In a left wing social media group I am part of, a member recently asked whether anybody supported Antifa, before continuing on to state that he personally feels that “they sound like the fascists they are trying to rid the world of” and harming the potential of the left. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. Why do the words “anarchist” and “Antifa” provoke such strong negative reactions?
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 Lewis Martin
In the midst of right-wing confusion about Jeremy Corbyn’s continuing support amongst the young, following a supposed u-turn on his flagship policy to scrap student debt, Tom Welsh of the Telegraph has unveiled a new thesis: the left will continue its resurgence so long as too many go to university*. His argument is as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, and his article is full of claims that are absurd, patronising and completely unsupported.
by Joe Burns
Clive Lewis must enforce the views of his progressive Norwich voters in this time of social crisis and DUP invasion. Our capital city has suffered in the weeks since the election, more clearly defining the need for a fully committed left-wing Government to begin to enact real change and progress.
After both the local election in May and the general election earlier this month, Labour is now absolutely the most popular party in Norwich. Clive Lewis, Norwich South Labour MP, did far more than just hold on to his seat – he doubled his majority in the constituency with 61 percent of the vote. He blatantly took Green and Liberal Democrat votes as both parties suffered substantial losses, especially Norwich Green Party which suffered a drop of 11 percent. In Norwich North, Chloe Smith barely held her seat in Westminster. The Conservative MP took just 507 more votes than Labour’s Chris Jones.
It wasn’t a good election for those hoping for a future in which many parties contest seats and work together to represent communities, but with obviously increasing support from young and old liberals, Clive Lewis must absolutely continue fighting for strong and aggressive liberalism from Norwich when he’s in Parliament.
Following the recent elections both locally in Norfolk and nationally at Westminster, many of us will have been enjoying the demise of the entity we all know as ‘UKIP’ – the United Kingdom Independence Party. With many realising that their main objective of leaving the European Union has been all but completed, the electorate have decisively rejected their flimsy, populist, far right manifesto and consigned the party to the history books.
It’s hard to believe that they were ever a considerable electoral force, this year picking up just under 2% of the vote, losing all of their incumbent 145 local councillors and their only seat in parliament less than twelve months after their referendum victory. UKIP campaigners were keen to talk about voters returning to them, but this clearly didn’t materialise.
from a member of UEA Labour Students
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.
Having resolved to sit down today and write this article, I’m struck by the appropriateness of my day. I caught the bus to UEA from outside one of the few remaining Sure Start centres, a public service provided by the last Labour government which has been decimated by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats) since 2010. My bus was 40 minutes late, the consequence of a privatised, under-funded service – and even the previously UEA-hosted launderette I went to had been privatised since I last used it. It served as a strong reminder of the power of Labour government to change lives for the better, which contrasts with the crumbling services and privatisation festival that has characterised the last 7 years of Conservative and ConDem government.
We live in turbulent times. Just months after Britain decided to leave the EU, as well as the recurring popularity of Australian anti-immigration pundit Pauline Hanson, it was now America’s turn to tread down a similar right-wing path — this time by electing everyone’s favourite media darling, Donald Trump, as President.
As President. Of the United States. Oh how far we’ve sunk.
But is there actually a rational reason for wanting to elect a racist, scare-mongering serial womaniser out of sheer desperation of the times we’re living in? Or maybe there are other things everyday people are getting fed up of as well. Perhaps people have even become jaded with liberal culture as well. Nowadays it is often a shallow parody of its former self. It’s often hollow, intellectually-sterile, idealistic, immobile and sometimes even commercialised in the media.
by Chris Jarvis
Britain’s EU Referendum was a messy, unpleasant affair. Events that took place, the way campaigns were run, the rhetoric of certain advocates on both sides taught many lessons about the state of Britain. The referendum, and its subsequent result, have served as an amplifier for some unsettling and disturbing aspects of our politics and society – from racism and xenophobia, to the desperation and disaffection felt by people and communities across the country. All of these have had substantial coverage and comment in the press, as politicians and columnists have lined up to blame anyone and everyone – the political class, migrants, the Leave campaign, Jean Claude Juncker, Tony Blair.
by George Laver
If, over the last year or so, anybody has been monitoring political discourse, it should have come as no surprise that the Labour Party has collapsed into meltdown. From an anti-electoral onlooker’s perspective, it is over trivial matters; but to the dedicated parliamentarian, it is a cause for some concern. In particular, there are the issues surrounding supposed “entryists” and “Trotskyists” amongst the rank-and-file of pro-Corbyn Labourites. A bitter repeat of the witch hunts against members of the “militant tendency” in the 1980s, this too would be no surprise to those who had the foresight to expect it.
