PROPERTY WORK MONEY FOOD
ACROSS THE LENGTH and breadth of Great Britain, people are waking up today to the reality that we are a nation at war. Up until now, it has been a largely hidden conflict, characterised by sustained attacks on people’s way of life. It’s a battle for the control of resources, for land, and wealth, a battle being waged by those who value economic dogma and the desire for profit above all else. The human toll in this conflict has been high: Homelessness is on the increase and the number of people sleeping rough on England’s streets rose by an “unprecedented” 30 per cent to over 3,500 during 2015. Many people live precariously - the number of workers on zero hours contracts has topped 800,000 and more and more working people rely on housing benefit to boost their income. Against a backdrop of public spending cuts, record numbers of people are relying on food banks, with more than
REPORTS FROM THE FRONTLINE
a million three-day emergency food supplies provided by the Trussell Trust’s 424 centres alone over the past year. Cuts to public services have been particularly hard on disabled people, who have been disproportionately impacted by cuts and a string of reforms, including the change from disability living allowance to personal independence payments. The sale of valuable public assets looks set to continue, with plans floated to take the Land Registry and Ordinance Survey out of public ownership. Playwright and activist Anders Lustgarten warns that enemy tactics have been stepped up, and while privatisation is likely to continue and people will still be forced to pay for “fundamental things that we already possessed”, we can expect further assaults on every aspect of our way of life, from social needs, behaviour, even the way society is organised: “Capitalism has always been exploitative, but this is capitalism as being utterly parasitic, it’s a capitalism that provides nothing, it only takes, it only financialises,”
says Lustgarten, whose 2013 play If You Don’t Let Us Sleep, We Won’t Let You Dream highlighted the way that even recidivism can be turned into something that can be financialised. “There is a very self evident war by the elite against the poor in this country. And the more powerful anyone gets in pretty much any system, the more paranoid and aggressive and angry and unfulfilled they get. So the more these people control public policy and the economic system, the angrier they get that people have not yet been monetised.” There have been a number of phoney wars, with people’s anxieties about the future played upon, and enmity stirred up between different communities. As suspicions grow that media rhetoric about migrants and benefit scroungers is all part of the enemy’s tactics, however, many are questioning the reality behind such slogans as “We’re all in this together”. Groups that have long been on the front-line of the attacks, including people living with disabilities, asylum seekers, migrants, and the traveller community, are
THERESA 23 MAY PAGE
AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN HER BEFORE
discovering many more are joining the struggle in their communities and neighbourhoods. “Hidden civil war starts from the centre, starts from places of power, starts from the privileged, starts from a bunch of people who have decided that the rest of us are waste,” says Chris Erskine, co-curator of a Hidden Civil War event taking place in Newcastle in October. “Our problem has been that no one realised that this was taking place right underneath our very noses. (continued on page 4)
TALKS, EXHIBITIONS, PERFORMANCES, STREET ART, FILMS Plus!! ‘AKALA’ MOBO AWARD-WINNING HIP HOP ARTIST
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Chris Erskine explains just what is behind The Precariat and the entire Hidden Civil War being raged in the UK today.
ather than thinking that civil war starts at the margins of society, what happens if its starts at the centre? What happens if its a constant in all of our lives? One that was exposed, via the financial crisis of 2008, when the tide went out and revealed the vested interests of the dominant and most powerful elements of our society? What happens if it's a Hidden Civil War? One in which the state and those most invested in its current formulation are the primary initiators and agitators? At first glance, the idea of a civil war within these lands may seem crazy. Surely it requires tanks on the street and constant civil disobedience? But what if we replace these signs with household debt and payday loans; deterioration of the NHS; increase in racial tensions; fragmentation of communities; zero-hours contracts?
THINK! Hidden Civil War is a month-long programme of events and exhibitions across Newcastle upon Tyne that expose, collate and present evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today. Hidden Civil
War is a collaborative project, commissioned by The NewBridge Project and developed in partnership with East St Arts, Metal, Paper Rhino, Hands on Film Lab, Mark Donne, Taryn Edmonds,
Chris Erskine, Julia Heslop, Beth Ramsay, Julie Tomlin, Vicky Ward and Aisha Zia. Hidden Civil War is delivered with the support of partner venues Cobalt Studios, Ouseburn Trust, The Cumberland
Arms, Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Stephenson Works and Summerhill Bowling Club. The Accompanying publication, The Precariat, is produced by Paper Rhino.
What happens if the state and those in authority (media, banks, global corporations etc) are acting to keep their power and privilege, rather than serve the people? What happens if the law-makers, become the law-breakers, all in the name of keeping the law? Just how far fetched is this in the age of
Hillsborough, phone tapping, the MP’s expenses scandal? It is said that our imaginations have become so entrapped in the inevitability of living like we do, that we find it easier to contemplate nuclear or environmental disasters, rather than something different to global capitalism. This ‘state of inevitability’ creates the perfect front in which those with influence and privilege can extend their authority well beyond where the law existed in the past; and at the same time withdraw from previously held collective responsibilities. Just who does really benefit from ideas such as Brexit; austerity; privatisation? These are the questions found at the heart of Hidden Civil War. Hidden Civil War explores the states of exception that are allowing those in power, to culturally, physically and psychologically attack not only political adversaries, but entire categories of citizens who for some reason
cannot be integrated into the current economic and political system. Hidden Civil War explores how certain forms of knowledge are privileged and accepted as true; and certain voices heard and valued, while of course, many others are not. History shows that such acts hold great importance in relation to the production of power and wealth. The processes of both acquiring knowledge, and suppressing certain knowledge, is a violent act in a time of crisis. Via artistic expressions; the stories of particular people groups; and emerging issues in post-Brexit Britain, Hidden Civil War shall seek to appreciate and celebrate alternative voices and expressions of life; whilst also disrupting and dislodging, mainstream forms of knowledge and understanding. But make no mistake, Hidden Civil War is not some ‘lefty-finger pointing exercise’. We are truly all in this together, inasmuch as we are all
“Just who does really benefit from ideas such as Brexit; austerity; privatisation? These are the questions found at the heart of Hidden Civil War.”
economic addicts. John Holloway writes: ‘We are all involved in the re-creation of the social relations we are trying to overcome. It cannot be otherwise in a capitalist society. The movement of doing is not a pure movement, but a moving in-against-andbeyond... There is no purity here: we try to overcome the contradictions, we rebel against our own complicity, we try in every way to stop making capitalism, we try to direct the flow of our lives as effectively as possible towards the creation of a society based on dignity.’ There are no simple solutions, but that cannot mean simple surrender. Placing art at the heart of this programme is no mistake, but it is not in isolation. Voices and ideas from the areas of food, land, travellers, domestic violence, poverty, asylum and debt are all in the mix. Our times require deep collaboration, reflection and listening. As the renowned journalist John Pilger recently wrote: ‘What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?’ Our hope is that Hidden Civil War will contribute to these needs.
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WAR REPORT (continued from front page) Land grabs, the housing crisis, and tax havens have become a common language, but they need to become our war cry.” And across the country the resistance is growing Sisters Uncut have begun to challenge the swingeing cuts being imposed on domestic violence services for women in London, Newcastle and elsewhere. Focus E15 began with a group of women who faced eviction in Newham in London and has grown into a widespread campaign against social cleansing. Others are focusing on creating alternatives the members of Glasgow’s Open Jar Collective, for instance, are exploring more equitable and sustainable approaches to food. It’s clear that people aren’t only opposing current policy, they are looking at new ways of managing our economy and communities and challenging the forceful imposition of an economic and social order that satisfies the greed of the few. “It’s a form of social engineering,” says Lustgarten, pointing to plans drawn up to “basically knock down every council house in Islington and Hackney” and replace them with 'investment vehicle' housing for the wealthy provide 10 per cent affordable housing attached to it. “The policy behind it isn’t just this land is valuable, let’s get poor people off it and monetise it, it’s we want to get the poor, the single mothers, out of this town and make it, as Boris Johnson once described it, the natural habitat for billionaires in the way that the Sumatran rainforest is the natural habitat for Orangutans.”
Rose Brash being led away from the Beanfield
THE ROAD By Julie Tomlin LESS TRAVELLED
ANOTHER WAY IS POSSIBLE For now at least, some of the desire for a way of life that reflects the interests of the many is finding expression in the battle for the leadership of the Labour party. Despite doubts about whether parliamentary democracy can deliver the kind of change people hope for, activist Bronagh Gallagher says the groundswell of support for the kind of politics Jeremy Corbyn represents is the closest she has seen to what happened in Scotland during the 2014 referendum. “I think what we saw in Scotland was people coming together around a sense of hope and possibility,” she says. “The phrase that they created was “Another Scotland is Possible” and you believed that, it wasn’t just an empty campaign slogan, you felt that if we get, [independance] another Scotland is genuinely possible, so I think it captured imagination and feeling.” Although the vote to stay in the UK won the day, Gallagher says the Yes campaign woke people up to the nature of the conflict. Many of them are involved in battles to “make sure things don’t get worse” but the dream of building a different kind of country, with a
“People who got involved in the Yes campaign were completely catalysed, their belief didn’t end just because they had lost the vote, something has shifted for a lot of people”
Demolition of council flats in Hackney, London
different type of politics in Scotland remains: “People who got involved in the Yes campaign were completely catalysed, their belief didn’t end just because they had lost the vote, something has shifted for a lot of people,” says Gallagher. “I think it’s latent, but it’s still there.” It is this focus on direct opposition to destructive policies, and the creative work of building alternatives, that characterises the resistance. This, as it’s becoming clear, is an unusual war, as both sides are using very different tactics. Erskine’s under no illusion that the enemy will escalate the violence of its attack: “The dominant system is unsustainable, it’s running on a model that needs at least three
planets, which we haven’t got, so for me, the increasing militarisation of our lives is an inevitability,” he says. “Those that have power are going to have to defend it, because that’s the mindset, that militarisation and the idea that the law will bring an end to the law to keep the law, which is the state of exception.” Despite this, many have concluded that the most effective form of resistance is choosing not only a different way of life, but a different way of being, one that doesn’t reflect the enemy’s values or priorities when it comes to power and wealth. On the face of it, this seem inadequate against such determined opposition, but Erskine believes that people are discovering the power of more humane, creative tactics. “Weakness nullifies the potentiality of
violent physical struggle, so we need other levers to push through,” says Erskine. “The three things for me are humour, creativity or aesthetics, beauty in its wider sense and love. They’re the energy forces that we should be looking for to resist with.”
CREATIVITY & HOPE Writing from Eroles in Spain, the Eroles Project team, who will be among a number of artists and activists gathering in Newbridge this October to advance the resistance, wrote: “Strengthening the values needed in this time of the great turning, we focus on compassion, empathy, collective intelligence, celebrating uncertainty, and a spiritual practice that makes me non-separate from you.
