ADAT YESHUA FOODBANK: ON THE FRONT LINE OF PANDEMIC POVERTY

By Sean Meleady

The Jewish community in Norwich has a rich history which goes back centuries. As the Covid-19 pandemic writes a new chapter in the history of the city, one Synagogue on Essex Street has helped set up a food bank in an area sharply divided by wealth disparity.

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SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY: NORFOLK AGAINST HOLIDAY HUNGER

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By Sean Meleady

While Marcus Rashford has been making headlines with the campaign that led to a government u-turn on free meals vouchers, community groups are working hard to make sure that free meals vouchers are provided to families that need them during every school holiday, not just while the Coronavirus pandemic is in the news.   

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WHY IS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT PUSHING TO ENTER THE US UNDER THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT?

un meeting room

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: racism, violence, police brutality, suicide

I’ll admit, the title of this article is posed in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner, but the underlying premise points to two concurring factors: the hypocrisy and northern hemisphere-bias underpinning global governance, and the distinct shift towards authoritarianism that we are currently seeing in Trump’s America; the latter possibly justifying intervention under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. The Trump administration’s current bent towards authoritarianism is not mere hyperbole, nor the incendiary Twitter-ranting of an orange mad man, but a dark and extremely worrying leap towards the kind of repression that characterizes Assad’s Syria, or the recent kidnappings in Iraq, wherein those protesting against the regime are bundled into unmarked cars and whisked away into the night. Continue Reading

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

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

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE RIOTING AND THE LOOTING

riot fire blm chad davis

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

We need to talk about the rioting. And the looting. And the destruction of statues during recent Black Lives Matter protests. We really do. The failure to recognise the entrenched nature of historical and enduring structural violence in both the US and the UK speaks volumes in terms of the normalization of oppression, enforced poverty, racism and discrimination in contemporary society. Whilst there are certainly white victims of structural violence, it is an irrefutable fact that Black or minority ethnic communities experience the most severe intersecting consequences – not as uncomfortable rarities, but as a grinding, every day, relentless struggle, which as we have seen in the case of George Floyd along with so many other black men, women and youth, can too often have fatal results.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

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

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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NARRATIVES OF POWER & THE SILENCING OF COMMUNITY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled. Continue Reading

CLIMATE CHANGE, DISASTERS AND DISEASE

by Gunnar Eigener

Between 2013 and 2016, the Ebola virus raged through western Africa, killing over 11,000 people. A lack of preparedness, underfunding for health facilities and the stigmatization of infected individuals led to the spreading and an inability to combat the virus sooner. Nevertheless, it managed to be contained. Now, however, it risks spreading again, this time reappearing in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moving towards Uganda. Having already claimed more than 1,500 lives, the promise by world leaders that this would not happen again is ringing hollow. The actions that were supposed to speak louder than words have failed to materialise and once again, the rest of the world looks on while Africans die.

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REGENERATING THE COAST THROUGH DANCE: A REVIEW OF FIRST LIGHT FESTIVAL

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by Alex Day

At 4 AM, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, a crowd assembled on the beach. On stage, Talvin Singh performed a 45-minute rendition of ‘Light’, from his Mercury Prize-winning album Ok. Waves of dreamy ambient sound flooded in. With impressive synchronicity, a soft blue light filled the sky. 

It was the weekend of the summer solstice, a celebration of the arrival of summer, and the longest day of the year, at Britain’s most easterly point. We were gathered for First Light Festival; an eclectic pageant of orchestras, electronic music, contemporary dance and workshops in honour of our closest star, the Sun. Free to enter and running continuously for 24 hours, First Light included attractions such as Gilles Peterson and Rosemary Lee. On the beach, locals and outsiders fused into a rosy heap under 30-degree temperatures. 

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THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL IS BULLYING STUDENTS INTO PAYING RENT

By Lewis Martin

In these days of marketisation and democratic collapse, it’s rare that a piece of news comes out from a university that is so fucked up it leaves me lost for words. But the University of Liverpool managed it, with the news that they’ve been handing down academic sanctions to students who cannot pay their rent.

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WHY ISN’T EVERYONE A SOCIALIST?

by Jonathan Lee

It’s a dirty word for many who don’t really understand what it means. People often broadly sweep Socialism into a single ideology, which is much maligned as an unworkable and authoritarian regime, seemingly unsuitable for the modern day, and unpopular amongst the electorate.