Whilst I am not writing this to defend Trotskyism – or even to defend entryists tactics, parliamentarianism, and so on – I am writing in defence of those who hold viewpoints that are considered outliers to the common political discourse; and in spite of the fact that left-wingers are brandished with the label of “the politics of envy,” there is a perfect justification for envy. It is not a label from which we should blush and shy away.
by Elliot Folan
Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.
I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.
by Kat Boettge
Whatever the future holds we must work together for unity. After this dreadful referendum and the Brexit vote we must all pull together. The country appears divided, the young vs the older generations, the north vs the south, the “leavers” vs “remainers”. Such divisions, promoted by the wealthy and powerful, have helped them to avoid responsibility for their economic crimes and allowed the 1% to prosper at the expense of the 99%. Meanwhile the left is facing turmoil.
by Robyn Banks
They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.
by Joshua Ekin
Content warning: mentions suicide, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, mass shooting, murder
A massacre in an LGBT+ space, by a Muslim, with a legal gun, and alleged connections to Daesh. It’s easy to see how contemporary American anxieties converge in the political aftermath of the Orlando shooting. The media response to this — the largest massacre in modern American history — exposes how truth is controlled by the present political regime.
For those who do not spend their days fretting about radical social discourse, homophobia can be difficult to define. Before Obama legalised same-sex marriage federally, it dominated the media conversation, establishing rights as the fulcrum of group empowerment. While the LGBT+ movement focused on this, statistics revealed that LGBT+ kids across the world were entering sex-work and committing suicide at an alarming rate. If such statistics were ever mentioned, it was to bolster marriage as the unequivocal endowment being denied to the LGBT+ community. The institution Australian Marriage Equality claims that the ‘higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation [are] all directly related to the discrimination.’ Marx might have called this ‘bridal false-consciousness.’
by Elliot Folan
So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.
I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.
by Chris Jarvis
Something somewhat unprecedented is happening. The media is paying attention to the internal workings of the Green Party. Since Natalie Bennett announced her intentions not to stand for re-election as the party’s leader, speculation has begun to bubble around the online media about who her replacement might be. Early predictions from pundits included the party’s 2016 London Mayoral Candidate Sian Berry, former European Parliamentary candidate Rupert Read and Member of the House of Lords Jenny Jones have each ruled themselves out of the race (Sian Berry was technically ineligible to stand in the first place).
Almost immediately, Ladbrokes opened a market on the race, initially comprising the obvious frontrunners, before eventually taking random, and sometimes outrageously comical suggestions of potential candidates from Twitter. Unsurprisingly, then, little light has been shed on the realistic contenders, the notable exception being The Guardian’s quote heavy coverage, and Josiah Mortimer’s round up in Open Democracy. We have a long way to go from now until the end of the election in September, and much could change between now and then, but here is some mostly unfounded speculation on who the big contenders could be.
by Olivia Hanks
With just over six weeks to go until the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, the Remain campaign has two considerable problems. Firstly, the EU is so flawed, so bloated and undemocratic, in the eyes of virtually everyone, that it is very difficult even for those who will be voting Remain to get truly excited about it. Secondly, at the head of the campaign is David Cameron, a man so universally disliked by people of all political persuasions that it is a miracle he continues to cling to power.
There is very little in the lead Remain campaign to offer hope or inspiration to anybody. The three key points on the home page of Britain Stronger in Europe read #Better Economy. Better Leadership. Better Security’, which, reading between the lines, might be interpreted as follows: “We’ll make sure Britain keeps consuming the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate, while ensuring all the resulting wealth is concentrated at the top. Oh, and we’ll see to it those dirty foreigners don’t get their hands on any.”
In February The Norwich Radical carried an article by Chris Jarvis entitled ‘How I fell out of love with Peter Tatchell‘. This is Tatchell‘s reply.
by Peter Tatchell
A reply to the sectarian distortions of Chris Jarvis.
The future of progressive politics is under threat, again. But this time from the left. Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues. Through this unity and solidarity, we won. The government of the day was forced to back down.
Nowadays, we are witnessing a revival of far ‘left’ sectarian politics and it is infecting the Green Party too. Zealous activists, seemingly motivated by a desire to be more ‘left’ and pure than rivals, are putting huge energy into fighting and dragging down other campaigners.
by Chris Jarvis
The Midlands have been for many years a breeding ground for the very best talents on the UK ska scene. In the 1980s, it was the pioneering sounds of Coventry’s two-tone bands – The Specials and The Selecter that led the way. Nowadays, Birmingham has a lively and burgeoning scene of acts that are fusing traditional reggae and dub music with the energy and raw anger of punk and hip-hop. Building on the reggae vibes of Brummie legends such as Steel Pulse and UB40, Lobster and their peers have built a sound and a scene that brings together the many traditions of these musical legacies. Throughout this, they have maintained a focus on politics and conscious lyricism. Because of this, we decided to talk with Lobster’s frontman Spud about his and the band’s outlook and the implications this has for their music as part of our series Music That Matters.
