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.
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.
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.
by Matt Musindi
Politics has become more divisive and polarised than ever, and it is the populists who have been the main beneficiaries of these political divisions. A populist is someone who consistently promises to channel the unified will of the people. Going off this definition, most political parties in liberal democracies are populist and yet this is not the case – why?
by Mary O’Driscoll
Despite the visceral reaction that some may experience at the sight of the terms ‘far-right’ and ‘youth movement’ sat next to each other, the rise of anti-immigration far-right youth movements in European countries cannot be contested. Not only are far-right political parties moving closer to the mainstream, but young people are getting involved in movements opposing immigration. The values of far-right nationalist political parties such as National Rally (previously known as National Front) in France, Austria’s Freedom Party, and the League in Italy have been embodied in youth movements such as Generation Identity- a group that made the jump across the channel to the UK in 2017. With the painfully hypocritical border-focussed rhetoric of Trump’s United States, and the equally ironic anti-immigration discourse of a Brexit Britain, many people are under the impression that ‘Western’ countries are too generous to newcomers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Cadi Cliff
I dream in headlines
buried under my pillow
LED replay behind tired eyes
the stories we should be breaking
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?
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.
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?
by Aline Zouvi
Comics journalism covering the current situation in Brazil, as the country prepares for the 2016 Olympic games.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Jess Howard
Content warning: the article mentions menstruation and physical discomfort.
In 2013, performance artist Casey Jenkins from Melbourne, Australia, caused a storm on the internet by knitting for 28 days in a gallery space using wool she had inserted into her vagina. The piece was titled Casting Off My Womb, but was christened Vaginal Knitting by the press. Almost 3 years later, Jenkins is knitting from her vagina once more, producing a commentary on the abuse she received when her original piece went viral.
I have been going to Women Of the World festival at Southbank’s Royal festival Hall for years on my own. I sometimes feel tentative about talking about women’s rights with friends and family unless I know for sure someone will be on board. This has worked well it seems, as gradually, and through being vocal online instead, more and more friends have become interested in finding out more. This was the first year that I brought a friend along one day, and a family member (Feminist Gran).
I believe I could also do something different to get more friends on board, especially those who have been curious in the past, but remained relatively untouched by my ranting. In this piece, split into two parts to accommodate the weekend events, I will review and discuss some of my personal highlights of the festival, with the intention of raising more awareness and showing what WOW is about.
The UK Government’s decision to prevent local authorities and public-sector organisations from boycotting Israeli suppliers has been widely criticised. The British Cabinet Office stated that such boycotts ‘undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism’. In an opening speech to a visiting UK trade delegation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East’.
by Alex Valente
Repeat after me: comics is a medium, not a genre. Good? Good. Let’s start from there. Comics is (yes, plural noun, singular verb) a medium. As such, it has the power to channel ideologies, reflect society, provoke ripples in current trends, generate new ones, validate certain opinions, undermine others, and most of all — it influences a gigantic audience, it creates a dialogue between readers and authors.
Sometimes that dialogue is out of sync. Sometimes a side shouts louder than others. Sometimes it falls short of everyone’s expectations and hopes. And sometimes, really good things happen, and excellent conversations take place.
For those who are partial to a bit of poetry, you’ll probably have heard by now that Sarah Howe has been awarded this year’s T.S. Eliot prize by judges Pascale Petit (chair), Kei Miller, and Ahren Warner. You may also have seen this article, which questioned the negative tinge of the criticism of which Howe has received. Katy Evans-Bush argued that these criticisms were more to do with Howe’s age, gender and ethnicity (Howe is of dual Chinese-British heritage). Some seemed baffled both that it was possible to win on a first collection, yet also that it took her ten years to write. Surely the fact that she spent so long producing the poetry might suggest how it became possible to win? I mean, that, or witchcraft.
by Asia Patel
When I told a sub-editor of The Norwich Radical that I wanted to write an article in which I explore the fan-fiction community, his first words of advice were ‘steer clear of mpreg’. You can Google ‘mpreg’, if you like. If you’d rather not, socio-political zeitgeist Buzzfeed offers a simple definition: ‘the term for a genre of art and literature where a man is pregnant.’
This is precisely what fascinates people about fan-fiction: its alleged tendency to veer towards the bizarre, the unknown, and, some would say, the un-publishable (although nowadays the proliferation of fiction appearing online throws the whole question of what is/is not ‘publishable’ into question). Talking about fan-fiction right now conjures that which we have seen before – excerpts of sexually charged dialogue between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty, for example (a pairing so popular that Sherlock co-creator and renowned fan-teaser Steven Moffat wrote a scene in which the two lean in for a kiss, albeit in his usual roundabout, not-quite way).
But of course, we know that not all fan-fiction is like this.
by Ellen Musgrove
Cherokee writer and academic Daniel Heath Justice writes in The Kynship Chronicles that ‘the memory of the world is short, and death rides hard in the forgetting.’ Being indigenous and queer, Justice knows very well the selective amnesia of the nation-state, and the resistance that demands.
