KEEP CALM & WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH

pension work dwp

by Jonathan Lee

New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarmsays arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.

The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.Continue Reading

WHY WAGES MATTER

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by Edward Grierson

It goes without saying that the current wage situation in the UK is not good. Following the disastrous speculation on the banks’ behalf that led to the recession, real wages for UK workers fell by 10.4% from 2007-2015, a decline only matched by Greece. Even worse has been the combination of this wage drop with the continued pay gap between employees and the people who employ them: as of 2015, the salary of a UK CEO was nearly 130 times that of the average UK worker’s salary.

The reason why this is a concern, why we should be worried about falling wages, surely is obvious.Continue Reading

2017: THE YEAR OF THE YOUTHQUAKE?

by Bradley Allsop

Youth voter turnout has long been a topic of debate, controversy and worry in British politics. Always below the national average, it has plunged even more than other age-groups’ dovetailing turnout in recent decades, sparking expressions of concern (although comparatively little policy change) from political parties. This seemed to have changed last June, with sites such as Yougov and NME reporting large increases in the youth vote for the 2017 general election, with the figures suggesting the largest rise in youth turnout in British political history.

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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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WHY I WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO COLLECT DATA ABOUT MY ETHNICITY

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by Jonathan Lee

A new project to count the number of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers in London was recently launched by London Gypsies & Travellers and Mapping for Change. Their goal is to provide an accurate estimate of the numbers and distribution of GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) people across the city.

Official census statistics on Romani and Traveller people in the UK are famously inaccurate (only 58,000 in the 2011 census). This is partly because neither group are traditionally very fond of official registers, particularly those which record ethnicity.

And why should we be?Continue Reading

DODGE THE BULLET

by Gunnar Eigener 

Content warning: mentions mass shooting 

From big cities to rural communities, gun crime brings chaos and despair. Guns kill on average 12,000 people a year in the US. Recent shootings in Texas and Las Vegas have left local populations shattered yet a feeling of deja vu rests with an increasingly desensitised nation. Such events have ceased to shock, leaving only numbness and a perplexed public watching politicians squabbling over gun laws and counting potential lost or gained votes. But some things remain the same: the US has a gun problem and everyone knows it.Continue Reading

UNDERSTANDING PREVENT REFERRALS: YOUNG PEOPLE, ISLAMISM AND EDUCATION

By Richard McNeil-Willson

At the start of November 2017, the UK Home Office released its official figures for referrals to the Prevent Counter-terror Programme for the 2015-2016 period. It showed that, of the 7,631 of all referrals, ‘Islamist extremism’ represented the greatest threat, young people were the most vulnerable to radicalisation, and authorities only needed to respond to a minority of cases. But there are problems with this reading, which are shown by exploring the nature of referrals and the political context in which they sit.Continue Reading

50 YEARS – HOW FAR HAVE WE REALLY COME?

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by Alex Powell

CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse

Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.

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REVIEW: STATE AND SOCIETY, BY MARTIN PUGH

by Toby Gill

When Theresa May announced her snap election, I was travelling across Japan. At the time I was spending a lot of time on a variety of very slow trains (the famous bullet trains were somewhat beyond our budget). This gave me a lot of down-time to ponder my electoral choices, and consider which way I should vote. It also gave me a lot of time to read the latest tome of modern history I had picked up: Martin Pugh’s State and Society; a social and political history of Britain since 1870. It is not a politicised book; it markets itself as a rigorous work of academic history, designed to introduce new undergraduates to the period – a task it performs superbly.

However, this is a politicised book review.Continue Reading

BUT HE’S NOT RACIST

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by Candice Nembhard

I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.

Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.Continue Reading

CENTRE POLITICS AND THE DANGER OF ARRON BANKS

by Freddie Foot

A recent poll by Opinium has been touted as a depressing realpolitik electoral brick wall for the Labour Party. The poll on the surface shows a continued – and growing – commitment to centrist politics by the population, represented by liberal wings of the Tory Party and Neoliberal Labour, more than likely bolstered by general apathy.

