BLAME GAME: A GOVERNMENT SCARED OF YOUNG PEOPLE

climate strike birmingham 2019
by Howard Green

Since Monday, people living in England are no longer allowed to meet in groups of more than six. Although this is not hugely practical given that many employees and students are being required to return to work and study, these new restrictions show that our incompetent Government is prepared to occasionally act in service of public health rather than into the hands of the free market. But it’s very apparent that these restrictions are aimed at minimising social gatherings amongst young people, who have unjustly been the subject of blame for the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

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THE GOVERNMENT’S ANTI-OBESITY STRATEGY STIGMATISES FATNESS AND WORKING CLASS PEOPLE

by Lotty Clare

Cw: fatphobia

Following the Prime Minister’s COVID hospitalisation and his revelation that he was ‘too fat,’ on July 27th Public Health England launched the ‘Better Health’ campaign as part of the national Obesity Strategy, encouraging people to lose weight and reduce the risk of becoming ill as a result of COVID-19. Whilst the research does indicate that being overweight increases the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, the government has received widespread criticism in its approach; namely that nothing is being done to address the underlying causes of obesity, and the broader, more pertinent crisis of health inequality.

The strategy is an attempt at a quick-fix before a second wave of this deadly virus hits. Some of the initiatives being rolled out include: calorie labelling in chain restaurants and on alcohol packaging; banning of TV adverts for high fat, salt and sugar content foods before the watershed; restrictions on buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) offers; incentives for GPs to refer overweight patients to weight loss programs; and NHS approved apps to calorie-count and reduce Body Mass Index. The policy document for the strategy recognises that economic deprivation is a significant factor in health and weight, but sets out no meaningful steps to address this.

Body Mass Index is essentially a calculation of a person’s weight and height to determine whether or not their weight is considered ‘healthy.’ It may be a relatively good proxy for looking at risk factors for groups of people, but on an individual level it is not in fact an accurate measure of health as it fails to take into account other indices such as muscle mass and fat distribution. Furthermore, fatness is sometimes wrongly conflated with being unhealthy. There are many fat people who are in fact fit and have no health issues, and the body positivity movement has achieved a great deal in dismantling false stereotypes and fat-shaming.

Calorie counting has also been proven to be ineffective in improving people’s health. Conversely, it can actually contribute to disordered eating, which millions of people in the UK already suffer with. There is a real worry that this focus on weight rather than holistic health, will give diet companies the green light to target young people with harmful fad diets, and further stigmatise fat people.

It is much easier to blow the fatphobic and racist dog whistle than to take a good hard look at racist economic marginalisation as being a risk factor for health problems.  

This intentional focus on the weight of individuals gives a permission slip for fatphobia and misinformation around fatness to run rampant. Victim blaming COVID sufferers for being ‘too fat’, rather than what surely amounts to criminal incompetence on the part of the government echoes the way they shifted the burden of the national coronavirus response onto individual citizens with the highly criticised ‘stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ slogan.  

Officials often point to environment, culture and individual behaviour in order to explain the causes of being overweight.  Sometimes this emerges with racist overtones, like pointing to South Asian communities having higher levels of obesity and higher levels of COVID infections than White British communities because of their ‘culture.’ It is much easier to blow the fatphobic and racist dog whistle than to take a good hard look at racist economic marginalisation as being a risk factor for health problems.  

Of course, there are people of all socioeconomic backgrounds who are overweight, but levels of obesity are disproportionately higher in deprived and disadvantaged areas.  Whenever the topic of obesity surfaces, so too does class and income. Food writer and activist Jack Monroe, who has spoken about her life in poverty, wrote in blog post recently: ‘Whenever food poverty, obesity, or food in general comes into the media spotlight, I adopt a mental brace position, awaiting the onslaught of tweets… with their hastily-Googled prices of spring greens and potatoes, crowing about how! cheap! vegetables! are!’

I’d like to see Boris Johnson try to feed his family nutritious food, and lose weight whilst on meagre Universal Credit and see how he manages.

This kind of ignorant thinking is common; like the old trope that poor people are lazy and stupid because they don’t manage their money properly. This is a flawed neoliberal way of thinking believes that people should make rational decisions toward purely economic and egoist ends. Ironically it is the poorest people who are most economical, knowing how to make a little last longer. I’d like to see Boris Johnson try to feed his family nutritious food, and lose weight whilst on meagre Universal Credit and see how he manages. I’d like to see him try and lose weight living in a crowded council estate with no parks nearby. Or with a chronic health problem, on a zero-hours contract and let him see how difficult it is to provide decent food every day. I wonder how he would cope in temporary housing with no oven or fridge, trying to cook up healthy meals. Or see how he’d fare as an NHS nurse relying for months on food bank parcel low in nutritional value.

