GENERAL ELECTION: A JEWISH LEFTIST’S THOUGHTS

by Tamar Moshkovitz

This was originally posted as a personal reflection, but the editorial team approached me after reading, and we thought it might find a different, perhaps wider audience on The Norwich Radical. 

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay silent on the lead up to this general election. Not only because I feel that it’ll be a major defining moment in the history of the UK – which it will; for anyone who’s not registered to vote yet, please do so here – but because every time I think about saying what I think I get hopelessly tangled up in the mess of being both Jewish and a leftist.Continue Reading

THIS ELECTION IS THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES – HERE’S HOW WE CAN WIN IT

By Bradley Allsop

The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.

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‘DODGY BUT STABLE’: BRINGING BACK THE PROGRESSIVE PUNCH

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by Sunetra Senior

A news-based long read of the darkening climate under Boris Johnson, and consequent examination of the solutions. 

NB: this piece was written before the announcement of the suspension of parliament. The call to progressive action is of the utmost urgency. 

Shock, horror!! Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, we are on the verge of a catastrophic No-Deal Brexit, and Trump’s ego is bigger than ever before. Prior to this, the Scandinavian Peninsula, or the magical lands of social democracy and hygge, saw the rise of a nationalist group in Finland. There were also the New Zealand shootings in a show of Islamophobia, so horrific, that the country’s PM moved to ban militarised weapons practically overnight. So, amidst this caustic circus, where is the progressive clout?  Given the gradual upheaval of the moral development of society, it’s apt to return to a timeless saying: ‘The personal is the political.’Continue Reading

PROPOSITION 112: A VIABLE WAY OF KEEPING FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND?

By Sam Alston

The USA political scene is consumed by a battle between President Trump and Democrats who are desperate to recapture Congress. However, in the mountain state of Colorado a referendum – bitterly opposed by locally entrenched oil and gas firms – proposes restricting the exploitation of the state’s massive oil reserves. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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VOTES AT 16: IT’S TIME FOR TORIES TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS

by James Anthony

In January 2018, it was announced that sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Wales will be given the right to vote in their local elections, under proposals set out by the Welsh Labour government. Along with Scotland, where votes at sixteen is already reality, Welsh policy will now be at odds with England and Northern Ireland where the voting age for any sort of election is eighteen. The idea that someone who is exactly the same age and has just as many years in education as another can be denied the right to vote based on location is extremely unfair. Perhaps it’s time the Conservative government reconsider their position on the voting age.

If the national government are seemingly ok with this being a regional disparity, why not allow it to take place in areas where there is clearly a desire for it? Just under two years ago, Norwich City Council voted unanimously for a proposal which asked for Norwich to be used as a possible ‘pilot area’ for allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to participate in local government elections. Disappointingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any official response to this request from the government although if it exists, I suspect it would be in essence – ‘piss off’. Continue Reading

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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DON’T JUST VOTE

by Will Durant

There is a particular and widespread attitude to voting that is well meaning but ultimately futile. It goes something like this: “I don’t care how you vote, just vote!” We find a typical example of this attitude from a 2015 Mirror article. What are these reasons? (1) It helps your credit rating, (2) young people vote far less than older people, (3) people fought and died to win for you to vote and (4) non-voters can change the outcome of an election. These reasons do indeed hold true for our election in 2017. In fact, as I write, the YouGov polls giving Labour a vote surge rely heavily on a big turnout from the young.

There is, however, something very strange about this attitude to voting. Although it tells you that it is possible, it gives no reason for why you would want to change the outcome of the election, it is simply something to do. Without advocating any particular outcome, this rationale for voting manages to make it apolitical.Continue Reading

PAVEMENTS, POTHOLES, AND POLLING DAY

by James Anthony

Having been a candidate in a local election last year, I spent a lot of time telling people ‘vote for me’, and as a candidate again this year, I’m doing much the same thing. The more I think about it however, it’s the first third of that phrase that is truly the most important part, and although local politics may not be all that exciting – it is something that affects everyone – above all we need to convince people simply to ‘vote’.

