by Gunnar Eigener
Content warning: mentions xenophobia.
As the UK government stutters to find ways to deal with the looming end date for Brexit negotiations, the news is awash with alternatives, the prospect of ‘no deal’, leadership challenges and campaigns for a second referendum. While the fight goes on, one problem is becoming increasingly apparent, not just in the UK, but globally; where is the opposition to the creeping right-wing politics that is slowly casting its shadow over the world?
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
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
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.
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
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
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
by Jess Howard
Often, we start out with an initial opinion of a topic, event or article, and end up completely changing sides once we have engaged in an in-depth exploration, and this is exactly what has happened with an article I recently read.
In early May 2016, a particularly scathing opinion piece was written by Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones regarding the presence of magazine covers in gallery spaces. The article, titled ‘Kate’s Vogue shots shouldn’t be in a gallery. They’re not art.’ discusses Jones’ opinions on whether or not photographs of Kate Middleton have the right to be hanged in The National Portrait Gallery. Regardless of how we feel about the photographs, or indeed the monarchy, it does raise an important question. Namely, what constitutes high or low art, and what is deserving of exhibition space.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis
Imagine waking up on the 8th of May and the parliamentary arithmetic given by our obscenely anachronistic and antiquated electoral system adds up well. Imagine that between a grouping of progressive parties — Labour, the SNP, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and the SDLP — there is a clear left of centre majority in parliament.
And then imagine an alternative. Imagine that an array of reactionary and right wing parties, a smorgasbord of Eurosceptics, xenophobes, sell out liberals, and firebrand Northern Irish Unionists led by a buoyant Tory party are tipped over the mythical 326 towards cobbling together some form of government.
Which would you prefer?Continue Reading
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
People who ‘get on their bikes’, as Conservative politicians advise, do so for many reasons — some life-threatening, some ‘merely’ economic. All but the wealthiest of them are among vulnerable groups that can become scapegoats when governments need to divert attention from their failures. Migrants should not be blamed for a country’s woes as they are people simply seeking a better life and do not deserve to be demonised.
However the anti-migrant rhetoric rarely addresses the colonial, environmental, and economic causes of migration. These include conflict, and also the aftermath of human rights abuses and absolute poverty. Britain claims a proud tradition of providing refuge in such cases. If human rights don’t apply to everyone, they don’t apply to anyone, and I’d challenge anyone to pledge never to leave the UK if we were sunk by say, rising sea levels or a fascist regime. However at times of major migration, there are always those who want to keep the stranger out.
by Mike Vinti
Local festival Boom-Bap announced its line-up last week to considerable hype from Facebook’s ‘heads and a somewhat more muted response from the Norwich/ Norfolk public at large. Boom Bap, as the name suggests, is a hip-hop festival — this year it’s taking place in the Suffolk countryside from 5th-7th June. It’s been running for a few years now and is part of an expanding hip-hop and rap scene in Norwich and the surrounding marsh-land between here and Yarmouth. So far they’ve announced Odd Future’s kid wonder Earl Sweatshirt and Skepta collaborating New York group RATKING as headliners, with cult legends Jehru the Damaja and Homeboy Sandman taking high slots on the bill as well. If you were to visit the corner of the internet where rap nerds meet, you’d find thread after thread of discussion and hype surrounding each of these artists, but talk to most people in Norwich or even at the youthful bubble that is the University of East Anglia and they won’t have a clue who you’re talking about.
This is no slight on those people, music is subjective, there’s a lot of it, blah blah blah, but I couldn’t help but wonder why in particular so few people, outside of those who are borderline obsessed, know about Hip-Hop in the UK?
by Jack Brindelli.
Naïve. Egotistic. Hypocritical. Russell Brand has been labelled many things since his infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman one year ago – by detractors on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the established political spectrum. Predominantly the key focus of the ‘discussion’ on Brand has been guided, not so subtly, toward scrutinising a single assertion in that initial interview (despite Brand offering a plethora of other views in that interview and since – to the extent he wrote a book); the assertion that voting has become irrelevant to the bulk of society, as the mainstream political parties lurch uniformly rightward.
by Mattie Carter.
As Russell Brand and his particular form of revolutionary politics has seemingly become the popular voice of the disillusioned left in recent months, disengagement from electoral politics among us seems more and more prevalent. Brand’s views on the current political system are legitimate, insightful even, but as many left wing commentators have written in recent months, his conclusions are at best incomplete and, at worst, highly dangerous. Given the rise of UKIP and the right across Europe and growing inequality, it is important for us to acknowledge that revolution and evolution are not mutually exclusive. Continue Reading
by Mattie Carter.
The constant stream of images and information from the Gaza strip can be almost overwhelming at times. Perhaps more than any other time in this long, seemingly unending conflict, there appears to be somewhat of a consensus among politically informed people, particularly the young, that Israel’s use of force has been disproportionate. However, despite this, the rhetoric on both sides is reaching a fever pitch and, whichever side you have more sympathy with, the solution seems further and further away from fruition. Despite a ceasefire brokered by Egypt (at the time of writing), there seems to be little real trust in the public that talks between the two sides will be anything more than a public relations gesture nor that the violence won’t soon begin again.Continue Reading
by Ella Gilbert
Originally published at Concrete.
The grad season is upon us: the time for sweaty palms, nervous, tipsy grins and synthetic wizard robes. Thousands of third year students graduated this week amidst cheers and storms of applause celebrating three years of (mostly) hard graft. Like the rest, I was pleased that it was all over and happy that I could finally get my hands on a tangible recognition of all that work. There was one small hurdle though: the small matter of a certain pompous ceremony. I’m not sure there are many people who relish standing in a billowing Harry Potter gown in front of 800 people, but looking like a prat was lower on my agenda than it might otherwise have been. Sure, I was worried that I might stack it up the stairs or walk off the stage by the wrong exit, but more than anything I was rehearsing what I was going to say to the man I would have to refuse to shake hands with before collecting my certificate. Unfortunately for me, my ceremony was presided over by Edward Acton, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of UEA who will be replaced by David Richardson this coming September. In the run-up to this day, I’d gladly, and perhaps misguidedly, trilled that I would refuse to shake the hand of a man who had overseen such a shocking and deplorable track record of management during the course of my university career. Now, I had to stick to my guns and actually do it.
by David Grounds
After Alan Bennett gave his sermon entitled ‘Fair Play’ at King’s College Cambridge, some of the conversations in my school have turned to the issue of private schools, and why we are attending one. The phrase that I have heard more than once, is a line from Tom Lehrer’s song, ‘Selling Out’:
I’ve always found ideals,
Don’t take the place of meals.
Or, put simply, there’s no point in abolishing private schools if it isn’t going to help on anything other than an ideological level. My objection is simple: it would help. Continue Reading