WILL IRAQ’S NEW PRIME MINISTER RECOGNISE ROMA RIGHTS?

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.

The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population. Continue Reading

WELL-BEING FIRST: THINKING HEALTHY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

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

THE ACID TEST OF ‘BRITISHNESS’: DEFERENCE TO POLITICAL ELITES OR DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY?

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to have disastrous consequences for many people around the globe who have lost loved ones, or who are struggling to cope financially due to livelihood disruption. Domestic violence rates have increased at a staggering rate, whilst loneliness and uncertainty are having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. It is amidst these turbulent times that once again, much like the train-wreck of Brexit, the acid test of “Britishness” seems to be qualified by how deferential people can be to the political elite, as opposed to how willing they are to defend democracy and the welfare of Britain’s citizens and residents.

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IN SOLIDARITY WITH AL-MOUNADIL/AH AS MOROCCO CONTINUES TO STIFLE VOICES OF DISSENT

by Yali Banton-Heath

The revolutionary socialist newspaper and website Al-Mounadil/ah or ‘The Militant’ is facing an existential legal threat from the Moroccan state under it’s continued assault on the Left, progressive voices, and freedom of expression in the country. The onslaught of arrests and passing of restrictive legislation in recent years has targeted independent journalists and publications, and the use of social media and the internet as a platform for political expression. As the statement released by Al-Mounadil/ah’s editorial team reads: “the restrictions will not succeed in gagging voices; the advancement of technology will make a mockery of anyone that tries.

Al-Mounadil/ah’s director  received a court summons late last month regarding the newspaper’s compliance with Morocco’s Press and Publications Law; a piece of legislation which places onerous conditions on reporters and journalists in attempt to suffocate dissent in the media. Continue Reading

NARRATIVES OF POWER & THE SILENCING OF COMMUNITY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled. Continue Reading

ROJAVA, REFUGEES & EU RESPONSIBILITY

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented. Continue Reading

RACIST FOOTBALL CHANTS ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN BULGARIA

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence

On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.

The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading

COLONIALISM, CORRUPTION & CHAOS: THE DISILLUSIONMENT OF IRAQI YOUTH

by Sarah Edgcumbe

During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.

The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading

IS IT FINALLY TIME FOR AN ANTIGYPSYISM INQUIRY IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY?

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: hate speech, antigypsyism, inclusion of derogatory language.

After a Hope Not Hate survey revealed the not-so-shocking discovery that two thirds of Conservative Party Members are islamophobes, pressure has been mounting for the Tories to launch a party inquiry into Islamophobia. In a time when Jeremy Corbyn’s hummus eating habits spur fresh cries of antisemitism, it is encouraging to see that the ‘Nasty Party’ are not immune from scrutiny for the widespread racism amongst their members. Though the survey results were damning, the response from the media has been somewhat subdued. Can you imagine the backlash if a survey found that two thirds of Labour Party members believed antisemitic conspiracy theories? Or if 43% said they would prefer the UK was not led by a Jew (as Conservatives members indicated at the possibility of a Muslim Prime Minister)? The next Tory leader will inherit this scandal and may not be able to brush it off so easily.

Now that the lid has been blown off the rampant islamophobia within the Conservative Party, it’s high time other widely held racist beliefs in the party ranks were examined; not least, antigypsyism.Continue Reading

CAN SCHOOL STRIKES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE GOVERNMENT INACTION?

school strike climate

by Sean Meleady

Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.  Continue Reading

ENGLAND FOOTBALL FANS BACK TO OLD (HOMOPHOBIC) WAYS IN PORTUGAL

england fans portugal

by Jonathan Lee

After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.

I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.

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HOW IS A GYPSY SUPPOSED TO LOOK?

Jennifer Lee who is roma 1

by Jonathan Lee 

I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.

My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.

If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.Continue Reading

ASSANGE ARRESTED: A WARNING TO JOURNALISTS WHO EXPOSE TRUTH ABOUT POWER

by Lotty Clare 

Fugitive, criminal or hero? Everyone seems to have an opinion on the sudden arrest of Julian Assange on April 11th, what the broader implications are, and what his fate should be.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 3 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

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.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 2 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

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.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 1 (OF 3)

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by Sunetra Senior

Part One (of Three): Bourgeois Beginnings. Read part Two here and Part Three here.

‘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.Continue Reading

THE DECLINE OF STUDENT MEDIA – AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

By Lewis Martin

Over the last couple of years, student media outlets on our campuses have lost much of their political clout. Often, their focus is on delivering a hot take with a snappy headline, not on the integrity of their journalism or on exercising their power to make change on students’ behalf. This is particularly true of the two main student media outlets at UEA, and can be seen in how they handled the UEA management expenses scandal last month.

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VOTING IN THE WEST WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN

By Gunnar Eigener

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”

Malcolm X

The US midterm elections will just about be complete by now and regardless of the outcome, something fundamental has changed. It’s subtle but significant, obvious but difficult to place. The will of the people (how many times have we heard that) will be followed but it is how the will of the people has been coerced that has changed. In the past, while campaigning has never been a polite business and politicians of all parties seek to undermine their opponents, the ultimate goal has always been the unification of a country, the understanding that whoever wins, the idea is to help the country achieve success and to help individuals thrive. Yet this year, more than most, is seeing the accumulation of toxic politics, which may foreshadow how politics will be carried out in the future.

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GRADE INFLATION, VESTED INTERESTS AND THE FAILURE OF MARKETISATION

By Lewis Martin

Grade inflation is back in the headlines this week, with universities minister Sam Gyimah announcing that it will be incorporated into how universities are ranked under the Teaching Excellence Framework. There is statistical evidence to back up this policy change – according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of first class degrees being awarded has grown by 18% between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Whilst it is statistically true that grades are inflating at the university level, there are a number of issues with the current discourse around grade inflation that are not being properly addressed by HE decision makers.