Part of this is acknowledging that the majority of people don’t even vote in local elections, and far fewer get excited about them. It’s a huge issue that turnout usually sits at well below 40% in local elections, but an issue that is difficult to examine as a political activist. In the run up to polling day I am surrounded by activists who (quite rightly) put a lot of time and effort into campaigning locally, and the dedication of my colleagues and political opponents never fails to impress me. As activists, we have to learn to accept that most voters don’t get quite as excited about it all. We need to view things from a different perspective if we want to see why turnout is so low and what we can do to improve it.Continue Reading

ONE WAY TO REBUILD FAITH IN POLITICS? MAKE MPS TAKE THEIR JOB SERIOUSLY.

by Olivia Hanks

The news that George Osborne is the new editor of the London Evening Standard was met with widespread disbelief in Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the former chancellor was “taking multitasking to an extreme level – what a joke”.

There are so many angles from which to object to this appointment that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, the brazen conflict of interest has already led to speculation about whether Osborne will be forced to step down as an MP. A prominent MP becoming editor of a major newspaper is a serious threat to UK democracy (we seem to be averaging about one a day now), and is sure to diminish our reputation around the world.Continue Reading

WELL, WHAT NOW?

by Zoe Harding

Content warning: As you’d expect, this article contains Donald Trump and all the associated bullshit that comes with him. It gets better at the end, but it’s still pretty grim. For a TL:DR, try Warren Ellis’ excellent Transmetropolitan comics, or this. Also contains strong language.

It’s not been a great year for fans of basic human decency towards people who aren’t white, straight, cis men. I’d list the crappy things that have happened on that front alone but I’ve got 800ish words and 2016 is going to get history books all of its own. Now, the self-proclaimed Land of the Free has elected a President who dog-whistled his way into power on a wave of fear, hate, intolerance and general bastardry. Well, great. All we need is a major natural disaster in December and then we’re on track for a nuclear war in January. Shitty things are already happening.  Here’s a running list. (Note: The election is still recent. I hope these turn out to be sensationalist clickbait. I really hope.)Continue Reading

THE DEFINITION OF DEMOCRACY FLUCTUATES AS WILDLY AS THE POUND

illustration adna fruitos democracy

by Natasha Senior

It was apparently a victory for Remainers when the High Court ruled that invoking Article 50 will require a full parliamentary process. The judges issuing the verdict were branded as tyrants by the tabloids — as if they were doing anything other than interpreting law. David Lammy — the MP for Tottenham, where 75% of the constituency came out in favour of the EU — declared he would block Brexit. He is the political Schrödinger’s cat, he behaves both democratically and undemocratically at the same time: vowing to uphold the wishes of his constituents against the wishes of the country. A majority of politicians don’t have the luxury of having voted the way their constituents did. Perhaps they would argue it differently, that they were democratically elected to represent their constituents, not vote with their constituents. It seems like a tenuous technicality but one that appears to stand up to scrutiny.

I guess it depends on what democracy really means. I’ve said the word so many times, I don’t even know anymore.Continue Reading

THE GENERATION GAME

by Kelvin Smith

The older people I know are not rejoicing about the result of the referendum. They are sad, angry, shocked. They are doing what they can: signing petitions, writing to their MPs, looking for rays of hope in (to borrow and reclaim the phrase purloined by the current xenophobic tendency) a country they do not recognise. An additional hurt comes from a feeling that, on top of this, they are being demonised; portrayed as self-satisfied and uncaring as they bask in their privilege of free education, secure pension rights, a place to live and a little money in the bank. The word ‘baby-boomer’ has become a term of abuse. ‘Pensioner’ has become code for selfish old bastard.