“When our actions come from inspiration, not from urgency, we can sustain ourselves in a fertile space of creativity and hope. We will resist of course, but it is from the light and energy of our dreams that the resistance will thrive, as we fight from within rather than against.” Events being held across Newcastle will reflect the nature of the Hidden Civil War, discuss its progress and strategise, but also aim to embody and celebrate alternative ways of living, says Erskine. “We have the possibility of offering spaces where we can reconfigure, where we can think about land, where we can think about housing, what education could like,” he says. “We can then actually start to reclaim them, rather than consume whatever it is that we’re being offered.”
TO UNDERSTAND IN concrete terms how a state of exception allows for legal civil war against people who don’t fit into the current political order, there is perhaps no stronger example than the travelling community in the UK and the assaults carried out on their way of life. Not that they see themselves as victims, in fact for the hippie traveller community that Sam Haggerty has been part of for over 30 years, resistance is continuing to live the riotous, anarchic and creative life that includes art, performance, raves, warehouse and festival culture. Despite sporadic attempts to put an end to their lifestyle it, Haggerty says it doesn’t always feel like war: “I’m so lost in the miasma of hippie culture, revolution, anarchy, alternative thinking, free spirits, that it can be difficult to actually say what it is you do in the civil war, but it’s not far from the truth to say it’s an almost permanent state for us.” Maybe nothing demonstrates the extent to which the authorities are prepared to use violence to crack down on ‘deviance’ than the Battle of the Beanfield that happened in June 1985. In an attempt to stop a Peace Convoy of New Age Travellers reaching Stonehenge for a Free Festival, around 1300 police held 600 travellers in a field before unleashing extraordinary violence, hurling missiles at windscreens, destroying many vans and using police batons. Eight police officers and 16 travellers were hospitalised that day, and 537 travellers arrested. This took place a year after the Battle of Orgreave, when pickets at a British Steel Corporation coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire allege they were attacked by South Yorkshire police. Documents have since confirmed what many believed at the time that the police were being used to enforce government policy during the miner’s strike rather than uphold the law. The Earl of Cardigan, whose field the travellers entered to bypass police, criticised police behaviour, and was called a “class traitor” by the then editor of the Daily Telegraph, Bill Deedes. The Battle of the Beanfiied “hammered” the festival era, but it was “re-birthed” in a
new rave scene that emerged in giant warehouses in places like King’s Cross and Paddington. The Mutoid Waste Company that came into being around the time time of Beanfield made its mark at the Glastonbury Festival in 1987 with Car Henge – a towering artwork built from scrapped cars that paid homage to the end of the first stage of free party culture. The Mutoids then took up residency at the Battlebridge Road warehouse in Kings Cross, using the industrial scrap to make giant sculptures that were the back drop for the parties and inspired a young Damien Hirst to set up the first Frieze Art Fair in 2003. “What we do now is inherited from the 60s, we inherit all that anarchy, we inherit the anarchy of the beanfield, and that’s what we do,” he says. The rave scene brought further legislation in the form of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, which enabled the police to ban groups of 20 or more people meeting in a particular area if they feared “serious disruption to the life of the community,” even if the meeting was non-obstructive and non-violent. Haggerty, who owns and runs traveller sites in Worthing, says that “every ten years or so they seem to go for the hippies and travellers” in an attempt to destroy the culture. Today, government circulars restricting disabled adults, the elderly and people with children under 16 from being granted planning permission makes settling in one place extremely difficult. Brighton City Council has also begun imposing parking fines of up to £160 per night on 250 families who travel regularly through the town. Having only built nine pitches for the travellers, 241 families are at threat from receiving such fines, and a law that says your vehicle can be confiscated if you offend regularly, and a ban of up to three years imposed. “If you genuinely cant live the way you live, of course they’re destroying your culture, or an aspect of it,” Haggerty says. “But then again, you can’t censor the mind. You can force people into houses, but whether you can actually destroy that culture is a different thing entirely.”
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FROM THE FRONT LINE THE ART OF
Andrew Grinnell on the Poverty Truth Commission
Our Sisters in The North East Maxine Davies hears from members of Sisters Uncut about cuts to domestic abuse services in the north east - and how they are fighting them
OCAL DOMESTIC ABUSE service Newcastle Women’s Aid has recently announced it is set to close after more than 40 years of providing specialised support and refuge for victims of domestic abuse. This follows news from Newcastle City Council that a new contract has been tendered with a commercial provider. In direct response, Sisters Uncut - a feminist direct-action collective perhaps best known for the invasion of the red carpet at the premiere of 2015’s Suffragette - has established a regional collective in Newcastle to fight back against cuts to domestic violence services in the region. The Sisters Uncut feministo outlines their commitment to stand with all self-defining women to fight against austerity and life-threatening cuts to domestic violence services. We spoke to the Sisters Uncut Newcastle collective, who chose to respond as a group in order to reflect their commitment to a non-hierarchical structure. “Being non-hierarchical makes sure we are able to call out or call in people in the group being oppressive without fear of others taking sides,” they said. “Sisters Uncut is made up of a diverse group of women and some of us experience many different kinds of oppression at the same time, such as sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism and homophobia, amongst others.” The Sisters are keen to minimise promoting the oppressive structures that women are forced to survive under by making sure that all Sisters are equally involved in the group. “Being activists also takes a lot of personal energy and we recognise that burn out is a serious threat; by taking a fair share of the work according to our personal situations, we can all share equal ownership of the group and the work we do so that no one person is bearing the brunt.” The Sisters highlighted the importance of direct action in Newcastle and the surrounding areas, noting that the Conservatives’ commitment to austerity disproportionately affects those in the North of England. “UK government decisions have a great impact on the already unacceptable levels of gender inequality here in the North East. The cuts
run deep here in the North and are felt most by the community when important services that address inequality are culled.” Statistically, violence against women and girls in the North East is very high. According to a 2010 study, over 160,000 women in the region have experienced domestic abuse, nearly 150,000 women have experienced sexual assault and over 30,000 are survivors of rape or attempted rape. The services most at risk are those which specialise in support for BME women; funding in Northumberland has been cut completely, placing additional pressure on resources here in Tyneside which are already oversubscribed. One in three women seeking refuge from domestic violence in the UK have been turned away due to lack of space. “Austerity is an ideological policy that disproportionately affects the neediest, cuts to domestic violence services are fatal. Specialist domestic violence services, such as refuges which are women-centred and women-led, are vital in a time when a woman is fleeing violence at home,” the Sisters stated. “They provide effective, expert, empathetic support to survivors of domestic violence. Refuges provide a safe space for local women and children, and a number of women and children who flee cross-country; they provide 24-hour support including advocacy to access housing, employment, health care and education, and many other facets of building a new independent life.” Alongside aiming to ensure that women’s services in the North East are protected, the Sisters have a number of long-term goals and demands, including calling upon Newcastle City Council to commit to ring-fencing funding for women’s services in the region, and for the council to pledge to work in consultation with these specialist services to create a charter for women. The Sisters are dedicated to working as a collective to fight back against lethal cuts to essential services and hope to build on the work of women in the past, such as the first women’s refuge at 2 Belmont Terrace, Chiswick, in 1971. “The women there claimed space back to create a community as free from patriarchal structures as it could be, a place where women could work together: a sisterhood.”
It was 10 years ago that I started attending local meetings where residents met council officials to talk about life in the neighbourhood. Agendas always included important items like whether it was a good thing to build a waste processing plant (official speak) or incinerator (local speak) on the edge of our area. I knew that in the room there was real wisdom. I’d heard from the public sector workers I’d met who had a genuine desire to do the ‘right thing’ for the neighbourhood. I’d heard wisdom in bucket-loads from local people who really got the issues and had brilliant ideas about how things might change for the better. Yet, some of the meetings reminded me of my Grandad and great Aunt one Christmas when they both seemed deep in conversation, politely giving space for each other to make their own contribution. But as both were losing their hearing they were talking about completely different subjects. They were talking, but there was no real conversation. My experiences in neighbourhood meetings was similar. People talked past each other, meaning the deep wisdom that was in the room wasn’t heard. This left me asking a question, ‘how can we create an environment where the real wisdom of local people is heard and makes a difference as to how we might deal with poverty?’ It was a few years later that a friend gave me the report from the first Poverty Truth Commission that had been held in Scotland. As I thumbed through its pages I started to wonder if this was what I’d been looking for. The Commission had started its enquiry by listening to the stories of people who had direct experience of poverty. Then, those who had shared weren’t expelled from the room. Rather, over a two-year period they met on an equal footing with influential people within Scottish society to talk about the ‘real issues’ that people in poverty faced. I was struck by some of the recommendations that showed the usual ways of doing things had been turned on their head. Senior civil servants were being mentored by people experiencing poverty; the Violence Reduction Unit was to work directly with people experiencing poverty to monitor and evaluate its strategy and operations. As I read I started to wonder what if we did this in Leeds? Fast forward six years and the first Leeds Poverty Truth Commission is finished and we have begun the second. We’ve realised many things about this way of working. We’ve learnt that to really listen you have to step outside of your role and position to engage with people face to face. We now understand that the extent of change that can happen is in direct proportion to the depth of listening undertaken. We’ve realised that poverty is difficult to fix and listening is hard, particularly when our tendency is to want to rush to solutions. Yet, we’ve also experienced beautiful moments where people have really heard one another. Moments where empathy has been expressed as civic and business leaders understand the immense strength and resilience of people who experience poverty. We’ve also learnt that listening goes beyond empathy and generates new ideas of how things can be different. New programmes and ideas emerge that often seem quite small but disproportionately humanise cold, impersonal systems. We’ve seen how Poverty Truth generates relationships between people from very different walks of life who now stand together in solidarity for a common cause. Ultimately our hope is that the Commission generates a new culture of how poverty is responded to in the city. A culture where people who have direct experience of poverty are not done to, but are co-creators. New Poverty Truth Commissions are currently being developed across the country. In Newcastle, we’re holding an evening session that asks the question ‘is the time right for Poverty Truth in the North East?’ Our hope is that through initiatives like Poverty Truth, a movement grows that is led by people who experience poverty who know how to hold conversations that matter and seeks to eradicate poverty in the UK.
