HANCOCK’S HALF-HOUR – THE DARK COMEDY OF UK POLITICS IN 2021

By Howard Green

Sometimes, it’s hard not to laugh at contemporary British politics. The fall of Matt Hancock is the latest instalment in this ongoing political sitcom. Hancock, the Partridge-esque Health Secretary who came to prominence during the pandemic, was forced to resign a few weeks ago through external pressure following an extramarital affair with one of his aides, Gina Coladangelo.

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THE HOLIDAY HOME PARADOX: WE LOVE CORNWALL BUT FEEL COMPELLED TO DESTROY IT

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“Stop whining, you ungrateful inbred bastards, it’s our money that keeps you afloat” or some variant of that sentiment is regularly heard by Cornish people and permanent residents of Cornwall. Particularly in the summer. Particularly when we register our frustration at being priced out of communities we grew up in; at pristine green land being built upon, despite the presence of thousands of empty homes; and particularly when we dare to register our opinion that people are not entitled to as many houses as they like, no matter how wealthy they are. The severe levels of poverty experienced in parts of Cornwall are completely overlooked by wealthy holiday home-owners and the government (the two being far from mutually exclusive). It is hidden from view sufficiently that it will not dirty their holiday photos, it will not visibly encroach upon the sandy beaches or the pristine sea. They can pretend that everybody in Cornwall is as thick as portrayed in the TV show Doc Martin while maintaining a wilful ignorance about the devastating effects their Airbnb accommodation or holiday home is wreaking upon the county they proclaim to love.

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#KILLTHEBILL PROTESTS – WHO GETS TO DECIDE WHAT COUNTS AS VIOLENCE?

By Howard Green

The most important intergovernmental organisation of the last year, the World Health Organisation, defines violence as:

the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.

The media in this country have used the terms ‘violence’ and ‘violent’ to categorise the recent civil disruption surrounding the Kill The Bill protests. Norwich’s recent protests couldn’t be called ‘violent’ by any stretch of the imagination, but there have still been reactionary responses attempting to write off their importance, including from the EDP. However in the case of places like Bristol, the word ‘violence’ has been openly used against protestors by the media and influential reactionary figures.

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THE PLAY ABOUT THERESA MAY – REVIEW

By Toby Skelton

There is an elephant in the room with Amie Marie’s mischievous comedy The Play About Theresa May: why publish a satire on May’s bungled and mayhemic term in government in 2021? When placed beside the burning wreckage of policies created by her etonian man-child of a successor, there is a risk of the text losing its relevance before you’ve even passed the cover. Marie navigates this hurdle gracefully, however; its name-sake target has been out of office nearly two years, but The Play About Theresa May is still an extremely timely exploration of political engagement in 21st Century Britain.

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BUDGET 2021 AND THE SPECTRE OF CORBYN

By Howard Green

On March third, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his annual budget for 2021. As you would expect from a modern Conservative government, the budget showed an unwillingness to borrow and spend more than a moderate amount, despite the continuing economic pressures posed by the pandemic, and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to benefitting their rich donors while denying the most basic of help to the victims of years of Tory austerity. Sunak is spending just enough pocket change to maintain the appearance that the government isn’t just doing the bare minimum during the pandemic, but, typically, even this amounts to high praise from the largely right-wing mainstream media.

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THE ANTI-POLL TAX UNIONS: LESSONS IN COMMUNITY ORGANISING

By Niahl Hubbard

When activists look back to the movement that arose to challenge the introduction of the Poll Tax, they will see it as one of ordinary people taking on the establishment and coming out victorious. Whilst the rioting in Trafalgar Square and similar confrontations between police and protestors often takes centre stage in our collective memory of this period, there is the risk of overlooking the grassroots and community led resistance that fought every step of the way during the Poll Tax’s introduction – the resistance of the Anti-Poll Tax Unions.

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PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT – TIME FOR THE FIGHTBACK

By John Sillett

The recent collapse into administration of shop group Arcadia and Debenhams’ department stores was shocking, but not unexpected. Both companies have had their assets looted by their owners; Arcadia’s owner Philip Green has become widely seen as the unacceptable face of capitalism. Whilst the vultures pick over the bones of Topshop and its relations, there has been an avalanche of redundancies in many sectors, from construction to engineering. The pandemic has hastened the collapse or rationalisation of companies depending on footfall, like retail, hospitality and tourism.

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FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE HOME FRONT – THE CAMPAIGNS TO PROTECT NORFOLK’S ENVIRONMENT

By Sean Meleady

Norfolk people are rightly proud of the beautiful countryside and unique habitats which attract many tourists to the county. However, Norfolk’s environment and ecological sustainability are threatened by two planned developments located just outside Norwich: the Norwich Western Link road and a proposed new housing development near Thorpe St Andrew which threatens three local woodlands.

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MIXED MESSAGES: THE SEMIOTICS OF COVID-19 ADVICE

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By Robyn Banks

In its infinite wisdom, the Conservative Government in England has chosen to change its messaging around Covid-19, from ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’, to ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’. Putting aside the irony of both these proclamations (this government never had a plan to protect the NHS, and was about as alert to the virus as to a whale falling from the sky), this isn’t the only change that has taken place. There were also a number of subtle changes in the visual presentation of the advice that will have ramifications for how people both interpret and follow it.Continue Reading

DOMINIC RAAB EPITOMIZES THE GROSS INCOMPETENCY OF THE TORY CABINET

By Jonathan Lee

It’s easy to forget about Dominic Raab. He has the special ability, endemic to those inhabiting the current Tory cabinet, of being able to adjust his principles and cabinet position with a chamaeleon-like proficiency.

It’s actually hard to remember who does what in the Tory government in general, because there have been so many cabinet shuffles and reshuffles since 2016. The same group of tribalist, Tory chancers have been switched around so many times in recent years, it makes it difficult to hold individuals accountable for the disastrous policies put forward by recent governments.Continue Reading