WE NEED TO TALK

by Alice Thomson

This ominous little phrase is often associated with all kinds of bad news, be it break ups, deaths, illnesses, or something else of equal unpleasantness. In the context of this article, it deserves its reputation. We do need to talk. We all need to talk. And not just small talk. We need quality communication, not empty words and broken promises. There are currently a lot of people in the media who are doing a lot of talking, but to me it’s the same set of regurgitated words. If we’re lucky, they’re slightly reformatted. Strong and stable. Make Britain Great again. For the many, not the few. Change Britain’s future. Britain together. When you repeat the same thing over and over, it loses its meaning.

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CREATIVE & PROGRESSIVE VOICES – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #3

by Laura Potts

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.

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FRANK HABINEZA: POLITICS IN AFRICA IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DIE FOR

by Olivia Hanks

Content warning: mentions genocide

Frank Habineza is all smiles when I meet him at the Global Greens Congress in Liverpool. It’s hardly surprising: the congress, which he helped organise in his role as president of the African Greens Federation, is running smoothly; and he is one of its star attractions, having just been announced as the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR)’s first ever presidential candidate.

Standing for election in Rwanda is not to be done lightly: although opposition is nominally allowed, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly raised concerns about torture and imprisonment of dissenters. Opposition party leader Victoire Ingabire is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence, and many other activists have gone missing in recent years. Habineza himself was forced into exile prior to the last presidential elections in 2010, after the DGPR vice-chairman André Kagwa Rwisereka was murdered.Continue Reading

MARCH FOR EUROPE: A SPOONIE’S PERSPECTIVE

by Alice Thomson

The 25th March marked the 60-year anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Treaty of Rome gave birth to the European Union as we know it today. Its intention was to create stronger ties, a common market, and better relations between the European countries. In the wake of two devastating world wars, it was hoped this union would create long-lasting peace and prosperity. It is this Union that our government is hell-bent on throwing away with the ‘hard’ Brexit that Theresa May’s clean and complete break from the Union promises. It’s thought that this ‘hard’ Brexit will greatly hurt the UK, causing economic turmoil and uncertainty for the future of mainland Europeans living in the UK. There are many other possible negative outcomes from a ‘hard’ Brexit, but the reality of Britain’s future, is in truth, unknown.

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THE GLOBAL FATIGUE

by Alice Thomson

It seems like the world is going to hell. I look at my newsfeed and am presented with scenes that make me feel gut-wrenching desperation. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the last year has left us horrifically battered, and that we face a future where that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

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NO BAN NO WALL

by Eve Lacroix

(Content warning for the Holocaust, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, xenophobia, and islamophobia)

THE FACTS

January 27th 2017. Holocaust Remembrance Day. Released by one Mr Trump on behalf of the White House, this statement: “It is with a heavy heart and sombre mind that we remember and honour the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror (…) Together we will make love and tolerance prevalent around the world.”

Is this statement missing something? Ah, yes, perhaps a specific and explicit mention of the six million Jewish people who were the victims of Hitler’s final solution.

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THE TROLL VOTE: WHAT TIPPED TRUMP TO VICTORY?

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by Sunetra Senior

In a socio-political climate where rape jokes and racism are very much in the mainstream, let’s not be afraid to call a troll a troll. The left is falling into the tendency to self-chastise after election defeats, even as a sinister phenomenon rises outside of our camp, and now more than ever requires our passionate standing. Over the past couple of months, the “Alt-Right” movement – a storm of right-wing publications primarily driven by Neo-fascist groups that use the web to circulate hate gossip and headlines to forward the far right’s agenda – has been confirmed to be a significant factor in the dissented zeitgeist of the US elections.  The Guardian’ s Jason Wilson said of the self-professed ‘platform for the Alt-right’– Breitbart News – that ‘the ideal Breitbart headline is provocative and designed to offend progressive sensibilities’, and that ‘they went with the stuff that got them the most hits and the most attention using the most extreme clickbait they could come up with’. For me, a further examination of this extremist social runaway train signals an alarming topple over an ideological precipice: the end to free-thinking and western democracy as we know it.

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POST-TRUTH POLITICS AND THE WAR ON INTELLECT

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by Robyn Banks

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer.”- Mikhail Bakunin

There’s a new buzzword in the air. We are now living, it is claimed, in a post-factual or post-truth society, where facts no longer matter to the general public. At face value it seems like a bizarre claim. But while politicians and the media have always lied to the public, if you consider the audacity of the lies of the last decade in contrast to the sheer number of tools available to us to find out the truth, you begin to see the point.Continue Reading

FOR A MOMENT THERE WAS HOPE: THE GAMBIA

by Zoe Harding

2016 continues to provide a torrent of horrible, depressing news. On the first of December, the opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow beat the incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, by 43-39%, ending Jammeh’s 22 year control of the country. On the eve of the election peaceful celebrations went on throughout the Gambia, while Mr Jammeh conceded in a phone call to Mr Barrow with as much grace as one might expect from a democratic leader to his successor. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay graceful for long.