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HE LAST TIME civil insurrection came to Newcastle it was open and explosive. Scottish forces besieged the city, then a Royalist stronghold, eventually capturing it – and King Charles I. Today a plaque in Market Street West, opposite hipster hangout Dat Bar, marks the site of Anderson Place, where rebels defied the supposedly divine order and dared to hold captive a King. The plaque has, today, acquired new visibility since its inclusion in the augmented reality game Pokemon Go, but for most of its lifetime it’s gone unremarked. As has the new form of civil conflict which has so subtly come to the city: like the plaque, this new kind of war hides in plain sight, only legible to those who know the signs. But where the plaque commemorates a past conflict’s turning point, the hidden civil war in Newcastle could provide us a glimpse of the fault-lines on which contemporary Britain may soon openly divide. To find the new war, you have to know where to look. The ramshackle battalions of the new insurrection are quartered in abandoned office buildings and untenanted retail units, undercover in business and science parks, on furlough in secret playgrounds that flourish in the gaps overlooked by a police service cut to the bone. Its infantry marches in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and to defend refugees from the fascist thuggery of the English Defence League (EDL) and the depredations of the UK Border Agency. And while attacking forces may no longer bombard the city with cannon, the damage done can still be measured in closed libraries, axed services,
and a mounting paranoia. Newcastle bucked the national trend by voting Remain in the Euro referendum, but the city’s results were a mirror image of the national divide: 51 per cent Remain, 49 per cent Leave. What’s the most you’ve ever bet on a coin toss? One of those trying to make a difference to the city is Amina Evans, who runs the Kittiwake Trust multi-lingual library from a previously unoccupied retail unit in Newcastle’s shopping mall, Eldon Square. Since the crash of 2008 there has been an exodus of businesses from once-prosperous premises in the city. Ventures like Evans’ keep these spaces from falling into disrepair, and try to patch up the damage done to the city’s communities: “We were worried about people going past the window, seeing all the books in other languages and going ‘oh, bloody foreigners’. So we made the decision to keep one window for local books, so when they go past they say oh, ‘bloody foreigners…and us!’” Such resources are badly needed in a city, where the Council has reduced library opening hours from 400 a week to just 181. Even in prosperous Gosforth, residents have had to adjust to their local library, opened in 2008 to much fanfare, only opening four days a week. Council leader Nick Forbes is in no doubt about where pressure to make these cuts is coming from: ‘The Government handed out £300m in transition funds and sent 85 per cent of it to Tory councils, none to Newcastle,” he says. “Money is being distributed not on need, but on political control, and as a result, people here will suffer.” Evans also runs Borderline Books, a charity dedicated to providing free books to vulnerable communities in the city. She’s seen first-hand the effect of the cuts and is
committed to helping those who fall through the cracks; people who can’t or won’t join traditional libraries, “who think if I have to fill in one more bloody form” and for whom library fines are a worrying potential expense. But the process has not been without challenges: there are reports of Newcastle Central Library refusing to carry flyers for the Kittiwake, which Evans finds frustrating because “we have a lot of stuff they don’t…We should be working together! We’re not trying to encroach on their territory.” This is one of the new struggle’s biggest tensions – conflict between official forces and more idealistic groups looking to fill the gaps with services they can’t or won’t provide. One recent flashpoint has been the decision by Forbes’ council to award the contract to run the city’s new integrated domestic abuse service to a consortium involving controversial charity Changing Lives, in preference to Newcastle Women’s Aid, which has 40 years experience providing services to vulnerable women. Elaine Langshaw, services director at NWA, said she was “shocked and upset” by the decision. “We are sad for the city, and concerned about the impact this decision may have.” Others were more forthright: an anonymous blogger, noting the membership and policies of the winning consortium, wrote: “Newcastle Women’s Aid weren’t pushed out by a bid: they were beaten by an ideology. [This] is an ideological attempt to move public services away…to make them less accountable and, in a subtle way, more political.” Whether justified or not, such paranoia flourishes in the schisms created by the crisis of Parliamentary democracy in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the Labour leadership
struggle. No space in Newcastle shows this more clearly than the square around Grey’s Monument, built to acclaim Charles Grey for creating ‘a century of civic peace’ through the 1832 Reform Act, a half-hearted measure panicpassed to forestall revolution. Gleaming new shops and restaurants surround it: including Byron, the burger chain, which recently drew negative media attention – and cockroachhurling protesters – after allegedly shopping a number of staff to the UK Border Agency. Evans has seen the results of the Government’s rhetoric and policy on immigration, she says. “One of our spaces is used for refugee meetings, and you’re constantly asking ‘hey, where’s so-and-so?’ and they tell you he was deported last week’ It’s around you all the time.” The day after the referendum result, activists unhappy with this poisonous climate turned out to oppose the EDL, whose members planned to rally in the city. Though the counter-protest was spontaneous, planned over only two days, it still drew more supporters than the organised EDL rally. At one point, frustrated at being outshouted and outnumbered, a group of Fascists splintered off and unfurled a banner reading STOP IMMIGRATION START REPATRIATION, only to vanish behind a Refugee Justice march, sweeping into the square from Northumberland Street to join the counter-protest. It was a moment of attack and counter-attack as worthy of commemoration as Charles I’s captivity. But that evening, UK media ran photos of the banner without mentioning the crowd which then obscured it. As war and rumours of war sweep the city and the country, understanding the new struggle depends on where both we, and the cameras, choose to look.
Hidden in Plain Sight AJ McKenna exposes the telltale signs of Newcastle’s ‘new war’
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A real life experiment
IG CRACKS OPEN in the Spanish society. One crack separates the 99% who suffer the consequences of the abuse of power and control by the 1%. Another opens amongst the 99%, dividing the fearless from the fearful. The “fearful”. There is a Spanish saying, “más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer”, which translates, more or less, as “better the devil we know, than the angel we don´t”. This kind of thinking leads to paralyzed apathy, and is reminiscent of the fear entrenched in our ancestors´ bodies from the civil war, the poverty and the hierarchical structures stated by the dictatorship. On the other hand, just across the way from despair and hopelessness, the “fearless”. Collective actions emerging as a reaction to this form of totalitarianism. Those who have little to lose, rise again. Cracks, but cracks are where the revolution hides, huddles. And I wonder, what is opening now in England, a crack that cuts through
Conservative and Labour...What opportunities are there awaiting in that hidden civil war? Months pass by and burnout, feelings of powerlessness and disconnection arise, affecting those who can, and are entitled to, bring about the change we need. I feel this frustration and hopelessness myself and witness the migration and withdrawal of many. I carry my activism with anger and violence within, in a rigid mind, which is not capable of understanding other people’s positions, and the pace and ways in which social change happens. Are we mimicking the paradigm against which we fight? The ways we interpret the world are intrinsic to our culture and affect activists and non-activists alike. The set of beliefs underpinning our dominant narratives: individualism, rationalism, materialism, productivity, linear thinking that establishes an univocal relationship between cause and consequence, problem-solving and goaloriented actions. These are applied to matters that can’t be comprehended by this mind set, such as living systems, human relations, the
current kaleidoscopic crisis or social change. We apply linear thinking to predict what will happen, even though social change is more like a complex ecosystem than a Swiss watch. Activism if not aware, will be embedded and influenced by this same paradigm of thought. At Eroles Project, an international centre for change-makers, we work to reimagine activism. Using the frame of Joanna Macy´s work on the “great turning”, we believe change comes when we acknowledge, and prevent, further destruction, build structures for the new and create a fundamental shift in our worldview and values, requiring a profound change in how we perceive and give meaning to reality. This demands the greatest effort of all, greater than any other. It requires the courage and willingness to look inside and humbly recognise and deconstruct our limiting beliefs, our values and practices, which keep us married to the old paradigm. Each year, during our summer residencies, we invite this
way of inquiry, introducing systemic approaches, learnings from ecology, collaboration, arts and creativity. Living as a community, using peer-to-peer learning, and our heads, hearts and hands as the pillars for the collective, we transform this exploration into action, putting into practice our enquiries in the face of the humanitarian crisis, in the midst of emergency, ruthless politics and contagious apathy and despair. The challenges we face relate to that fear of uncertainty, and our relentless determination to get it right quick enough. Impatience. Trying the new in the midst of the chaotic situation we live in feels like contrary to the impulse of control and safety that our culture naturally takes us to. We need to battle the tendency to prefer the known evil, and the mistrust of the yet unseen. And we will fail, but by being aware not only of our aim but consciously choosing the yet to come, we are creating the paths of what will become the new, envisioned in our dreams. María Llanos del Corral Eroles Project
ACTIVISM The wounds of political arrogance, a population incapable of defending itself against the tyranny of austerity measures, immune rage and defencelessness, permeate the collective. We witness crumbling hope, rampant corruption, dying trust among each other, lies, unemployment amid the macro-profits made by banks and enterprises, social cuts paying for massive tax evasion. I felt the pain. I felt an impulse running through my body pushing me to stand up. In this critical situation outraged groups, young people and pensioners, students, professionals, unemployed, all beginning to coalesce gradually constituting a new form of political expression. Inspired by the hope of Arab Springs and pushed (forward) by the growing indignation, people took the streets and squares on May 15, 2011. Extracts from diaries written during the 15M protests in Madrid, Spain
HE ACADEMIC, VALERIE FOURNIER is done with writing books. Although her research on activism and creating alternatives has not lacked impact - take the Hidden Civil War, for instance - her focus, for now at least, is on living what she’s written about. “I got tired of writing about how bad life was and that maybe there were alternatives, but not really doing much to find them,” says Fournier, who two years ago began scaling back her academic work to spend more time on a farm near the town of Lamastre in North Ardeche, a remote area in France that since 1968 has developed a reputation for being at the margins and for experimentation. Around 200 people from across Europe are there to try alternative models of organic permaculture, of exchange, of living differently and consuming less. What’s remarkable is the extent to which Fournier’s ideas about alternatives have come together in the life she is building, so that her experience itself become instructive. Having based herself in an agricultural area where there is “an informal network of exchange, of help, knowledge, products and ideas and support” she is able to argue that it is important to “start from something very grounded, very small and very local, rather than have big ideas about how you want the world to be”. Practical issues such as needing help to renovate a house, or cultivate land, can prove better starting points than a shared vision about ecology, or sharing, even though they exist, Fournier says: “It very much starts from concrete, everyday problems, and with it, a desire to solve this problem in a cooperative, ecological manner,” she says. “That’s not to say you can’t build up something bigger, but I think it needs to start from that, to be grounded and be felt, to make it real. It’s the very local and also the material, getting your hands dirty. You have to almost live physically what it is you want to develop.” Asked what gives her hope, Fournier says that it is the community she is part of, the projects and the people who are trying to look after the environment, being kind and trying to help each other. “If I focus on my little area, then I can see seeds of hope, because I can see people wanting to relate to,
connect to, their environment and each other,” she says. “That can be promising, can be sustainable, can lead to some kind of happiness. That’s where my hope is, but if I look beyond that, globally, or if I listen to the news, then I think there’s no hope.” This tension between the struggle to build alternatives and the ongoing destructiveness of the dominant system is something Fournier has written about often. And she’s not walking away from the world beyond the Ardeche. Although she’s scaling back her research, she will still be teaching at Leicester University, passing on what she learns from this “real life experiment” to students who take her courses in organisational studies. “I don’t see how positioning my work to an academic audience is going to achieve anything particularly,” she says. “I want to position what I live now, and what I think about it, in terms of bringing to the classroom some of these lived experiences in ways of exchanging, of building, of connecting to the environment and each other.” It’s in her teaching that her ideas about challenging inevitability come to life. The widespread assumption that capitalism is inevitable means that what she tells her students about the alternatives she has experienced many dismiss them as quirky and marginal. “I think a lot of them think that capitalism is very bad, but that’s all we’ve got, so maybe we can contain it and make it slightly better, but that’s about it,” she says. “I think most of them agree that the world is messed up and that capitalism has got quite a lot to do with it. But then, making the jump to thinking and exploring alternatives is something that some of them have great difficulty with.” Fournier says it’s necessary therefore to “disrupt” the way her students look at the world, challenging the assumption that alternatives have been tried, but failed, disrupting the sense of inevitability of the current order and giving them new criteria by which they can judge an organisation or economy. “To see these things you need to have different lenses, because if you just apply your normal framework you probably won’t see them,” she
...and you also need the positive, people saying OK, let’s build something.
