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.
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.’
Part Three (of Three): An Ideological Ambush and Choosing Utopia. Read Part One here and part Two here.
Here, another sinister aspect of the Trump campaign, now verified by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, was the invasive, online method through which I proposed that an amoral moneyed elite was not only manipulating, but also forcibly hijacking the public’s trust. I will again emphasise another, so far unacknowledged, caveat: this method of manufacturing investment not only cheats people short-term – including those vacuous nutjobs at the top- but sustains a deceptive, distinctly digital control well into the destructive future. Once removed and shiny, the technological medium of devices and social media is the perfect way to distract from the escalation of political inequality by cunningly feigning advancement.
Part Two (of Three): Bladerunner 2049 and a Tragic Trajectory. Read Part One here and part Three here.
Yet, a year on and the opposite seemed to manifest. Last year’s big, sponsored march was populated by blatant careerists and women who seemed to think the Feminist conclusion lay in just stony vocational power. This was the severe, stifled energy I’d been feeling. It wouldn’t have been surprising to see a placard that read: ‘Good women Go to Work!’ No wonder then, that there was also interpersonal tension and division between the various organisations at the demonstration: women were feeling competitive. Here, I will emphasise: to fixate on external acquirement such as an invincible social status and intensive office hours and treat them as if a modern romance, is to internalise a toxic masculinity that does not oppose but instead reinforces historic gender inequality. Follow this regressive trajectory, and not only do women begin to undermine their previous progress, but too, start to become foot soldiers in a universally dark tyranny.
‘Are we in the right place?’ was a semi-serious question posed by a friend of mine at the 2018 Women’s March, which took place in London on 4th March to commemorate worldwide Women’s Day. Having been to many demonstrations between us, including the historic 2017 Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, we had sound reference points between us too. Usually, there’s a friendly, lively atmosphere. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next.
In 2018, however, the big women’s march was sedate, controlled, and most alarmingly of all: conformist. I even got elbowed in the face by a male police officer who told me to ‘stay within the demonstration line’. This was immediately after I’d passed a giant stone pedestal, encircled by a murder of male reporters, gathered creepily at that higher vantage point like gigantic crows. Hitchcockian voyeurism aside, women also seemed to be adopting the strange, disciplinary mood. One female speaker said to keep fighting ‘even if it took another 100 years’. But where was the urgency? Where ‘was the anger’? as feminist performer Sophie Cameron tweeted out.
Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.
By Chris Jarvis
Earlier this week, the race to crown the next leader of the Wales Green Party kicked off. Mirka Virtanen, Deputy Leader since 2017 was the first to declare her candidacy. Two other candidates were announced in an email to party members but, at the time of writing, neither have announced their candidacy publicly.
With 100,000 people having marched on 23rd June, converging from different corners of the country, in the passionate call for another referendum, and David Davis and Boris Johnson walking away from May’s cabinet shortly afterward, the public’s stance on Brexit and party politics became fortuitously aligned. The Tories are breaking apart just as national apprehension for Brexit reaches its peak and support for the Labour Party increases. As murmurs of another general election hover over the governmental rift, Labour could significantly strengthen its standing by explicitly promising to hold a second referendum as part of a game-changing manifesto.
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.
(Part 2 of a two-part article. Read part 1 here.)
After ten years of a Tory government, austerity measures and feeding big business, the average person will feel an intense economic squeeze. What is more, because economy is a civilised way of survival – i.e. you do not have to shed blood to achieve dominance or direction – you feel a subjective effect; in this case constriction. You are made to feel more self-conscious, scared, selfish and despondent. If the public sector is being deprived of money and capital is being syphoned into business instead, society will naturally feel more divided and competitive within itself.
(Part 1 of a two-part article. Read part 2 here.)
In the spirit of championing an individualistic, leftist paradigm, I’m redefining the idea of ‘taking the red pill’ – a phrase currently used by anti-feminists on the right – to instead more aptly explore the incredible, remedial impact Corbynite politics could have on our current economic model, and by extension the strained social consciousness with which it is inextricably linked.
For the third time in a year an earthquake has rocked the political establishment, upsetting polls, pundits and precedent alike. Yet this time, unlike the division and isolation of Brexit, or the utter horror of Trump, we instead have hope. Snatching insurgence from the jaws of implosion, Labour and the broader left have risen to the edge of power. Yet whilst the election result was an excellent start, surviving the challenges our society faces will require much more. We need to build a movement which aims for nothing less than a complete transformation of our society. It is crucial now that we do not succumb to hubris or allow ourselves to be absorbed by the internal Conservative party debates – we need to use the time granted by their division to plan, organise and mobilise the movement that will transform Britain.
by Chris Jarvis
On Friday it was revealed that this year’s Christmas Number One was Clean Bandit with Rockabye, their names forever written into the record books, joining some truly excellent pieces of music that have shared the top spot over the years. The Beatles scored a hat-trick in the 1960s. Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ beat Wizzard’s festive effort in 1973. Queen managed it twice, with Bohemian Rhapsody, some 16 years apart. We’ve had Spice Girls, The Human League, and Elvis Presley – all deserving the accolade.
There’s something darkly comical about Michael Sheen’s intention to abandon acting in favour of defeating the far right. An esteemed actor, deeply immersed in the world of theatre and art, jetting off to Port Talbot to tell working class Welsh people, caught up in a wave of revolt against the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’, what to do. It couldn’t be any more counter-productive if the embodiment of this elitism, Tony Blair himself, had made the journey — although I suppose someone who has played him is good enough.
by Tara Debra G
“Flags don’t build houses”, said Jeremy Corbyn last year, criticizing Scottish nationalism and the SNP. Well, no, they don’t, but neither does an unelectable party, so swings and roundabouts really. But he does have a point: nationalism as a political framework doesn’t inherently support leftist values, or the working class, or is particularly anti-capitalist.
In fact, the strongest argument I hear against Celtic nationalism from the English left is that it doesn’t solve the foundational economic equality at the heart of class oppression in the UK. I’m a Welsh nationalist and I agree. But the left shouldn’t care about Celtic independence because it’s intrinsically anti-capitalist, because it’s not that – the left should care because leftist ideals should encapsulate anti-imperialism.
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.
I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.
The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.
But it is not over. I will not let it be over.
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.
Over the Christmas period, I had the unusual experience of being asked to speak with the Burgess Hill Labour Party about why I don’t believe a Green vote splits the left. With the rising profile of the Greens due to controversy of their proposed exclusion from the upcoming leaders’ debates and Sadiq Khan’s appointment to deal with the ‘threat’ posed to Labour by the Green Party, it seemed a germaine subject, but it was quite a difficult sell. Burgess Hill Labour party is a branch of Labour that behaves as if Tony Blair never happened and I am all the more sympathetic towards them for it, but when I hear members of the radical left talk about fighting their corner within the Labour party, I begin to despair at the state of political discourse in this country.