I’ll start out being optimistic, and assume that this ignorance of what Socialism is explains why some people discount it out of hand. Because the premise of Socialism is generally one that I have to believe most people should aspire to in some way. “Every human being should be a moderate Socialist,” Thomas Mann said.

Why? Because Socialism is a general set of social, political, and economic views that places people first. And what’s the point of having a democratic society, in which we the people place power in the hands of a select few to manage our lives, if not to make things generally better for people as a whole?Continue Reading

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

AN OPEN LETTER TO STEVE DOWNES, EDP.

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by Eli Lambe 

No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.

What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?Continue Reading

OLD JERUSALEM AND JERICHO

by Chris Jarvis

They talk of dreaming spires
sleeping beneath them is routine
Crammed into a shop front
derailed carriage lost steam

Through the spiralled alleyways
off the beaten track
A dampen sodden mattress
a man laid on his backContinue Reading

IT’S OUR ‘YOUTHQUAKE’ – WHAT WILL WE MAKE OF IT?

by Bradley Allsop

Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”

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FOOD (NOT SO) GLORIOUS FOOD. PART 2: BITTER-SWEET FREE MARKETS

by Stu Lucy

In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.Continue Reading

THE MANY COSTS OF STUDENT POVERTY

By Laura Potts

Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.

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3 TIPS FOR ETHICAL TOURISM

by Eve Lacroix

When travelling to a new place you know to anticipate that things are not the same as at home— and you will discover in which way quickly enough. This could mean hearing a new language, covering your head and shoulders when entering a place of worship, or drinking a different type of coffee. You may learn to point your feet away from the statue of the Buddha, eat with a fork and spoon, greet people with a kiss on the cheek, or even expect incoming traffic on a different side of the road. Keeping in mind all the differing customs helps to properly respect the historical, spiritual and cultural significance of landmarks, locations, or places of faith.

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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

DICTATORSHIPS & DEMOCRACY

by Gunnar Eigener

‘Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people.’
– Abraham Lincoln

Democracy has long been the banner to which Western leaders rally their troops to fight under. The Brexit referendum is a prime example of extreme democracy, progress for some at the expense of others. The desired outcome for the Leave campaign is for the UK to become a self-governing democracy. Just how much more democratic will the country become?

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IT’S GRIM UP NORTH: HOW THE NORTH OF BRITAIN HAS BEEN LEFT BEHIND

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by Pierce Robinson

The North – South divide in the British Isles is still one of the most controversial topics in contemporary UK politics and society. The economic and political differences between the two ends of the country have been a common characteristic of these islands for decades. If you live anywhere north of Birmingham, the signs that you have entered a different part of the country are clear, even just the fact that you would choose gravy chips over a kebab – but most importantly, the level of poverty increases dramatically. The United Kingdom has the highest level of inequality in Western Europe, yet with a capital city that continues to flourish every day, why are we not seeing the similar signs of fortune increase in the North?Continue Reading

GLOBAL POVERTY: THE GROWING ACCEPTANCE OF HARVESTING ORGANS

by Gunnar Eigener

A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal about human organs for sale showed a glimpse into yet another aspect of human nature, particularly of the wealthy and elite, that demonstrates our willingness to exploit just about anything possible. It talks about how in the West many people need, yet die, as a result of waiting for organ transplants, especially kidneys and livers. Somehow, this leads to the justifying of creating a global organ marketplace with imagined safeguards in place that would prevent exploitation. Never does it seem to occur to the authors that this entire suggestion is exploitative as they end the article with the belief that, despite initial horror at the idea, eventually ‘the sale of organs would grow to be accepted’.

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THE WAR ON DRUGS IS RACIST: EXPLORING THE USA’S CRACK COCAINE EPIDEMIC

By Eve Lacroix

John Ehrlichman, an aide to President Richard Nixon, has confirmed what black activists and drug policy reformists have known for decades: the War on Drugs is not only a failure, but it is also a racist and controlling political tool.

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THE PANAMA PAPERS AND THE MYTH OF PUBLIC SERVICE

by George Laver

Following the unexpected leak of around 11.5 million documents from a law firm based in Panama, known as Mossack Fonseca, an upheaval of an internationally unprecedented scale has begun. Just this week in Iceland, protests managed to uproot and depose the Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson following the revelations of his involvement with the law firm. It would seem that Iceland’s now-former PM is at least a little more receptive to the voice of protesters than our own.

