EDUCATION AFTER THE PANDEMIC: REFORM AND RENATIONALISATION

By Howard Green

Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.

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COLONIALISM, CORRUPTION & CHAOS: THE DISILLUSIONMENT OF IRAQI YOUTH

by Sarah Edgcumbe

During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.

The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading

THERE’S MORE TO STUDENT ACTIVISM THAN #PEOPLESVOTE

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By Lewis Martin

Amatey Doku is right: student activism isn’t dead. In a recently published interview with the Guardian, the NUS Vice President of Higher Education proclaimed that students’ response to Brexit and their engagement with the People’s Vote campaign has shown that student activism is thriving anew, after years without a “unifying cause”. But what about the fight for free education that has been active on our campuses since 2012? For many activists in the last few generations of students, it was the issue that brought us together and gave us the skills to take the fight to the powerful. But for Doku, it was too “inward looking” to inspire a “genuine” movement.

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WHY LORD ADONIS IS WRONG ABOUT POLYTECHNICS

by Lewis Martin

This week, former education minister Lord Adonis decided to reopen a debate that was seemingly long-dead. During a report to a House of Lords Committee, he stated that the decision to allow polytechnics to become universities 25 years ago was “a very serious mistake”. This problematic claim reveals the real views of someone who has lately been seen as posing significant challenges of the higher education sector’s issues.

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DEBT RISING – HOW TUITION FEES ARE KILLING UNIVERSITIES

by Lewis Martin

Last week it was announced that the total student debt in the UK has reached over £100 billion for the first time. Whilst this milestone was inevitable, it is nonetheless an indictment of the current government’s claim that it is easy and convenient for students to pay off their debt under the post-2010 system.

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THE 2017 GENERAL ELECTION – LEFT US HANGING

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.

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A BEGINNING, NOT THE END – THE 2017 GENERAL ELECTION

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.

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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

STUDENTS NEED A REVOLUTION – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #1

by Bradley Allsop

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

Students have been at the forefront of progressive politics and change throughout the centuries. We were engaged in the 1848 revolutions that shook Europe, and front and centre of a wave of radical protest that shook the world in 1968. We played a part in challenging apartheid in South Africa and the continued Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people. Most recently we are leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

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TURNING THE TIDE ON THE “WORRY TREND” OF JOURNALISM IN BRITAIN

by Richard Worth

You might have seen the worrying news that Britain has slipped further down the World Press Freedom Index. This index, monitored by Reporters Sans Frontiéres, rates the freedoms (duh) of the press to report what they like without fear of governmental repercussions. For a breakdown of why Britain is doing so poorly, take a look at the RSF website.

A brief summary is that our governments (those loveable scamps) are trading off the freedom of the press for national security. What’s worse is that there is a potential new law on the horizon that would allow journalists to be treated and sentenced as spies in cases of leaked information.  After all, these are the “enemies of the people”. Though this absurd bit of legislation has been temporarily halted, there is serious concern that, much like Tony Blair, it could return and ruin everything.Continue Reading

OXFORD’S PUBLICITY STUNT WON’T CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY CLASS GAP

By Lewis Martin

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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HOW THE LEFT CREATED DONALD TRUMP

by Matilda Carter

There’s something darkly comical about Michael Sheen’s intention to abandon acting in favour of defeating the far right. An esteemed actor, deeply immersed in the world of theatre and art, jetting off to Port Talbot to tell working class Welsh people, caught up in a wave of revolt against the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’, what to do. It couldn’t be any more counter-productive if the embodiment of this elitism, Tony Blair himself, had made the journey — although I suppose someone who has played him is good enough.Continue Reading

TODAY’S POLITICS: SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

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by Chris Jarvis 

Britain’s EU Referendum was a messy, unpleasant affair. Events that took place, the way campaigns were run, the rhetoric of certain advocates on both sides taught many lessons about the state of Britain. The referendum, and its subsequent result, have served as an amplifier for some unsettling and disturbing aspects of our politics and society – from racism and xenophobia, to the desperation and disaffection felt by people and communities across the country. All of these have had substantial coverage and comment in the press, as politicians and columnists have lined up to blame anyone and everyone – the political class, migrants, the Leave campaign, Jean Claude Juncker, Tony Blair.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

CONFESSIONS OF A CORBYNITE: WHY I’M VOTING FOR OWEN SMITH

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by Elliot Folan

Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.

