To mount successful opposition, Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, must embody an Evolved Left.
The ambiguous outcome of the recent by-election at North Shropshire has been telling: screaming even. Starmer is a leader of airs over recognisable reformative action. A microcosm of the calamity of the general election in the summer, the traditionally Tory stronghold in the North of England was lost to the Liberal Democrats as opposed to Labour, despite it being fertile territory for the latter in the wake of recent Conservative catastrophe: the explicit exposure of corruption, incompetent handling of the pandemic and the creeping economic fallout of Brexit, have seen the Tories floundering in the polls. Starmer’s red party should enjoy a stronger lead. A piece for Open Democracy states: “After the Conservatives, the biggest loser from this by-election is Labour. The party shed more than half of its vote share, from 22% to 10%, and was pushed into third place.” This is a deepening of the disillusionment from the nation-wide local election held earlier this year. Labour failed to make substantial gains, while also unable to regain Hartlepool as the party’s traditional heartland. For someone who made ‘winning’ a lynchpin of his manifesto as announced at the annual Labour conference in Autumn, Starmer’s performance has been persistently poor.
by Sunetra Senior
Part One (of Three): Bourgeois Beginnings. Read part Two here and Part Three here.
‘Are we in the right place?’ was a semi-serious question posed by a friend of mine at the 2018 Women’s March, which took place in London on 4th March to commemorate worldwide Women’s Day. Having been to many demonstrations between us, including the historic 2017 Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, we had sound reference points between us too. Usually, there’s a friendly, lively atmosphere. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next.
In 2018, however, the big women’s march was sedate, controlled, and most alarmingly of all: conformist. I even got elbowed in the face by a male police officer who told me to ‘stay within the demonstration line’. This was immediately after I’d passed a giant stone pedestal, encircled by a murder of male reporters, gathered creepily at that higher vantage point like gigantic crows. Hitchcockian voyeurism aside, women also seemed to be adopting the strange, disciplinary mood. One female speaker said to keep fighting ‘even if it took another 100 years’. But where was the urgency? Where ‘was the anger’? as feminist performer Sophie Cameron tweeted out.Continue Reading
by Scott McLaughlan
Content warning: mentions Islamophobia, racism, paedophilia, sexual abuse, fascism
The sentencing in May this year of Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon (stage name ‘Tommy Robinson’) to 13 months for contempt of court has caused quite a reaction from his fellows on the far right. On Saturday 9th June, an estimated 15,000 people turned out for a mass rally in London in support of Yaxley-Lennon, Trump and ‘free speech’. The sinister focal point of the rally was to link rape and child sexual exploitation with migration and Islam.
by Sunetra Senior
A few days after Trump’s Presidential win, an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz – entitled Under President Trump Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon published in The New Yorker – went viral. In it, the Dominican writer called out Trump as a ‘misogynist’ and ‘racial demagogue’, and principally defended multiculturalism stating that in order to recuperate: ‘we need to bear witness to what we have lost: our safety, our sense of belonging, our vision of our country’. He further argued that the best way to do this was to employ a concept called ‘Radical Hope’.
This, according to the creator of the philosophy Jonathan Lear, is a determined sort of hope that tackles mass trauma by being “directed toward a future goodness which transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Here, I would like to highlight the British Labour Party’s recent parliamentary progress as not only encapsulating this, but also expanding Díaz’ original proposed vision. Corbyn and his recently more socially democratic party so successfully delivered Radical Hope that it not only revived the liberal spirit, but the possibility of a truly equitable world.Continue Reading
by Hannah Rose
Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit—aka Sh!t Theatre—are Generation Renters living in Windsor House on the Woodberry Down housing estate in Hackney. Their digs are dirty, cramped, noisy and downright dangerous—thankfully, the pigeon netting saved one of them from a fall off the balcony (which, incidentally, is covered in pigeon shit).
The kitchen is “fucking disgusting,” not to mention expensive at £1200 a month. This however, is the standard experience for thousands of London dwellers who have no hope in securing affordable, safe housing in England’s capital city. In Letters to Windsor House, Louise and Rebecca crack open a window and shine a light on the London housing bubble via this renegade piece of political theatre—a stimulating medley of storytelling, reportage, video, and Oliver inspired songs.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
First up, before we get into the piece, my condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed in Westminster and St Petersburg, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured. If you personally know anyone hurt or killed in the incident, you might want to leave this article for a few days.
With that in mind, everyone else: what the fuck?Continue Reading
by Tara Debra G
Sadiq Khan really put his foot in it last week when he tweeted out his intended speech for the 2017 Scottish Labour Conference. The section that read “There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race and religion” created a fierce backlash on social media. He was forced to clarify that he was “not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted – but […] we don’t need more division and separation.” But the damage was already done, and Khan’s controversial comments (coupled with some missteps by Corbyn and Dugdale) hung over the conference like the smell of rotten egg.
by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading
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
by Julian Canlas
‘You are not alive to please the aesthetic of colonized eyes’
– Ijeoma Umebinyuo
An interesting thing happens when fully-assimilated BME in the West engage in politics, whilst retaining and proudly displaying their multicultural and racial identities as minorities—they become characterised as ‘radical’ and disruptive to the everyday function of society. Here are examples of how various politicking non-white figures have been portrayed:
- Prior to Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London on May 2016, Khan suffered from smear attacks by Zac Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s attacks included ‘Sadiq Khan won’t stand up for London’s Tamil community’ and ‘his party supports a wealth tax on family jewellery,’ with the latter based upon the uncomfortable, racist assumption that this taxation is a defining political issue for South Asians. Goldsmith also branded Khan as a ‘radical,’ belonging to ‘a Labour party that thinks terrorists is its friends’.
- The newly-elected first Black Muslim president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, depicted as an ISIS supporter for having been against a 2011 motion condemning ISIS, because of its apparent wording that demonises all Muslims, despite later supporting a revised version condemning ISIS and Islamophobia. She has also been criticised as anti-Semitic despite publicly declaring her stance as anti-Zionist due to Israel’s continued violation of human rights by its continued military occupation of Palestine.