The principle of the secret ballot means that the British voting system cannot provide definitive information about the demographics of the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ votes, but this has not stopped the press from putting forward as fact the idea that older voters were the reason for a ‘leave’ majority. I have not seen any statistics that explain this except for a reliance on polls that we all now know are unreliable. But then this has been a referendum based on lies so there’s no reason to think this should be any different.Continue Reading

BREXIT — THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES STARTS NOW

by Josh Wilson

For all those who voted and campaigned to leave the European Union I would like say congratulations, we may have had a difference of opinion but that shouldn’t leave any animosity between us. For all of those that voted and campaigned to remain within the EU, like myself, it is okay to cry. It is okay to feel upset, angry and disappointed. It is not easy to let go of something you believed in so passionately. The future is scary; it is uncertain what direction the country will now head in, whether we will enter into another period of recession and who our next Prime Minister will be now David Cameron has said he will resign. But this is exactly why we must come to terms with the fact that Brexit is going to happen, and the fight has only just begun.

The referendum was largely fought between different sides of the right-wing of British politics, but the opportunity now lies with the Left. I truly believe everyone on the Left, whatever your party affiliation and which ever way you voted must unite and galvanise around a campaign for a progressive exit from the EU. This view was recently aired by Paul Mason in the Guardian, although in fear of being a hipster, I thought of this before it was ‘cool’ (You can read Paul’s more eloquent article here). In this article I want to cover another angle and lay out some of the biggest battles that are going to be thrown our way in the very near future.Continue Reading

WE ARE WHAT WE VOTE

illustration adna fruitos democracy

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, homophobia, mass shooting, murder

Our world seems to be approaching a turning point. Donald Trump is now, essentially, a nominated US presidential candidate. The chances of the UK leaving the EU are realistic, potentially paving the way for German and French referendums. Resistance to antibiotics is climbing to dangerous levels just as the Zika virus furthers its reach. The damage to the environment continues unabated. A man walked into a nightclub and killed many innocent people, either in the name of religion or because he was, sadly, unable to connect with his sexual identity. There seems to be a sense of things unraveling across the globe.

While this might understandably seem like the end of days to some, the truth is slightly blander although maybe just as unpalatable. We have allowed ourselves to get to this point. Us. You and me. Certainly not always by choice but we have allowed a system to continue that relentlessly sabotages us over and over. Time after time we let in those we know deep down will do us no good. Certainly the system seems rigged and that we are, in essence, voting for the lesser of how ever many participating evils there are. But the lesser evil is still evil. It’s not hard to understand why Russell Brand pushed the notion of not voting.Continue Reading

WHY ACTIVISTS SCREAM #BLACKLIVESMATTER AT BERNIE SANDERS

by Natasha Senior

Something amazing is happening. We are finally talking about racism. And I mean really talking about it. We are asking why it is, that in the US, black people are targeted significantly more than white people in terms of police violence. We are talking about institutional racism, wherein every single year we see little to no racial diversity in the academy award nominations. We are talking about symbolic racism, in which academic institutions seem to see nothing wrong with commemorating racist historical figures. It is not a coincidence that these conversations are taking place at the same time because we are in the midst of a powerful international movement called Black Lives Matter, which is taking a battering ram to every single racist barrier you can think of. But it is also going for the ones you might not have thought of, because now it is forcing us to introspect as we examine the places we thought were free and open spaces.

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THE EU REFERENDUM – WHAT IS BEING OFFERED TO US?

by George Laver

Amidst the giants of British politics, there is an ever-growing rift that threatens to split central parties in all directions. Even though the stereotypical dichotomy of the right-wing representing anti-EU camp – playfully dubbed ‘Brexit’ – and the left-wing representing the pro-EU camp tend to stand up to truth, there are subdivisions within the parties that make this a more complicated matter. In particular, the main figures on both sides having differed opinions over the matter.

For example, Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that he believes Britain should remain in the European Union (EU), whilst London Mayor Boris Johnson – an associate and old Eaton friend of Cameron’s – is thoroughly backing the ‘Brexit’ campaign. If anything, it shows that this point of contention can trigger big differences amongst the closest of allies. It is not just these individuals that we must consider, but also the collateral damage that their campaigning has: those who see their efforts will more often than not draw inspiration from them, casting an influence over their vote when the day arrives.Continue Reading