You need the violence of protest, the negativity, to unsettle things, to make things move... says. “Obviously, if you look at it in terms of efficiency, or profit making, then they don’t work, but that’s not the point.” But what about resistance, and provoking outrage, which Fournier also wrote about? People need to be provoked, they need to see the existing order is “something harmful, something abject, something inhuman” and say ‘enough is enough’ says Fournier: “That’s where I would take protest, in terms of getting things to move and disrupting things,” she says. “You need both the violence of protest, the negativity, to unsettle things, to make things move in a way, and you also need the positive, people saying OK, let’s build something. I think you need that play between the two.” This sense of what is possible, of inspiring people to think of
alternatives, of imagining different ways, intertwined with the need to disrupt and challenge current ways of thinking continues to shape Fournier’s work. “I think it’s very much a question of imagination, or opening up the imagination, particularly if they have only seen one thing,” she says. “To dream up need to be able to disrupt very seriously the way you imagine the world, your position in it. That requires quite a lot of work with students. I”m not saying I succeed, but that’s how I see my work.” Julie Tomlin
THE PRECARIAT 11
10 THE PRECARIAT
Red Tops Metallic clatter of letter box:
Topless Evil Immigrant Paedophile Sick slopped into cereal bowls Celebrity Billionaire Cocaine WAG Rumour spread on burnt toast Insane Illegal Bomb Killer Murder sipped with bitter coffee Violent Asylum Gypsy Hoody Yob sandwiched between white bread Shock Horror Tragic Panic Outrage sliced into neat triangles Sexy Gay Cheating Pregnant Terrorist sealed in Tupperware tubs
Ruth Nyimba War on Humanity
A group stands around a drowning soul No one reaches out to save them The barely there eyes count many feet walk by Few stop just to gawk To have a story to share with others Over tea they discuss how disgusting it was For that person to decide to drown in their backyard The audacity of the person baffles them A shield prevents them from seeing past their nose Of horrors others have faced Of constant fear that led them to run to the water Of towns deserted, lives halted, dreams shuttered Prices on girls, unmarked graves for husbands, guns handed to captured, young men Of whole lives reduced to a clear plastic bag In which it holds few saveable items of home and precious few gifts from strangers
a repeat prescription: one tabloid a day sensitive dispositions consult national broadsheet symptoms persist. do not stare at The Sun see no reflection in The Mirror no News Of The real World nothing for The People blank Daily Express-ions Telegraph-ed through partial Observers The Guardians of power sign of The Financial Times paparazzi paper nazi sieg Daily Mail. Switch Click and now, the weather.
Powder All the boys and the men are gathered Duties are shared No one complains, in mutual silence the work begins Days of bombing have left the streets littered Body parts in pools of blood Barely adolescent they collect legs and hands Heads and torsos Their innocence flushes out A darkness nestles in their hearts The nightmares keep them awake at night Of pieces of flesh stuck on the sides of destroyed buildings And splatters of red dot where once they played care freely The feel of cold limbs in their palms shakes them to their core The men see the pain in the children’s eyes The light gone replaced by a haunting, soulful glaze The skin shrinks toward the bone For loss of desire for food “Try powder it will make you better” And it does. It wears out, the nightmares resurface ‘Powder’ Soothes the pain, blurs the memory, throws them far in the distance It wears out, new demons give chase Powder heals barely adolescent kids The healer becomes the killer Slowly powder takes over Life becomes about powder, how to get it The headaches make a migraine microscopic The burning pain to muscles and joints And cold sweats that vigorously shake bodies Make kids find risky ways of taming the beast Powder Peace Numbness Sleep Powder Sleep Numbness Peace Powder Sleep Powder Powder Sleep Powder Numbness Powder Powder Powder Powder
CIVIL WAR Programme of events
Because all of us are astute turbines in fields. Because all our sentinel fences are left guarding green grass from grass (be staggered and fall), the grass is no greener here. Because all is becoming clone-town, new build consumptive class, temple malls in glass, in part mockery, part worship. Because all are damned now, to be harrowed by dual carriages on our stoked yet progressive arterials, grey smoke lining souls with the sophistry of ages past and ages present combined. So we invite a great irony, sharing together the pain of young trees growing fitfully by motorways, it’s a good way to absorb carbon dioxide. We share in relative silence the accumulated selfdeprecating cough at the beginning of all new news days, damned to the hilt in front page guilt like mothers and fathers before us. Let us wash the blood from our landscape with the right marketing campaign, believe in better, or something irreverently similar. Let us together bemoan the idealistic plague of ill-equipped thrill seeking pedestrians, who now fare so poorly on our fast track traffic, let us lament the babylonics of our generation, like the road kill of last night’s drive through. Let us say accidents happen, because the road kills.
Hidden Civil War is a month-long programme of activity in Newcastle upon Tyne, commissioned by The NewBridge Project. Throughout October 2016 activists and artists will contribute to a series of events that expose, collate and present evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today. The programme will include artworks, performances, public-realm interventions, talks and film screenings from internationally-renowned artists and activists. These ideas take a broad approach, from quiet and considered talks and films, through to loud and overt calls for dissent. From playful interventions that subvert the political rhetoric, through to thought-provoking debates that highlight issues of austerity and give voice to marginalised groups. Whilst these works will be embedded within the city of Newcastle, they will be contextualised by national and international ideas of a Hidden Civil War.
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – EXHIBITION 13
12 HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – EXHIBITION NewBridge Project Space, Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm
POCKET MONEY LOANS Darren Cullen
New work from #Dysturb appropriates the city streets as gallery space, presenting photojournalism free from the restrictions of conventional media channels. Democratising the distribution of photographs and integrating news stories into the urban landscape, selected images are pasted onto walls for billboard size public display.
Former military photographer, Craig Ames distils and re-contextualises the highly charged rhetoric from the Brexit debate. The controversial and emotive issues of the campaign manifest in a bluntly revealing video installation. In isolation, words such as ‘swarm’ and ‘besieged’, show their true, callous colours and no small sense of an absurd loss of collective perspective in this new commission.
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR LAUNCH EVENT
Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Various sites, Newcastle City Centre
GREEN & PLEASANT CRAMMED EXHIBITION
NewBridge Project Space, Fri 30 Sept, 7-10pm
Northumberland Street south, Newcastle City Centre, NE1 7AL Fri 14 Oct – Sat 15 Oct, 10am-6pm
Contemporary warfare and its effects are vital and often challenging themes of artistic and communicative investigation for Ames. As a former soldier and Evidence Photographer in the British Army, he has a particular understanding of his subject
matter that informs much of his work. Alongside his lens-based practice he is also a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the Northern Centre of Photography, University of Sunderland and a speaker at academic institutions and symposiums. Since 2001, Ames has exhibited work nationally and internationally at galleries and museums including: The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Baltic, Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Turner Contemporary, Margate, Belfast Exposed and Huis Marseille: Museum of Photography, Amsterdam. Collections of his work have been acquired by museums and photographic institutions including, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Darren Cullen’s Pocket Money Loans playfully explores the insidious nature of advertising and growing entrapment by debt. Offering quick, cheap loans to kids aged 3+ at only 5000% APR, Pocket Money Loans' new mobile outing will take the opportunity to lend directly to customers on the streets of Newcastle. Whatever you need it for, Pocket Money Loans allow you to live beyond your means!
well as the permanent collection at the V&A Museum. EDITORS NOTE: Not to be confused with the graffiti writer of the same name.
Darren Cullen (b.1983,UK) is a satirical artist and illustrator based in South London. His work has been on display at Dismaland, SXSW, Glastonbury and Roskilde festivals as
#DY DYST DY YSTURB
#Dysturb are a group of freelance photographers, whose primary goal is to make news stories accessible to the general public. Photojournalism has the power to convey important information
that can challenge stereotypes, initiate discussion and raise awareness to international issues. Currently, traditional media portals are struggling to invest in this medium, consequently #Dysturb conceived the idea to integrate news stories into the urban landscape, through street art. Not only can an audience interact physically with the pieces, they can also interact with them virtually, through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Live performances by Richard DeDomenici, Dawn Bothwell, Ditte Elly
EXHIBITION Join us to celebrate the launch of Hidden Civil War with live performances from Richard DeDomenici, Dawn Bothwell and Ditte Elly. Richard DeDomenici will be armed with free balloons with a series of revolutionary and subversive slogans on. Dawn Bothwell will be performing altered electronic torch songs as
Pentecostal Party, her voice and electronics take you down unexplored avenues littered with hypnotic diversions and long moments of delirium. Ditte Elly’s vocal performance will explore the craft of song and story-telling, with an aim to question the relevance of ‘folk’ traditions in the modern age and how they can be used to engage in political ideas.
NewBridge Project Space Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm
RICHARD DEDOMENICI EXHIBITION In a month-long exhibition at NewBridge Project Space, DeDomenici adopts the habits and aesthetics of 24-hour, rolling news, before leading Newcastle’s people onto the streets armed with balloons in a typically irreverent expression of the deeper detail in the nation’s big issues. Richard DeDomenici makes work that’s social, joyful, topical and political - although rarely simultaneously. He specialises in urban-absurdist interventions which strive to create
NewBridge Project Space/Newcastle City Centre, Workshops: Thurs 13 Oct – Fri 28 Oct Parade: Sat 29 Oct
the kind of uncertainty that leads to possibility. Richard is the inventor of the Carry-Ok wearable karaoke system, office chair sport The Swivelympics, the crocheted crypto-currency Knitcoin, and the radical feminist Eurovision tribute Fux Bizz. He recently released a fundraising record called Live Art Aid, and led a horse-drawn funeral cortege through the streets of London to commemorate the death of social housing.
