by Rowan Gavin
With just four days until polling day, the EU referendum continues to dominate news headlines and pub conversations. Like many, I have been exhausted by the fearmongering, unconvincing and generally depressing arguments churned out by the mainstream campaigns on both sides. So when The Norwich Radical asked me to interview Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, about the positive Green case for staying in the EU, I was excited to hear some refreshing ideas on the topic. I also got the chance to speak to David Raby, a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich.
by Olivia Hanks
With just over six weeks to go until the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, the Remain campaign has two considerable problems. Firstly, the EU is so flawed, so bloated and undemocratic, in the eyes of virtually everyone, that it is very difficult even for those who will be voting Remain to get truly excited about it. Secondly, at the head of the campaign is David Cameron, a man so universally disliked by people of all political persuasions that it is a miracle he continues to cling to power.
There is very little in the lead Remain campaign to offer hope or inspiration to anybody. The three key points on the home page of Britain Stronger in Europe read #Better Economy. Better Leadership. Better Security’, which, reading between the lines, might be interpreted as follows: “We’ll make sure Britain keeps consuming the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate, while ensuring all the resulting wealth is concentrated at the top. Oh, and we’ll see to it those dirty foreigners don’t get their hands on any.”Continue Reading
by Josh Wilson
The Greek financial crisis has done what all news stories do when they do not have an abrupt or exciting ending. It has faded from the homepages of all major news websites, to a small box down the page a bit and eventually only being found by using the search bar. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes, but it was just a month ago that Greece voted on whether to accept austerity measures and have since been systematically ignored by their government and international creditors.
In that crucial referendum on whether to accept or reject further cuts to services and higher taxes in order to release bailout funds, 61.3 per cent of people voted against austerity. Yet just days after this democratic exercise, it was shown to be nothing more than a democratic sham.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
In the beginning of this year, the people of Greece voted in the radical left-wing party, Syriza — lead by Alexis Tsipras. They did this to send a message to Europe, a message that Greece cannot bear the weight of austerity anymore. But this is a message to which no one listened; instead, the Troika — consisting of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — continued to reel out Angela Merkel’s increasingly redundant party line that Greece has to meet its obligation.
This was how the people of Greece were to view it: as an obligation. An obligation to be treated by the rest of Europe like petulant children who need to be disciplined, an obligation to let their economy shrink to devastating levels, an obligation to stand by as poverty engulfs them.Continue Reading
by Antonio Esposito Ryan
Pablo Iglesias’ party Podemos is just over 100 days old, yet it threatens to dismantle the monotonous duplicity in Spanish politics. Both the centre left ‘socialist’ PSOE and the centre right Populares are under threat from the party’s recent surge in support.
Iglesias, a lecturer at the University Compultense de Madrid, was known for his hyperactive stunts — such as asking his students to stand on their tables and assess power. He is unique in his approach to critiquing power amongst his academic counterparts; consistently reminding his students to continually scrutinize power. Iglesias vehemently opposes the neo-liberal capitalist orthodoxy of Thatcher and Reagan, and created Podemos as a backlash response to the highly critical politicians deriding the anti-austerity ‘indignado’ protests of 2011 in Puerta Del Sol. The establishment moaned saying the protestors should create their own political party. Iglesias responded to the request with a miraculous result.Continue Reading
by Freddie Foot
The dismal election results are not only apparently a victory for ‘blue collar conservatism’ but potentially also Blue Labour or a renewed variant of Blairism. Two of the initial favourites for the leadership of the Labour party, Chucka Ummana (who has now removed himself from the contest) and Liz Kendell, are Blairites, and the media has been a flood with Labours failure to connect with ‘aspirational’ voters and business.
Labour seems to be moving to counter what is admittedly a genuine threat of Blue Collar Conservatism driven by collapse of organised Labour and a relatively socially liberal Conservative party. This leaves a (by no means new) gaping hole fit for a truly progressive movement.Continue Reading
by David Peel
We are a few weeks away from the General Election in Britain, and austerity is moving front and centre. Not NHS privatisation, not school academies, not McJobs or homelessness, but their mother and father – the ideology of austerity. The phoney election war between the major parties, otherwise known as the ‘cosy consensus’, is about to be dealt a blow.
It has emerged, if reports in The Times are right, that the EU has asked Finland to draw up plans for a Grexit, where Syriza doesn’t walk out of the EU, it is pushed. EU leaders are fresh out of patience with Greece, and their mood was not improved when Syriza leader Alex Tsipras turned to their bitterest enemy, Vladimir Putin, for help.
by David Peel
Outside the Finance Ministry in Athens is the Camp of Struggle, where cleaners sacked from their jobs by the previous government of Greece, as part of its EU-imposed austerity regime, demand their jobs back.
We are now months into the anti-austerity Coalition, led by Syriza, and the cleaners have not got their jobs back, despite promises from Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis. Syriza pledged to introduce legislation to rehire them, alongside thousands of others. It hasn’t. The cleaners have said that if Syriza does not deliver, they will turn their protest against the new popular government. And for now, polls continue to show Syriza has popular support, and would win another election, but the fragile unanimity in its own ranks is fracturing.Continue Reading
by David Peel
I know it is a bit early to be thinking of Christmas 2015, but it is worth putting a note in your diaries to watch out for the Spanish General Election, which takes place on December 20. By then, here in Britain, we will be seven months into our own messy government coalitions, following the General Election in May, a time of extraordinary drama and instability not seen for a generation in British political and national life.
By then also, the issue of Greece might be resolved, but it is doubtful. With Syriza, the anti-austerity movement thought perhaps a corner had been turned. And yet a few weeks after the momentous victory and following tough negotiations with the Troika, it looks like austerity is alive and well. It’s most virulent opponent – a coalition of the Radical Left and anti-immigration Right – is managing to keep it going while hoping a desperate Greek people stay loyal.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli
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.
by David Peel
The neoliberal strategy of austerity has suffered its first serious reverse in the election of Syriza to power in Greece. However, the euphoria at that victory on the Left has been strangely muted, almost as if, like the Greeks, we cannot bring ourselves to believe it.
Perhaps we have felt this to be a peculiarly Greek phenomenon, even a Southern European thing. After all, Podemos in Spain seems to be heading in the same direction. Even the doyen of late capitalism, Alan Greenspan, has made similar recent observations. Alongside his prediction of the death of the Euro, he noted it could never work without European political harmonisation. And this he thought inconceivable, because of the differences between Northern and Southern peoples and states.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis.
With results from all countries except Ireland, the European elections depict a bleak picture. Across the continent, an array of hard right parties has seen electoral success as the vote has swung in their direction. Ranging from the latent, little Englander racism of UKIP, to the Muslim hating nationalism of the Front Nationale and the openly fascistic Golden Dawn, they all, at root, have a core based in the politics of division, the politics of fear and the politics of hate.
Of course, they are not all the same. UKIP are not wholly comparable to Golden Dawn, whose representatives have holocaust deniers among their ranks or Hungary’s Jobbik, whose Deputy Parliamentary leader has referred to those with Jewish ancestry as a threat to their nation’s security. To claim them as the same would be to downplay the truly repugnant and terrifying anti-Semitism of some of the parties who will be taking seats in the new European parliament.