THE RIGHT TO RIDICULE: SATIRE AS PROTEST

By Jess O’Dwyer

“There is a political power in laughing at these people.”

So say Led By Donkeys, a “Brexit accountability project” created by four friends who wanted to “[channel] frustration into action and [hold] politicians to account with a bit of humour.” The group go around the country putting up billboards with quotes or Tweets from pro-Brexit politicians, as well as projecting or broadcasting previous interviews on Brexit. This is to show a side-by-side comparison of their changes in stance, highlighting contradiction and hypocrisy.

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VOTES AT 16: IT’S TIME FOR TORIES TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS

by James Anthony

In January 2018, it was announced that sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Wales will be given the right to vote in their local elections, under proposals set out by the Welsh Labour government. Along with Scotland, where votes at sixteen is already reality, Welsh policy will now be at odds with England and Northern Ireland where the voting age for any sort of election is eighteen. The idea that someone who is exactly the same age and has just as many years in education as another can be denied the right to vote based on location is extremely unfair. Perhaps it’s time the Conservative government reconsider their position on the voting age.

If the national government are seemingly ok with this being a regional disparity, why not allow it to take place in areas where there is clearly a desire for it? Just under two years ago, Norwich City Council voted unanimously for a proposal which asked for Norwich to be used as a possible ‘pilot area’ for allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to participate in local government elections. Disappointingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any official response to this request from the government although if it exists, I suspect it would be in essence – ‘piss off’. Continue Reading

SELF EDUCATION, NEW SOLUTIONS

by Laura Potts

Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.

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A WORLD IN CRISIS

by Gunnar Eigener

Everywhere we turn to some sort of crisis or damage control is taking place. North Korea’s recent testing of a hydrogen bomb, the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Hurricane Harvey devastating parts of Texas, the cholera epidemic and famine in Yemen, the failure of Brexit negotiations, US President Trump’s ever divisive actions, the list goes on. Our global problems are racking up and cracks are starting to appear.

Many of these problems have been long coming, but are now gathering lethal momentum. The world seems to be constantly on edge, waiting with baited breath for the next catastrophe or attack, humanitarian or economical, to happen. New problems are being created or the foundations of future conflicts being laid. What is probably most frustrating is that many are avoidable.Continue Reading

STRIPTEASE: ADMIRATION FOR SATIRICAL CARTOON

by Richard Worth

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

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND RECLAIMING GLOBALISATION

By Laura Potts

More than 43 000 people come every year from overseas to study in the UK; a vast spectrum of people with differing backgrounds, cultures and interests/abilities. An international student’s experience of learning abroad goes further than just their degree. They encounter a different way of life that may enrich and enhance their own. They each bring with them a unique set of capacities, a wealth of ideas and innovative potential solutions that create a stimulating multicultural academic environment for all. But adapting in this way is often difficult, as I’ve learned recently speaking to international students at my university.

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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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DAVID CAMERON ‘RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RISE OF ISIS?’

by Zoe Harding

Is anyone else starting to feel a little bit sorry for David Cameron? At this point it’s starting to look like the only redeeming feature of his 2016 so far has been that the accusation of pig fellatio is no longer the worst thing that’s happened to him in office. On the 12th of September he quit as a Conservative MP, claiming that he ‘didn’t want to be a distraction’ for Theresa May, and on the 14th we found out why.

A report released by a Foreign Affairs Select Committee found that ‘Through his decision-making in the national security council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya Strategy.’ It alleges that Cameron’s decision to commit military force to intervene in the Libyan revolution was poorly planned and done without considering the consequences, and ultimately led to a power vacuum that was eventually filled by Daesh. Very distracting.Continue Reading

THE LIES WE LOVE TO HEAR

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions xenophobia

“Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams
To know that great civilisations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.”

–Robinson Jeffers, ‘The Answer’

The EU referendum result is the beginning of the UK’s divorce from the mainland. In Austria, the recent election results were declared void and must be re-run, giving the far-right Freedom Party another chance at victory. Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom are exploiting every moment of Brexit to force referendums of their own. It seems we have learnt nothing from the past as we hurtle towards far-right governments, high-unemployment and less financial security. Meanwhile in the US, Donald Trump had to delete a tweet deemed anti-Semitic.