MAKING A UTOPIAN POLITICAL PUPPET Nini Ayach
EXHIBITION Former Cairo-resident Nina Ayach delves into a hidden world of unspoken or un-permited dialogue told through puppetry. Designed and devised in workshops, Ayach will create an image of a ‘utopian leader’ to be paraded through the streets of Newcastle. Nini Ayach is a French-American artist who has been working with
collaborative theater and puppetry since receiving her BFA from Pratt Institute (New York) in 2011. Since 2012, she has collaborated closely with Hany Hommos, an Egyptian painter and puppet-maker who has worked extensively with different types of puppetry. Their first project together was making a giant street puppet presidential candidate “Bakaboza” during the presidential elections in Egypt. They have gone on to produce several performances together, specializing in shadow and street puppetry that address social issues including freedom of speech and ecology. Their work has received grants from the European Cultural Foundation, the British Council, and the Pollination Project. Since March 2016, they have relocated to Paris, France.
Stephenson Quarter, South Street, NE1 3PE, Tues 25 Oct – Sun 30 Oct
NewBridge Project Space, Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm
A JUKEBOX OF PEOPLE TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD
THE AFTERMATH DISLOCATION PRINCIPLE Jimmy Cauty
Visiting Newcastle for the first time as part of a the UK Riot tour, Cauty’s The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (ADP 1) is a ‘model village’ of unrest. A 40ft shipping container holds this 1:87 scale dystopian cityscape, a vast post-apocalyptic landscape sited somewhere in Bedfordshire – a mythical middle England.
A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World is a CD jukebox, sitting between digital and analogue technologies which contains a growing collection of songs addressing a spectrum of social issues, some directly political in motive, some vaguely utopian and some chronicling specific historic events. The songs could all be described as progressive in subject matter. The archive currently contains over 2,000 tracks, with no more than two by the same artist, which are ordered into over seventy categories such as feminism, land ownership, poverty, civil rights and ecology. Ruth Ewan (b.1980) lives and works in London. Ewan’s work takes many forms including performance, installation and printed matter. Her practice explores overlooked areas of political and social history, reviving these forgotten thoughts and ideas and highlighting their continued relevance today. Often celebrating activists and radical thinkers, Ewan’s work encourages collaboration and participation – in the past she has worked with historians, traditional craftsmen, musicians and school children.
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – TALKS AND EVENTS 15
14 HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – EXHIBITION Summerhill Bowling Club, Winchester Terrace, NE4 6EH, Tue 4 Oct, 6-8pm
NewBridge Project Space, Tues 11 Oct, 6-9pm
THE DARK MOUNTAIN PROJECT
LEEDS POVERTY TRUTH COMMISSION
Charlotte Du Cann and Nick Hunt
NewBridge Project Space, Sat 15 Oct - 11am-5:30pm, Sun 16 Oct - 9am-5pm
THEY CUT. WE BLEED. Sisters Uncut NCL
EXHIBITION We are Sisters Uncut. We stand united with all self-defining women who live under the threat of domestic violence, and those who experience violence in their daily lives. We stand against the lifethreatening cuts to domestic violence services. We stand against austerity. Safety is not a privilege. Access to justice cannot become a luxury. This is our Hidden Civil War. We stand united and fight together, and together we will win.
Sisters Uncut NCL will take up residence in the NewBridge Project Space for two days as part of the Hidden Civil War programme. Hosting a series of workshops, talks and events to bring sisters together and spread the word about the impact of austerity on vital services in our region. Check www.thenewbridgeproject.com for event timings. Since the Coalition Government began cutting vital funding for public services in 2010, grassroots groups (such as UK Uncut) have taken direct action to oppose them. Until 2014, when Sisters Uncut was founded, nothing had addressed the devastating impact on women’s services. We are ready and fighting; now is the time to mobilise locally to make sure that every single local authority knows they can’t make cuts to domestic violence services – we categorically won’t allow it.
NewBridge Project Space, Sat 1 Oct - Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm Cobalt Studios, 10-16 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, NE2 1AP, Sat 1 Oct - Sat 29 Oct Viewable anytime
‘We intend to challenge the stories that underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.’ We are living in a time between stories. Everywhere people have stopped believing the stories they have been told: narratives of limitless growth, the inevitability of progress, the triumph of Western capitalism, and money making
Drawing on the visual history of land reform, a city wall reflects a struggle against a state, an uprising of a dispossessed faction seeking to even the score rather than unifying a divided land. Dotmaster, a London based artist, started painting on the streets of Brighton in the early ‘90s. Taking a sideways look at populist media with a typically English sense of humour. His work is impeccably detailed – half-tone, stark black and white street works contrast with photo-real stencils.
Dotmaster was invited to take part in Banksy's Waterloo 'Cans Festival' 2008 and featured in 'Exit Through the Gift Shop', 2010. He is a driving force behind the Nuart festival in Norway and an active Uncrew member of the misfit freak show that is The Unfairground. He has collaborated with grass roots activists, luxury brands, festivals, weirdos, and drop outs.
NewBridge Project Space / Upper Steenbergs, Ouseburn, NE1 2PN
UNFAIRGROUND NewBridge Project Space, Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm
Sam Haggerty: Founding member of the artistic troupe ‘Mutoid Waste Co’ Haggerty brings Mini Henge to Newcastle. The highlight of Glastonbury’s Unfairground, Mini-Henge is a scrap yard monolith of counter culture. Neil Goodwin: On the 1st June 1985 420 people were arrested on their way to Stonehenge to hold the 11th People’s Free Festival. Shown in the NewBridge Project Space, Goodwin’s documentary uses video footage, the police radio log, photographs
and personal testimony to recreate what became known as the BATTLE OF THE BEANFIELD. Giles Walker: Transforming industrial waste for over 20 years, Walker will now turn Newcastle into a site for a fully functioning robotic system that dissolves the boundary between man and machine.
Sam Haggerty Upper Steenbergs, Ouseburn Date/Time: Thurs 13 Oct – Thurs 20 Oct
Neil Goodwin & Giles Walker NewBridge Project Space Date/Time: Sat 1 Oct – Sat 29 Oct, Tues-Sat, 12-6pm
take the lead on finding appropriate ways to reduce it. Their evening gathering at Hidden Civil War will be an opportunity to hear from some of the commissioners, learn about their stories and dream, ‘what if we tried something like this in Newcastle?’ This event includes a pay-what-you-feel dinner. Booking Required.
NewBridge Project Space, Sat 8 Oct, 4-6pm
AKALA SPOKEN WORD / Q&A NewBridge Studios, Annex, Thurs 6 Oct, 6-9pm
A TABLOID FOR THE OPPRESSED: HOW CAN WE CO-CREATE THE NEW TOOLS FOR A NEW POLITICS?
Post-apocalyptic, radical, anarchic: Hidden Civil War will feature works from the minds behind the Unfairground.
them happy. But stories are the element in which we live: they determine how we understand the world, and what kind of future we are able to imagine. A time between stories is a dangerous time. We must fill the void. In an age of unravelling certainties social, political, ecological - how do we chart a path between the extremes offered us: a gleaming technological utopia on one hand, and an apocalyptic collapse on the other? How do we de-story ourselves from the myths of Empire, and provide the breathing space for more honest ones to grow? In this talk and workshop session, Charlotte Du Cann and Nick Hunt from The Dark Mountain Project will invite participants to create the road maps we need to sustain us on that paradoxical return journey - in language, in culture, in myth, dreaming and action - maps that cohere, connect and convene, and lead us towards the future. Booking Required.
‘What if people living in poverty could take the lead on challenging the city’s leaders to work with them on tackling poverty?’ This is the question at the heart of the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission who gather people with experience of poverty together with some of the city’s business and civic leaders to deepen the understanding of poverty and to help
Jessie Jacobs and Andrew Wilson
MEAL + TALK
TILT EXHIBITION Tilt's 'living installation' is a dynamic, fluid and transformative multi-purpose communal space. Individuals are invited to use components of the structure in imaginative and playful ways to create adaptive spaces that facilitate the Hidden Civil War programme of workshops, meals and discussions. Tilt is a skill-sharing network of artists and makers who aim to provide opportunities for individuals working within the creative community.
Tilt acts as a collective of artists, creating artworks through collaboration, utilising the differing skillsets and artistic approaches of its members to undertake ever varying projects, usually through community driven ideas. Tilt also design, fabricate and install for artists and galleries, provide commercial and domestic joinery services and educational workshops for graduates. Tilt members undertaking this project are North East based artists Dean Crawford and Joe Shaw.
We invite you to a hosted conversation that aims to develop the blue print for a new tabloid publication to platform grassroots voices and a bottom-up politics. Our ultimate aim: to extinguish The Sun readership across the North East of England. The link between Britain’s mainstream media and the rise in racial hatred, the public vilification of minorities and oppressive violence is clear, but what do we do? Can alternative stories, conversations and spaces challenge this divisive reality? What new tools are needed to meaningfully support the unseen and platform the unheard? Join voices from established alternative media outlets from across the UK as we explore together whether the North East needs a new tabloid publication for a new politics. Can I Attend? We are inviting 30 collaborators, thinkers, dreamers and critics to collectively co-create the blueprint for this new tabloid publication. The event includes a light vegetarian dinner. Booking Required.
Celebrating the release of his first album, It’s Not A Rumour, '10 years of Akala’ will be touring around the UK, breaking for a reading of short stories, poems and lyrics at the Newbridge Project Space before his live show at the Riverside Newcastle. This fiercely independent artist has performed in over 30 countries, released six albums, two books, presented the seminal Life of Rhyme for Channel 4, founded The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company and has been a tireless voice for education and social justice in the UK and all over the world. Akala is a MOBO Award Winning artist, an outspoken rapper, a spoken word artist and a writer. In 2008, Akala founded the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company (Ian McKellen is a patron), a touring troupe performing Akala's adaptations of Shakespeare's work. His aim was to underline the similarity between the plays and the poetry of the best rappers, or, as he put it, "the lyricism that transcends all the revengetragedy, Tarantino violence". Tickets: £3. Booking Required.
NewBridge Project Space, Sun 9 Oct, 10am-6pm
WORKSHOP #RENTERSRISING - A community organising workshop to launch the #rentersunion. Renters pay the most, to live in the worst conditions, with the least security. We need a union to give us a voice, defend our rights and fight for better. ACORN, the community union, launched in 2014 and has now grown to a network of more than 15,000 people. We have won over £100,000 in home repairs, stopped people being evicted and signed politicians, landlords and letting agents up to our Ethical Lettings
Charter, guaranteeing standards for thousands of properties. This workshop will cover the fundamentals of campaigning and community organising. By the end of the day, and with your help, we will put in place a real campaign strategy to take on rogue landlords, letting agents and the Government that encourages them. Come along and find out how to take on the housing crisis. Booking Required.