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THE TIME IS NOW: LABOUR CAN WIN WITH CALL FOR SECOND REFERENDUM

by Sunetra Senior

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.Continue Reading

RECYCLING LIES: TRUMP, MIGRANT FAMILIES AND THE MEDIA

By Lewis Martin

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. But just saying that doesn’t make it so. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated. Children previously taken from their parents are being kept in camps in the Texan desert, while families crossing the border since the executive order are being transferred to ICE ‘Family Detention Centres’, which have extremely limited capacity. Whilst this was picked up by smaller media outlets and on social media, many in the mainstream press didn’t acknowledge these complications, focusing only on the initial ‘win’.

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DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! RUSSIA WELCOMES ENGLAND FANS WITH OPEN ARMS

by Jonathan Lee

You would be forgiven for thinking that any England football fan who decides to follow their team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup must be either crazy or a hooligan looking for trouble. UK Police Chiefs, senior MPs, sports experts, and – most perniciously – the British press, have all issued sombre pronouncements warning of the dangers awaiting any English football fan foolish enough to brave the shady hinterland of Mother Russia.Continue Reading

TO YOU, ITAI

by Stu Lucy

Occupy. Regardless of what you think about the movement’s  longevity, potency or efficacy, it was hailed as the start of a new wave of activism that was so desperately needed, protest that would reinvigorate the oppressed and make the elite ruling class of Western democracies pay attention and take heed. Occupy Wall Street was of course where it all began, and it soon spread to over 20 countries worldwide.

There was one country though that found itself besiege to an Occupy movement, news of which barely made it to the international media stage. Furthermore, this relatively modest movement wasn’t aimed at the 1% – the metaphoric representation of a ruling class defined by financial capital – this movement instead took aim at one of Africa’s most destructive democratically elected dictators: Mr Robert Mugabe.Continue Reading

REFLECTIONS FROM THE PICKET LINE

By Alex Powell

During the UCU strike over the proposed cuts to the USS pension scheme, I was on the picket line almost every day, rising early to join colleagues all over the country in standing outside university buildings and telling those who tried to enter what we were fighting for. Often, the media attempts to portray strikers as lazy, suggesting that they simply cannot be bothered to do their jobs. Other times strikers are represented as greedy, suggesting that they are already doing far better than the rest of the country and now they want more. I want to offer another perspective – direct from the picket line – charting how being on strike has strengthened my relationships with colleagues, raised morale among staff and made me a better teacher.

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CHALLENGING MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE CAMPUS FREE SPEECH DEBATE

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by Bradley Allsop

Over the last 8 years, higher education in the UK has been subject to some of the largest and most invasive reforms in its history, guided by a deliberate, neoliberal project with the aim of crafting a marketised sector. This has set a new bar for invasive reforms that is now extending into the murky realms of the ‘free speech’ debate, with recently departed universities minister Jo Johnson proposing the illogical and frankly dangerous step of imposing fines on universities whose students’ unions fail to support free speech on campus.

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THE RESOLVE TO DO BETTER

by Sara Harrington

The chime of another year done; the fireworks and sloppy kisses, children hiding under tables amongst the tinsel, and Tesco party food ‘3-for-2’ deals. Arms fold and clasp as the initial verses of Auld Lang Syne are mumbled (bravado kicking in only during the choruses).  Between those arms lay the best laid plans that the New Year brings with it – the promise that finally we can be the best version of ourselves. Final Year Lists clog up every media outlet and newsfeed, the staccato confetti that bursts out between Yoga Pants ads and Gym Membership deals. They diligently list the authors’ favourite things during the year past, whether it be music releases, comic books, or hair products. These lists give the reader some advice and allow the author a sense of closure on the year and affirmation that the time passed was not futile – something was gained.

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SOMETHING STINKS IN THE OFFICE FOR STUDENTS (AND IT’S NOT JUST TOBY YOUNG)

by Lewis Martin

This week, the government took the turn of the year as an opportunity to quietly announce the makeup of the board of the Office for Students (OfS), the new higher education ‘market regulator’ set to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Naturally, it didn’t go unnoticed, and much has been said about the selection of Toby Young, infamous Tory party supporter. His appointment and the makeup of the rest of the board shows the absurdity at the heart of the body Jo Johnson has created, and why it will struggle to be taken seriously.

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FOOD (NOT SO) GLORIOUS FOOD. PART 2: BITTER-SWEET FREE MARKETS

by Stu Lucy

In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.Continue Reading

THIS IS NOT A DEBATE

by Alex Valente

Contains strong language.

If your opinion, if your ideology, if your personal mindset is that certain groups and communities of people are inferior to others, you do not deserve and will not be allowed to promote that idea. Fuck the notion of censorship, fuck the moderate, tolerant conversation, fuck the high road. Your ‘opinion’ denies the existence of a large portion of the world around you, and actively strives to suppress it. So you know what? Fuck you.Continue Reading

HOW CORBYN’S PARTY COULD BE THE REAL LIFE ‘RED PILL’, PART 2

by Sunetra Senior

(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.

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BLAMING THE BEAR – THE 21st CENTURY RED SCARE

by Chris Jarvis 

Tuesday November 7th marked 100 years since the Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government in Russia established in February of 1917. What followed was 84 years of Government by the Party in Russia, and what came to be known as the USSR, as well as a global struggle for ideological, economic, military, and imperial dominance between the “communist” east and capitalist west.

Throughout that period, a central plank of western political policy and rhetoric was the fear-inducing concept of the red menace and its attempts to wreak havoc upon the democratic states of Western Europe and North America. Erosion of civil liberties, aggressive policies on migration, and imperialist adventures through East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all justified with the visage of Joseph Stalin, conniving communists. and the hammer and sickle looming ominously as a backdrop.

Amongst the most brazen of these were the infamous ‘red scares’ – periods of government, media and public hysteria about the communist threat, primarily confined to the USA. Continue Reading

HOW CORBYN’S PARTY COULD BE THE REAL LIFE ‘RED PILL’, PART 1

by Sunetra Senior

(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.Continue Reading

NO, YOU’RE NOT A FRAUD – IMPOSTER SYNDROME IN HE

by Alex Powell

Recently I’ve started teaching as part of my PhD, and through doing so I‘ve been learning a few things myself. The most striking thing I have noticed is how skewed and extreme expectations are for people in various academic roles. Why do we assume that a lecturer in any given subject should know everything there is to know about that subject off the top of their head?

