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Looking at 2012: negations and affirmations

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, Feb-March 2012 2011 has been hailed in the media as a year of “protest” in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became… Read more

Streets of the imagination

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, October-November 2011 Events over the summer brought to mind William Blake’s uncompromisingly angry poem “London”, written in the early 1790s under the impact of revolution in France and repression at home. The poet wanders “through the charter’d streets / near where the charter’d Thames does flow” where he encounters… Read more

Riots, reason and resistance

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu “Criminality pure and simple” was Prime Minister David Cameron’s initial verdict on the rioting. From the right came the mantra, “Down with sociology! Up with water cannon!” Don’t think but do act – harshly, punitively, peremptorily. In the wake of the riots, a powerful vested interest has been at work… Read more

Empires past and present

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 23 April A high court in London is hearing a suit brought against the British government by four elderly Kenyans who were tortured, sexually abused and in one case castrated while held in detention during the British repression of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. As a result of… Read more

Cuts get personal

The Guardian 19 February 2011 As a long-term patient at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London I read this week’s news of cuts with trepidation. In order to meet the government’s £20bn NHS “savings” target, the trust that runs Barts and the Royal London in Whitechapel is to cut 635 jobs, including 258 nursing posts –… Read more

UK deficit a pretext for social engineering

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu Britain’s coalition government has embarked on an ambitious programme of social engineering. The purpose of its historic package of public spending cuts and “reforms” is said to be the reduction of the fiscal deficit, which rose sharply in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the recession. But, as we… Read more

Cuts, cancer and resistance

The Guardian, 6 November The cuts will hit cancer patients hard. We need NHS staff to take action against them. Please note: a longer, more detailed version of this article will appear in the December issue of Red Pepper. Politicians, it seems, feel obliged to genuflect before the altar of cancer, so it’s not surprising that… Read more

Bankers, bonuses and “brains”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 24 October At a fringe meeting at last month’s Conservative party conference, one of the speakers began a defence of British bankers’ bonuses (£7 billion this year) by observing that “When God gave out brains, he didn’t give them all out equally, and so we have to live in an… Read more

Insisting on an alternative: meeting the challenge of the cuts

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, August-September 2010 In Act IV Scene i of King Lear, the blinded, humbled, suicidal Earl of Gloucester hands his purse to the naked madman, ‘Poor Tom’ (actually Gloucester’s ill-used son, Edgar) and as he does so observes, “So distribution should undo excess, / And each man have enough.” Shakespeare’s… Read more

An attack on the international movement

Wednesday’s Commons debate on Gaza was a remarkable illustration of just how weak Israel’s position has become in this country, as in others. Hague’s statement was probably more forceful than David Milliband’s would have been were he still Foreign Secretary. But it was strongly criticised as not going far enough by at least twenty MPs… Read more