16 HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – ARTIST PROFILE
MARK DONNE JIMMY CAUTY
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – ARTIST PROFILE 17
A little Q&A with the artist behind the ADP1 model village MD: Hello Jimmy. You’re on a nationwide tour with the ADP (Aftermath Dislocation Principle) container. What has gone on tour that should probably stay on tour? JC: If the wind is blowing in the right direction we will leave the container switched on all night, I have no idea what goes on after midnight because I am usually asleep, I suspect the invigilators get up to all sorts with the local foxes in dead of night. MD: I first saw the ADP container work at Dismaland and despite the light dystopia of that place, I found it calming and quite meditative – I even found some of the more dramatic carnage and scenes of desolation serene and full of opportunity. Is it possible for you to give a sample of the spectrum of reactions the piece has generated? JC: Apparently a group of Christians tore up the tour guides and pamphlets in Falmouth yesterday (ironic as 2 of the riots described in the Cornwall pamphlet were religiously motivated), but other people seem to love it. As far as the small world goes there is some pathos going on under the surface and yes there is plenty of opportunity for a new world to emerge from the wreckage, in fact ADP 2 is a failed attempt by the police to build a Utopian tower of Babel in the style of a police station. Most of the people in there are just standing around wondering what the f**k they are supposed to do next, a bit like real life. MD: Is there something inherently calm in aftermath do you think? Or is it a more complex phase – a flux where vapours are re-mixing and emotions being relocated and despatched? JC: For me it’s just an observation of an unexpected outcome when the police take over a small town following some kind of violent event, so yes there is a calm, no one is actually doing anything, just standing and looking, there is a sense of existential panic as everyone in the town realises they are just made of plastic but that’s another story. People who see the ADP through the observation ports are making up their own narrative about what’s going on. MD: Do you know much about the “Meadow Well” riot here in Newcastle in 1991? JC: I am no expert on the subject but it turns out every town has had some kind of riot in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future. MD: For you personally, are the protracted processes of art and creativity a way of either a) challenging or b) releasing internal anarchy and disorder, or neither? JC: I guess it’s more to do with
releasing something that is inside you and seeing what happens, the ADP was started in 2013 with no clear idea of what it was or what it would be used for when it was finished, it took nine months to make but it was unclear even if it was art or a model village or a hybrid of both, I just knew I had to make it, like a kind of mash potato mountain close encounters kind of thing, What we ended up with has surprised us all in it’s complexity and the way people are willing to interact with it on many levels. MD: Does the container alter the atmosphere of a place? It seems (from a distance) to turn up tardis like, with its secret world within, and return everyone back to the street in a slightly different mood? JC: I like the idea someone is walking home late one night and they come across the ADP in a car park, they have not heard anything about it and they don’t even know what it is or why it is there. MD: The wider philosophical notion that’s influenced the various shows here in Newcastle is one of “Hidden Civil War” – that civil war is not only a violent and visible confrontation of civilians and state actors recorded by the mass media, it can also be something that is “done” to people and communities in a subtle way, by state or private actors, over a much longer period of time. Any thoughts on that? JC: The ADP could be saying we have to be more vigilant these days, we can’t let things slide incremen incrementally into some kind of UK police state lite MD: Thanks mate, very good to hear those thoughts.
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – TALKS AND EVENTS 19
18 HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – TALKS AND EVENTS The Cumberland Arms, James Place Street, NE6 1LD, Wed 12 Oct, 7-10pm
Cobalt Studios, 10-16 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, NE2 1AP, Fri 14 Oct, 11am-4pm
NewBridge Project Space, Thurs 20th October, 6-8:30pm
NewBridge Project Space, Wed 19 Oct – Fri 21 Oct, 10am-5pm
THREE ACRES AND A COW: A HISTORY OF LAND RIGHTS AND PROTEST IN FOLK SONG AND STORY
GOING LOCAL GOING GREEN
Anthony Tombling Jr
The Eroles Project
Robin Grey + Guests
WORKSHOP part storytelling session… Come and share in these tales as they have been shared for generations. Tickets: Pay-what-you-feel Booking Required.
This workshop questions 'what it really mean to go local and go green?’ Drawing on the relationships between food, nature, the economy, health, and land rights, we will look at how to shift to local, mutual and dynamic relationships that counter global, imperial, and mechanistic domination. Come along to explore the down-to-earth changes we can make. This event includes lunch. Booking Required.
The Eroles Project began in 2014 as a learning /training-for-action centre in the village of Eroles (Spain). Now, NewBridge Project Space is transformed into Eroles Annual Learning Centre for a series of creative projects that aim to transform society.
Wednesday 19 Oct, 10am-5pm
PERFORMANCE Three Acres And A Cow connects the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with current issues like fracking, the housing crisis and transition town and food sovereignty movements via the Enclosures, English Civil War, Irish Land League and Industrial Revolution, drawing a compelling narrative through the radical people’s history of Britain in folk song, stories and poems. Part TED talk, part history lecture, part folk club sing-a-long, part poetry slam,
Creative projects that change the system - Presentation & Workshop How can we connect with the power of the heart and the fire of imagination to empower systemic change? This workshop will give creative tools for people working in change drawing from transformational arts practice and Theatre of the Oppressed.
Thursday 20 October, 10am-5pm Radically thinking as a species Presentation & Workshop A sharing of tools developed during a programme with refugees, activists and humanitarian workers in Spain this summer
which foster new approaches to borders in the context of the humanitarian crisis. Eroles are in the midst of actioning a creative project with refugees find out how you can get involved.
Friday 21 October, 10am-5pm Reimagining Activism Presentation & Workshop This workshop offers holistic, participatory and creative methods to resource us to remain inspired and effective within our activism. How can we find ways of living, working and organising which exemplify the values we want to realise in the world. From 4-5pm The Eroles Project will host a participatory debate on the theme of reimagining activism to reflect on how and why change happens. These events include lunch. Booking Required.
NewBridge Studios, Annex, Thurs 27 Oct, 7-10pm
SCREENING AND Q&A Tyne Theatre and Opera House, 117 Westgate Rd, NE1 4AG, Thurs 13 Oct, Doors: 7:30pm, Performance: 8pm
COCK AND BULL Nic Green, with Laura Bradshaw and Rosana Cade
PERFORMANCE Originally conceived for the eve of the 2015 UK general election, Cock and Bull sees three females convene to perform their own, alternative, party conference. Exploring power, voice, agency and sustainability, they use the most heard phrases from governmental rhetoric to dismantle and redress dominant paradigms of power and Politics. Responding to the meaninglessness and repetition of empty political promises, the privilege of the governmental elite and the deep discontent of an increasingly disproportionate and divided society, this work is part protest, part catharsis, part exorcism. It becomes, in part, a demonstration of togetherness. Cock and Bull is a transforming choreography of words and a passionate speech of the body, underpinned with the real-time energy of political dissatisfaction and tory tongue-speak. Delivered in partnership with Tyne Theatre and Opera House Tickets: £5. Booking Required.
Pop-Up Shop, Grainger Market, 183-186 Grainger Market, NE1 5QW Sat 15 Oct, 11am-3pm
NOTES FROM THE FRONT LINE Open Jar Collective
LAND FOR WHAT? Robin Grey
WORKSHOP A participatory session exploring land ownership, use, distribution and rights, and the effect of this on our homes, communities, food, health and play. Facilitated by people from local and national housing, land, food groups and networks. Booking Required.
& oil industries moving into the area. A testimony told by the local community, the film plots a river's journey from a precarious past to an uncertain future. Narrated by Michael Sheen, the film is set against a soundtrack of original music composed by Robert Del Naja & Euan Dickinson of Massive Attack. This screening will be accompanied by a Q&A with the Director, Anthony Tombling Jr. Booking Required.
Cobalt Studios, 10 – 16 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, NE2 1AP, Fri 21 Oct – Sun 23 Oct
WE : A FILM FORUM SCREENING WE: A Film Forum presents a series of FREE screenings and discussions over one weekend, with a particular focus on the cultural impact of migration and the capacity of individuals and communities to shape society. The selection of five films, with a complementary series of discussions, kicks off on Friday 21 October with Jumana Manna’s A Magical Substance Flows Into Me, a journey into the contested musical history of Palestine through the work of ethnomusicologist and German-Jewish refugee, Robert Lachmann, detailing his radio broadcasts from Jerusalem in the 1930s.
www.nicgreen.org.uk NewBridge Project Space, Thurs 13 Oct, 2-5pm
A River is about the beautiful river Afan in south west Wales. The Afan flows through the Afan forest park and converges with the Pelenna under the viaduct in the picturesque village of Pontrhydyfen, the birth place of Richard Burton. The film explores the history of the river and its extraordinary recovery from pollution caused from over a century of industrial mining. The film brings to light the potential fresh threat of pollution from the unconventional gas
DROP-IN EVENT Artists from Open Jar Collective are gathering evidence and inviting people in the North East to consider points of fragility in the food system. We’ll host conversations and create a space for dialogue that will help to build points of connection in the face of austerity. We’ll be posing the question - who’s on the front line in the challenge to feed Newcastle sustainably? The front line of food production and distribution is all around us in our everyday lives – from farms to food banks, supermarkets to corner shops, cafes to canteens. We’ll be popping up in Grainger Market on Saturday 15th October, 11am-3pm, to
share the stories we have gathered from the front line and to welcome your own ideas. Open Jar Collective is an artist co-op based in Glasgow. We deliver collaborative public art projects that range from hosting communal meals and staging unique pop-up events to research, workshops and exhibitions. We use food as a vehicle for bringing people together, as a common language to understand the global economic system, and as a tool for exploring people’s fundamental relationship to the land. Booking Required.
On Saturday we look at themes of migration, refuge and asylum, first with a film by locally based artist Isabel Lima, followed by the internationally acclaimed Brûle la Mer (Burn the Sea) by French filmmaker Nathalie Nambot and Tunisian refugee Maki Berchache, detailing the reality of migration from North Africa to Europe in the wake of the Arab Spring. The last day of WE: A Film Forum examines a historical dialogue of power and collective resistance seen in Britain today - through representations of land and the human body itself in artist films by James Holcombe, Rosalind Fowler and Hands On Film Lab Artist in Residence Kate Liston.