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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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CANADA LEGALISES PRESCRIPTION HEROIN – WE SHOULD DO THE SAME

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by Eve Lacroix 

Back in September, Canada approved drug legislation allowing all Canadian physicians to apply to Health Canada for a special-access programme to prescribe pharmaceutical heroin to their patients.

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THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT — CHECKING IN WITH ITALY

by Alex Valente

It feels like the international landscape of politics is readying itself for some massive shift, in the geological, tectonic plate sense. We’ve had the rightwing rising across European countries, from Hungary to France, via the UK and Austria, to name a few. We have the constant shitshow that is the US presidential election campaign. We have the war stages of Syria, Lybia, Iraq, with Daesh’s fluctuating relevance and interference. We have the stifling of oppositions and minorities across India, Hungary, Turkey. We could go on.

So what is Italy up to, in all this joyous mess? Italy which is, I’ll remind you, the inadvertent (except for all things geographical) front stage for the Mediterranean migration fluxes, one of the minor players in the EU’s whatever-it-is-it’s-doing-right-now, and trying so very hard to stay internationally relevant — as it has been strenuously doing for the past however many years.Continue Reading

THE CLIMATE BETRAYED AGAIN — AND WHO BETTER TO DO IT?

by George Laver

With the recent news that the Swedish government has backtracked on its pledges at the Paris climate agreement by selling off state-owned coal assets to private buyers EPH, now is a better time than ever to ask: when is it enough?

It should come as no surprise that governments will betray the public façade of agreement on positive terms. Such is the cycle of history. I am thinking, in particular, of the Paris Agreement that took place just last year. Not yet past its stage of infancy, and already it has been shot in the back. The selling off of a lucrative coal asset to private industrial proprietors has set a clear line for where their favour lies and where the climate — which has recently passed a dire milestone — sits in the rank of importance.

This agreement, climate scientists from Stockholm University have warned, will violate the terms of the Paris Agreement. Even so, it is not as if it can be claimed that the Swedish government has worked around loopholes in the agreement. At least if this were the case, with all technicalities applied, the government would not be violating the agreement — that is not to say that they would not be violating climate integrity. But even so, the case as it exists is one of straight up betrayal — and who else could we expect it from?Continue Reading

MEANWHILE, SOME GOOD NEWS: PEACE IN COLOMBIA

by Zoe Harding

You know what? Everyone’s writing about how my racist Gran and 17,000,000 of her mates have screwed the UK over. Instead, let’s talk about something positive.

On June 23rd 2016, while the eyes of the world were decisively elsewhere, the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos emerged from negotiations in Havana with the left-wing FARC rebel group and announced a ceasefire. This ceasefire is the first major break in a fifty-year conflict which has claimed 200,000 lives and left Colombia a mess of drug trafficking and insurgencies. While the deal is nothing more than a ceasefire, it has been hailed by many Colombians as the first step in a peace process that’s been a long time coming.Continue Reading

BAN KI-MOON PLANS A HOLIDAY

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Ban Ki-moon wonders if he’ll look much better
wearing a bindi. He Googles to see if they sell
them at the airport. Everyone has been having
so much fun, and now it’s his turn. Darling!
he cries. I’ve booked a ticket to a ‘foam party’!
Ban Ki-moon poses his questions to a forum,
in a thread titled KOS BOYS.

Hello, I am the former Secretary-General of the United Nations…

The replies come flooding in. People are so kind!
Ban Ki-moon learns what minesweeping is.
Darling! he cries. These young men tell me
that you can buy hydration tablets! Imagine!
They have little pictures of chickens on them!
But Ban Ki-moon isn’t finished yet.
He wants to see the wonders of the world,
the odd ruin, a place to get that fetching
UV paint he’s seeing so much of.
He consults the KOS BOYS, who tell him that
nipple tassels and strawberry-flavoured lubricant
should see him through fine. So he opens up
Amazon — he knows it’s a bit corrupt,
but fuck it, he’s got Prime — and orders everything.
His wife pokes at the lubricant when it arrives.
Ban Ki-moon is going to have the best time.
Paulfitness92 tells him he’s going to get

absolutely fucking wankered mate absolutely trollied

which Ban Ki-moon thinks sounds very appealing!
Ban Ki-moon books his tickets. Ban Ki-moon finds
his shorts, crumpled at the back of the wardrobe.
Ban Ki-moon checks his emails and gets ready for work.
Ban Ki-moon kisses his wife goodbye for the day.
There’s been another catastrophic humanitarian crisis!

