“We are living in unique, unique times.”
The words of Eddie Dempsey, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, speaking to the packed-out rally for the Enough is Enough campaign at Epic Studios in Norwich on Tuesday night. He’s right. Many are saying they can’t remember a time when so many were so hard-off in this country. Meanwhile, by a number of measures, the richest few have never been so rich. My rent and the rate on my electricity meter have gone up this year, and with more price hikes on the horizon I’m worried about what it’s gonna cost to stay warm this winter. My friends, colleagues, and almost everyone I speak to are facing the same concerns. But despite all that, one thing makes this moment feel unique to me more than anything else: the strength of working people’s will to fight back.
Content warning: mentions transphobia in media
A friend recently described infamous podcaster Joe Rogan as “an independent broadcaster that you might not like/agree with but [who] actually has a voice to push back against corporate media”. Has the standard of anti-establishment commentary really fallen so low that we must turn to a UFC commentator for any effective criticism of the corporate status quo?
Short answer: hell no!
Sometimes, it’s hard not to laugh at contemporary British politics. The fall of Matt Hancock is the latest instalment in this ongoing political sitcom. Hancock, the Partridge-esque Health Secretary who came to prominence during the pandemic, was forced to resign a few weeks ago through external pressure following an extramarital affair with one of his aides, Gina Coladangelo.
A group of left-wing Norfolk Labour activists have re-founded the Norfolk branch of the socialist pressure group Momentum. Originally they were affiliated with the pro-reform Forward Momentum faction, which argued that the group needed to change in a post-Corbyn era. Following the victory of Forward Momentum candidates in the Labour Party’s internal National Coordinating Group (NCG) elections, at the expense of the Momentum Renewal slate associated with Momentum founder Jon Lansman, they hope that the group can be revived locally.
On March third, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his annual budget for 2021. As you would expect from a modern Conservative government, the budget showed an unwillingness to borrow and spend more than a moderate amount, despite the continuing economic pressures posed by the pandemic, and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to benefitting their rich donors while denying the most basic of help to the victims of years of Tory austerity. Sunak is spending just enough pocket change to maintain the appearance that the government isn’t just doing the bare minimum during the pandemic, but, typically, even this amounts to high praise from the largely right-wing mainstream media.
Norfolk-based education workers belonging to the National Education Union (NEU) have won a hard-won victory, after working with other trade unionists across England to force the government to close schools to the majority of students. This follows a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, particularly amongst school-aged children.
By Howard Green
Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.
by Sunetra Senior
A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.Continue Reading
By Bradley Allsop
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.
by Sunetra Senior
A news-based long read of the darkening climate under Boris Johnson, and consequent examination of the solutions.
NB: this piece was written before the announcement of the suspension of parliament. The call to progressive action is of the utmost urgency.
Shock, horror!! Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, we are on the verge of a catastrophic No-Deal Brexit, and Trump’s ego is bigger than ever before. Prior to this, the Scandinavian Peninsula, or the magical lands of social democracy and hygge, saw the rise of a nationalist group in Finland. There were also the New Zealand shootings in a show of Islamophobia, so horrific, that the country’s PM moved to ban militarised weapons practically overnight. So, amidst this caustic circus, where is the progressive clout? Given the gradual upheaval of the moral development of society, it’s apt to return to a timeless saying: ‘The personal is the political.’Continue Reading