I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.Continue Reading

THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL: A REVIEW OF TRIBUTE ACTS

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by Hannah Rose

Tribute Acts is a bittersweet piece of autobio-theatre written and performed by Tess Seddon and Cheryl Gallacher from Theatrestate. Set against a space-age backdrop, Tess and Cheryl introduce their fathers via a pre-recorded video link. The dads look uncomfortable in their suits and ties. Their daughters are wearing spacesuits. The gulf between parent and child is obvious, and the unease is palpable.

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DID BLAIR HAVE A HERO COMPLEX?

by Natasha Senior

It is difficult to remember a time when Tony Blair was considered a real hero. But that was the mood when he won the 1997 general election in a landslide. ‘New Labour. New Britain’ was his slogan, as he put an end to the old Labour politics that the people distrusted and vowed to carry Britain proudly into the new millennium. People were chanting his name in the streets, the euphoria was palpable. A stark juxtaposition to where we are today, 13 years after the Iraq War began, the world still reeling from Blair’s decisions. A hero is the last thing we would call him now.

Blair has always been regarded as a master tactician who could easily manipulate the situation to his favour and he knew that he possessed this extraordinary power. But it is how he wanted to wield this power that would cause his downfall. He wanted to leave a legacy. A grand ambition that could only be realised through a grand accomplishment: striking down the biggest villains of the world, one after another.Continue Reading

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE IRAQ WAR

by Julian Canlas

Content warning: mentions sexual abuse, torture, Islamophobia

On 15 February 2003, the now-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out to the largest anti-war demonstration in British political history. In front of two million people at Hyde Park, London, he exclaimed,  ‘Stop now or pay the political price!’ He was warning about the consequences of attacking Iraq.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 LIES WE LOVE TO HEAR

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions xenophobia

“Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams
To know that great civilisations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.”

–Robinson Jeffers, ‘The Answer’

The EU referendum result is the beginning of the UK’s divorce from the mainland. In Austria, the recent election results were declared void and must be re-run, giving the far-right Freedom Party another chance at victory. Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom are exploiting every moment of Brexit to force referendums of their own. It seems we have learnt nothing from the past as we hurtle towards far-right governments, high-unemployment and less financial security. Meanwhile in the US, Donald Trump had to delete a tweet deemed anti-Semitic.

These are just some of the recent events that continue to expose the deep flaws within Western societies but none more so than the ease with which politicians are able to con the public into believing blatant untruths and the ability of the public to turn, literally overnight, into unpleasant, frothing-at-the-mouth racist, xenophobic animals. In the case of the UK, these two flaws are actioned by a minority of people, yet seem to encompass the behaviour of the entire country — a perception enabled by another deep flaw, the media.Continue Reading

MOVING OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE – AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDY DAVIES OF REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN

by Chris Jarvis

Manchester hardcore punks Revenge of the Psychotronic Man are no stranger to politics. Their music is released through TNSrecords, home of the likes of Faintest Idea, Autonomads, and Rising Strike, all known for their uncompromising and explicitly political works. Revenge of the Psychotronic Man bassist and vocalist Andy Davies helps to co-run the label, and he took the time to talk to The Norwich Radical about how he sees his politics, its relationship to the music he produces and the relationship between this and the wider world, as part of our series Music That Matters.Continue Reading

EMIGRATION: WHY ARE PEOPLE LEAVING THIS ISLAND?

by Gunnar Eigener

If countries were named after the words you first hear when you go there, England would have to be called ‘Damn It’.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms

As the Conservative government struggles to find its beating heart and resolve the issue of immigration both here and at the root cause, another issue is steadily making its way to the surface – although it is unlikely to garner as much attention as its opposite issue – emigration. At the moment it isn’t so much about the numbers as it about the reasoning: why are so many people eager to abandon the United Kingdom?