PROGRAMME: Friday 21 October 7pm: Jumana Mana – A Magical Substance Flows Into Me (2015 - 68mins)
CONSTRUCTING A BLIND PIG*|BROADCAST BARTENDER Lloyd & Wilson
TALK As a continuation of their Broadcast Bartender series, artists Lloyd & Wilson are hosting two discussions across two cities, Leeds and Newcastle. Taking place from an installed ‘flat-pack’ bar and in front of a live audience, these conversations will be recorded, edited and then broadcast on Resonance FM. Broadcast Bartender is a conversational platform that borrows the furniture of the traditional Public House to create content for radio broadcast. The themes for discussion will be proposed by an invited guest bartender who will both serve drinks and host the conversation. Unlike the Question Time or panel show format, the architecture of the bar creates an environment which
discourages well-rehearsed speeches and sound-bites in favour of convivial and improvised conversation. Booking Required.
Sat 22 October 4pm: Isabel Lima – Broken Chords Can Sing A Little – Episode 1: The Birds (2015) 6:30pm: Nathalie Nambot, Maki Berchache – Brule La Mer (2014 - 75mins)
Sunday 23 October 5.30pm – 6.30pm: Artist Short Films – including work from Hands On Film’s Artist in Residence, Kate Liston, and Rosalind Fowler’s Nowhere-Somewhere 7pm: James Holcombe – Tyburnia (2016 - 60mins) WE: A Film Forum is programmed by Hands on Film Lab and delivered in association with Culture Kitchen and Cobalt Studios for Hidden Civil War.
NewBridge Studios, Annex, Thursday 27 October, 2-5pm
SOCIAL HAUNTING: THE GHOST LAB Max Munday
Hands on Film Lab is a female run and facilitated film-lab based in The NewBridge Project. The lab is dedicated to the transmission of knowledge in photochemical film practice. Hands On Film are excited to showcase new work by their first artist in residence in the WE programme.
Drawing on recent research by Dr Geoff Bright at Manchester Met University, this ‘ghostlab’ workshop explores the idea of ‘social haunting’. For those communities that have been crushed by powerful forces, there remains today not only the presence of that past, but also the utopian possibilities that seemed to be lost in the suppression of that communities’ life. This creative session facilitated by Max Munday will bring people together to challenge linear and flat narratives of history, and to use arts practice to explore the potential utopias that the ghosts of our past might reveal.
20 HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – ARTIST PROFILE
HIDDEN CIVIL WAR – ARTIST PROFILE 21
FESTIVAL AT A GLANCE HIDDEN CIVIL WAR: Friday 30th September - Sunday 30th October Launch event: Friday 30th September
DATES & TIMES
Green and Pleasant Crammed
NewBridge Project Space
COMMISSIONS/EXHIBITIONS 30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm) 30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm)
NewBridge Project Space
30th Sep - 29th Oct
Newcastle City centre
30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm)
30th Sep - 29th Oct
A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World
NewBridge Project Space NewBridge Project Space / Cobalt Studios
30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm)
Unfairground: Giles Walker
NewBridge Project Space
30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm)
Unfairground: Neil Goodwin
Operation Solstice: The Battle of the Beanfield
NewBridge Project Space
30th Sep - 29th Oct (12-6pm)
13th - 20th Oct
Unfairground: Sam Haggerty
Upper Steenbergs, Ouseburn
NewBridge Project Space
13th - 28th Oct
Making a Utopian Political Puppet
NewBridge Project Space
14th - 15th Oct (10-6pm)
Pocket Money Loans
Northumberland St South
25th - 30th Oct
The Aftermath Dislocation Principle
Newcastle City Centre
Dawn Bothwell, Richard DeDomenici and Ditte Elly
Hidden Civil War - Launch Event
NewBridge Project Space
TALKS/EVENTS Fri 30th Sept (7-10pm) Tues 4th Oct (6-8pm)
Charllotte Du Cann and Nick Hunt
The Dark Mountain Project
Summerhill Bowling Club
Thurs 6th Oct (6-9pm)
Jessie Jacobs and Andrew Wilson
A Tabloid for the Oppressed: How can we co-create the new tools for a new politics?
NewBridge Studios, Annex
Tues 11th Oct (6-9pm)
Leeds Poverty Truth Commission
NewBridge Project Space
Sat 8th Oct (4-6pm)
NewBridge Project Space
Sun 9th Oct (10am-6pm)
NewBridge Project Space
Wed 12th Oct (7-10pm)
Three Acres and a Cow
The Cumberland Arms
Thurs 13th Oct (2-5pm)
Land for What?
NewBridge Project Space
Cock and Bull
Thurs 13th Oct (7:30-9pm)
Fri 14th Oct (11am-4pm)
Going Local Going Green
Tyne Theatre and Opera House
Sat 15th Oct (11am-3pm)
Open Jar Collective
Notes from the Front Line
Pop-Up Shop, Grainger Market
Sat 15th Oct (11am-5:30pm) Sun 16th Oct (9am-5pm)
Sisters Uncut NCL
They Cut. We bleed.
NewBridge Project Space
Thurs 20th Oct (6-8:30pm)
Anthony Tombling Jr
NewBridge Project Space
Wed 19th Oct (10am-5pm)
The Eroles Project
Creative Projects That Change The System
NewBridge Project Space / Studios
Thurs 20th Oct (10am-5pm)
The Eroles Project
Radically Thinking as A Species
NewBridge Project Space / Studios
Fri 21st Oct (10am-5pm)
The Eroles Project
NewBridge Project Space / Studios
Fri 21st - Sun 23rd Oct
We: A Film Forum
Details listed below
Thurs 27th Oct (7-10pm)
Lloyd & Wilson
NewBridge Studios, Annex
Thurs 27th Oct (2-5pm)
Social Haunting: The Ghost Lab
NewBridge Studios, Annex
FILMS WE: A Film Forum is a series of screening events incorporating film and food in an inclusive, discussion based programme which focuses on community the ideals and realities present in our society, and our capacity to question and shape this together. Programmed by Hands on Film Lab and delivered in association with Culture Kitchen and Cobalt Studios. Fri 21st Oct (7pm)
A Magical Substance Flows Into Me
Sat 22nd Oct (4pm)
Broken Chords Can Sing A Little Episode 1: The Birds
Sat 22nd Oct (6:30pm)
Nathanlie Nambot & Maki Berchache
Brule Le Mer
Sun 23rd Oct (5:30pm)
Kate Liston, Rosalind Fowler
Artist Short Films
Sun 23rd Oct (7pm)
Visit www.thenewbridgeproject.com for full details on the programme, booking information and programme updates NewBridge Project Space, 16 New Bridge St West, NE1 8AW.
Summerhill Bowling Club, Winchester Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6EH.
NewBridge Studios, 12 New Bridge St West, NE1 8AW.
The Cumberland Arms, James Place Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE6 1LD.
Cobalt Studios, 10 – 16 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, NE2 1AP.
Tyne Theatre and Opera House, 117 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AG.
Pop-Up Shop, Grainger Market, 183-186 Grainger Market, NE1 5QW.
Northumberland Street South, NE1 7AL.
Stephenson Quarter, South Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 3PE.
Upper Steenbergs, Ouseburn, NE1 2PN.
IS A FRUIT IN SEASON AT ALL TIMES,
AND WITHIN REACH OF
THE PRECARIAT 25
24 THE PRECARIAT
80 years of war against Workfare
RDWICK, MANCHESTER. One thousand men and women are marching noisily through the streets in protest against the Government’s unemployment policies. A Manchester Guardian journalist notes the ‘numerous banners …bearing legends such as “Down with the means test”, “Not a man for the slave camps”, and “Not a penny off benefit”. In Hyde Park, London, protestors carry a coffin aloft, draped in a banner that reads “Abolish the Slave Camps”, while in the lobby of the House of Commons, 100 unemployed men lay down, shouting in unison “We Want Work”, ‘We Want Work’, “We Want Work.” These protests took place in the 1930s, a period of incredible hardship in Britain when a global economic recession left 25 percent without work. In areas of heavy industry, coal, steel and shipbuilding, unemployment was 50 percent or more. Alongside unemployment there was a rising trend of underemployment leading to what today we term ‘in-work poverty’. There was no universal welfare state in the 1930s, and faced with mass starvation and revolutionary violence, the Government was forced to introduce meagre unemployment benefits for working-age men and women. However, this was conditional on claimants being able to prove they were actively seeking work, and they could be required to attend day training centres and/or residential labour camps. In cities like Manchester, ‘Centres for the Workshy’ opened which offered training for 33 hours a week as “a condition of obtaining relief ”. Women who refused work as domestic servants, often far from their families and homes, lost entitlement to benefits. Up to 200,000 men were sent to remote rural labour camps. Initially called ‘Hardening centres’, later renamed ‘Instructional Centres’, these camps, sought to “recondition” the bodies of young men through hard physical labour (Colledge and
Workfare (noun) A welfare system which requires those receiving benefits to carry out some work or undergo vocational training Oxford English Dictionary Field 1983, Field 2013). Lord Marley, a maverick Labour peer, was unusual amongst the political elite in speaking out against these workfare experiments: You have taken them to a camp to….recondition them for work which does not exist. The whole thing is fantastic. It is not their fault they are unemployed, and the Government are using their immense power to force and bully the people into regimentation in concentration camps. I do not wonder there is widespread resistance to these camps. (Lord Marley, 5th of June 1934, House of Lords) The most vocal opposition to workfare came from the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (1921-1946), which organised pickets, strikes and mass hunger marches of the unemployed. As one protestor remembers, “constant agitation preserved above all the sense of dignity of the unemployed men and women. They really felt that here was a struggle they could take part in, that they weren’t just on the scrap heap” (in Frow, 1994). In 2011 the British Coalition Government introduced the ‘Work Programme’, the largest workfare programme in British history. Between 2011-2015, 1.5 million people were referred to workfare schemes, forced to undertake menial labour or
lose their benefits (for between six weeks and three years). On 30 July 2016, British courts ordered the Government to reveal the names of over 500 companies, charities and councils that had participated in its welfare for work programmes. What was striking about this list is that there was barely an aspect of national life, from shopping to leisure, from hospitals, and local councils to charities, that was untouched by mandatory workfare schemes. An entire shadow economy is now powered by the free labour of the unemployed. Neither the workfare experiments of the 1930s nor the new workfare schemes on our high streets help people find jobs. Yet, the political rhetoric of workfare is seductive and popular. It pretends to offer work experience and training but rarely delivers. Politicians tell us it halts a moral slide into “dependency” and exposes scroungers and cheats. Yet, as protestors in Britain’s industrial heartlands in the 1930s would remind us, people are not “workshy”; it is the absence of decent work that is the problem. Workfare is a deterrent policy that increases the stigma and fear of unemployment in order to dissuade working-age populations from making claims on the state. As activists in the 1930s warned us, this is primarily a way to coerce the people into low-paid and exploitative work. The welfare state was designed to offer shelter from volatile market forces, and from sickness, disability, and bad luck. It was meant to allow people to retain some dignity in tough times. This shelter is being shredded. As we live through the sordid and divisive politics of austerity, the fight against workfare, and for better work, needs to remain at the heart of the struggle for a better welfare future. Imogen Tyler, professor of sociology at Lancaster University and author of Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain
