TRANSPARENT REFORM

prison wall tower reform

by David Breakspear

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
N. Mandela

A message I have carried whilst campaigning for reforms in our prison system has been one of making the walls of justice invisible. The walls that ensconce societies; mums, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, other family members and loved ones and/or friends.

As someone that became, somewhat, institutionalised to the safety and comfort of prison, I saw those walls as keeping people out. I also saw this as a good thing. How ironic then, that here I am now, writing an article promoting transparency to those very same walls that were my protectors.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF STUDENTS’ UNIONS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #4

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Students’ Unions are meant to defend students’ rights, fighting with and for them during their time at university and beyond. However, modern SUs are often dominated by corporate thinking, consumer culture and cosy collusion with university management. Radical, grassroots democracy is often muted or discouraged, channelled instead into more temperate, gradual and piecemeal avenues by Unions centralised in their functioning and timid in their approach.

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REVIEW: THE CIRCLE, BY DAVE EGGERS

by Eli Lambe

Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.

There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading

WHY ANOTHER EUROPE IS POSSIBLE: INTERVIEW WITH MARINA PRENTOULIS

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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

THE PANAMA PAPERS: NOT THE BEGINNING AND NOWHERE NEAR THE END

by Gunnar Eigener

“The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.”

Denis Healey, UK Chancellor 1974-79

The leak of over eleven million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca only really scratches the surface. Like all tax havens, there is a long history of corruption and exploitation to which the tale of Panama is no exception.

In 1937, then US Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote a letter to President Franklin D Roosevelt, singling out the Bahamas, Panama and Newfoundland as places where:

‘stock-holders have resorted to all manners of devices to prevent the acquisition of information regarding their companies. The companies are frequently organised through foreign lawyers with dummy incorporators and dummy directors, so that the names of the real parties in interest do not appear.’

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