RUPERT READ IS NOT THE PEER THE GREEN PARTY NEEDS

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By Lewis Martin

Content warning: mentions transphobia

As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART II

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Part I of this article can be found here.

Since the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement and formally left the European Union on 31st January, Remainers and Leavers are just as polarised as they ever were. Much of the rhetoric from Leavers and Remainers demonstrates a warped understanding of what the EU actually is and how it works. In this part, we address a few notable example of the things which both sides get very, very wrong.

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART I

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Lots of people are probably feeling quite deflated at the moment, after the United Kingdom finally signed the Withdrawal Agreement and officially left the European Union on 31st January. Liberal Remainers are certainly making their grief known to the world, crying from the digital rooftops and tearing their virtual hair out. Meanwhile the most fanatic Leavers are probably wondering why all the foreigners are still here and why milk and flour still comes in litres and kilograms. It’s all fiction of course. We’ve not left the EU yet in economic terms, so until the end of the year almost nothing will change. 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

THE FUTURE OF STUDENTS’ UNIONS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #4

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Students’ Unions are meant to defend students’ rights, fighting with and for them during their time at university and beyond. However, modern SUs are often dominated by corporate thinking, consumer culture and cosy collusion with university management. Radical, grassroots democracy is often muted or discouraged, channelled instead into more temperate, gradual and piecemeal avenues by Unions centralised in their functioning and timid in their approach.

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THE EU IS GIVING FASCISM ITS SIX MONTHS IN THE SUN

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: articles mentions fascism, neo-Nazis, anti-Roma and anti-Gypsy sentiments, concentration camps and violence. Article contains strong language, derogatory language and includes descriptions of assault. Video includes scenes of violence.

The EU is led by gangsters, racists, and neo-Nazis.

I don’t mean that in a Ukippy way. I mean that until the 30th June 2018, the presidency of the Council of the European Union will be held by Bulgaria, and will prominently feature a colourful circus of hate mongers, criminals and outright fascists.

The government in Sofia is currently propped up by a coalition of truly nasty bastards called the ‘United Patriots’, who are united mostly by their shared sense of aggressive racism. It is comprised of three parties: the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO), and ‘Ataka’ (simply, attack).Continue Reading

2017: THE YEAR OF THE YOUTHQUAKE?

by Bradley Allsop

Youth voter turnout has long been a topic of debate, controversy and worry in British politics. Always below the national average, it has plunged even more than other age-groups’ dovetailing turnout in recent decades, sparking expressions of concern (although comparatively little policy change) from political parties. This seemed to have changed last June, with sites such as Yougov and NME reporting large increases in the youth vote for the 2017 general election, with the figures suggesting the largest rise in youth turnout in British political history.

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FEES, FREE SPEECH AND FILIBUSTERING – A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAM GYIMAH MP

by Lewis Martin

Here’s a sentence I’ve wanted to write for some time: Jo Johnson is no longer the Universities minister. Last week Theresa May ‘promoted’ him to the transport office and made him the new minister for London. His removal came just days after Toby Young was forced to resign from the Office for Students (OfS) board, in part due to his link to a eugenics conference held at UCL.

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THE 2017 PAPUA NEW GUINEA ELECTION: BAD LUCK?

by Maud Webster

The 2017 Papua New Guinea election was fraught with allegations, violence and anger. Yet the object of the disquiet – Peter O’Neill – was still re-elected as Prime Minister. He represents the People’s National Congress Party, which has been rising rapidly in popularity over the past couple of decades. In 2002, they were in opposition with two votes, but entered government in 2007. Now, they hold twenty-seven. O’Neill has held the position since 2011 and just about holds it still, by obtaining support from minor parties and scrabbling together support for his party’s re-election. Following coalition discussions, his vote support margin stood at sixty votes to forty-six.

The election itself was blighted by disorganisation and electoral roll irregularities, in addition to initial dissatisfaction with O’Neill’s first term. Voters expressed concerns about the chaotic economy, rife with extensive borrowing. Whilst statistics show growth in GDP, growth has dropped from 13.3% in 2014 to a mere 2% in 2016.

The election itself was an appalling farce. Continue Reading

DEBT RISING – HOW TUITION FEES ARE KILLING UNIVERSITIES

by Lewis Martin

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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

by Bradley Allsop

For the third time in a year an earthquake has rocked the political establishment, upsetting polls, pundits and precedent alike. Yet this time, unlike the division and isolation of Brexit, or the utter horror of Trump, we instead have hope. Snatching insurgence from the jaws of implosion, Labour and the broader left have risen to the edge of power. Yet whilst the election result was an excellent start, surviving the challenges our society faces will require much more. We need to build a movement which aims for nothing less than a complete transformation of our society. It is crucial now that we do not succumb to hubris or allow ourselves to be absorbed by the internal Conservative party debates – we need to use the time granted by their division to plan, organise and mobilise the movement that will transform Britain.