The prominence of the centre is hardly surprising given that it covers a wide range of opinions and periodically incorporates, and equally periodically abandons, policy from both the left and right. This flies in the face of the idea that the centre of the past couple of decades – based broadly on a socially liberal but economically conservative agenda typified by New Labour and the Cameron years – is over.Continue Reading

THE MISEDUCATION OF GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

by Candice Nembhard

When I think back on my time in grammar school education, it is not with entirely fond memories. I was a working class, BAME student, whose parents were working tirelessly to make sure my educational needs were catered for — be it my uniform, school trips or even paying the annual school fund. Even so, little could be done on their part to protect me from the overly-competitive nature of the grammar school system; an educational structure that paraded itself as a diverse and inclusive market only out of an innate self-fulfilling prophecy to produce a particular class of intellectuals.

It is this underlying vision for education that further widens the gap between the lowest earners in Britain and those that are at the top. The division of children at the age of 11 to test their intelligence further predates to a privileged notion that intelligence is hereditary, and if not, that it can be bought.Continue Reading

172 VERSUS 400,000: THE NUMBERS BEHIND LABOUR’S NEXT LEADERSHIP RACE

by Elliot Folan

So, it’s now looking almost inevitable that there will be some sort of challenge to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, most likely from Wallasey MP Angela Eagle. YouGov gave us a taste of what this would look like with their poll of Labour members last week, but members aren’t the only people who vote in Labour Leadership elections; the £3 registered supporters and affiliated union supporters get a vote too, and they all count the same. So, is it possible to make an estimate of what the full Labour leadership contest would look like based on the numbers we have? I would say yes, and this article is an attempt to do that, as well as a look at other important numbers for the contest.Continue Reading

THE POLLS AREN’T WRONG: SADIQ KHAN WILL BE LONDON’S NEXT MAYOR

by Elliot Folan

With the London Mayoral election nearly upon us, opinion polls for the contest are finally beginning to emerge in force. And each one of them tells the same story: Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, is in the lead.

He wasn’t always. Back when the race for the Mayoral nominations began, Khan and the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, were much closer – at one point Goldsmith had an 8-point lead. But as the race began in earnest, Khan opened up a large lead that hasn’t gone away. Currently, a simple average of polls in the last month (7th March-7th April, when the last poll was conducted) puts Khan on 54% to Goldsmith’s 46%.

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WORK UNTIL YOU’RE HEALTHY OR WORK UNTIL YOU’RE DEAD

by Natasha Senior

This is the message that Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been espousing over the last five years as benefits sanctions become ever more stringent. And now we are starting to get closer to understanding just how far they’re willing to go. After mounting public pressure and many Freedom of Information requests, the DWP have been forced to publish statistics showing that over 2,300 people have died after losing their benefits following fit for work assessments.Continue Reading

ANTI-TORY MPS ARE GREATER IN NUMBER NOW THAN BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION

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There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.

While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.

by Chris Jarvis

Although the Conservatives narrowly tipped themselves over the line to form a majority once all the seats were counted after polls closed on Thursday, the irony of the election is that the parliamentary arithmetic is actually less in the Tories favour than it was in 2010.

If you add all the MPs together who are likely to vote with the Tories on the majority of their programme, the number now stands at 350 — that is the combined total of UKIP, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist, and Conservative seats. After 2010, it stood at 371. That means that the combined weight of the progressive, or at least anti-Tory parties, are in greater number now than they were after the last election. Between the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, and Sinn Fein, there are 299 MPs, compared to 276 in 2010.Continue Reading

THE GREEN SURGE IS EXCITING – BUT NOT SURPRISING

by Georgia Elander

Things are looking good for the Green Party. This week the Green candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election won nearly five times as many votes as the Liberal Democrat candidate; a YouGov poll revealed that the percentage of people who would vote for a Green candidate with a chance of winning is greater than the percentage of people who would vote for a UKIP candidate who could win; and this week too, the Greens polled at 8% nationally – a record high. In recent weeks, the party have outpolled the Lib Dems on several occasions, and membership as well as vote share is rising – the party has grown 80% this year alone.

When you look at the current political landscape of the UK, this success is not really surprising.Continue Reading