It is ours who instead decided to reflex their power first through soft means – rejection of discussion, suddenly producing papers on the matter, or even averting the discourse to another open window – which will eventually filter through the armed wings of government in response to protest, being an increasingly well-armed police force and, if push came to shove, the army. Already in response to the revelations in the UK, there have been protests attended by the thousands, with many more set to occur within the next fortnight. Even amongst the calamity, I feel that there is a key question being missed: What vacuum in public appeal does this present? Tackling the cause at its root, it is this question that much be redressed; although it is formally an issue concerning tax, the deeper principle at hand – and truths which can be demonstrated – surround the very nature of public service.

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EXPOSURE DOESN’T PAY RENT, BUT NEITHER DOES SNOBBERY

 By Robyn Banks

“Exposure doesn’t pay rent”- it’s something we’ve likely all heard before, whether you’re a business looking to save money on photography, asking a friend for a favour or simply scrolling through Tumblr. The line “We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure!” has become the bane of every artist’s life, and it’s understandable why. There has never been a sector of the workforce who have been asked so frequently to work for free as the creative sector. However, I don’t believe there has ever been such an individually vocal sector of the UKs exploited workforce, either.

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NORWICH’S WAR ON FOOD WASTE

by Rowan Van Tromp

Those of you who know me, have read my articles or listened to me speak, will know that I am passionate about environmental sustainability within the food supply chain. I have highlighted issues of soil degradation associated with inorganic farming, as well as the vast resource usage and carbon emissions related to meat and dairy consumption, but there is one environmental issue that I have campaigned on more than any other, and that is food waste.
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THE CHANGING FACE OF POVERTY IN LONDON

By Natasha Senior

I often hear that too many Westminster policies only benefit London. This part is technically true. London is not only the financial capital of the UK but the financial capital of the world—a fact reflected in how disproportionately powerful and wealthy it is compared to the rest of the UK. The country’s government and national media are both based in London which invariably means that the issues discussed will tend to be skewed towards the area (something I only realised when I moved away). But for all the ways you could describe the city’s privileged position—even if your personal choice of adjective is less than favourable (crowded, impersonal, selfish… etc.)—try to bear in mind what exactly you’re describing. Is it the City of London or the citizens of London? Because the distinction between them represents two profoundly different worlds, divided by wealth, housing and opportunity. This is a divide that deepens every year at an alarming rate.

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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LIBERAL CONSERVATIVE PARTY

by Natasha Senior

When George Osborne took to the stage at the Conservative party conference, he had an air of confidence that spoke volumes. He tapped into a sense that has been palpable for a while now, the widely held belief that he is the saviour of the British economy. Soaked with ambition, he painted for us his bold and vibrant vision for Britain, creating a northern powerhouse and putting the working, taxpaying people at the heart of his plans. He decreed his party the builders of Britain and the only true party of labour whilst unapologetically championing his more liberal politics. Then as the applause rolled in, showering him with reverence and adoration, the next five years unfolded in front of me and I could see this man winning the 2020 general election. The thought of it made me feel sick to my stomach.Continue Reading

I DID MY BEST TO LEARN THE RULES

by Robyn Banks

I did my best to learn the rules.
The world was a nice place,
children shared, we waited our turn,
we helped those in need and said thankyou and please.

The board was black and the chalk was white,
together we learned to read and write,
I tried to learn the rules.
There used to be racism,
there used to be war,
there used to be poverty and workhouses and suffering
but Martin Luther King had a dream and women won the vote
and everyone shared now, and waited their turn
and Tony Blair painted rainbow children on my primary school walls.Continue Reading

THE GATHERING STORM OF AUSTERITY

by Natasha Senior

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square. 

Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation.  We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.Continue Reading

FOOD WASTE – IS LEGISLATION THE BEST PATH TO FOLLOW?

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by Rowan Van Tromp

The past few weeks have seen waves of literature surrounding the issue of food waste by supermarkets, following the French parliament’s decision to pass legislation compelling retailers with 4,305 square feet of store space to donate any unsold, but still edible, food, to charity or for use as animal feed or farming compost. All stores which fall under this criterion are obliged to sign agreements with charities to facilitate the redistribution of such food by 2016, or could face penalties of up to €75,000.