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SHIFTING THE SPOTLIGHT IN THE VC PAY DEBATE

by Lewis Martin

Throughout the summer the debate around vice chancellor pay has continued to play out. Government and media figures have joined students in their long standing expression of outrage at absurd rates of pay, whilst the VCs themselves have come out to defended their salaries, some with a remarkable lack of self-awareness. Oxford VC Louise Richardson recently joined the fray with this startlingly uncaring remark: “My own salary is £350,000. That’s a very high salary compared to our academics who I think are, junior academics especially, very lowly paid.”

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POLITICS AND POWERSLAMS – REACTIONARY NARRATIVES IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

by Chris Jarvis

CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health

Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.

Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history. Continue Reading

50 YEARS – HOW FAR HAVE WE REALLY COME?

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by Alex Powell

CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse

Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.

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IT’S A GIRL!

by Paige Selby-Green

“They’ll never do it,” I said, with total certainty. “I mean I’d love it – if it wasn’t Stephen Moffat writing it, at least – but they’ll never do it.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be so wrong.

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REVIVING CAMPUS ACTIVISM – A ROADMAP

by Bradley Allsop

We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.

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BILL MAHER: A JOKE

by Richard Worth

CW: discussion of racial slur

Twiglets, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with twiglets. Everything about them disgusts me. Their burnt and bitter flavour, their odd withered and gnarled appearance and the quantity in which I consume them.  Likewise, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with Bill Maher and his show Real Talk.

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THE LEFT HAS DEFIED THE ODDS. NOW WE NEED TO SHAPE HISTORY.

by Bradley Allsop

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.

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THE 2017 GENERAL ELECTION – LEFT US HANGING

by The Norwich Radical

The following piece was created, compiled and co-written by a number of Norwich Radical contributors, across a number of locations, devices, and even countries. We followed the exit polls, the first counts, the calculations and predictions as they became available across the media. We do not have any inside information, but have combined our experience and information during the night to produce this article in time for the morning readers.

There is no final result confirmed at the time of publication, but it has been confirmed that we have a hung parliament, as it is mathematically impossible for any party to claim an overall majority.

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A BEGINNING, NOT THE END – THE 2017 GENERAL ELECTION

by Chris Jarvis

In a couple of hours, polling stations will close, and the fate of the United Kingdom will have been decided. Throughout the night the gentle trickling of results will sprinkle their way in, as the aftermath of the most fascinating election for a generation will begin to unravel. Psephologists will debate the relative merits of their predictions, political spin-artists will argue their respective parties have actually done quite a lot better than they expected, and the hacks (myself included), will drift further into the early hours, wearing out their laptop keys.

Right now, we know that the election campaign has been riddled with ups and with downs. We’ve seen Labour climb steadily in the polls, narrowing the Tory lead from over 20 points to single figures; two atrocities claimed the lives of 34 people; campaigning was suspended twice; the Tories launched a manifesto into a whirlwind of negativity; UKIP’s support collapsed; and Labour proposed a political programme further to the left of any Government in four decades. Any one of those alone would make this election remarkable. Combined they make it unique.

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OUR LEADERS ARE DRAGGING US BACK TO THE COAL AGE

by Laura Potts

We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.

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STRIPTEASE: ADMIRATION FOR SATIRICAL CARTOON

by Richard Worth

If you have read my work here at The Norwich Radical and elsewhere (shameless self-promotion, I know) it should be apparent that I enjoy satire. And as reality subtly blends in a dystopian crap-scape, one of the very few plus sides is that the satire game is booming. In addition to the plethora of late night hosts to match personal preference (Colbert does it for me) keeping us informed and helping us to laugh instead of cry, the humble illustration has been holding a mirror up to the corrupt, the cruel, and the incompetent and making them look ridiculous, and they know it.Continue Reading

MENTAL HEALTH – THE GOVERNMENT’S MYTH

by Nicholl Hardwick

Content warning: article discusses mental health, depression and anxiety.

The mind has been described as ‘the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought’ The mind controls the ways in which we relate to the world outside of our own heads, or in other words, the way we connect with reality

A state of ‘good mental health’ is when an individual is able to not only psychologically manage, but also thrive in the world around them. We live in an increasingly complex society with unique pressures, therefore, good mental health means that an individual is able to understand society cognitively and respond appropriately to everyday situations with the expected level of emotion, concentration and understanding.

However, this is where it becomes tricky. What society expects from us and what society tells us are two very different things.Continue Reading

‘RACISM FROM THE TOP DOWN’ – BOYCOTT THE SCHOOL CENSUS

by Against Borders for Children

“…this proposal has all the hallmarks of racism…Children are children, and to use their personal information for immigration enforcement is disingenuous, irresponsible, and not the hallmark of a tolerant, open and caring society”
– Lord Storey

Against Borders for Children (ABC) is a coalition of parents, teachers, schools and campaigners. Our aim is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy to collect country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children in England in order to ‘create a hostile environment’ for migrant children in schools, primarily by encouraging a mass boycott of the School Census.

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HOW NOT TO INTERVIEW A BLACK ARTIST

by Candice Nembhard

There are many ways in which the art world can be viewed as an exclusive realm to which only a select few are invited – and to a certain extent, I’d be inclined to agree with some of that sentiment. Behind the careful curation of white walls lies a system of complex unspoken rules that perimeter a selective and hierarchical structure. Be it curator, PR or private collector, everyone has their respective role in the art chain and, in part, this allows practice, consumption and interest in fine art to flourish.

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TURNING THE TIDE ON THE “WORRY TREND” OF JOURNALISM IN BRITAIN

by Richard Worth

You might have seen the worrying news that Britain has slipped further down the World Press Freedom Index. This index, monitored by Reporters Sans Frontiéres, rates the freedoms (duh) of the press to report what they like without fear of governmental repercussions. For a breakdown of why Britain is doing so poorly, take a look at the RSF website.

A brief summary is that our governments (those loveable scamps) are trading off the freedom of the press for national security. What’s worse is that there is a potential new law on the horizon that would allow journalists to be treated and sentenced as spies in cases of leaked information.  After all, these are the “enemies of the people”. Though this absurd bit of legislation has been temporarily halted, there is serious concern that, much like Tony Blair, it could return and ruin everything.Continue Reading

DON’T PANIC

by Zoe Harding

First up, before we get into the piece, my condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed in Westminster and St Petersburg, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured. If you personally know anyone hurt or killed in the incident, you might want to leave this article for a few days.