Being poor is not just about being cash poor, it is also often being strapped for time, or having poor mental health because of the incessant daily grind of living in Tory austerity Britain.  Many working class households rely on discounts, so restricting ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offers are cutting an important source of affordable food. The government’s strategy does nothing to transform our food system or make fresh fruit and veg more accessible. Shaming lower income people with calorie labels if, god-forbid, we eat out at a Pizza Hut once in a while rather than a pricier independent restaurant, doesn’t help anyone.

Just last year, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty published a damning report stating that poverty in the UK is ‘systemic’ and ‘tragic’ and that the social safety net has been ’deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.’  The UK has one of the highest obesity levels in Europe, as well as one of the highest levels of child malnutrition. About 4.1 million children are living in poverty in the UK, and in 2019 approximately 19% lived in food insecure households. If the government wants to take meaningful action towards tackling obesity, it is necessary to analyse it from a  food insecurity and poverty perspective.

If we have learnt anything from the many fault lines and flaws that the pandemic has unearthed, it is that social welfare, inequality and racism are  public health issues, and that individualist thinking fails when it comes to public health. Rather than promoting the idea that poverty and health issues are the result of individuals making the wrong decisions, let’s actually try to understand these issues for what they are: a political and ideological choice by the political class.

Featured image: Adapted from logo for the Better Health Campaign


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EMPTY GESTURES AND EXPENDABLE LIVES

nhs clap revolt london

by Kasper Hassett

Across all of the contradictory actions taken and advice given by the UK government in response to COVID-19, there is one recurring theme: emptiness. From clapping for a financially dire NHS, to confusing slogans, the government is keen to portray the national response to this crisis as a unified effort with the consensus of the public, healthcare staff and politicians. It seems a sense of morale is being treated as the antidote, rather than investing in real measures to protect the public from ill health. These meaningless gestures in place of action are costing lives, particularly of the working classes.Continue Reading

EDUCATION AFTER THE PANDEMIC: REFORM AND RENATIONALISATION

By Howard Green

Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.

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NOT A TEAM: HOW THE POLICE OBSTRUCT OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES (AND TAKE CREDIT)

police miami car crash

by Kasper Hassett

CW: police brutality, racism

We tend to think of them as a trio: the police; the firefighters; the paramedics. They all answer the same phone line; they all blare the same siren on their way to the scene. Not all three, however, exist to support civilians, nor do they operate in unison, and this façade is what enables the police to be revered no matter how much they tear communities apart and instil fear.Continue Reading

THE ONLY WAY TO END POLICE BRUTALITY IS TO ABOLISH THE POLICE

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by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

A tide of anguish currently sweeps our world, hammering at the white supremacist order. On the evening of May 25th, George Floyd was mercilessly killed by a white US policeman. The world watched from their homes as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his screams as he called out that he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd was suffocated of his last breath. Three other policemen stood and watched. The state brutally murdered a Black man. The people decided to revolt.

Right now, we are seeing mass protests from the US to the UK to the rest of the world, both on the streets and online, physically and mentally. Police brutality pervades our society and the recent piling up of Black bodies such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery has become just too much. We need change. The only way to achieve this change is to abolish the police.Continue Reading

QUEER LONELINESS & THE IMPENDING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

by Kasper Hassett

CW: mental health

Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’. Continue Reading

ARE WE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER? COVID AND RACISM

by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism

At the moment, we are led to believe that Covid-19 is a marauder snatching away our media, our minds and our vulnerable population and that the only way to defeat such a pernicious beast is to sing hollow cries of “we are all in this together.” Yes, this should be a time for us to unify in communal admonishment of the situation; a time where we should realise our shared will to thrive alongside our neighbours; a time to join mutual aid groups to help those more vulnerable in a true display of fraternité; but, in doing this, we should not be blind to the fact that we do not share an equal burden.Continue Reading

MIXED MESSAGES: THE SEMIOTICS OF COVID-19 ADVICE

By Lewis Martin

In its infinite wisdom, the Conservative Government in England has chosen to change its messaging around Covid-19, from ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’, to ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’. Putting aside the irony of both these proclamations (this government never had a plan to protect the NHS, and was about as alert to the virus as to a whale falling from the sky), this isn’t the only change that has taken place. There were also a number of subtle changes in the visual presentation of the advice that will have ramifications for how people both interpret and follow it.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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RESISTANCE AND REBELLION AFTER COVID-19

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.

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COVID-19, POSTCAPITALISM AND EXTERMINISM; IT’S TIME TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE

by Yali Banton-Heath

As the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak exposes capitalism for all its evils, now is the time to start laying the foundations for a better future.