Such an introduction may seem obscure, but this perceived obscurity demonstrates the problem I want to discuss. The same nation-state amnesia is imbricated in “western” society’s selective mourning of recent terror attacks, the current refugee crisis, and now renewed military intervention.
by Jess Howard
With the threat of terrorist attacks and war seeming to dominate every newspaper front page and website, it can be easy to ask if we should still place any importance on the visual arts. With daily news telling us that more and more people are dying, starving, or becoming homeless, many may ask if we should concern ourselves with art at all. But, when we really consider it, we can see that an aversion to what may be deemed frivolous and unnecessary is actually completely impossible.
by Micha Horgan
The events that took place in Paris are deeply upsetting; the implications, vast and immeasurable. Immediate thoughts are naturally for those killed and injured and those who loved and depended on them but beyond this there is a lot to think about. Blame, heightened surveillance, further scrutiny of immigration policies (at a time when this is not needed) and other discriminatory backlash will be at the forefront of our media in the coming months.
Following Friday’s events the rhetoric from some people has been that the Western world is “no longer safe”, that we are moving into a darker time. What is certain is that it is time to think.
The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought back a feeling of despair, that no matter where we live, there is always someone who wants to hurt us. The shaky camera footage of police storming a building, the bangs of smoke grenades, the echoes of gunfire, have sent a shockwave through France, Europe and the world. In the aftermath, a reaction is already beginning and anger will turn on Muslim individuals, communities, businesses and places of worship. Already a petition to “Stop all immigration and close UK borders until ISIS is defeated” is circulating and has got over 383,000 signatures so far. This will not solve anything, nor will blaming Islam.
by Mike Vinti
On the face of it, this is a pretty boring piece of news to anyone other than music journalists; Condé Nast is no longer the giant of media it once was, and Pitchfork has a relatively niche audience. As such, this announcement has been met with derision by many in the blogosphere, perhaps wary of the old-world Nasties infringing on their ad revenue, alongside some legitimate concerns for the diversity of its audience and contributor pool. Yet aside from the dull business of one company purchasing another, the deal proves far more interesting than it first appears.
By Emmanuel Agu
For a while now I have been trying to do everything in my power to avoid directly writing around police brutality, (specifically in America) and the black lives matter movement. In all sincerity, there are an endless multitude of articles written around this with a much longer word limit than that which I am offered; but given recent stimuli- I could not stay silent for any longer.
A couple of days ago I had the misfortune of encountering this viral video.
by Mike Vinti
Banksy’s anti-theme park is a strange thing to behold. After all the media hype and ensuing comment pieces, it’s hard to know what to expect when entering through its cheap, plastic doors. The queues outside set the tone rather nicely, reminiscent of Dismaland’s mainstream counterparts and laying the foundations of what promises to be a dismal experience.
Once at the front, visitors get their first taste of Dismaland’s stewards. Adorned in Mickey Mouse ears and pink hi-vis vests they are the antithesis of your average, over-friendly theme park worker, barely making eye contact and offering nothing but disdain to those who pass them by.
by Jess Howard
In my last article for The Norwich Radical I talked about risks, the risks of those who disregard their personal safety, instead preferring to take time to photographs of death, danger and carnage on their smart phones. This article is going to continue in a similar vein, focusing on the risks that individuals are willing to take, but for far different reasons. This week I will focus on the dangers that thousands of refugees are currently encountering, as a means escaping the war and conflict in their home countries.
burrowing into places dark and damp,
tucking itself into a brittle clot
Its womb was the catacomb
where its armour grew.
A wretched place, free from light.
“Whenever governments adopt a moral tone- as opposed to an ethical one – you know something is wrong.”
John Ralston Saul
MPs and politicians talk about getting people off benefits and out of the welfare culture. Perhaps they should lead by example and get off the gravy train, courtesy of the taxpayer.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has claimed around £31,000 in London hotel stays despite owning a home in Essex. Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire, has previously claimed £5950 in London hotel stays despite owning a flat about 1 mile from Parliament. Speaker John Bercow claimed £367 for travelling to Luton – to talk about the MPs expenses scandal. Richard Benyon MP, worth £110 million, received about £120,000 in housing benefits, largely from immigrant tenants in his properties. Yet he stated: “Labour want benefits to go up to more than the earnings of people in work. It isn’t fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture.”
by Jess Howard
It’s easy to say that a vast percentage of the Western world is able to access the internet on a daily basis. Laptops, computers, tablets – the list of accessibility is almost endless. And then, of course, we have smart phones. A hand-held device that allows you to become a researcher, writer or photographer at the swipe of a thumb. Our hands have control of who we want to be, what we want to see, and when we want to see it. Be it on a train, buses or during our walk to Starbucks for our morning latte.
Personally, embarrassingly, I don’t think I could function without my phone. As a writer I am constantly jotting down article ideas or passages for potential short stories. Some stay, some are discarded, but the majority of them are stowed away in the Pages app on my iPhone. I fall into the same category as everyone else when it comes to my pocket-sized, electronic best friend.