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WHO ARE THE DUP?

by Zoe Harding

Content warning: article mentions terrorism, (anti) abortion, homophobia, racism

So, the election was fun, right? Even if you didn’t vote Labour (and fair enough if you didn’t), watching Theresa May fall from an unassailable lead in the polls all the way to a humiliatingly hung Parliament, in a blizzard of vague soundbites, invasive and inadequate policies and flailing attempts to smear the opposition, was still rather viscerally satisfying in its own way. Early Friday morning saw a weird sense of relief from many who expected a Tory landslide.

Unfortunately, early Friday morning turned to mid-Friday morning, and then suddenly dove back into the bad old days, with the announcement that a desperate May government had decided to form a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to form a government.Continue Reading

IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN? – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #6

from a member of UEA Labour Students

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.

Having resolved to sit down today and write this article, I’m struck by the appropriateness of my day. I caught the bus to UEA from outside one of the few remaining Sure Start centres, a public service provided by the last Labour government which has been decimated by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats) since 2010. My bus was 40 minutes late, the consequence of a privatised, under-funded service – and even the previously UEA-hosted launderette I went to had been privatised since I last used it. It served as a strong reminder of the power of Labour government to change lives for the better, which contrasts with the crumbling services and privatisation festival that has characterised the last 7 years of Conservative and ConDem government.

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EVERY VOTE COUNTS – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #2

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.

I can’t be the only one growing a little exhausted with all these elections, right? Nonetheless, tired as we are, it has never been more important that we all get out and vote. In the local elections we saw something of a decimation of left leaning parties, to the benefit of the Tories. What’s more, those elections featured some astoundingly low turnout figures, many below 30%. As a result of this, I feel it is incumbent on me to encourage anyone reading this to ensure that they get out and vote in the general election on June 8th.

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ONE WAY TO REBUILD FAITH IN POLITICS? MAKE MPS TAKE THEIR JOB SERIOUSLY.

by Olivia Hanks

The news that George Osborne is the new editor of the London Evening Standard was met with widespread disbelief in Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the former chancellor was “taking multitasking to an extreme level – what a joke”.

There are so many angles from which to object to this appointment that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, the brazen conflict of interest has already led to speculation about whether Osborne will be forced to step down as an MP. A prominent MP becoming editor of a major newspaper is a serious threat to UK democracy (we seem to be averaging about one a day now), and is sure to diminish our reputation around the world.Continue Reading

THE STATE OF THE NATION ISN’T GREAT

by Zoe Harding

Article contains strong language.

Okay, I’m not writing another article to bait angry American conservative shitheads. That was funny, don’t get me wrong. I could have got a whole article called: ‘101 talking points for miserable dickheads’ out of it. (For more details, see my Nazi-Punching guide to kicking the Alt-Right in the teeth and my general reasoning for violence against people who advocate genocide, and its gloriously rage-filled comment section.)

But enough baiting easily-baited term-searching nationalist wankers. Let’s be more international and talk about another democratic nation with severe racial tensions, corruption problems and an unpopular leader accused of incompetence: South Africa. On February 9th, Zuma gave the traditional State of the Nation Address of the President of South Africa (SONA, for short) to the parliament.

It didn’t start well.Continue Reading

NOT YOUR FUCKING BARGAINING CHIP

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by Lewis Martin

Last week, 322 MPs voted against an amendment that would have assured the rights of the three million European migrants that live in the UK to remain here after Brexit. Of these three million people, roughly 6 percent are EU students. And for a majority of those, these are times of uncertainty and anxiety. Those 322 MPs, including three from Labour, have sent a clear message to EU students who want to remain in this country: you are just bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations over the next two years.

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SQUALOR, OVERCROWDING, EVICTIONS – THE TORIES HAVE NO ANSWERS ON THE HOUSING CRISIS

by Olivia Hanks

“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.Continue Reading

ARTICLE 50 AND THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING OPPOSITION

by Olivia Hanks

The debate over Article 50 has brought out sharp divisions in British politics, with Tulip Siddiq’s departure from the Labour front bench potentially the first of several resignations. Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation that he will impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to back the triggering of Article 50 has caused discontent within his party and outside it, for its message to the government is: do what you like – we won’t make a fuss.

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THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS YOU’RE READING THIS

by Zoe Harding

CW: pornography

Just a heads-up: The government knows you’re reading this.

Literally. Amidst the endless torrents of nonsense spewing from the ongoing Brexit negotiations (update: Theresa May throws up hands, announces ‘Fuck it all, God will sort it out’) and the dawn of a new chapter in the great story of democracy, the government the British people did not elect and didn’t really ask for passed some of the most intrusive legislation a British government has ever passed. The Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, is due to be signed into law in a couple of weeks, and it manages what can only be called a very British Government feat in being both poorly-worded and terrifying.