We’ve been in the final throes of capitalism for some time now. Since the financial crash of 2008 long-term economic stagnation has persisted in the west, yet 1% of the world’s population have managed to hoard almost half of global wealth. As the world faces a global pandemic of the life-threatening novel coronavirus aka Covid-19, now more than ever the faults in our capitalist system are screaming out for scrutiny, and it is fast becoming obvious that inequality kills, and capitalism is to blame.  

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DOMINIC RAAB EPITOMIZES THE GROSS INCOMPETENCY OF THE TORY CABINET

By Jonathan Lee

It’s easy to forget about Dominic Raab. He has the special ability, endemic to those inhabiting the current Tory cabinet, of being able to adjust his principles and cabinet position with a chamaeleon-like proficiency.

It’s actually hard to remember who does what in the Tory government in general, because there have been so many cabinet shuffles and reshuffles since 2016. The same group of tribalist, Tory chancers have been switched around so many times in recent years, it makes it difficult to hold individuals accountable for the disastrous policies put forward by recent governments.Continue Reading

THE MORNING AFTER #GE2019

The Norwich Radical Editorial Team

By now you’ve seen the headlines. There’s no easy way to say this: in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.Continue Reading

DR ANDREW BOSWELL, GREEN PARTY BROADLAND CANDIDATE #GE2019

The Norwich Radical editorial team has asked candidates for the constituencies of Norwich South, Norwich North, and Broadland, Norfolk to contribute a short piece regarding the upcoming General Election on 12th December 2019. We have contacted all candidates belonging to parties that reflect or adhere to our values as seen in our Founding Statement, highlighting what role they see their candidacy playing in the coming years in a changing political landscape, their vision of what Norwich’s role should be, and how they will approach that in practice. These are the responses from the candidates who replied.

Dr Andrew Boswell

We are living in dangerous times, dark times.  The country is deeply divided over our place in the world – the Brexit crisis – whether we align with Europe or we align with Donald Trump’s US.

And we face a Climate and Ecological Emergency, our young people desperately calling for action to literally save the planet and save their futures.  They are literally showing the leadership that political leaders have failed to grasp for decades. On both issues, people feel that democracy has failed.  Trust in politicians is eroded.

This is the most important election for a generation, and the result of the election could shape the future for many generations if we miss the opportunity to take radical action on climate change and influence the world to do so too.  Continue Reading

KAREN DAVIS, LABOUR PARTY NORWICH NORTH CANDIDATE #GE2019

The Norwich Radical editorial team has asked candidates for the constituencies of Norwich South, Norwich North, and Broadland, Norfolk to contribute a short piece regarding the upcoming General Election on 12th December 2019. We have contacted all candidates belonging to parties that reflect or adhere to our values as seen in our Founding Statement, highlighting what role they see their candidacy playing in the coming years in a changing political landscape, their vision of what Norwich’s role should be, and how they will approach that in practice. These are the responses from the candidates who replied.

Karen Davis

People are fed up with career politicians who’ve never had to struggle to get by. I know exactly what that’s like and will never forget where I’ve come from. I believe the place and the people who put you in Parliament should always come first. I grew up in Norfolk and have lived in Norwich for 20 years. Most of my jobs have been insecure and low paid and I did my teaching degree at UEA juggling childcare and studies.Continue Reading

ADRIAN HOLMES, GREEN PARTY NORWICH NORTH CANDIDATE #GE2019

The Norwich Radical editorial team has asked candidates for the constituencies of Norwich South, Norwich North, and Broadland, Norfolk to contribute a short piece regarding the upcoming General Election on 12th December 2019. We have contacted all candidates belonging to parties that reflect or adhere to our values as seen in our Founding Statement, highlighting what role they see their candidacy playing in the coming years in a changing political landscape, their vision of what Norwich’s role should be, and how they will approach that in practice. These are the responses from the candidates who replied.

Adrian Holmes

As a Green Party candidate at this election and in previous elections, I see my role as standard-bearer for a movement away from a competitive and environmentally damaging way of life to a genuinely sustainable society. By sustainable I mean one that is concerned with environmental and social justice. An end to consumerism and towards a circular economy where waste is radically reduced by making goods made to last that can be upgraded or reused. I want to see a fundamental change in the way politics is practised from the bottom up. I believe that the political landscape today is far too top-down oriented. I want to see the creation of Citizens assemblies as a forum for continuing political discussion and decision-making at the local level. I want to see citizens assemblies feeding into to a reformed Parliament which is based on proportional representation. The job of the MP would be listening to and reporting back from citizens assemblies as well as still voting as informed individuals on matters of conscience.Continue Reading

DR CATHERINE ROWETT, GREEN PARTY NORWICH SOUTH CANDIDATE #GE2019

The Norwich Radical editorial team has asked candidates for the constituencies of Norwich South, Norwich North, and Broadland, Norfolk to contribute a short piece regarding the upcoming General Election on 12th December 2019. We have contacted all candidates belonging to parties that reflect or adhere to our values as seen in our Founding Statement, highlighting what role they see their candidacy playing in the coming years in a changing political landscape, their vision of what Norwich’s role should be, and how they will approach that in practice. These are the responses from the candidates who replied.