by Chris Jarvis
For twenty years, Goldblade have been tearing up the British punk scene. Notorious for their anthemic, straight up punk rock with the odd bits and pieces borrowed from rockabilly, hardcore and street punk, the Manchester based band are infamous among fans for their energetic and powerful live performances (I once described them to a friend when I was fifteen as the best live band on the planet after seeing them open for Misfits on their 30th anniversary tour). But like many in the punk scene, Goldblade are also known for their political and social conscience, and so we decided to talk with their frontman John Robb about his political outlook, the relationship it has to his music and how he views it in a wider political context as part of our series Music That Matters.
By Josh Wilson
In Star Wars there are (arguably) three major factions; the Jedi, the Sith and the Galactic Republic. The Jedi strive for peace and harmony in the galaxy, whereas the Sith work for personal gain and power over others. The Republic is a democratically run institution that attempts to foster trade and good relations between planets and species.
In politics there are also three major groups; the far Left, the far Right and Centrists. The far Left work for economic equality through state implemented wealth redistribution. The far Right tend to use divisive and racist policies to create growth for a minority of people and to solidify their economic and political power. Centrists, who can often be seen to lean to the left or the right, tend to argue for free markets, promotion of trade and limited state intervention.
By Chris Jarvis
I’ve been a member of the Green Party of England and Wales for five and half years, and as such, I’m often criticised for sticking my oar into the internal affairs of other political parties, particularly in relation to my views on the Labour Party and its electoral and political strategies. But when it comes to the Labour Party, I just can’t help myself.
by Emmanuel Agu
To be forthcoming; yes- living and working conditions for black people have reached some atrocious lows in Obama’s two terms as president: the worst black unemployment rate in 28 years was recorded at was 16.8 in March 2011; 28 percent of all African Americans were living in poverty in 2013, and two out of five African American children lived in relative poverty – the most harrowing statistic of all: a $131,000 disparity between the average income of the white household and the African American.
Perhaps the biggest paradox of all is a Black President coexisting with the Black Lives Matter movement independent of the government. Statistics like these really do not encourage much faith in Obama and his ability as a ‘black president’- but again to merely look at these statistics without considering the economic climate Obama was thrust into would be a misrepresentative and reductive analysis. The ‘Great Recession’ in 2008-13 is widely understood to be caused by a deregulation of wall street during Bush’s Administration and was characterised by fiscal austerity, collapsing of housing markets due to irresponsible lending from the banking sector which (amongst many other contributory factors), could perhaps be lead us to reason these effects on the black community.
by Emmanuel Agu
More so than ever before with our current Conservative government- UK politics has always been something I’ve personally felt very distanced from. Those who occupy positions of power that govern the direction our nation is heading in are often far richer than I, public/grammar school educated, significantly whiter and straighter than I could ever hope to be – I’ve accepted that fact a long time ago, and it’s not something I see changing in near future.
Don’t misunderstand me though, I will never and apply the often far-reaching and misdirected scope of white liberalism (see Caroline Crampton and Louise Mensch twitter feeds) and contend privileged members of parliament can never hold the interests of the oppressed at heart in their campaigns and motions- effective representation is far more than a skin deep observation.
With the formerly radical New Musical Express projected to become a free hand-out for corporate partners like Top Shop, former writer Paul Wellings talks Rock Against Racism, Jeremy Corbyn and Monty Python with Jack Brindelli and the Norwich Radical.
For the conservatives, the civil war waging within Labour is extremely fortuitous. Their borderline majority in the House of Commons was nothing to celebrate especially as they fully inherited the fractured Britain that they’d created in their last government and now the party itself is even starting to buckle under the pressure of growing Euroscepticism. Instead of capitalising on this unrest by raising up arms against them, the left-wing are too distracted by the arms they’ve raised against each other.
In the meantime the Tories have been getting away with murder. We don’t bat an eyelid as they rebrand the living wage, cut tax credits, and extend plans for fracking. This metaphorical war is starting to have very real consequences and if Labour cannot unite beyond the leadership election then without a strong opposition, these sinister policies will grow in size and intensify.
by Josh Wilson
Whilst the second round of Tory austerity begins to bite, the party of working people is deep into its leadership election, with just under a month to go until the results are announced. In a shock poll last week Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran socialist candidate, came out on top with the pollsters saying he has ignited a grassroots campaign of young Labour activists. But is this softly spoken, unassuming lefty going to be the saviour of the British Left?