These are just some of the recent events that continue to expose the deep flaws within Western societies but none more so than the ease with which politicians are able to con the public into believing blatant untruths and the ability of the public to turn, literally overnight, into unpleasant, frothing-at-the-mouth racist, xenophobic animals. In the case of the UK, these two flaws are actioned by a minority of people, yet seem to encompass the behaviour of the entire country — a perception enabled by another deep flaw, the media.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

LET THE WORLD SHAKE: THE LYRICAL ACTIVISM OF PJ HARVEY

by Jake Reynolds

On October 2nd, 2011, PJ Harvey appeared on The Andrew Marr Show alongside David Cameron. As soon as Marr mentions that Harvey’s then-latest album, the glorious Let England Shake, tackles ‘a big political subject, in this case Britain and war’, Cameron grits his teeth and asserts that he is ‘very keen’ on the album. Harvey’s polite laugh is the kind we all offer when confronted with a mildly xenophobic taxi driver.

‘Do you think they [the government] are doing alright on culture?’ Marr asks. At this point, Harvey gently and articulately condemns the ‘100% cuts’ in her home county of Somerset. She laments the notion that economic growth in Tory Britain is viewed as the only worthwhile goal. Bizarrely, Cameron awkwardly nods, as if a brief and sudden shot of humanity has temporarily penetrated his reptilian hide. She is, of course, swiftly and patronisingly cut off. ‘You’d better go and get your guitar ready,’ Marr says, clapping his hands together. And so the camera crops her out and focuses back on the men in suits.Continue Reading

THE EU: ARE WE REALLY IN THIS TOGETHER?

by Gunnar Eigener

‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.’ – George Orwell

In the aftermath of acts of terrorism — spotlight grabbing though it might be — politicians reach out, indirectly and through other politicians, to those affected. It demonstrates that perhaps they possess some element of humanity themselves. The media briefly shows the caring actions of the people of those countries and cities devastated, physically and emotionally. Then, once all has been said and done, business returns to normal.

We point and laugh across the pond at the circus that is Donald Trump’s presidential bid. We criticise the depths to which the Republicans stoop to find a scapegoat for America’s problems. Yet what we fail to recognise is that the same process is taking place here — it is simply spread across European governments instead of being conveniently bundled up into one laughable narcissistic crazy-haired package. We try to convince ourselves that not in Europe would we allow such bile and hatred come from one individual and we don’t. But nor do we look at the bigger picture and see that very same bile and hatred come in the form of legislation and government actions.Continue Reading

OUR ENVIRONMENT: STARING INTO THE ABYSS

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by Gunnar Eigener

“When the last tree has been cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught then we will find out that we can’t eat money.” Anonymous proverb

We look to politicians, policy-makers and leaders of industry for guidance and reassurance that the world we live in is being taken care of, for us to live in now and for future generations to enjoy. We shouldn’t bother. When it comes to the environment it’s hard to know where to turn to and who to trust.  Donald Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” According to a Greenpeace report, the Koch brothers have invested about $79 million in anti-climate change research and like-minded groups. Last week saw the sale of National Geographic to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox whose news channel, Fox News, was found in 2013 to be only 72% accurate when reporting on science-related segments.

Here,in the UK, the Conservatives have cut support for onshore wind farms and solar installations and changed their minds about fracking on sites of scientific interest (SSSIs).to make any place fair game. New legislation ensures that the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) must change its selection process for members, potentially giving more influence to energy and fuel industry representatives and reducing the level of expertise available to the board. Meanwhile, going as far back as 2011, Florida officials within the Department of Environmental Protection were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability’.

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OUR POLITICAL WELFARE STATE: GREED AND IGNORANCE IN WESTMINSTER

by Gunnar Eigener


“Whenever governments adopt a moral tone- as opposed to an ethical one – you know something is wrong.”
John Ralston Saul

MPs and politicians talk about getting people off benefits and out of the welfare culture. Perhaps they should lead by example and get off the gravy train, courtesy of the taxpayer.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has claimed around £31,000 in London hotel stays despite owning a home in Essex. Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire, has previously claimed £5950 in London hotel stays despite owning a flat about 1 mile from Parliament. Speaker John Bercow claimed £367 for travelling to Luton – to talk about the MPs expenses scandal. Richard Benyon MP, worth £110 million, received about £120,000 in housing benefits, largely from immigrant tenants in his properties. Yet he stated: “Labour want benefits to go up to more than the earnings of people in work. It isn’t fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture.”Continue Reading

MASS DEBATE: DEBUNKING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TV DEBATES

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 by Jack Brindelli

The television debates are actually a trilogy of the most tedious, trivial events in the course of the UK general election. And I don’t say that lightly. They are a nuisance water-cooler moment at best, where bearded wastrels can gather on Twitter to discuss what a large forehead David Cameron has, or whether Nick Clegg’s shirt is saffron, or more of a dog-vomit yellow. And yet, nobody believes me — and as we begin the ominous countdown to polling day in May, they have become one of the biggest talking points in British political culture. But surely the events of the past few months regarding the Greens prove my point?

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