Dr Catherine Rowett

I have been serving as the Green Party MEP for the East of England since May last year. Most impressive in that election were the rise in Green Party representation (up from three to seven MEPs) and the spectacular result in Norwich, where the Green vote outstripped all other parties—with a lead of over 3,000 votes over the Labour Party.

Norwich has always known that voting Green is a serious option. Under proportional representation, and in local elections, voting Green gets results. In the Vote for Policies websites, Green policies score highly. One of our key policies—perhaps the most important reason to vote Green, next after the climate—is voting reform. Had this country had Proportional Representation by 2015, we would not be in the pickle we are now in, I submit. And if we don’t get PR now, much more is at risk: the unity of the United Kingdom, for instance; even our representative democracy as such.Continue Reading

‘DODGY BUT STABLE’: BRINGING BACK THE PROGRESSIVE PUNCH

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by Sunetra Senior

A news-based long read of the darkening climate under Boris Johnson, and consequent examination of the solutions. 

NB: this piece was written before the announcement of the suspension of parliament. The call to progressive action is of the utmost urgency. 

Shock, horror!! Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, we are on the verge of a catastrophic No-Deal Brexit, and Trump’s ego is bigger than ever before. Prior to this, the Scandinavian Peninsula, or the magical lands of social democracy and hygge, saw the rise of a nationalist group in Finland. There were also the New Zealand shootings in a show of Islamophobia, so horrific, that the country’s PM moved to ban militarised weapons practically overnight. So, amidst this caustic circus, where is the progressive clout?  Given the gradual upheaval of the moral development of society, it’s apt to return to a timeless saying: ‘The personal is the political.’Continue Reading

KEEP CALM & WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH

pension work dwp

by Jonathan Lee

New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarmsays arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.

The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.Continue Reading

THE CABINET OF DR JOHNSON

By Lewis Martin

In 1920, the movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was released to the general horror of theater-going audiences. The film told the story of a hypnotist (Dr. Caligari) who uses a somnambulist to commit murders on his behalf. Through the character of the Doctor, the films presents a very vivid and real depiction of brutal, irrational authority in the inter-war period. Flash forward 99 years, and it is a very different type of cabinet but very similar type of character that is looking to reinforce their own brutal and irrational authority upon others.

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THE GREATEST PRICE OF AUSTERITY? PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE

by Edward Grierson

As a child, I always looked forward to a visit to the National Museum of Scotland. An hour’s journey to Edinburgh was always a small price worth paying if it meant passing a wet weekend or day out from the holiday among dinosaurs, dioramas, steam trains and robots that could spell your name. Since then the museum has undergone countless changes, but whenever I return, I can always be certain to discover something new.

However, those trips to the museum were much more than just a fun day out. I can confidently say that they were a major formative influence for me, particularly in inspiring my love of nature. Without the influence of the National Museum of Scotland, I would not be who I am today. I can also confidently say I’m not the only one. I speak for countless others whose interests, whatever they are, were inspired by visiting trips to a museum.Continue Reading

SOCIAL PRESCRIBING – CURING LONELINESS IN OUR DISTANCING SOCIETY

By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation

In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.

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WE ARE EUROPE AND REMAIN SO

by Kelvin Smith

On the eve of the EU Referendum I published a piece, A European Life, that concluded: “My whole life has been lived in the context of this complex and sometimes conflicted continent and whatever the result of the referendum tomorrow, I am just one of very many British people who are not about to leave Europe. We are Europe.” Now, one year into the Article 50 period, one year from the deadline date of 29th March 2019, has anything changed?Continue Reading

SUBJECTIVE TIME: HOW TO MASTER THE YEARS

by Sunetra Senior

Around this time of year, you’ll have witnessed a flood of articles that aggressively motivate you to increase your dwindling productivity and ‘get yourself back on’ the proverbial ‘track’. If you’re the Daily Mail, you might be delightedly telling people how average UK life expectancy has ground disastrously ‘to a halt.’ However, this obsession with life span and these generally flat, statistical measures of personal power are the real issue, and what I would argue even obscure the long-term, self-preservative solution.Continue Reading

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. ‘AT LEAST IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE, RIGHT?’