With that in mind, everyone else: what the fuck?Continue Reading

HAPPY TO BE ANGRY: THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT ROMANIAN PROTESTS

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by Mihaela Precup

“Romania is not sexy,” a fellow academic once told me. “Nobody cares what happens there, nobody wants to study it. There’s so little going on there that’s really exciting or new. ” I thought she was right at the time. After all, I was also always going on about the political apathy of much of my fellow Romanians, the very slow pace of change after the fall of communism in December 1989, as well as the indifference of post-revolutionary governments towards preserving the memory of the totalitarian regime and its survivors. Apathy and amnesia were, I thought, the two main curses of my people.

But four years ago, something finally started happening.Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS: WHO ARE NORWICH’S TWINS?

by James Anthony

The idea of ‘twinning cities’ and forming links with other communities worldwide came about following the Second World War. It was seen as a way of spreading understanding of different cultures with the aim of lessening the risk of future international conflict. At present, twinned places are regularly used as opportunities for trade and business in the UK – but perhaps not justifying for many people the money spent on maintaining these friendships. However, with fear of outsiders and those different to us seemingly rife in the media and amongst public opinion, the bringing together and understanding of other worldwide communities seems an excellent justification for a twinning programme.

Norwich is currently twinned with four other cities across the globe; Rouen in France, Koblenz in Germany, Novi Sad in Serbia and El Vejo in Nicaragua.Continue Reading

REVIEW: KIMI NO NA WA, OR, WHAT’S IN A NAME

by Alex Valente

A quick preface to the following, which also serves as a way to convince myself that I am … allowed to write about this, rather than the Bologna protests, or the political mess in Rome, or the current turmoil on the Italian left-of-centre party PD, or the upcoming women’s general strike. Those are things at the front of my mind – but I will take this week to find a little glimmer of beauty in a sea of constantly rising anger, instead.

Enter then, one of the two films I saw this year that made me think about language, and how we use it, and how it is used in the media. The other is Arrival, and so much has been written about it already, I decided to focus on Makoto Shinkai’s gorgeous animated film 君の名は (‘Kimi no na wa’), released in English as Your Name.Continue Reading

CORBYN’S STANCE ON IMMIGRATION IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT

by Natasha Senior

Content warning: mentions racism and xenophobia

It has been a disappointing folly from the start that the progressive parties of Britain should keep relentlessly droning on about how immigration has had a net-positive impact on average wages. This remark, whilst true, is misleading and falls on deaf ears. The immigration problem is not simply a phantom created by the xenophobic right. As I have argued in a previous article, it is a real, tangible issue born of companies’ exploitation of free movement of people, an utter disregard for the dignity of labour and lack of social cohesion. This requires, not the reactionary response of cutting immigration itself, that right-wing parties have been pushing for years, but a progressive alternative that addresses the issue without feeding into the venomous narrative. This is what the Labour Party are offering.Continue Reading

REVIEW – TRANSGENDER KIDS: WHO KNOWS BEST?

by Zoe Harding

On the same night Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? aired (Thursday 12th), an apparently rather excellent documentary named Hospital exposed the difficult conditions under which the modern NHS works, bringing it to the attention of the nation that if you get sick and go to an NHS hospital, you’ll be treated by a doctor who’s working shifts more commonly seen in 19th-century coal mines while the Prime Minister calls them lazy. It was quite good. The subjects of Hospital (doctors) seem to have loved it. No such luck for the subjects of BBC2’s other documentary that night, however. Continue Reading

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

THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

ALEPPO: A TRAGEDY WE WON’T LEARN FROM

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by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions genocide, conflict, death.

“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Aleppo draws its last few timid breaths, the global community sits back and watches as four years of war, suppression and ignorance engulf an ancient city, certain to go down, alongside the likes of Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur, as an abject failure of Western governments to fight the oppression of human rights and democracy that they have so carefully and vocally pronounced their desire to protect. Continue Reading

INSIDE THE SICK WORLD OF A TRUMP RALLY

by Tara Debra G

I attended a Trump rally in Baton Rouge on December 9th, the main purpose of which was to campaign for the Republican candidate for the Louisiana Senate, John Kennedy. Having lived here through election day and becoming involved in American politics on such a personal level, I went there to try and gain an understanding. An understanding that could help to explain the reasoning behind voting for the most despicable demagogue of my lifetime.Continue Reading

WHAT SHOULD THE LEFT DO TO COUNTER THE RISE OF THE POLITICAL RIGHT?

by Faizal Nor Izham

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.Continue Reading

US ELECTIONS: WHAT WENT WRONG?

by Gunnar Eigener

The victory of Donald Trump to become the 45th President of the United States has shocked and dumbfounded many. What does it say about the state of politics when the first female major party presidential candidate – who was, by far, the most technically qualified – is defeated by a man who has never held any political office? Continue Reading

US ELECTIONS: A NEW STATE OF POLITICS

by Gunnar Eigener

Whatever the result of the upcoming US elections, it will be remembered for being a particularly nasty campaign and for raising the shadow of far-right politics in parallel with Europe. The likely, and predicted, winner is Hillary Clinton — although more for being the lesser of two evils rather than a preferable option. The sheer lunacy of Donald Trump’s policies should have Clinton leading by a country mile but this is not the case. So what has happened and what does the future hold for US, and global, politics?Continue Reading

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

A WOMAN ON HER KNEES – REVIEW OF LOUISE ORWIN’S A GIRL AND A GUN

by Hannah Rose

He is driving, she is hanging on his arm. Behind them a vista depicting a wide road disappears into desert upon a large screen. The cherry red of her lipstick matches her low-slung red dress, punctuated by a pair of cowgirl boots. Her dreamy expression says she’s completely at ease, hanging off her man; pleased as punch, because he is in control. But he has never seen the script before; he will be reading off an autocue. She is the one driving the show.

