Social Justice

8 December 2020Review

Housesparrow Press, 2019; 156pp; £12. https://www.housesparrowpress.com

Over a third of women in the world suffer physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives, writes one of the contributors to this book.

For some, the resulting trauma leads to homelessness. While society reaches for easy narratives of deprivation and suffering, of the deserving and undeserving poor, the many circumstances that might lead a woman to homelessness are often ignored. These complex – often contradictory – attitudes are the subject of this book.

Firstly, this…

1 December 2019Review

Pluto, 2017; 256pp; £16.99

The term ‘austerity’ reminds me of comedian Stewart Lee’s quip that: ‘if political correctness has achieved anything, it’s forced the Conservatives to cloak their inherent racism in more creative language’.

This collection of essays brilliantly and engagingly covers everything from food and fuel poverty to welfare reforms and environmental degradation, reminding us that all spheres of life are affected by austerity measures.

Infant mortality rates have risen for the…

1 February 2019Review

Princeton University Press, 2018; 328pp; £14.99

There is a certain harmless air to tales. They are always fun to read and listen to because they conjure up worlds beyond our own doubtful and complex one.

What is fascinating about the stories collected by Michael Rosen in this book is that they give us a glimpse into a time – the late 19th/early 20th century – when the ideas and concepts of socialism were being tested and acted out in fictional realms peopled with elves, spirits, talking poultry, Martians and, especially, giants…

1 August 2018Review

Accent Press, 2018; 368 pp; £15.99

Achieving 40 percent of the vote – a record-breaking 10 percent increase on its 2015 performance – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party carried off one of the biggest political upsets ever at the 2017 general election, dealing a serious blow to the Tory government and broader neoliberal ideology.

Steve Howell, deputy director of strategy and communications in the Labour leadership team, gives a detailed and engaging insider account of the election campaign. There are no big reveals, but…

1 June 2018News

House of Commons declared 'crime scene'

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) occupied the central lobby of the Westminster parliament in London just before midday on 18 April. DPAC taped out a ‘crime scene’ with the outline of a ‘murder victim’ laid on the floor. They demanded the scrapping of Universal Credit, a working-age benefit. DPAC claim it produces ‘crimes against claimants’, including 160,000 children losing free school meals and the increased use of foodbanks in areas where it’s been introduced.

After the…

1 June 2018Review

Zed Books, 2017; 384pp; £10.99

This book analyses contemporary struggles for social justice against the spinning backdrop of New Labour’s Cool Britannia. Using pop culture subjects such as the all-women pop group, the Spice Girls, the rebranding of the British royal family, the class war of Britpop, and the public reaction to the Young British Artists (YBAs), the author shows how, while New Labour celebrated the image of a visibly diverse, post-colonial Britain, in reality the roots of our present struggles for justice…

1 December 2017Review

Verso 2017, 256pp; £12.99

Stephen Armstrong shows how consecutive governments have abandoned Britain’s most vulnerable citizens and overseen the gradual dismantling of a welfare state that once protected them. Importantly, Armstrong also tells the stories of those most affected.

Beginning with the 1942 Beveridge Report – the founding document of Britain’s welfare state – Armstrong outlines how, by adopting its recommendations, postwar governments were largely successful in eradicating what the report…

11 October 2017Blog entry

Ian Sinclair talks to George Lakey, Matt Kennard and Alex Nunns

Ian Sinclair writes: My new Peace News article ‘The biggest fight of our lives’ includes comments from George Lakey, Matt Kennard and Alex Nunns. Due to space considerations I could only include a small portion of the commentary each of them sent me in the article itself. Below are their full comments.

Why is Jeremy Corbyn seen as such a threat to the British establishment?

Matt Kennard,…

19 April 2017Blog entry

Jon Lockwood reviews Leon Fleming's recent play

Leon Fleming's new play concerns a brother and sister growing-up and living in Birmingham trapped in the clutches of an uncaring welfare system. The story is told with flasback scences from their childhood, mixed with the contemporary tale of two people being processed by The System TM and trying to survive. It is a grim tale, but not without moments of comedy, but those bittersweet moments come from the past rather than the relentlessly grim present of our protagonists. Their lives now…

1 April 2017Comment

It's good to talk ...

Men talk in a cafe in Tigre, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. April 2003. Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com

After I shared a cartoon on Facebook recently, I had an angry response (several hundred words long) from ‘John’, someone I haven’t heard from in years. The cartoon, by New Zealand-based illustrator Toby Morris, shows two people, equally intelligent and hard-working, growing up in different circumstances, and ending up in very different situations in adult life. The…

15 March 2017Blog entry

Playwright Leon Fleming on the biographical inspiration behind his new play 'Kicked in the Sh*tter' and why he believes that theatre is the greatest medium we have created for dragging thoughts out of a society.

I’ve written a play, Kicked in the Sh*tter. Sounds a bit grim, but it's pretty funny.

It is.

That’s the plug over.

When I first wrote this play, I had no idea what I was writing. Or why.

But I soon realised I’d been writing about a world I know well; albeit one so much darker now, than it was when it was mine. The two characters are people I have known. More than that though; they are me, a lot of me; more than I would usually allow. That…

1 October 2016Review

Pluto Press, 2016; 224pp; £12.99

Using interviews, articles, personal stories and political commentary, Jeremy Seabrook’s latest book paints a bleak account of the current government’s ‘demolition’ of the UK welfare state.

Situated in and around Wolverhampton, local people, differing widely in their cultural backgrounds, tell their stories and the reasons that have led them to rely on benefits. Many of the interviewees are in low-paid insecure employment, or else are full-time carers and mothers.

The…

1 April 2016Feature

The feminists fighting austerity

Sisters Uncut dye a Trafalgar Square fountain in an anti-austerity demonstration on 28 November 2015 against cuts to domestic violence services. Photo: Sisters Uncut

Sisters Uncut. It’s likely that if you follow the anti-austerity movement, you’ve heard of them. They are the feminists who dyed the fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square blood red in response to chancellor George Osborne’s announcement in his autumn statement last year, on the International Day for the Elimination of…

1 February 2016Feature

An open letter from the Wretched of the Earth bloc about the ‘People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs’ on 29 November

Photo: London Latinxs

On 7 December, indigenous activists from across the world kayaked down the river Seine to protest against the removal of the protection of indigenous rights as a crucial aspect of the climate treaty being negotiated in Paris. The push back against indigenous rights was led by the US, EU, Australia – all states with a rich past and present of colonial exploitation of people and land – who feared that the protection of indigenous rights might create legal…

1 October 2015Review

New Internationalist, 2015; 192pp; £9.99

Every now and then, Peace News sends me a book which I absolutely love from start to finish. Despite the clunky title, this is one of those books. It’s a terrific read that tells you everything you need to know about why austerity is prevalent, what it does and some pointers on how to resist it.

The book is in two parts: the first, ‘Demolition’, deals with the causes of austerity and its impact on all areas of society. The second, ‘Austerity and Democracy’, charts its…