By Zoe Harding

Content warning: mental health, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, suicide.

This article is not written in the Radical’s usual style, with all the froth and fury about parts of society that might be ‘broken’ or ‘harmful’ or ‘dog-fucked beyond human comprehension by a swarm of grey-suited sociopaths inexplicably elected by a suicidal electorate’. There will be no solutions, no imprecations, no lights shone into dark places because everything’s fine.Continue Reading

WHY THE TORIES DON’T CARE ABOUT NURSES

by Lewis Martin

CW: death, disease, corpses.

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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YOUNG ONES, PULL UP A CHAIR! HERE’S THE STORY OF HOW YOU SAVED US ALL.

by Natasha Senior

I was considered a youth once, only a few years ago in fact. Yes, I remember those days. Casting my first ballot in 2010 in favour of the Liberal Democrats; the Hung Parliament that resulted; the slight guilt I felt for being complicit in hanging said Parliament. But never fear, I thought, the politicians know what they’re doing. It’s fine. The Lib-Dems have partnered up with the Tories.

But it wasn’t fine, because that whole tuition-fee-£9000-a-year-wtf palaver happened. This is when I felt political disappointment for the first time, and I have most other times subsequently.Continue Reading

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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THE PARADOX OF TORY EDUCATION POLICY – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #7

by Alex Powell

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

There is a severe dissonance between the conception of higher education that the Conservatives purport to support and the policies presented in their 2017 manifesto. In order to show this I have to work from within the Tory understanding of the purpose of higher education, and the role international students play within achieving that. Despite my adoption of this form of argumentation, I wish to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the idea that higher education is purely about reputation, financial stability, or the production of an effective workforce. Further, I do not accept the idea that international students are valuable only in terms of what they can offer to either educational institutions or the UK more generally. The current treatment of international students, and the blatant disregard shown for their welfare, is one of the most indefensible aspects of modern higher education policy.

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FROM HUGH LANHAM, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE FOR NORWICH NORTH

world votes radical

by Hugh Lanham, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich North

I would not have stood as a candidate in this election if I wasn’t angry.

I am angry about Brexit

I see real fear and uncertainty in people affected by Brexit. Those working in foreign countries, those selling their goods and services throughout the Union and those whose prospects are just ripped from them by an unknown future. I see real costs for all ordinary people from the devaluation of the pound, from inflation eroding people’s savings and spending power.

Most of all, I see few benefits from Brexit for anyone. There is, of course, no £350m for the NHS and, apart from ‘sovereignty’ which means we have all the same laws but with a picture of a crown on top, one of the most significant immediate changes is a bill of £100bn. But, I believe the Tories are going to blunder on regardless.

If we ever get the opportunity to reverse the decision to leave the European Union I would vote in support of that.Continue Reading

UEA CLOSES COUNSELLING PROGRAMME

by Lewis Martin

On the 25th of April, Professor Richard Andrews, the head of the School of Education and Life Long Learning (EDU) at UEA, announced the closure of the university’s counselling programme. This means that all courses surrounding the subject of counselling, including a PG diploma and an MA, will no longer be taught at UEA as of the beginning of the 2018 academic year. Andrews described this as a ‘difficult decision’ resulting from ‘low demand for the course’. This closure is especially significant, not only to UEA but to the wider Norwich and Norfolk area.

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WE STAND ON A PRECIPICE – THE SNAP GENERAL ELECTION

world votes radical

by Chris Jarvis

With Theresa May having all but called an early General Election, on June 8th, the UK will go to the polls for yet another vote that will have long-reaching consequences for the future of the nation, the third in as many years. For the people of Scotland and Wales it will be the fourth – and those living in Northern Ireland will face their fifth. Right now, our political leaders can’t seem to get enough of sending people trudging out to schools, churches and community centres to scribble little pencil crosses in printed boxes.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

SAVING LIVES: NEW ORGAN DONOR LEGISLATION IN FRANCE

By Eve Lacroix

As of the 1st of January 2017, every French citizen is automatically on the organ and skin graft donor list, following a government vote to change donor legislation in August. The EU estimates 86,000 people are waiting for suitable organ donations, and that 16 of these people die each day. When celebrating the European Day for Organ Donation on September 9th, the Council of Europe highlighted the issue of a lack of organ donors. One person agreeing to become an organ donor can save up to seven lives. As it is easier to automatically sign people up as organ donors rather than running low-response information and appeal campaigns, this fantastic initiative expects to save a record number of lives in France. Under the new legislation, if a French citizen does not wish to become a donor for personal or religious reasons, they can opt out through a simple online application.