Performer-playwright, Louise Orwin, is touring the UK with her new theatre piece, A Girl and A Gun which was performed at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Jean-Luc Godard’s adage “All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl,” is the springboard from which Orwin’s performance dives headfirst into a chilling reality which is anything but surface deep.

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WE NEED MORE THAN TALK IF WE’RE TO TAKE ON THE TORIES

by Olivia Hanks

“I will never campaign on anything with the Tories! Not Europe, not anything!” Marina Prentoulis’s passionate declaration summed up why we were all there, as did the title of the panel discussion: ‘Taking the Fight to the Tories’.

The event, organised jointly by UEA Greens and Momentum UEA, brought Greens, Labour and the People’s Assembly together to discuss how the left might co-operate to get the Tories out of power.

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NO, HATE CRIME LAWS AREN’T CENSORSHIP – AND HERE’S WHY

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by Paige Selby-Green

I was disappointed but not surprised to see Concrete publish this article last week about how hate crime laws are supposedly on par with censorship. I wish I was more surprised, but the simple fact is that this opinion isn’t uncommon even though it is eye-wateringly ignorant. It boils down to people flailing their arms and squawking about free speech and the right to an opinion. Well, I’ve got a question for all you believers – why is it more important to you to protect an opinion than it is to protect actual people?

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CENTRE POLITICS AND THE DANGER OF ARRON BANKS

by Freddie Foot

A recent poll by Opinium has been touted as a depressing realpolitik electoral brick wall for the Labour Party. The poll on the surface shows a continued – and growing – commitment to centrist politics by the population, represented by liberal wings of the Tory Party and Neoliberal Labour, more than likely bolstered by general apathy.

The prominence of the centre is hardly surprising given that it covers a wide range of opinions and periodically incorporates, and equally periodically abandons, policy from both the left and right. This flies in the face of the idea that the centre of the past couple of decades – based broadly on a socially liberal but economically conservative agenda typified by New Labour and the Cameron years – is over.Continue Reading

PLEASE DON’T LET GODZILLA BOMB MY CITY

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by Zoe Harding

Can anything stop Donald Trump? The recent presidential debate between the Man with the Golden Skin and Madame Nixon has been heralded as another in a series of candidate-ending screw-ups, Trump appearing rambling and incoherent while Clinton seemed uncharacteristically cheerful and unscripted. Trump was called out repeatedly for lying, and his awkwardly unreleased tax returns were dragged ever closer to the cold light of day. Even his post-debate spin was desperate, with Trump claiming imaginary poll victories and showing a surprising measure of the political correctness his supporters are rabidly opposed to. He even blamed his microphone for his weak performance, giving Clinton a chance to drop one more zingy soundbite.

But here’s the thing: this isn’t going to slow Trump down. This won’t turn his supporters off him. To drop into a metaphor I’ve seen employed elsewhere, Trump is Godzilla. Continue Reading

365 DAYS WITHOUT CHANGE — HOW THE ARTS AFFECT OUR ENGAGEMENT WITH CONFLICT.

by Jess Howard

Content warning: this article contains upsetting images.

In 2015 I wrote an article on an image of a Syrian child’s lifeless body being lifted out of the sea on a beach close to a Turkish resort. The photograph shocked people around the world at the time. It demonstrated the severity of the Syrian conflict, as the child in the photograph, and his family along with him, had been attempting to travel to Greece to seek refuge. September sees the anniversary of the photograph being taken, but how have our attitudes to photography and conflict changed in the past year?Continue Reading

TODAY’S POLITICS: SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

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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.Continue Reading

RACIAL PLURALISM IN THE OLYMPICS

by Julian Canlas

The 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, has resulted in a lot of firsts. Nine countries are celebrating their first ever gold medal, including first-time entrant Kosovo, whose sovereignty the Olympics committee recognised only two years ago. The Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) was also formed to ‘bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis’. Despite not having won any medals, their significance lies in their representation. The ROT acts as a symbol of hope to those who have been forcefully displaced from their home country that the dreams of these displaced athletes will happen despite all the unfair hardships, injustices and atrocities they have experienced.

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CISGENDERED OR NOTHING – THE ABSENCE OF LGBTQ+ CHARACTERS IN FILM

by Jess Howard

Earlier this month, Warner Bros and DC released their latest superhero film Suicide Squad, sending mixed reactions across the internet as viewers commented on the film’s plot line and the sexualisation of squad member Harley Quinn. Audience and critics’ opinions aside, what is explicitly noticeable within the film is the lack of LGBTQ+ characters, such as DC character Batwoman, for example if Batman can make a cameo, why not her? In a world with superheroes, Killer Crocs, and witches, why are production companies still refusing to feature LGBTQ+ characters in their films?Continue Reading

ISLAM: THE NEW VIETNAM WAR SYNDROME

by Gunnar Eigener

“Since the news, little kids haven’t played outside, as if their moms are afraid someone might snatch them out of their yards and send them off to war.”
Kimberly Willis Holt, ‘When Zachary Beaver Came To Town’

In the early hours of 26th July, Satoshi Uematsu drove to a home for the disabled where he had previously worked and stabbed 19 residents to death and injured 26. Shortly before handing himself in, he tweeted “May there be peace in the world…Beautiful Japan!!!!” Once in custody, he said that ‘it is better that disabled people disappear’.  Barely a week later and at a rally Donald Trump claimed to have seen video footage of $400 million being transferred to Iran by the US government as well as recounting the time he saw Muslims celebrating the devastation of 9/11. One of these stories received little attention while the other gathered headlines.

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WE GET THE POLITICIANS WE DESERVE

by Robyn Banks

Since the day the Labour party shot itself in the foot and used the turmoil in the Conservative party as an opportunity to break its own ranks, a great divide seems to have appeared among the left. While Corbyn’s election as Labour leader swelled its membership with young and idealistic newcomers, many worry that he is still not electable. After he was deemed too left wing by the PLP and his opposition deemed too right wing for the membership, it became clear that what was needed was a new face- to package Corbyn’s ideas in to a smoother, less radical and more electable politician.

