After the government’s U-turn on GCSE and A-level moderation, widespread celebration has broken out among student and teaching communities alike. But, drowned out by the cheering, a yet unsolved problem remains: the injustice and uncertainty for those taking BTECs, who have been left behind in the race to secure places at chosen further and higher education institutions.
Last week, young people across Scotland reached the end of years of schooling and were presented with their final grades. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these results were based not on a summer exam series, but on predicted grades from teachers and subsequent moderation by examining bodies. As many as a quarter of grades were lowered, hitting working-class pupils in poorer regions and schools the hardest. Further south, A level and GCSE students are still awaiting similarly-calculated results, due for release on the 13th and 20th of August respectively. But, with individual pupils’ futures at the mercy of wildly varying school averages, the most disadvantaged students are facing even more barriers to higher education.
by Zoe Harding
This is the face of a man who’s entirely unsure if what he’s experiencing is real.
It started with this. Well, okay, it started with this, which itself was just the latest flex of the UK’s weirdly obsessive and powerful transphobia lobby, personified by eh-alright-but-his-work-is-aging-fast comedy writer Graham Linehan. Plenty of people were annoyed or upset by the campaign of email-writing and general loud airing of concerns that led to the National Lottery pulling £500,000 worth of funding from Mermaids, especially given that the reporting of the issue in the Great British Press was… kinda shite.
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’.
by Stu Lucy
This week I’d like to offer something a little different. Rather than an article gunning for the Western neoliberal establishment and its detrimental effects on a particular aspect of African society, I would like to take a more pensive stance on an issue that many of us, to me at least, seem to have assimilated and normalised into our daily lives. I hope this article provokes a thought towards those in ever more increasing numbers that lose their lives in a desperate attempt to achieve something more than the lot they’ve been given.
So much has happened in only a few months, for me personally as well as globally – let’s be honest, the the past year’s events in the United States of America alone of the past year would be tough to sum up in a 1,000 word article. I don’t think I could do justice to the topic. As this is my first article in a while, I thought I’d focus on what I’ve been up to, to give you an idea of the reasons for my absence the last few months.
September 27th 2017 will be remembered as a Day of Independence. A day of celebration, but also a day of possible mourning. I rejoice and also remain vigilant at the coming days since the Catalonian government’s decision to declare independence. Some would view this as a failure of democracy, and of politics more generally, to achieve a peaceful alternative that would recognise the cultural diversity of Catalonia within Spain. The compromise option would have seen Catalonia keep its devolved status, but within the context of Spain. The model that Quebec and Scotland have already taken.
“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.”
by The Norwich Radical
The following piece was created, compiled and co-written by a number of Norwich Radical contributors, across a number of locations, devices, and even countries. We followed the exit polls, the first counts, the calculations and predictions as they became available across the media. We do not have any inside information, but have combined our experience and information during the night to produce this article in time for the morning readers.
There is no final result confirmed at the time of publication, but it has been confirmed that we have a hung parliament, as it is mathematically impossible for any party to claim an overall majority.
by Chris Jarvis
In a couple of hours, polling stations will close, and the fate of the United Kingdom will have been decided. Throughout the night the gentle trickling of results will sprinkle their way in, as the aftermath of the most fascinating election for a generation will begin to unravel. Psephologists will debate the relative merits of their predictions, political spin-artists will argue their respective parties have actually done quite a lot better than they expected, and the hacks (myself included), will drift further into the early hours, wearing out their laptop keys.
Right now, we know that the election campaign has been riddled with ups and with downs. We’ve seen Labour climb steadily in the polls, narrowing the Tory lead from over 20 points to single figures; two atrocities claimed the lives of 34 people; campaigning was suspended twice; the Tories launched a manifesto into a whirlwind of negativity; UKIP’s support collapsed; and Labour proposed a political programme further to the left of any Government in four decades. Any one of those alone would make this election remarkable. Combined they make it unique.
By Olivia Hanks
It is at the heart of our housing crisis, provides our food, and is still the principal determiner of wealth in the UK. Yet most of us in England do not spend very much time thinking about land. So it was an exciting and stimulating experience to attend a panel discussion at the recent Global Greens congress in Liverpool about land rights and how they form a vital part of the green movement worldwide.
by Chris Jarvis
With Theresa May having all but called an early General Election, on June 8th, the UK will go to the polls for yet another vote that will have long-reaching consequences for the future of the nation, the third in as many years. For the people of Scotland and Wales it will be the fourth – and those living in Northern Ireland will face their fifth. Right now, our political leaders can’t seem to get enough of sending people trudging out to schools, churches and community centres to scribble little pencil crosses in printed boxes.