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FROM FLOODING TO HEALTHCARE, WHY ARE WE SO BAD AT PREVENTION?

by Olivia Hanks

Certain things are inescapable at this time of year. Overeating. Musical jumpers. Footage of the prime minister in wellies, assuring a street that’s under three feet of water that the government will do everything possible by way of assistance.Continue Reading

THE LONGEVITY OF ART

by Candice Nembhard

In times of national or personal struggle, we have long since turned to our favourite books, records or films for companionship and reassurance. We find comfort in these creative endeavours – the note of a song or the rhythm of a sentence – that often mirror the nuances of daily existence. Yet, whilst we use these tools of communication, we have yet to fully support them with our time, interest and money. With authorisation from government officials, local authorities have seen their arts funds and budgets cut consistently since 2010. Consequently, libraries, art galleries and museums have been affected most, with numerous closures occurring across the country.Continue Reading

THE DEFINITION OF DEMOCRACY FLUCTUATES AS WILDLY AS THE POUND

illustration adna fruitos democracy

by Natasha Senior

It was apparently a victory for Remainers when the High Court ruled that invoking Article 50 will require a full parliamentary process. The judges issuing the verdict were branded as tyrants by the tabloids — as if they were doing anything other than interpreting law. David Lammy — the MP for Tottenham, where 75% of the constituency came out in favour of the EU — declared he would block Brexit. He is the political Schrödinger’s cat, he behaves both democratically and undemocratically at the same time: vowing to uphold the wishes of his constituents against the wishes of the country. A majority of politicians don’t have the luxury of having voted the way their constituents did. Perhaps they would argue it differently, that they were democratically elected to represent their constituents, not vote with their constituents. It seems like a tenuous technicality but one that appears to stand up to scrutiny.

I guess it depends on what democracy really means. I’ve said the word so many times, I don’t even know anymore.Continue Reading

HOW SUSTAINABLE WILL BRITAIN BE POST-BREXIT?

By Faizal Nor Izham

With negotiations for Brexit to be finally executed come March 2017, as announced by Theresa May last week, a burning question yet to be properly tackled by the Conservative Party is: what exactly is their overarching plan to ensure future economic sustainability and prosperity for the country? Now that a major source of economic strength has been cut off (read: migrants), a fully laid-out plan to outline Britain’s steps towards continued economic growth in their absence has yet to be tabled.

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5 APPS AND WEBSITES TO BUST YOUR INSOMNIA

TW: Mental Health, Insomnia

By Robyn Banks

Insomnia is a bitch. It plagued me during my time at university, and many of my friends too. Although I had always had problems sleeping, the long grind of the school day would often wear me out enough to see me getting a few good hours each night. Not so at university – days with only one or even no lectures stretched out endlessly, and with nobody phoning home if I didn’t turn up to lectures, gone was the motivating fear that got me out of bed each morning in the past. The prospect of managing my own time, which had seemed like heaven in my first term, had become a living hell. Bedtimes got later, and mornings became later, until I was essentially nocturnal- living whole months at a time in the miserable dark, unable to access any daytime facilities. Sound familiar?

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DATA-MINING: STILL THINK YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE?

By Gunnar Eigener

Data is a commodity. It is a digital blueprint of our lives that we leave behind wherever we go on the internet and in life. Many of us consider it to be of little interest. After all, what does it matter where or what we shop for? Who cares about the sites we search for via Google and what pages we like on Facebook? Well, it turns out that our governments and private companies do.

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IMMIGRATION: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

by Natasha Senior

Globalisation has generally been unkind to the young. Yet, as a demographic, we took its side in the EU referendum. Because ultimately the union has positively shaped our culture, as global business, and academic ties, bought international communities together all over Europe. This type of integration has profoundly enriched the way of life in the metropolis. But it would be incorrect to think that people all over the country are benefitting in the same way, because this level of cohesion is politically disallowed from crossing beyond the city confines. Indeed, the impact of globalisation, and the nature of integration, has been overwhelmingly detrimental elsewhere in the country.

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CONFESSIONS OF A CORBYNITE: WHY I’M VOTING FOR OWEN SMITH

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by Elliot Folan

Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.