Enter Owen Smith. Despite there being no dramatic differences between Corbyn and Smith’s publicly professed politics, the left wing of the internet has spiralled in to bickering about nuances and rumours from the past, dividing itself in to the radicals and the Blairites, the entryists and the game theorists. What was once a political discussion has now become some kind of complex emotional entanglement.Continue Reading

CORBYN CAN ONLY BE PM IF HE LEARNS FROM SMITH

by Natasha Senior

We have now entered the world of post-truth politics where satire has died because reality is beyond farcical. Remember a while back when that cabinet minister half-arsed her job? Instead of spending taxpayers’ money on something worthwhile she rolled out some vans with ‘go home‘ billboards, in a completely misguided attempt to get ‘illegal’ immigrants to leave. She then quickly had to reel them back in after realising it actually looked a little xenophobic (and also because it was the stupidest idea ever).

Despite this and numerous other examples of May’s sheer incompetence in government, she assumed the role of Prime Minister on a technicality and the ineptitude of her opponents. I suppose I am thankful she got the job rather than them (but only in the sense I’d be thankful if I’d lost only all my extremities to frostbite instead of succumbing to hypothermia). Despite this and her complete lack of a vision for the future of Britain, other than the fact that “Brexit means Brexit”, and given her party has absolutely no mandate to carry out anything at this point, the Conservatives still sit 16 points ahead of Labour in the polls. That is a terrifying reality.

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WE ARE NOT NUMBERS: NORWICH SPEAKS OUT ON BREXIT

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by Hannah Rose

Norwich residents came together last month to show support for migrants after a Romanian shop was set fire to. On the same evening Norwich held a rally in favour of staying in the EU. The division was palpable that night. But the reality is that there are no two clear sides to the debate—there never was, even if the mainstream press had us believe it.

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DICTATORSHIPS & DEMOCRACY

by Gunnar Eigener

‘Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people.’
– Abraham Lincoln

Democracy has long been the banner to which Western leaders rally their troops to fight under. The Brexit referendum is a prime example of extreme democracy, progress for some at the expense of others. The desired outcome for the Leave campaign is for the UK to become a self-governing democracy. Just how much more democratic will the country become?

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WELCOME (?) TO RIO

by Aline Zouvi

Comics journalism covering the current situation in Brazil, as the country prepares for the 2016 Olympic games.

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THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

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by Candice Nembhard

There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.

My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.Continue Reading

DEALING WITH BREXIT DEPRESSION

by Kelvin Smith

Content warning: mentions depression

A sign of depression, I was once told, is that you do things that you know are against your own best interests. By this measure, the ‘leave’ vote on 23rd June was an example of a depressed populace voting ‘leave’ not because they thought things might be better, but because a majority didn’t care if they actually got worse.  Now for the first time, we really are all be ‘in it together’ — in the shit that is: happy as pigs.Continue Reading

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE IRAQ WAR

by Julian Canlas

Content warning: mentions sexual abuse, torture, Islamophobia

On 15 February 2003, the now-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out to the largest anti-war demonstration in British political history. In front of two million people at Hyde Park, London, he exclaimed,  ‘Stop now or pay the political price!’ He was warning about the consequences of attacking Iraq.Continue Reading

THE GENERATION GAME

by Kelvin Smith

The older people I know are not rejoicing about the result of the referendum. They are sad, angry, shocked. They are doing what they can: signing petitions, writing to their MPs, looking for rays of hope in (to borrow and reclaim the phrase purloined by the current xenophobic tendency) a country they do not recognise. An additional hurt comes from a feeling that, on top of this, they are being demonised; portrayed as self-satisfied and uncaring as they bask in their privilege of free education, secure pension rights, a place to live and a little money in the bank. The word ‘baby-boomer’ has become a term of abuse. ‘Pensioner’ has become code for selfish old bastard.

The principle of the secret ballot means that the British voting system cannot provide definitive information about the demographics of the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ votes, but this has not stopped the press from putting forward as fact the idea that older voters were the reason for a ‘leave’ majority. I have not seen any statistics that explain this except for a reliance on polls that we all now know are unreliable. But then this has been a referendum based on lies so there’s no reason to think this should be any different.Continue Reading

LONE-WOLVES AND STATE WARRIORS

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.’Continue Reading

REFERENDUMS: THE LOWEST FORM OF DEMOCRACY

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by Olivia Hanks

It’s a view that has been voiced more and more often in recent weeks, as the EU referendum campaign descends ever further into hyberbole and hysteria: we don’t want this referendum. We didn’t ask for it. For the sake of appeasing a few Tory backbenchers who were putting pressure on the prime minister, the British public has been forced into a decision we are not properly equipped to make.

This is not to disparage that public — it would be the same anywhere. Asking millions of people a simple binary question is not a good way to make complex decisions. We elect politicians based on a vision they set out for us, and we expect them to then use their time, knowledge and access to professional expertise to implement it as best they can. Referendums allow politicians to duck tricky questions during election campaigns: instead of taking a position on difficult issues, they can declare rousingly to the people that “this will be your decision” — which might sound very appealing. After all, who doesn’t enjoy being asked what they think?Continue Reading

WRITING OVER THE ACRONYM

by Chris Jarvis

Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia.

In response.

At midnight they dance the devil’s dance
Gleeful in their deviance

As sun rises
Their hearts Pulse in the ecstasy
Community and camaraderie

Unprovoked and unannounced
Space safe no more

Oh hold your breath then count to ten
Then fall apart and start again

All the way to forty nine
Mommy I love you.

*Continue Reading

WE’RE HERE. WE’RE QUEER. AND WE MATTER: THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health 

On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.

‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.Continue Reading

SWEET TRANSVESTITE? REPRODUCING FILMS IN 2016

by Jess Howard

When it comes to film remakes, many viewers are very protective of their original cinematic loves. In the same way that people react to novels being turned into films, many feel that film scripts should be left well alone, with the common opinion being that it was the original script, cast, and production that made their old favourites work so well. However, as with any form of art, films are constantly ageing, and so new perspectives are constantly being developed and incorporated.Continue Reading

WOMEN AND PUNK: SHAPING THE GENRE 40 YEARS ON

by Chris Jarvis

Last week, Music That Matters looked at the 40th anniversary of punk and how our understanding of its history is typically one which erases the efforts and achievements of women musicians and people of colour. Today, the scene is often still seen as a male and white space, with punk shows frequently having male dominated crowds queuing up to see white men thrashing on guitars in shabby venues.