There is no doubt that Corbyn is a principled and unwavering politician and campaigner. He famously split from his partner due to a dispute over sending their child to the local comprehensive school in inner city Islington. But is the wider public ready for a party leader that wants to boycott Israel, renationalise the railways, and scrap nuclear weapons?
by Alex Valente
The year is 2015: Ali Smith’s How to Be Both wins the Bailey’s Women Prize for Fiction. Malorie Blackman concludes her extraordinary term as Children’s Laureate. The Nebula Awards feature women in all but one entry. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is awarded to author/translator team Jenny Erpenbeck and Susan Bernofsky for The End of Days. 40 nominations for the Eisner Awards are women, ranging from writers to editors, colourists to pencillers, inkers and letterers.
And yet, research conducted by author Nicola Griffith proves that despite the multiple recent spotlights on the literary stage for women — both on the page and behind it — there is a significant disparity in their treatment when it comes to recognition. Collating data and results from the past 15 years of a number of prizes for literature, Griffith has found that books featuring women, focusing on women or written by women have a track history of receiving fewer awards than those by, about and from men.*
Before I came to Norwich as a student and became properly involved in party politics, I grew up in Arundel & South Downs: one of the safest Tory majorities in the country. It might have been tempting to have painted my left wing politics as the product of rebelliousness or a rejection of the suffocatingly middle-class surroundings I grew up in, but the reality is something very different. My left wing views are not a rejection of a stale, middle-class, conservative environment, but a product of a very different kind of English socialism that was in abundance where I grew up. It is this countryside socialism which the Green party must tap into if the left are ever to win in Britain again.
by Antonio Esposito Ryan
Pablo Iglesias’ party Podemos is just over 100 days old, yet it threatens to dismantle the monotonous duplicity in Spanish politics. Both the centre left ‘socialist’ PSOE and the centre right Populares are under threat from the party’s recent surge in support.
Iglesias, a lecturer at the University Compultense de Madrid, was known for his hyperactive stunts — such as asking his students to stand on their tables and assess power. He is unique in his approach to critiquing power amongst his academic counterparts; consistently reminding his students to continually scrutinize power. Iglesias vehemently opposes the neo-liberal capitalist orthodoxy of Thatcher and Reagan, and created Podemos as a backlash response to the highly critical politicians deriding the anti-austerity ‘indignado’ protests of 2011 in Puerta Del Sol. The establishment moaned saying the protestors should create their own political party. Iglesias responded to the request with a miraculous result.
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.
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.
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.
by Chris Jarvis
Those on the left have for many years taken one of two views of NUS. Either they have seen it as a body which is so far removed from students on the ground, from progressive and grassroots struggle and dominated by a right wing cabal of careerist New Labourites that it is irrevocable and beyond reform, or else they have played a role of antagonistic opposition within the structures.
The dust has now settled on this year’s NUS conference, and it is clear that something important has swept through NUS, and that previous analysis is no longer relevant. Four of the six President and Vice President positions have been won by progressive candidates, as well as ten of the National Executive Council places elected to the Block of 15. Labour Students, the insidious, repugnant and reactionary group of ultra-Blairites, was all but eradicated, winning only one seat on the Block of 15.
by Mattie Carter.
As Russell Brand and his particular form of revolutionary politics has seemingly become the popular voice of the disillusioned left in recent months, disengagement from electoral politics among us seems more and more prevalent. Brand’s views on the current political system are legitimate, insightful even, but as many left wing commentators have written in recent months, his conclusions are at best incomplete and, at worst, highly dangerous. Given the rise of UKIP and the right across Europe and growing inequality, it is important for us to acknowledge that revolution and evolution are not mutually exclusive.
Who are the poor? Why are they poor? And what keeps them so? These three simple questions are central to the way in which we as a society approach the welfare needs of our poorest people.
To sift society’s answers, of which there are many variants, quickly reveals that there are two major and contradictory ways of understanding the source of poverty. The first way of thinking puts the individual at the centre of the picture, seeing affluence and destitution as straightforwardly reflective of individual worth; this is a central tenet of the right wing worldview. By contrast, the second way sees the individual as a small part of a larger system that they cannot dictate, pawns of varying levels of power cutting a path within set bounds; this is fundamental to the left wing worldview.
by Elliot Folan
In the last month, two student unions have held referendums on whether to be part of the National Union of Students (NUS). The first, in Oxford, saw 52% vote in favour of leaving the NUS – a result which was later reversed after it was discovered that 1,000 anti-NUS votes had been cast fraudulently. The second, in York, saw 65% of student voters back the idea of remaining in the NUS. In both cases, the referendums were held in exam season, with turnout at 15% in Oxford and just 7% in York. Although neither referendum ultimately saw the unions leave the NUS, both the campaigns and the initial Oxford result brought to the fore the many issues that students have raised with the NUS.