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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

SEVEN WAYS THE TORIES HAVE UNDERMINED OUR DEMOCRACY

by Chris Jarvis

Since coming to power under the coalition in 2010, the Tories have repeatedly paid lip service to the principles of democracy. David Cameron’s concept of the ‘big society’ was outlined in democratic terms, where local communities would be empowered to have control over public services and community projects. ‘Localism’ and rhetoric around extending local democracy were key components of both the 2010 and 2015 Conservative Party General Election platforms.

Ultimately though, the reality is far from the picture Conservative ministers and strategists are painting. Through Cameron to May, the Tories have repeatedly undermined democracy in Britain and we are far worse off as a result. Here are just seven of the many ways they have done this.Continue Reading

FIVE IMPRESSIVE FACTS ABOUT THE GREEN PARTY LEADERSHIP

by Chris Jarvis

Last weekend, the Green Party crowned its new leader, at its largest conference to date. The result came as no surprise to anybody – Caroline Lucas and her Co-Leader running mate Jonathan Bartley were elected with an overwhelming mandate, scooping up a phenomenal 86% of the vote. Given that the result was largely a foregone conclusion at the point that candidates were announced, and that the election would naturally get swallowed by the much larger, more adversarial battle in the Labour Party, this was a subdued, uninspiring election.

In spite of that, the Green Party and their leadership are unique, fascinating and impressive in a whole range of ways. Here are five of them.Continue Reading

THE RIGHT TO ENVY

by George Laver

If, over the last year or so, anybody has been monitoring political discourse, it should have come as no surprise that the Labour Party has collapsed into meltdown. From an anti-electoral onlooker’s perspective, it is over trivial matters; but to the dedicated parliamentarian, it is a cause for some concern. In particular, there are the issues surrounding supposed “entryists” and “Trotskyists” amongst the rank-and-file of pro-Corbyn Labourites. A bitter repeat of the witch hunts against members of the “militant tendency” in the 1980s, this too would be no surprise to those who had the foresight to expect it.

Whilst I am not writing this to defend Trotskyism – or even to defend entryists tactics, parliamentarianism, and so on – I am writing in defence of those who hold viewpoints that are considered outliers to the common political discourse; and in spite of the fact that left-wingers are brandished with the label of “the politics of envy,” there is a perfect justification for envy. It is not a label from which we should blush and shy away.Continue Reading

SOME WORRIES, MATE: THE ONGOING AUSTRALIAN ELECTION

by Zoe Harding

Who’s the Australian prime minister?

Don’t worry if you don’t know. In addition to Australia being very far away, it’s rarely covered by either the British or American media unless someone’s found an entertaining new way of being killed by the wildlife. Even in the digital age, Australia is culturally and politically isolated from the Anglophone western world, marginalised by the sensationalised nightmare of American politics and Anglo-American cultural dominance.

The other reason you might not know is because Australian politics is a turbulent sea of leadership challenges and political manoeuvring. Since 2007 five different prime ministers have been in office — Labor’s Kevin Rudd from 2007 to 2010, was deposed by Julia Gillard, who led a different Labor government until 2013 when Rudd pushed her out again. The infighting was one of the reasons for the rise of the infamous Tony Abbot later in 2013, who ruled for two years before being booted out of office by Malcom Turnbull, the current Liberal Prime Minister, in September 2015.

Last week, a federal election began across the country to elect all 226 members of the Australian parliament.Continue Reading

REFERENDUMS: THE LOWEST FORM OF DEMOCRACY

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by Olivia Hanks

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

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

AIR POLLUTION IS A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE

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by Olivia Hanks

The news that Boris Johnson buried a report on air pollution around schools while mayor of London does not exactly come as a surprise. Johnson’s record on air quality was atrocious – despite widespread concern over the issue throughout his eight years as mayor, virtually nothing has been done to alleviate what the World Health Organisation has called a public health crisis. The Campaign for Clean Air in London and the Environmental Audit Committee have been highly critical of Johnson for his inaction. And although London is the worst offender, many UK cities are in breach of EU laws on pollution, with little sign that the problem is being taken sufficiently seriously. Castle Meadow in Norwich has recorded nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels above EU legal limits every year since 2007 – a situation which Bert Bremner, the Labour city councillor with responsibility for environmental issues, described in a BBC Look East interview (interview starts at 4:31) earlier this year as “not dangerous […] the reality is what you feel when you’re there”. This, replicated across the UK, is the attitude that has led to inertia on this issue for so long – the ‘my grandma smoked 80 a day and she lived to 102’ school of argument.Continue Reading

THE 10 BIGGEST POLITICAL WINNERS OF 2015

By Chris Jarvis

2015 has been a tumultuous year for politics. From the rise of the SNP to the shock victory of the Conservatives in the General Election and from the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party to the decimation of the Liberal Democrats, it has been a year like no other. As the year draws to a close, our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis offers analysis as to who are the 10 biggest political winners of 2015.