But it looks like things are changing. 2016 feels like it is becoming a rebirth of women in punk, and critically, as if it is women of colour who often are leading the way. More women are touring, more are getting bigger stages and longer sets, and more are getting the media coverage that they deserve. Among the nostalgic reflection, this year, dozens of punk albums will be released. Some will become instant classics, others will fade from memory as quickly as they came. Here are 10 bands leading the British punk scene this year, and the women that are making them shape the future of the genre.Continue Reading

EXPERIENCING FAITH: THE SPIRITUALITY OF CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY

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by Liam Hawkes 

Religion gets a pretty bad rep in the media, and some of the time it is justified. The following reflections are not intended to directly deal with the oppressive histories (and some present-days) of particular religious doctrines. Instead I want to reflect on the structure and nature of faith and spirituality, to investigate the effect it can have on our everyday lives. These reflections are in part inspired by my experiences of the faith of others, looking from the outside. This semi-voyeuristic experience of faith and spirituality led me to question the structure and direction of my own beliefs and how they could be grounded in a kind of blind faith.

I do not want to claim that religion is just a passive component of a believers’ personality, because a lot of the time it very much defines and shapes their understanding of themselves, and their world. No matter what history faith has had, or the extremes fundamentalists go to, or the religious violence which has permeated human history, there is something fundamentally fascinating, and ultimately useful, about faith and spirituality. I think that a knowledge of the comparative structures of religions and experiences of spirituality can enrich our lives, and we should not ridicule or dismiss those with strong faith in their religion.Continue Reading

4 REASONS WHY NATALIE BENNETT HAS BEEN A GREAT GREEN PARTY LEADER

by Chris Jarvis

On Sunday evening, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett announced that she would not be standing for re-election in the forthcoming Leadership Election. After four years at the helm of what is now the third largest political party in England and Wales, the media and followers of politics have begun to reflect on her time in office and the legacy she is leaving behind.

Unsurprisingly, a substantial proportion of the coverage has focussed on the Australian born leader’s shortcomings, reminding us of her ‘brain fade’ in an LBC interview with Nick Ferrari or the time she seemed to support decriminalising membership of organisations such as ISIS in an unforgiving clash with Andrew Neil on The Sunday Politics. Those things notwithstanding, it is clear to that Bennett has undoubtedly been an effective and successful Leader, who will be remembered more for her long list of achievements, rather than by her failures. Here are just four of them.Continue Reading

STATE MEDIA AND THE DETERIORATION OF FREE SPEECH

by Gunnar Eigener

Out of the May 5th elections the biggest story was the criticism of the coverage by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets. Particular focus of this was on BBC Question Time and the BBC Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg. This isn’t the first time that Kuenssberg has come under fire and it probably won’t be the last. A petition was doing the rounds demanding an independent review of how biased her actions may have been but has now been taken down. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the alleged Tory fraud in the last General Election has generated a sense of distrust in the BBC, an organisation that states: ‘impartiality lies at the heart of the public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences’.

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WHAT THE GLOB IS GOING ON IN BRAZIL?

by Aline Zouvi

Comics journalism covering the impeachment of Brazil president Dilma Rousseff, and what it means for Brazil as a whole.
Latest news update – not covered in the comic – is from 09.05.16: the impeachment vote has currently been annulled.

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MAYOR SADIQ KHAN: LONDON’S MUSLIM FACE OF TOLERANCE

by Faizal Nor Izham 

It’s been a pretty rough decade or so for Muslims. Since 9/11, negative images of the Islamic world have been relentlessly smeared all over the Western media, in a manner often mirroring the Orientalist perspective of Arabs as described by the historical anthropologist Edward Said. Ever since the Europeans first encountered Arabs during the time of the Crusades, Middle Easterners have been perpetually stereotyped as the social “Other”, known to act and appear completely differently from Westerners. Furthermore, the otherwise diverse Islamic world is frequently reduced to exclusively “exotic” stereotypes such as bearded mullahs, shady sheikhs in their groups of concubines, terrorists, Bedouin, belly dancers and harem maidens. Meanwhile, Muslim women are constantly portrayed as quiet, modest and uneducated, covered from head to toe and traveling several paces behind domineering males.

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BEYONCÉ, HILLSBOROUGH AND UNITY THROUGH SONG

by Mike Vinti

It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks in the pop world. Prince died, Beyoncé pulled a well, a Beyoncé, and today (Friday April 29th) Drake has released his new album VIEWS. If ever there was a week to remind us of popular music’s impact on society and culture, this is the one.

While each of these moments are significant in their own right and worthy of articles of their own, of which there have been many, together they’ve demonstrated the power of music to unite people. Be it through, grief, shock or pure unadulterated hype, the three most significant cultural moments of the past eight days have used music to bring people together and for a few days at least, forget about those intent on tearing us apart.Continue Reading

SEEING IS BELIEVING: WHY WE NEED MORE ASEXUALS IN OUR MEDIA

by Paige Selby-Green

It’s not news to know that we live in a hypersexual world, where the adage ‘sex sells’ is used to excuse a lot of the overtly sensual imagery thrown at us in day-to-day life. Sex is everywhere, even in adverts for things as mundane as sandwiches. It’s this steamy atmosphere that asexuals are facing as they finally begin to attain recognition in society, and there’s a distinct sense of what an uphill struggle it is.

Asexuality’s simplest definition is the lack of sexual attraction to any and all genders. Unfortunately, most allosexuals (people who aren’t asexual, and do experience sexual attraction) tend to get all amused and patronising when the words “I’m not interested in sex” are spoken in their vicinity. This is further exacerbated by the fact that this simplest definition is typically for the benefit of allosexuals, and does little to explain just how complex asexuality is.Continue Reading

GLOBAL POVERTY: THE GROWING ACCEPTANCE OF HARVESTING ORGANS

by Gunnar Eigener

A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal about human organs for sale showed a glimpse into yet another aspect of human nature, particularly of the wealthy and elite, that demonstrates our willingness to exploit just about anything possible. It talks about how in the West many people need, yet die, as a result of waiting for organ transplants, especially kidneys and livers. Somehow, this leads to the justifying of creating a global organ marketplace with imagined safeguards in place that would prevent exploitation. Never does it seem to occur to the authors that this entire suggestion is exploitative as they end the article with the belief that, despite initial horror at the idea, eventually ‘the sale of organs would grow to be accepted’.