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.
A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.
So some would have you think. Over the two years since the first run of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This new set of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.
By Maria Cooper
I went to university in St Andrews, Scotland. Well, in a sense I went to two – the old conventional institution you’ve heard of, and the far more inspiring Transition University of St Andrews. Transition started out for me as something I just did to survive – it was cheaper to grow food than buy it, cheaper to swap clothes and books than buy them, and being outside planting trees or mending bikes was a life-giving contrast to the stuffy library and theoretical learning that otherwise filled my days. Besides, many of my friends and I often felt that sort of depression so prevalent among students. What difference am I making in the world? Who cares about yet another essay, being read by one tutor and then put on the pile of student pride or shame never to be looked at again?
by Tara Debra G
“Flags don’t build houses”, said Jeremy Corbyn last year, criticizing Scottish nationalism and the SNP. Well, no, they don’t, but neither does an unelectable party, so swings and roundabouts really. But he does have a point: nationalism as a political framework doesn’t inherently support leftist values, or the working class, or is particularly anti-capitalist.
In fact, the strongest argument I hear against Celtic nationalism from the English left is that it doesn’t solve the foundational economic equality at the heart of class oppression in the UK. I’m a Welsh nationalist and I agree. But the left shouldn’t care about Celtic independence because it’s intrinsically anti-capitalist, because it’s not that – the left should care because leftist ideals should encapsulate anti-imperialism.
It was apparently a victory for Remainers when the High Court ruled that invoking Article 50 will require a full parliamentary process. The judges issuing the verdict were branded as tyrants by the tabloids — as if they were doing anything other than interpreting law. David Lammy — the MP for Tottenham, where 75% of the constituency came out in favour of the EU — declared he would block Brexit. He is the political Schrödinger’s cat, he behaves both democratically and undemocratically at the same time: vowing to uphold the wishes of his constituents against the wishes of the country. A majority of politicians don’t have the luxury of having voted the way their constituents did. Perhaps they would argue it differently, that they were democratically elected to represent their constituents, not vote with their constituents. It seems like a tenuous technicality but one that appears to stand up to scrutiny.
I guess it depends on what democracy really means. I’ve said the word so many times, I don’t even know anymore.
I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.
The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.
But it is not over. I will not let it be over.
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?
by Sara Helen Binney
It was November, and the school hall was packed with pupils and teachers freed from lessons. In the festive atmosphere people mingled and chattered and joked. A few nervously practiced their Bible readings; I stood, arms crossed, before a school administrator. She shook her collection box.
‘Poppy?’ she said. It wasn’t a question.
I said, ‘no.’ I doubt I was very polite – I was sixteen, angry and definite.
‘You have to wear a poppy, for the service,’ she said.
‘Why?’ I demanded.
‘Everyone has to wear a poppy.’
‘But I don’t agree with it. Can’t I refuse?’
‘You have to take a poppy – just make a donation.’
Neither of my parents had ever worn a poppy. They brought me up listening to the anti-war songs of the folk revival, and took me to CND marches while I still struggled to pronounce ‘disarmament’. But at school, saying no wasn’t an option. I eventually put a penny in the box.
This, my latest contribution to the Norwich Radical, was all but written an hour before I finally submitted it. My sermon on the overlooked politics of football fandom was signed sealed and on the brink of being delivered. I already had plenty to talk about. It’s been a long month of big themes in the footballing world. Over the course of February, the Beautiful Game has been at the centre of almost every kind of debate there is to be had — and it has popularised these debates in a way that most of us laptop radicals could only dream of.
First, there was uproar when man of the people, Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore poo-pooed the idea clubs should pay their employees a living wage in the wake of a record £5.1billion television deal — at which point Labour leader Ed Miliband literally missed an open goal to popularise his party’s campaign for a living wage, in an election year. Then there was the moment Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated a goal for Paris Saint Germain tore off his jersey to reveal 50 tattoos, later revealed to be names of people suffering from hunger throughout the world in a bid to raise awareness about global inequality — proving he has a conscience to match his not-so-starved ego in the process. And then of course there were infamous incidents involving Chelsea fans barring a black man from riding the tube in Paris — and of West Ham fans mocking the disabled, reported by TV pundit Kevin Kilbane — provoking widespread condemnation, not least from football fans themselves.