I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.Continue Reading

“WE’RE FIGHTING A DOUBLE BATTLE IN THIS WHITE-DOMINATED WORLD” – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TUTS

by Chris Jarvis

2016 will be the year of the Tut. After a crowdfunding campaign that achieved double its original target, The Tuts are set to release their debut album – Update Your Brain – in September. The all-woman three piece from Hayes have nurtured a loyal and growing fan base in their first few years, with tours alongside UK veterans Kate Nash, The Selecter and Sonic Boom Six helping to build a wide creoss-genre appeal.Continue Reading

FIVE WAYS TO MAKE THE GREEN PARTY BETTER

by Alan Borgars

We, the people of Britain, currently face a difficult and uncertain future, especially in light of the recent decision to vote to leave the EU by a margin of 3.78%, or just over one million votes. The United Kingdom still suffers from a self-serving, cold-hearted, money-loving government whose main intent is to keep themselves in power indefinitely by any means they can and continually oppress everyone who is not rich and powerful.Continue Reading

WHAT IS DONE CANNOT BE UNDONE. WE ARE THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE.

by Natasha Senior

I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.

The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.

But it is not over. I will not let it be over.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

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: NORFOLK’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

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by Hannah Rose

Last week I met with two mental health campaigners following an RSA-hosted event at St Michael’s Church called: ‘Combating Norfolk’s Growing Mental Health Problem.’ The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA), Manufactures and Commerce is a fellowship-led organisation, whose aim is to encourage “the sharing of powerful ideas to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.” I’d gone in the hope of being enlightened.

Sadly, I was not.

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5 REASONS WHY ITALY CONFUSES THE $#!T OUT OF ME

by Alex Valente

Italy. Land of saints, poets, and sailors, but also of pizza, mafia, and mandolins. Italy. One of the most beautifully perceived countries in the world, but also one of the most corrupt, even according to its own population. Italy. The country that somehow voted for Silvio Berlusconi more than once since 1992. The country that for some reason hosts the Vatican since 1929. My country of birth, and the country I have moved back to after eight years in the UK.

Italy still confuses the *insert passionate hand gesture here* out of me.Continue Reading

RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE REAL PRICE OF OIL

by Gunnar Eigener

The realisation that renewable energy is going to be essential for the future is being embraced by more and more countries. With their geothermal and hydropower, Iceland’s electricity supply is 100% renewable energy. Thanks to it’s water projects, the African country of Lesotho has almost 100% renewable electricity. Albania runs on 85% renewable while Paraguay’s Itaipu dam provides 90% of its electricity and 19% of Brazils. By July 2015 Denmark had already produced 116% of its electricity needs and went on to sell its excess over the rest of the year. Infrastructure is being prepared to transform the way countries generate their power and investment is increasing. Renewable energy is becoming more and more accepted. San Jose in Costa Rica and Vancouver in Canada are just a few of the many cities committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy over the coming decades.

Yet with so much promise for the future, how is it that oil continues to present such a complex issue?Continue Reading

REVIEW: WOW FESTIVAL 2016, PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

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.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE NHS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AN NHS WORKER

By Michael Champion

The NHS is the pride of the UK. Providing emergency and long term care free at the point of contact, Aneurin Bevan’s scheme is now in its 68th year. However, the pressures it now faces have increased dramatically. An aging population with increasingly complex healthcare needs has increased the quantity of high quality care required, and thus the demand for competently trained professionals. Coupled with multiple funding crises (including repayment of PFI and necessary maintenance of existing infrastructure) and bureaucratic reorganisations, the ability of the NHS to manage this increased demand has been tested, especially during periods of wider macroeconomic pressure.

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BANNING THE BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI GOODS?

By Gunnar Eigener

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’.

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL? – AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ROBB OF GOLDBLADE

by Chris Jarvis

For twenty years, Goldblade have been tearing up the British punk scene. Notorious for their anthemic, straight up punk rock with the odd bits and pieces borrowed from rockabilly, hardcore and street punk, the Manchester based band are infamous among fans for their energetic and powerful live performances (I once described them to a friend when I was fifteen as the best live band on the planet after seeing them open for Misfits on their 30th anniversary tour). But like many in the punk scene, Goldblade are also known for their political and social conscience, and so we decided to talk with their frontman John Robb about his political outlook, the relationship it has to his music and how he views it in a wider political context as part of our series Music That Matters.

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UNITING THE FIGHTS – JUNIOR DOCTORS, AUSTERITY AND WAR

By Jack Brindelli

The world is in turmoil at home and abroad, and with rows over the savage autumn budget, and the ominously impending vote to bomb Syria, still taking up the majority of campaigners energies, it is easy for good news to fall through the cracks. Still, when a victory, or even a temporary stay of execution, is won, it is important not only to enjoy the moment, but also to ask why. This week the Junior Doctors stopped the government in their tracks, and goodness knows we could all use a formula for that.

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LETTERS TO CATE BLANCHETT

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Cate Blanchett, it’s come to this. You know they say the world will end when
BBC Radio Four stops broadcasting? Well, I’ve been playing with the dials on
my Roberts Revival RD60 DAB and I don’t know about you but down my end I
swear the voices are getting fainter and fainter.