YES, AN ELECTORAL PACT WOULD BENEFIT LABOUR AND THE GREENS

By Elliot Folan

Once again, talk of a Green-Labour electoral pact has come back into the public eye, thanks to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn daring to not express outright hatred for Caroline Lucas, a position taken as suggesting a possible pact. Regardless of Corbyn’s actual intentions, the news item has gotten people discussing the possibility of a pact once again. As I suspected would happen, when I first wrote a piece on this issue earlier this year, there’s been a sceptical and sometimes angry reaction from some elements within the Green Party. One member, in particular, outlined their position in a Bright Green article, saying that “there are no guarantees, no accurate statistics, that suggest ‘Lefty’ electoral pacts will win seats”. I’d like to respond to anti-pact sentiments, and to that article in particular.Continue Reading

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

RENT CONTROLS, CHEAPER TRAINS, AND CLEANER AIR: SIAN BERRY’S VISION FOR A RADICAL LONDON

Sven Klinge

In May 2016, London will go to the polls to decide who will replace Boris Johnson as their new mayor. A number of progressive parties from across the political spectrum are standing candidates in that election. We’ve got in touch with all those who are seeking nomination from their parties, asking why London should elect them, what their key policy priorities are and how London will be changed if they are elected. We’ll be publishing their responses over the next few weeks.

by Sian Berry

Along with a group of truly excellent colleagues, I’ve put myself forward to be the Green Party candidate for Mayor of London in 2016.

I’ve stood before, taking us up to 4th place in 2008 from 7th the time before, and in 2012 Jenny Jones took us to 3rd place. This makes next year a crucial election for Greens in London. It will take a really focused effort to improve on that, and in this encounter, experience will count for more than usual. I have that experience and am very grateful to receive Caroline Lucas’ backing to take the challenge on again.

We really are seeing incredible things across Europe. In Barcelona and Madrid, and most recently and significantly in Greece, the people are overwhelmingly rejecting top-down, imposed and ever-deeper austerity. When you look at what Barcelona’s Mayor is doing to halt evictions since being elected on the crest of a wave of citizen activism, it’s clear that we have accepted a rough deal for too long in London but that we can make different choices.Continue Reading

THE GREEN PARTY MUST MOVE AWAY FROM ‘LIFESTYLE POLITICS’

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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

THE AGE OF REASON REDUX

by Jack Brindelli 

It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.

There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.

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THE MASQUE OF APATHY

by Jack Brindelli

Last week, legendary British director Mike Leigh announced his next film project was to be a dramatisation of the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre. Leigh reportedly plans to begin in 2017, two years before the massacre’s second centenary, and cited its “universal political significance” as to why it was such an important story to re-tell now. That universal significance, the political mainstream would have you believe, was as a fable to remind us of the importance of using our right to vote. People died fighting for your vote after all.

The slaughter itself took place on St Peter’s Field, Manchester on the 16th of August 1819, when a crowd of up to 80,000 ordinary people gathered to demand that they be represented by parliament. When local magistrates called for the arrest of radical orator Henry Hunt, an armed cavalry charge sent to capture him and disperse the crowd murdered 15 civilians in cold blood, and wounded as many as 700 — an act of ‘heroism’ that seems to inspire the London Metropolitan police to this day.

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THE IMPRISONED: UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE AND REHABILITATION

by Adam Edwards

If this is how the Queen treats her prisoners, she doesn’t deserve to have any.
— Oscar Wilde

Every few months the ongoing tit-for-tat between the UK government and the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg develops. Strasbourg will insist that the UK must extend suffrage to the country’s imprisoned populace, and UK politicians will line up to express how nauseating they find the idea. It’s a piece of political theatre that unfolds with the predictable reliability of a soap opera.

It should serve to remind us as to the purpose prisons serve. Episodes like this ought to help us scratch the Ministry of Justice’s PR varnish enough to remember that prisons exist primarily as an expression of the power of the state over the individual; cross the line and we will lock you up. Not only will we take your liberty, but inasmuch as we seek to ‘rehabilitate’ and ‘reform’ you, we will take your identity too. We will arrest your body and your conscience alike; we will isolate you and remove you. While we’ve got the keys, you don’t exist. Just cross the line.

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THE FLAG OF HATE RISES OVER EUROPE

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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.

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