Calls have since been made for the UK to follow suit, and no wonder given that the UK far and away wastes the most food out of any European country — amounting to 15bn tonnes a year according to the government backed organisation WRAP, although just over 1% of this comes from storesContinue Reading

STUDENTS: END AUSTERITY NOW! JOIN THE NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

by Liam McCafferty

Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?

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‘MY CHOICE’ AND WHETHER IT IS A BURDEN TO US ALL

by Srishti Dutta Chowdhury

Disclaimer: Mentions female foeticide, abortion, and domestic abuse.

As part of the Vogue Empower project, that was initiated in October 2014, to commemorate the seventh year for Vogue in India, Homi Adajania’s video ‘My Choice’ features some prominent faces in the country of India. Besides Deepika Padukone, there’s Adjania’s wife, actress Nimrat Kaur, film critic Anupama Chopra, and Director Zoya Akhtar, among others.

The video went viral on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in a matter of days — which is great news except it garnered negative criticisms everywhere. The reservation against the video by feminists and gender activists is understandable. According to a large number, while the video seeks to raise questions such as ‘If men can do what they want, why should women be deprived of the same right?’, it falls short of effectively addressing the question of women empowerment.

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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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PHOTOJOURNALISM: SHOOT OR SAVE?

by Jess Howard

The world of fashion and artistic photography are always portrayed as incredibly glamourous. Pre-organised shoots or models dressed in couture to advertise the latest perfume. Photojournalism falls into a slightly different category. Sitting on the boundaries between art and reporting, a photojournalist’s job is to depict the events and suffering that words are unable to convey.

But how does a photojournalist disconnect from the suffering they are capturing, without wanting to help those in the picture?

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COMMODITY PRICES, REVOLUTIONS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE

by Sam Alston

You can probably be excused for failing to notice that commodity prices on the whole have been falling. The price of gold (19.5% fall over the year), wheat (20% fall), and oil (over 30% fall) on global markets have all dropped recently. This has left mainstream finance reporters rather excited. As with house prices rises, commodity price falls are apparently a fundamentally good thing.  However it’s worth considering what this commodity price movement actually means.

Lower commodity prices means lower production costs for net importers of commodities (much of the western world), thus supposedly lower prices. The continual rise in the price of things like energy and bread that we have seen in the past few years should abate.  Since it has been made clear over the last few years that society no longer guarantees the right to commodities needed to live (like food), a reduction in these prices would potentially be the best step to stop people starving.

Those of a more revolutionary bent, may be slightly disappointed. A high cost of living has helped to bring down dictatorial governments in places like Tunisia, helped prompt the occupy movement, and just last week promoted an uprising in Burkina Faso that saw the parliament burnt to the ground.Continue Reading

LIVING WAGE: ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’

by Mark Hughes

‘What’s going on’? Was a questioned asked by Marvin Gaye in 1971, when his same titled album was released. It was a question that Gaye raised in his own mind after coming to the conclusion that American society after the Vietnam war had descended into a catalogue of civil right abuses, injustice, and inequality.

In today’s Britain it will not be surprising if the same rhetorical question as once asked by Gaye is still not prevalent amongst the workers of Gt Britain. Standing dazed and blinking as they witness a wave of attacks upon their living standards, pension rights, housing costs, and a whole raft of government measures designed to remove the security of the welfare state. The working people of Gt Britain cannot be blamed for asking the same question, ‘what is going on’?Continue Reading

IMAGINING THE POOR: NOTES ON POVERTY AND WELFARE

by Steffan Smith

Who are the poor? Why are they poor? And what keeps them so? These three simple questions are central to the way in which we as a society approach the welfare needs of our poorest people.

To sift society’s answers, of which there are many variants, quickly reveals that there are two major and contradictory ways of understanding the source of poverty. The first way of thinking puts the individual at the centre of the picture, seeing affluence and destitution as straightforwardly reflective of individual worth; this is a central tenet of the right wing worldview. By contrast, the second way sees the individual as a small part of a larger system that they cannot dictate, pawns of varying levels of power cutting a path within set bounds; this is fundamental to the left wing worldview.Continue Reading