Cate Blanchett, look, it’s like this: the world is a ruin, like I said. I’m not pulling
your leg. I wrote a poem called Strikes because I thought talking about
doctors and bombs was really clever, see, because… sure, you get it.

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NORMALISING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: A LOOK INTO COMMUNITY CARE

by Eve Lacroix

Between 2010 and 2015, budget cuts to mental health trusts in England have seen a decrease of 8%. Statistics reported by BBC News and Community Care revealed this meant almost £600m less funding despite a 20% rise of referrals to community mental health teams. Social worker Terry Skyrme works in a crisis team functioning in Norfolk and Suffolk. In 2014, he decided to start a campaign to improve services in the area, booking a room for 100 people, and seeing 300 turn up. With not enough hospital beds available, some people suffering from acute mental health distress are instead made to sleep in prison cells.

Sleeping in a prison cell is an unsettling image of social exclusion that comes with suffering from these often invisible illnesses. Yet, the mental health charity Mind estimates 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health issue in their life. With 50 million prescriptions being written for antidepressants in the UK each year, sufferers come from all parts of our communities.

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A NARRATIVE OF SOLIDARITY: THE WORK PENALTY, JUNIOR DOCTORS AND BRITISH STEEL

by Josh Wilson

Politics is about narratives. The problem is that these narratives have a real impact on people’s lives. We are likely to have a decade of Tory rule, a decade of the systematic destruction of our welfare state and all modes of the redistribution of wealth. Corporation tax rates have reduced significantly under this government, as well as the tax rate for the richest in society. We have seen significant cuts to public spending across the board including local governments, arts and higher education. But the Tories are good at narratives. They have weaved a myth of austerity despite it going against the economic consensus. We are still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 and yet people seem to barely talk about this and be more concerned by spending levels than an out-of-control banking system.

On a majority of just 17 seats in the House of Commons the Conservatives seem confident, but I believe this confidence can be knocked using a few counter-narratives. A narrative of solidarity, one that illuminates the Tories as a party that is anti-poor, anti-worker and only on the side of the richest in our society. The three policies that are key to this narrative are the work penalty, junior doctors’ contracts and the British steel industry.

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EU NATIONALISM AND THE REFUGEE CRISIS

by Gunnar Eigener

‘Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or to die for and no religion too.’ John Lennon

As record numbers of refugees flee wars and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa seeking some semblance of normality in Europe, an ingrained racism and skewed sense of nationalism is seeping out of the barely healed wound of financial recessions and austerity cuts. As front line services are cut to the bone and the ability to look after our own homeless and vulnerable citizens seems distinctly lacking, the idea of supporting other people from other countries is turning into a poisoned chalice. Original plans to relocate 120,000 refugees have reduced the number to 66,000. Balkan states are erecting fences along their borders but to no avail. Far-right parties who were taking ever bigger numbers of national votes before this crisis began, are now exploiting it to spread hatred and fear. Protest movements in Germany and Austria have formed, and shown aggression and resistance to the influx of refugees, while the UK Independence Party allows hate-mongers like Katie Hopkins to speak at their party conference. Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s National Front political party suggested that the Ebola virus would be able to solve Europe’s immigration problem.

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THE BEATING HEART OF LABOUR

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by Natasha Senior

For the conservatives, the civil war waging within Labour is extremely fortuitous. Their borderline majority in the House of Commons was nothing to celebrate especially as they fully inherited the fractured Britain that they’d created in their last government and now the party itself is even starting to buckle under the pressure of growing Euroscepticism. Instead of capitalising on this unrest by raising up arms against them, the left-wing are too distracted by the arms they’ve raised against each other.

In the meantime the Tories have been getting away with murder. We don’t bat an eyelid as they rebrand the living wage, cut tax credits, and extend plans for fracking. This metaphorical war is starting to have very real consequences and if Labour cannot unite beyond the leadership election then without a strong opposition, these sinister policies will grow in size and intensify.Continue Reading

A NATION DIVIDED: TIME TO REBUILD THE FIGHT

by Chris Jarvis

We’re now set for five more years of Tory government. It will be vicious, it will be brutal, it will be hard. Cameron will govern without caution, without concern for electoral prospects and without hiding the ideological agenda which has driven the direction he has taken the country since 2010.

Since 2010 we have seen the decimation of the welfare state, creeping privatisation of the NHS and education, and the hollowing out of the public sector. From now on, this is only set to get worse. What has been touted by the Tories as economic prudence and getting the country in order will be accelerated. The shrinking of the state will begin in earnest.

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