Featured image © Reuters

THE NEOLIBERAL PROBLEM WITH CHINA

by Will Durant

“In China, such change over the past three decades has been informed by three principles: the lower the level of government, the more democratic the political system; the optimal space for experimentation with new practices and institutions is in between the lowest and highest levels of government; and the higher the level of government, the more meritocratic the political system.”

That was Daniel A. Bell writing in The Atlantic last year about the Chinese ‘model’. This kind of thinking is everything that I loathe about neoliberalism. We’re presented with the idea that economists like Alan Greenspan and Mark Carney are these supreme experts who are just tinkering for the common good. Forget their past careers in multi-national corporations, they’re for the people. You know, like how the ‘Chicago Boys’ were simply working for the people of Chile. Just like the experts in the ol’ PRC right now. It’s not like their advice, enforced by the state, is unreliable or anything. So who needs the popular vote when you can have a few geniuses tinkering the system?

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HUMAN RIGHTS FOR SALE

By Gunnar Eigener

“The State shall protect human rights in accordance with the Sharia”
Article 26, The Basic Law of Governance, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have been let onto the UN Human Rights Council. Who thought this would be a good idea? Well, apparently the UK and US governments do. The US State Department welcomed the news, while the recently exposed deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia leaves us with little doubt over how the government feels about this appointment. David Cameron’s inability to justify the secretive deal in an interview with Jon Snow shows just how hollow any beliefs he proclaims to have in defending human rights are.

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ARE WE FALLING BEHIND AS A PROGRESSIVE CULTURE?

by Gunnar Eigener

Last week Germany announced that 62 former military bases were to be turned into wildlife sanctuaries. While these sanctuaries aren’t going to make a huge dent in the ever-increasing IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this action is in itself representative of how some countries are taking positive steps where possible. The military bases could have been sold for real estate development. France passed new legislation that all new buildings must have solar panels and/or plants on the roofs, the Dutch government have ordered emissions to be slashed by 25% within 5 years, and in 2014, Switzerland topped the Environmental Performance Index as the world leader in challenging environmental issues. The United Kingdom came 12th, but with the forth-coming expansion at Heathrow, the cutting of subsidies to onshore wind farms and the determination to press forward with fracking, is the UK at risk of dropping further down the index?

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JUST HOW DIVERSE CAN AMERICAN POLITICS TRULY GET?

by Faizal Nor Izham

The run-up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has been full of surprises so far — whether for better or for worse is another matter altogether. Not long after former First Lady Hillary Clinton announced her campaign, Jeb Bush, brother of George W. and former governor of Florida, subsequently announced his own candidacy. America could potentially have its first-ever female president, or its third Bush president within the space of three decades.

Then it got a bit funny. Business magnate and television personality Donald Trump decided to offer himself up for election, much to the collective delight of Internet — the announcement itself was barely spared by popular satirists such as Stephen Colbert on his popular television show. Finally, Louisiana governor, Indian-American Bobby Jindal, announced that he too would be running for president.

After two successful terms with America’s first-ever black president, it does seem that America is now hankering for more diversity in its politics.Continue Reading

WHY IS THE ‘TERRORITST’ LABEL SO NARROW IN THE MEDIA?

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by Faizal Nor Izham

The recent Charleston shootings on June 17th — in which nine people were shot and killed inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — has raised eyebrows from all quarters as to why suspect Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, has not been labelled by the media as a ‘terrorist’ for his hate crimes.

The reason being, as offered by several news outlets, is that convenient labels such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘thug’ would automatically be applied if the attacker were Muslim or black. However, Roof, like many other ‘lone killers’ the United States is becoming increasingly known for, has instead been given labels such as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘angry loner’.Continue Reading

ASEAN NATIONS CONTINUE TO BE SILENT ON THE ROHINGYA CRISIS

by Faizal Nor Izham

The recent Rohingya crisis in South East Asia is nothing new — clashes between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, have been ongoing since 2012 through a series of riots. By October of that year, Muslims of all ethnicities had begun to be targeted.

The riots were supposedly triggered by widespread fears among Buddhist Rakhines that they would soon become a minority in their own ancestral state. Riots sparked after weeks of sectarian disputes, which included a gang-rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by Rohingyas and the killing of ten Burmese Muslims by Rakhines.