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I DID MY BEST TO LEARN THE RULES

by Robyn Banks

I did my best to learn the rules.
The world was a nice place,
children shared, we waited our turn,
we helped those in need and said thankyou and please.

The board was black and the chalk was white,
together we learned to read and write,
I tried to learn the rules.
There used to be racism,
there used to be war,
there used to be poverty and workhouses and suffering
but Martin Luther King had a dream and women won the vote
and everyone shared now, and waited their turn
and Tony Blair painted rainbow children on my primary school walls.Continue Reading

BLAIR AND BROWN HAVE NOTHING TO SAY ON CREDIBILITY

by Matilda Carter

For a political analyst who swears by the idea that only parties on the centre-ground can win elections, Labour may just be about, to coin a phrase, to write the most-signed suicide note in history. Jeremy Corbyn, an opponent of the Blair-Brown ‘modernisation’ project and staunch advocate of socialism, is the front runner to become the party’s new leader, with odds that started as 100/1 becoming so short that Paddy Power has already paid out bets made in his favour over three weeks from the announcement of the result.

A #Labourpurge and a legal challenge notwithstanding, the Labour that emerges from this election will be a very different beast. Top-down party management will be eschewed for the empowerment of the, now, huge number of members of the party, foreign policy will drastically change and, perhaps most importantly, Corbyn’s Labour will break the austerity consensus that has set over Europe.

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CORBYN SUPPORTERS “TOO STUPID” TO VOTE SAYS SENIOR LABOUR SOURCE

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by Josh Wilson

A senior Labour figure is expected to make a speech tomorrow morning from the grave of Clement Attlee. They will explain that they believe the majority of the Labour Party membership are “too stupid” to vote in the coming election. Therefore anyone that votes for the bookies favourite candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, is not fit to vote and their ballot should be made void.

This news comes after a string of prominent Labour Party members have racked up the anti-Corbyn rhetoric. With Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Milliband, as well as fellow candidates Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper all making speeches in recent days denouncing the socialist policies propagated by Corbyn. This strategy is being colloquially referred to as ‘doing a Scotland’, after the highly organised fear campaign that was initiated in the days leading up to the historic independence referendum.Continue Reading

POLITICIANS: NO TRUST, NO VALUE

by Gunnar Eigener

“Members of the public would be forgiven for thinking that it is MPs who are lazy and that it is parliament that is failing to provide good value for money.” – Margaret Hodge

We have become desensitised to any wrong-doings of those in the political establishment. We’re used to it, we almost expect it and we certainly aren’t surprised anymore when these revelations hit the papers. Only this time it has reached the top, in former Prime Minister Edward Heath. There is no evidence and nothing to back up these claims so far but when someone in the highest and most powerful position in the land, dead or not, is being ‘looked’ into, it’s hard to feel positive about those who are entrusted with the well-being and future of ourselves and the land.

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LABOUR’S LEADERSHIP ELECTION AND THE SIMMERING TENSIONS IN THE PARTY

by Chris Jarvis

Almost immediately following the realisation that Labour had lost the General Election, various figures within the Party’s parliamentary ranks began licking their lips at the prospect of ascending to positions of leadership. With the dust largely settled, there are four announced contenders for the impending power struggle — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, and Liz Kendall, with Tristram Hunt all but announcing his candidacy on Question Time this past Thursday.

Although they vary in style, the minority of prominent issues and in the degree to which they purport reactionary views on welfare and migration, all of these candidates are firmly placed on the right of the Labour Party, both within parliament and outside of it. None of them are proposing a radical separation from the political trajectory the Labour Party has been on since the establishment of the New Labour project.Continue Reading