A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

By Lewis Martin

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.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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“TOO COLD TO CONCENTRATE” – THE STATE OF STUDENT HOMES IN 2018

by Lewis Martin

Last week, NUS released the 2018 edition of their ‘Homes Fit For Study’ report on the state of student housing in the UK. Whilst the findings aren’t overly surprisingly, they still present the stark realities of the standard of housing that students have to face. The report demonstrates the effect that poor housing can have on mental health and wellbeing – one student reported that “Sometimes in bed when it’s bitterly cold we all feel like crying…” and another even said that her housing was so cold she caught pneumonia. In a society where the focus is on growing private capital, the health of tenants often comes second.

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A GOLDEN AGE FOR THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE?

by James Anthony

There are a lot of stresses that come with moving house. Earlier in August, I spent a fair number of days experiencing both as I shifted location in Norwich.I was making sure I had all of my belongings, desperately trying to cover up any damage or stains, and trying to work out the logistics of carrying my entire life from one house to another. The only saving grace in this process was the fact that I have only moved about five minutes down the road – across what is known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ – an especially desirable area to live in Norwich. For years, it has been considered one of the best places to be just outside the city centre, even gaining national coverage for its popularity. A reasonable judgement, to this day.Continue Reading

THE ARROGANCE OF THE QUEEN AND ‘LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS’

by George Laver

On Wednesday 18 May, the ceremonial state opening of parliament accompanied by the Queen’s speech took place. Pomposity and excessive grandeur aside, what it meant for the radical mind was something altogether divergent from the norm; a fresh load of unpicking and semantics in which to delve in order to blow away the proverbial smoke from the mirror. The point of interest, however, came with the Queen’s declaration – without a hint of irony – that we all must “live within our means”. Undoubtedly, this opened up a lot of questions to be answered – whose means? what is this statement saying? why are we to live within them? – within the broader context of class society.

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IN DEFENCE OF SOCIAL PROPERTY: ‘KILL THE HOUSING BILL’, RENT STRIKES, AND OTHER CALAMITIES

by George Laver

On 13th March 2016, a rally took place in support of the ‘kill the housing bill’ campaign, aimed at confronting governmental attacks on council and social property and redressing our attitudes towards it. Since then, numerous student-led rent strikes have also ignited. The cause for anger in both of these movements stems from different stimuli, but both address issues of rent and property.

The first, from the legacy of Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ scheme, which initially undermined council housing; the final blows were to come from this Housing and Planning Bill. The second, from the frankly ridiculous cost of rent that is borne by students in London — although this could extend across the UK, as many students will readily testify to the advantage-taking circus that are landlords. Geared towards annihilating social housing, the Housing and Planning Bill in particular aims at increasing the rent payments of council house tenants in wealthier areas. A natural product of this would be the forcing of people out of their council houses and into the arms of another set of robbers — or, private landlords.

In response to this, the demonstration of March 13th attracted thousands of protesters, targeting their motions towards the fact that sharp increases in rent would facilitate an eviction of council tenants in all but name. These issues should be labelled for what they are: the government taking control of people’s very lifestyles. By increasing rent prices, they are forcing movement; it seems to bear many similarities to a covert attempt to stimulate the private housing sector. Once again, their interests lie in private property — we are merely pawns on the board.

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THE FORCEFUL EVICTION OF THE ELDERLY — THE POLICE STATE AND ITS LINKS TO CAPITALISM

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by George Laver

It is no secret that the UK has maintained its long and proud tradition of housing a police state. The job entails committing to what has been ordered — at the expense of surrendering the human ability / right to make choices based upon morality, and taking into consideration the subsequent impact of the actions once carried through. This surrendering of our moral faculties to a higher power handing out orders carries with it a heavy burden — the absolute collapse of human dignity has been brought about by those who were simply following orders.

If they have been ordered to stand between the starving and a warehouse stocked with food, they will do it; if they have been commanded to hold a barrier between a person and their family, they will do it; and – in full relevancy to the focal point of this article – if they have been told to evict somebody from a home for the sake of maintaining property rights, they will do it. As such, this article aims to deliver an analysis of the modern day tyranny of private property and where it leaves us.Continue Reading