It is the refusal from fellow South East Asian nations to
take in tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees which
has been the main source of recent controversy.

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UEA JOINS MOVEMENT FOR BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS

by Chris Jarvis

Within the student movement, no issue does more to polarise individuals and create bizarre bedfellows than Israel-Palestine. No other topic, not even No Platform or the Free Education/Graduate Tax row arouses such emotion, nor splinters political factions so dramatically. Israel-Palestine is the single biggest division in the student left. What other issue sees the right-wing Labour Students join forces with Trotskyist group Workers’ Liberty?

Debating the conflict causes each side to throw accusations of complicity in violence and some form of discrimination at the other, amidst howls of inaccessibility. Passion is always in abundance.Continue Reading

ISRAELI ELECTION: NOT AS BAD AS YOU MIGHT THINK

by Sam Alston

Having called an election, Prime Minister Netanyahu won a renewed mandate with an Israeli parliament (Knesset) that hewed to the right to the extent of being xenophobic. 20 seats out of the 120 seat went to centre parties lacking historic roots, clear ideology or a commitment to peace process. This describes both the result of the Israeli election of March 2015, and the Israeli election of 2013.

The 2013 Election

The election of 2013 followed what was seen in Israel as a successful and popular assault on Gaza. The Labour opposition was weak and divided, lacking in an alternative security narrative. The Yesh Atid centre party was taking Labour’s dividend from social protests, but was focused on tackling the ultra-orthodox.  The Arab and communists parties fought voter apathy and each other… The results below were not as the dramatic endorsement the prime minister may have prayed for.

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SILENCE OF THE LAMBS IN THE AUSTERITY ELECTION

by David Peel

When you think of anti-austerity movements changing the face of national and international politics, you don’t think of Britain.

Greece and Spain, yes. Ireland to an extent. Portugal, Italy, and of course Iceland, where the people ousted the government, put the corrupt bankers in jail, and then rewrote the constitution. But here? Well, this is a country that once beheaded its king, and during the civil war produced movements and ideas of freedom and social justice far, far ahead of its times.

Has there been a mass character transplant of the British people in all its diversity and wondrous multi-culturalism? Have we become lambs to the slaughter?
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JIHADI JOHN – PRODUCT OF STRUCTURE OR AGENCY?

by Faizal Nor Izham

So the identity of Jihadi John has been revealed and the local press are now going to town on who Muhammad Emwazi was and what his past life in England was like, presumably to put together the pieces behind his state of mind and what drove him to commit such atrocities. Of course, this writer has been keeping tabs on such developments over the past week or so and, without wanting to sound like an amateur psychologist here, has done so in order to gain an idea of what the mind set of the average ISIS recruit is like.

And, truth be told, there seems very little that differentiates Emwazi’s frame of mind from that of any other garden-variety sociopath, such as Ted Bundy or the infamous Columbine high school shooters. If you’re still under the impression that he believes in a deeply-rooted cause, it’s very likely you’re sadly mistaken.

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CELEBRITY POLITICS

by Mike Vinti

Popular culture today is dominated by one thing — the celebrity. Be they actors, musicians, reality TV stars, or vloggers, celebrities are the most visible benchmark of our culture. Yet it seems we don’t really know what to do with them. We proclaim them as role models in the media yet the same outlets feast on their personal failures; we attack them for squandering their platform, yet criticise those who use it for some perceived good. They symbolise both everything we love and everything we hate about late capitalist society.

Celebrities are by no means a new phenomenon and since the birth of popular music, celebrity status has been part of the territory for successful musicians. Yet with the ever pervasive influence of the internet, more and more people are becoming celebrities, so maybe it’s time we had a conversation about their role in society?Continue Reading

PODEMOS MUST MOVE FROM ANTI AUSTERITY TO SOCIALISM

by David Peel

I know it is a bit early to be thinking of Christmas 2015, but it is worth putting a note in your diaries to watch out for the Spanish General Election, which takes place on December 20. By then, here in Britain, we will be seven months into our own messy government coalitions, following the General Election in May, a time of extraordinary drama and instability not seen for a generation in British political and national life.

By then also, the issue of Greece might be resolved, but it is doubtful. With Syriza, the anti-austerity movement thought perhaps a corner had been turned. And yet a few weeks after the momentous victory and following tough negotiations with the Troika, it looks like austerity is alive and well. It’s most virulent opponent – a coalition of the Radical Left and anti-immigration Right – is managing to keep it going while hoping a desperate Greek people stay loyal.Continue Reading