WHAT ARE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITIES MADE OF? – BEYOND TUITION FEES #6

By Ellen Musgrove and Max Savage

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.

At any demonstration concerning the anti-marketisation or -commodification of education and the university you will hear the phrase “We are not consumers – we are a community.” The motive behind this message is a good one, bearing positive and uplifting implications for the demonstrators. However, to those outside the demo space, be they apathetic students passing by or workers who may not have the freedom to stop and participate as readily as an academic might, calling ourselves a community means very little in a practical sense.

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NOW IS OUR CHANCE FOR A NEW POLITICS – DON’T LET TRIBALISM STRANGLE IT AT BIRTH

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by Olivia Hanks

Outside onlookers would be forgiven for thinking that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had won the general election. From the scale of the jubilation among sections of the left, you wouldn’t imagine we still had a hard-right government, now propped up by the very-very-hard right. For some, the joy is purely that a Labour party which seemed irrevocably divided and defeated has reasserted itself as a credible force. For others, myself included, the reasons for optimism are more nuanced, because our hopes are not for Labour, but for a real, functioning democracy. That’s why we can join Labour supporters in rejoicing that young people came out to vote, that the UK rejected the vicious bile of the tabloid media and the arrogance of a Prime Minister who believed the election was a formality. It’s also why we are sceptical that a tribal Labour party still wedded to first-past-the-post is capable of offering the answers we need.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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THERE IS NO THIRD BOX TO TICK: ‘LEXIT’ IS NOT AN OPTION

by Elliot Folan

So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.

I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.Continue Reading

RBS IS CUTTING FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS. DOES IT MATTER WHY?

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by Olivia Hanks

The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.

The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.Continue Reading