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MALIA BOUATTIA – RADICALISM AND OPTIMISM

by Cherry Somersby

On the 20th April, at this year’s NUS Conference, Malia Bouattia was elected as the new president of The National Union of Students, making her the first black, female NUS president, and the first Muslim to ever hold the position. NUS has not seen an incumbent president lose their election since 1969, and this year we feared would be no exception.Continue Reading

SCARLETT AND YELLOWFACE—THE CASE OF SLANT EYES IN 21ST CENTURY MAINSTREAM MEDIA

by Julian Canlas

(Writer’s note: I specifically wrote this article focusing on East and South-East Asian portrayals. Despite being in the same continent, I do think that South Asian and Western Asian representations in media differ vastly from those of East and South-East Asians.)

There’s no doubt: East and South-East Asians in mainstream media can’t exist without being reduced into racist caricatures. Asians, including me, cannot exist beyond the characterisation of our slant eyes, buckteeth, and thick accent. We are good at maths, martial arts, and being meek. We are not artists, but tech geniuses. We cannot be main characters, only sidekicks. Only comic reliefs, either sexless nerds or docile sex fetishes, and ladyboys. Because if we do, we turn white.Continue Reading

THE CULTURE INDUSTRY AND THE DEATH OF CULTURE

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by Liam Hawkes

As a 20-year-old young man today, I find myself surrounded by a society and culture which seem to lack substance in a lot of ways. I have had a lot of enlightening conversations with friends about this, and one of the conclusions we reached is that we are the generation of nostalgia, imitation, and regurgitation. We think back to the golden filters of 60s or 70s music as the paradigm our experiences now should imitate. We idolise the past because of the lack of originality in the present.

I feel part of a reflective generation which instead of projecting creativity into the future, we simply project it into the past to achieve a nostalgic warmness to keep us comfortable. This doesn’t surprise me when I look at the advent of pop culture and what is considered ‘talent’, or the celebrities of today. This is all a downward slope from the crossing the threshold of the millennium and feeling more culturally empty than ever before.Continue Reading

THE PANAMA PAPERS: NOT THE BEGINNING AND NOWHERE NEAR THE END

by Gunnar Eigener

“The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.”

Denis Healey, UK Chancellor 1974-79

The leak of over eleven million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca only really scratches the surface. Like all tax havens, there is a long history of corruption and exploitation to which the tale of Panama is no exception.

In 1937, then US Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote a letter to President Franklin D Roosevelt, singling out the Bahamas, Panama and Newfoundland as places where:

‘stock-holders have resorted to all manners of devices to prevent the acquisition of information regarding their companies. The companies are frequently organised through foreign lawyers with dummy incorporators and dummy directors, so that the names of the real parties in interest do not appear.’

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“I’M NOT JUST SOME TOKEN BUNNY”: ZOOTROPOLIS RAISES THE BAR

by Paige Selby-Green

Disney’s 55th animated feature has been five years in the making, with a social commentary as relevant today as it was when the writers first put pen to paper. The film is an anthropomorphic crime caper following rabbit police officer Judy Hopps and con-man fox Nick Wilde. It’s full of laughs, but the lingering importance is in its more serious side.

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THE ELF OF SEXUAL DISCOVERY

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by Paige Selby-Green

It’s not just the Netflix account that has parental controls. Life itself comes riddled with rules about what’s appropriate for children. Considering how important childhood is to the person they will grow up to be, it’s understandable that we want to shield them from any negative influences. It’s unfortunate then that this well-meaning idea of childhood censorship also includes queerness as being among topics that are ‘too adult’ for children to know about. This censorship of queerness hurts more than it helps, leading to lots of confused teens and twenty-somethings who are still figuring out their identities thanks to childhoods where the only kind of relationships they were exposed to were heterosexual ones.

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BE MY ROCK? TRACEY EMIN AND THE OBJECTUM-SEXUAL COMMUNITY

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by Jess Howard

This week Tracey Emin – creator of the infamous My Bed piece – announced that she had married a rock. The press, understandably, reacted vehemently, with many rolling their eyes at Emin’s well-known performance artist ways, or mocking her for doing something so seemingly comical. What the press have failed to discuss is what Emin’s recent marriage, and the backlash she has received, has done for people who identify as objectum sexual.Continue Reading

EXPOSURE DOESN’T PAY RENT, BUT NEITHER DOES SNOBBERY

 By Robyn Banks

“Exposure doesn’t pay rent”- it’s something we’ve likely all heard before, whether you’re a business looking to save money on photography, asking a friend for a favour or simply scrolling through Tumblr. The line “We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure!” has become the bane of every artist’s life, and it’s understandable why. There has never been a sector of the workforce who have been asked so frequently to work for free as the creative sector. However, I don’t believe there has ever been such an individually vocal sector of the UKs exploited workforce, either.

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WHERE ARE THE #PRAYERSFORNIGERIA?

by Cadi Cliff

On Tuesday night, landmark buildings from Germany to Dubai were lit up with the Belgian flag — a sign of solidarity after the horrific attacks in Brussels. The attacks — two bombs at the city’s main airport, and one at a metro station near the EU headquarters— have killed at least 30 individuals and injured hundreds of others. Daesh (read: the so-called Islamic State) have claimed responsibility for the attacks. It’s the most violent terrorist attack to hit Europe since the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130. But this is not the first, or even 100th, terrorist attack since Paris — though this certainly will be reported on by the Western media far more than the rest combined.

Since Paris there have been hundreds of terrorist attacks worldwide. Attacks that didn’t result in tricolour Facebook profile pictures; attacks that didn’t lead to projected flags on lumps of architecture. Their narratives are only a headline, barely breaking. The descriptions are factual, not empathetic. There is no footage of candlelight vigils played on a loop on the news outlets. The shock factor simply isn’t there for the media splash if it’s a country that gets attacked again and again and again.Continue Reading