hansen, could be coming home to roost sooner than expected.

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by Robyn Banks

Over the past few months, a lot has been made of the apparently soon to be released DWP statistics on the number of people who have died after their benefits were stopped. Over 235,000 people signed a petition asking for them to be released, but the government has been accused of constant stalling in an effort to keep the real number hidden. The DWP claims they are stalling because they plan to release the statistics in a more contextual and understandable fashion, arguing that the statistics alone “. . . were likely to be misinterpreted. Specifically, incorrect conclusions were likely to be drawn as to causal links between assessment outcomes and mortality. Such misinterpretations would be contrary to the public interest, particularly given the emotive and sensitive context of mortality statistics”.

This makes sense, especially given the ability of statistics to be misinterpreted and used for one’s own ends. It might not be clear, for example, how many of those people would have died anyway from terminal illness, as benefits are stopped when a person enters hospital, or how many of those benefits were stopped for legitimate reasons. The well-known 10,600 figure which circulated earlier in the year turned out to include not only those who had their benefits stopped 6 weeks before their death, but those who had them stopped 6 weeks after. Far from having a hand in the deaths of 10,600 people, the government may have simply stopped the benefits of 10,600 people who were already dead. But to my mind, we don’t need to use an impersonal number to criticise our benefits system.

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