IN DEFENCE OF STUDENT POLITICS

By Bradley Allsop

The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.

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VOTING IN THE WEST WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN

By Gunnar Eigener

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”

Malcolm X

The US midterm elections will just about be complete by now and regardless of the outcome, something fundamental has changed. It’s subtle but significant, obvious but difficult to place. The will of the people (how many times have we heard that) will be followed but it is how the will of the people has been coerced that has changed. In the past, while campaigning has never been a polite business and politicians of all parties seek to undermine their opponents, the ultimate goal has always been the unification of a country, the understanding that whoever wins, the idea is to help the country achieve success and to help individuals thrive. Yet this year, more than most, is seeing the accumulation of toxic politics, which may foreshadow how politics will be carried out in the future.

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2017: THE YEAR OF THE YOUTHQUAKE?

by Bradley Allsop

Youth voter turnout has long been a topic of debate, controversy and worry in British politics. Always below the national average, it has plunged even more than other age-groups’ dovetailing turnout in recent decades, sparking expressions of concern (although comparatively little policy change) from political parties. This seemed to have changed last June, with sites such as Yougov and NME reporting large increases in the youth vote for the 2017 general election, with the figures suggesting the largest rise in youth turnout in British political history.

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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 TUITION FEE FREEZE – TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

by Laura Potts

As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.

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SELF EDUCATION, NEW SOLUTIONS

by Laura Potts

Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.

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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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THE PARADOX OF TORY EDUCATION POLICY – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #7

by Alex Powell

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.

There is a severe dissonance between the conception of higher education that the Conservatives purport to support and the policies presented in their 2017 manifesto. In order to show this I have to work from within the Tory understanding of the purpose of higher education, and the role international students play within achieving that. Despite my adoption of this form of argumentation, I wish to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the idea that higher education is purely about reputation, financial stability, or the production of an effective workforce. Further, I do not accept the idea that international students are valuable only in terms of what they can offer to either educational institutions or the UK more generally. The current treatment of international students, and the blatant disregard shown for their welfare, is one of the most indefensible aspects of modern higher education policy.

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IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN? – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #6

from a member of UEA Labour Students

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.

Having resolved to sit down today and write this article, I’m struck by the appropriateness of my day. I caught the bus to UEA from outside one of the few remaining Sure Start centres, a public service provided by the last Labour government which has been decimated by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats) since 2010. My bus was 40 minutes late, the consequence of a privatised, under-funded service – and even the previously UEA-hosted launderette I went to had been privatised since I last used it. It served as a strong reminder of the power of Labour government to change lives for the better, which contrasts with the crumbling services and privatisation festival that has characterised the last 7 years of Conservative and ConDem government.

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A RAY OF HOPE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #5

by the UEA Young Greens

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.

On June the 8th the country will head to the polls for Mrs May’s snap election. This election has been called because, in a remarkable display of hubris, May and her Tory cohort expect to win a huge majority so she can continue to pursue her campaign of cuts whilst also pushing for a Hard Brexit. If they’re right, the future looks rather grim.

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VOTE PROGRESSIVE, VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #4

by Lewis Martin

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.

There is a lot of fear about the morning of June 9th. Will we wake up to a Tory super-majority that will see them stay in charge for the next 15 years? To a renewed age of cuts that hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in society, that disembowel the education system from primary to higher, and that destroy the environmental protections (or ‘Green Crap’) that will ensure that we have a safer and more secure future for our world? Or will the sun rise on something else? With the polls getting closer and closer, a miraculous Labour Party win isn’t off the table just yet.

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CREATIVE & PROGRESSIVE VOICES – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #3

by Laura Potts

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.

The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.

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EVERY VOTE COUNTS – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #2

by Alex Powell

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.

I can’t be the only one growing a little exhausted with all these elections, right? Nonetheless, tired as we are, it has never been more important that we all get out and vote. In the local elections we saw something of a decimation of left leaning parties, to the benefit of the Tories. What’s more, those elections featured some astoundingly low turnout figures, many below 30%. As a result of this, I feel it is incumbent on me to encourage anyone reading this to ensure that they get out and vote in the general election on June 8th.

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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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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

A GREEN REVOLUTION?

by Gunnar Eigener

The election of Donald Trump and the result of the Brexit referendum have thrown the prospect of a greener future into doubt. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and promise to boost the ailing US coal industry overshadow the current surge in renewable energy. The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been attacked amid fears of asset-stripping.

Social media is full of individuals and climate groups recoiling in horror at the potential of such actions pushing back the advancement of environmental progress. Many are counting down the days until Trump’s inauguration and the eradication of environmental regulations that is predicted to follow. Yet is the future really as bleak as many would have us believe?Continue Reading

WHAT IS DONE CANNOT BE UNDONE. WE ARE THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE.

by Natasha Senior

I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.

The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.

But it is not over. I will not let it be over.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

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

THERE IS NO THIRD BOX TO TICK: ‘LEXIT’ IS NOT AN OPTION

by Elliot Folan

So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.

I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.Continue Reading

THE PANAMA PAPERS AND THE MYTH OF PUBLIC SERVICE

by George Laver

Following the unexpected leak of around 11.5 million documents from a law firm based in Panama, known as Mossack Fonseca, an upheaval of an internationally unprecedented scale has begun. Just this week in Iceland, protests managed to uproot and depose the Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson following the revelations of his involvement with the law firm. It would seem that Iceland’s now-former PM is at least a little more receptive to the voice of protesters than our own.

It is ours who instead decided to reflex their power first through soft means – rejection of discussion, suddenly producing papers on the matter, or even averting the discourse to another open window – which will eventually filter through the armed wings of government in response to protest, being an increasingly well-armed police force and, if push came to shove, the army. Already in response to the revelations in the UK, there have been protests attended by the thousands, with many more set to occur within the next fortnight. Even amongst the calamity, I feel that there is a key question being missed: What vacuum in public appeal does this present? Tackling the cause at its root, it is this question that much be redressed; although it is formally an issue concerning tax, the deeper principle at hand – and truths which can be demonstrated – surround the very nature of public service.

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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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IS RUSSELL BRAND RIGHT? DO WE NEED A REVOLUTION?

by Jack Brindelli.

Naïve. Egotistic. Hypocritical. Russell Brand has been labelled many things since his infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman one year ago – by detractors on the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the established political spectrum. Predominantly the key focus of the ‘discussion’ on Brand has been guided, not so subtly, toward scrutinising a single assertion in that initial interview (despite Brand offering a plethora of other views in that interview and since – to the extent he wrote a book); the assertion that voting has become irrelevant to the bulk of society, as the mainstream political parties lurch uniformly rightward.

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