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THE DEATH OF THATCHERISM?

by Alex Hort-Francis

Corbyn’s first week shows direct democracy is essential to empower his supporters, and keep his enemies at bay.

Watching the Andrew Marr show the morning after the Labour leadership election felt like waking up in a fictional alternate history; people like that never get into positions of power in the real world. Along with coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s win was an interview with the cyborgified brain of Adolf Hitler, who criticised Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, followed by Keith Richards on what his coven of deathless vampire musicians thought about the resurgence of Britain’s left.

The prompt media attack on Team Corbyn has been equal parts predictable and absurd. Within hours of his appointment as shadow chancellor the internet was plastered with the irrelevant factoid that John McDonnell once whimsically commented he would, were he a time traveller, return to the 80s and assassinate Margaret Thatcher — a premise I’m hopeful Chris Mullin turns into a feature-length tv drama.Continue Reading

FIGHT AUSTERITY – MARCH ON THE STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT

by Hannah Sketchley, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

The State Opening of Parliament is a frankly bizarre occasion.  In the heat of the sun, lots of people wearing ludicrous uniforms parade around Parliament Square and the surrounding area, do a bit of figure marching and fence the public out of their roads to make way for the Queen.  Following the poor woman being wheeled around in what looks to be a terribly uncomfortable gilded coach for several hours, in and out of the figure marching furry hats, she toddles into Westminster, reads a speech someone shoves in front of her and bang!  The new government is consecrated, official and running the country for the next five years.

This year, the State Opening of Parliament is on Wednesday, May 27, and the Tories will have their government legitimised by every flavour of pomp and circumstance going.  They will do so with just 37% of the vote, and with the consent of 24% of eligible voters in the UK.Continue Reading

THERE ARE MORE WOMEN IN PARLIAMENT THAN EVERY BEFORE

There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.

While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days, be looking at some of them.

by Chris Jarvis

Beneath all the headlines of Tory victory and everything that is now to come, an interesting shift has taken place on our political landscape. Lying underneath the surface is a change in the kind of people presented in the public eye as political leaders.

Thursday’s election produced a parliament that has more women than ever before. 191 of the 650 Members of Parliament elected last week are women and 100 of the 232 Labour MPs, just shy of half are women. The number of women in the parliamentary party of the SNP and the Conservatives also increased. While this is far, far from where we should be in terms of women’s representation – in total, just 29% of MPs are now women –  the steps towards parity should be cautiously welcomed.

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ANTI-TORY MPS ARE GREATER IN NUMBER NOW THAN BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION

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There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.

While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.

by Chris Jarvis

Although the Conservatives narrowly tipped themselves over the line to form a majority once all the seats were counted after polls closed on Thursday, the irony of the election is that the parliamentary arithmetic is actually less in the Tories favour than it was in 2010.

If you add all the MPs together who are likely to vote with the Tories on the majority of their programme, the number now stands at 350 — that is the combined total of UKIP, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist, and Conservative seats. After 2010, it stood at 371. That means that the combined weight of the progressive, or at least anti-Tory parties, are in greater number now than they were after the last election. Between the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, and Sinn Fein, there are 299 MPs, compared to 276 in 2010.Continue Reading

THE CASE FOR ELECTORAL REFORM IS NOW IRRESISTIBLE

There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.

While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.

by Chris Jarvis

No election in British history has so clearly highlighted the incompatibility of the first past the post electoral system with sense than this one. Ever since 1983, when the SDP-Liberal alliance won 25% of the vote, and yet received only 23 seats in parliament, the faults in the bizarre system we use to elect our parliament have become more and more apparent.Continue Reading

THE AGE OF REASON REDUX

by Jack Brindelli 

It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.

There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.

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THEY’RE BACK: FREE EDUCATION MARCH TAKES LONDON BY STORM

by Jack Brindelli.

Thousands of enraged students marched through the streets of the capital on Wednesday November 19th to call for Free Education – despite warnings of ‘health and safety’ issues causing the NUS to withdraw its support for the demonstration. Regardless, over 4000 students still converged on London, in an energetic march that toured past flashpoints such as Parliament Square – the site of a mass police kettle in December 2010 – and a number of sites belonging to corporate tax-dodgers like Starbucks. It was, as a result, a predictably vibrant and radical affair, which promises to revitalise both the student and anti-cuts movement – with a focus not just on student issues, but a distinct call for an alternative to austerity present in every section of the march.

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