INSIDE FOODBANK BRITAIN Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite is a Leverhulme Trust funded researcher in the Centre for Health and Inequalities Research, Durham University. Her book Hunger Pains: life inside foodbank Britain, was published in June and she is co-author of Poverty and insecurity: Life in ‘low-pay, no-pay’ Britain. FOOD BANKS ARE becoming an increasingly visible feature of austerity Britain. Trussell Trust foodbank use remains at record high, with over one million three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in 2015/16. Newcastle West End foodbank is Britain’s busiest food bank, handing out 50,000 emergency food parcels over the past year. It is five times busier than the second most used foodbank in the country. Around 40 miles away from the West End foodbank is Stockton-on-Tees, where health inequalities in terms of life expectancy are the highest in England. A man living in the most deprived ward will live, on average, 17.3 years less than a man living just a few miles down the road in the least deprived ward. For women, the gap is 11.4 years. I was interested in finding out what life is like in these diverse areas of the borough. During the research for my forthcoming book ‘Hunger Pains: life inside foodbank Britain’, I spent 18 months volunteering and carrying out research at a Trussell Trust foodbank in Stockton. I am often asked who the typical foodbank user is. Is it single men? Young women with children? Do people who work use a foodbank? But there is no such thing as a typical foodbank user. Some weeks there would be more young single men who had been sanctioned. Other weeks, especially in the school holidays, I would see more families with children, mothers skipping meals in a fraught attempt to make their money cover the additional expense of the six weeks’ holidays. There were the recently widowed older women who were finding it impossible to navigate their daily lives on just one income; the middle-aged men on the sick because of an accident at work, who weren’t getting proper sick pay as their employer
didn’t pay it out. I spoke to people aged between 16 and 63 - teenagers, middle aged, pensioners, young couples – who all sat at the tables covered in the cheery orange, pink and white checked tablecloths, telling me their stories while they waited for their food parcel. Everyone I met was different. What tied them together, though, was a sense of shame, frustration, anger, often alongside a refusal to give in. Sanctions, benefit delays, debt, bereavement, low-paid jobs, and poor health are all some of the factors driving people through the foodbank doors. These categories were not static and separate. I met a man who was sanctioned after he missed his Jobcentre appointment because he took his mother to chemotherapy. A woman had a job interview which lasted longer than she expected, so she was 10 minutes late for her Jobcentre appointment and was sanctioned for a month. I met a man who missed his appointment to sign on after he travelled to Scotland for a family funeral after four members of his family had been killed in a car crash by a drunk driver. He was sanctioned, even though he rang the Jobcentre to tell them he wouldn’t be there. All of these people then faced further problems with the resulting debt, fuel poverty, and living on a significantly reduced, or sometimes zero, budget. We cannot ignore the long-term consequences of increasingly relying on charity to address poverty and replace the social security safety net. Where provision is adequate and tailored to the needs of people using it, foodbanks can relieve some symptoms of this insecurity – temporarily – but there are many structural ‘solutions’ outstanding.
The prejudice against small farmers is unshakeable. It gives rise to the oddest insult in the English language: when you call someone a peasant, you are accusing them of being self-reliant and productive. Peasants are detested by capitalists and communists alike. Both have sought to seize their land, and have a powerful vested interest in demeaning and demonising them. - George Monbiot, Small Is Bountiful (2008)
Food rituals have always been centred on hierarchy and power. The cow is ingested because he is essentially defenceless against us. We assert our primacy over nature by ingesting it in a gory ceremony of flesh chewing. The animals we admire are felines and canines, bears, and eagles: predators like us. This is an ancient warrior’s ethic, echoed in the American craze for Nazi memorabilia. - Ian F. Svenonius, The Bloody Latte (2006)
The choice obsessed modern West is probably more accommodating to individuals who choose to eat differently than any culture has ever been, but ironically, the utterly unselective omnivore -‘I’m easy I’ll eat anything’- can appear more socially sensitive than the individual who tries to eat in a way that is good for society. Food choices are determined by many factors, but reason (even consciousness) is not high on the list. - Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals (2009)
DID YOU KNOW? Over one million three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis from 2015 to 2016
Of course none of us are deliberately choosing to torture a pig when we buy a hot dog … But as we’ve seen in other contexts, people are often made to behave in inhuman ways by the systems and structures around them. When it comes to factory food and cruelty to animals, our shopping and eating habits make us complicit in horrific acts. - Steve Hilton, More Human (2015)
THE PRECARIAT 27
26 THE PRECARIAT
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Money For Nothing 10 Is basic income the solution to our economic and social problems we’ve been seeking?
THE NATION IS reeling from 40 years of failed market fundamentalism. Inequality has reached grotesque proportions as Britain’s richest 1% now own as much as the poorest 55% of the population. The rights of ordinary citizens are being steadily eroded and absolute poverty has become widespread once again. The economy is becoming ever more controlled by, and run for, the richest few. Our society is plagued by the interlinked problems of unemployment, overwork, overconsumption, low wellbeing and the lack of time to live sustainably and care for each other. The very notion of society has been watered down as individualism and greed have established themselves as human virtues. Tinkering with the system isn’t working. We need bold ideas. Could basic income be the solution we’ve been seeking? A basic income is unconditionally granted to all individuals without any means testing or requirement to work. It was originally proposed by Thomas Payne in the late 18th century. He argued that a just economic system should give everyone a share in the wealth of the nation. Many people, on both the left and right wings, have since championed its introduction in a variety of forms. Those on the left see basic income as a means to combat poverty, empower workers and redistribute income. Those on the right recognise that basic income could offer a fairer welfare system, reduce government bureaucracy and increase liberty for all citizens. But basic income is more than just a theory. Variations of basic income have already been trialled in countries around the world, including the Netherlands, Finland, India, Canada, Namibia and Brazil, while a basic income of up to $3,000 a year has been paid to citizens in Alaska for over 30 years. Many critics believe that a basic income would lead to reduced productivity, but the trials actually found the opposite to be true. It freed people up to improve their skills, find or create meaningful employment, and make a more positive contribution to society. Basic income has often been seen as a utopian daydream, but the idea is now gaining traction. We’ve seen a host of recent reports from think tanks promoting the idea and politicians who were previously sceptical are now beginning to publicly support it. Basic income has long been advocated by the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats had it as a manifesto pledge until the mid 1990s, and now the Labour Party is also beginning to seriously consider the idea. The idea is popular with the general population too. A recent YouGov poll showed that 74 percent of Brits believe the state should provide a decent minimum income for all. There is also now a greater sense of urgency as technology rapidly changes the world of work. Automation is replacing routine jobs, increasing both unemployment and wage inequality. But the advent of artificial intelligence now threatens even more highly-skilled professions, such as accountancy and law. A recent Oxford University study predicted that as many as 47 percent of all jobs are at risk of
Crowded favela housing contrasts with modern apartment buildings in Sao Paulo Brazil
REASONS TO SUPPORT BASIC INCOME
Rethinks how and why we work – allows us to seek more meaningful employment, safe in the knowledge that we have enough money to pay the bills.
Reduces working hours and better distributes jobs - people could reduce working hours without sacrificing their income, consequently increasing job opportunities available to others.
rovides a more secure safety P net for all people – better protects people currently excluded from complex, means-tested anti-poverty schemes.
educes bureaucracy – makes R the welfare state less complex and costly, while being fairer and liberating. I mproves working conditions - safety net enables workers to challenge employers if they find their conditions of work unfair or degrading.
6 7 8
akes benefit fraud obsolete M - no one needs to commit fraud to get a basic income, because it is granted automatically. educes inequality – shares out R the wealth produced by a society to all people. ewards unpaid contributions R – rewards the huge range of unpaid activities not currently recognised as economic contributions.
automation within the next 30 years. But automation doesn’t need to result in an employment catastrophe. It could transform our society for the better. It could force our hand to move away from a failed economic system which is solely dependent on growth and towards a newly invigorated one which values the things that really matter to people, like health, happiness, equality and meaningful employment. Basic income is central to facilitating that transformation, as the wealth generated by robotics is shared more evenly. But first our political leaders need to move on from the idea that the only way to run an economy is through the production of more and more ‘stuff ’. We know that greater input of natural resources, and greater output of waste, is what is driving unsustainability. If basic income can unlock people’s creativity
and imagination in a way that is not just about producing ‘stuff ’, then we can get away from an economy that is only about growth and we move towards a more stable, dynamic economy over time. Our fixation with perpetual growth and overconsumption continues to take us further down the road of social and environmental ruin. Our connection between ‘more’ and ‘better’ has become fundamentally broken. Basic income could restore it. Unlike any other policy, basic income has the potential to unite, in principle at least, the whole population and parties across the political spectrum. With all the talk of right and left, and none of right and wrong, few could argue that the introduction of a basic income is simply the right thing to do. Jon Maiden
trengthens our democracy S – more leisure time allows us to participate more fully in our community and our democracy. nds extreme financial E poverty – offers the means to almost instantly lift
everyone out of absolute poverty.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2014, more than 20% of benefit recipients received a sanction that left them with no income at all.
“Only little people pay taxes”
EATH AND TAXES. Life’s only certainties, right? For any PAYE employee or small business, there’s no escaping tax. Death too, unless you know something I don’t. But for the big multinationals, both are easily avoided. All you need is to register as a limited company, thereby gaining a handy legal immortality, and then decide how you’d like to play hide and seek with the tax man. Best of all, you don’t even have to hop on a plane in search of some sandy-beached treasure island. No, you can live and trade here. The drizzle and gloom of London will do just fine. Welcome to Britain – tax haven capital of the world. But how can this be? We’re not an obscure, shady tax haven. We don’t wear Panama hats or Bermuda shorts. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask the Financial Secrecy Index (FSI). They call the UK “one of the biggest, if not the biggest, single player” in global tax avoidance. Why the ambiguity? Because ‘Britain’ here is not just the Government and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) but, far more significantly, the ‘City of London’ and its network of British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. As the FSI states, this network “constitutes by far the most important part” of the tax-dodging world. It works like this. At the centre of the network sits the City of London, the ancient
political entity housed in the ‘Square Mile’, as opposed to the Big Smoke in general. Around it involves the Jerseys, Guernseys and the other tax/holiday destinations of choice that have remained connected to the UK since the end of the British Empire. They’re independent enough to deny we have anything to do with them, but British enough to connect them securely to the global economy. Jersey, for example, “represents an extension of the City of London.” So says Jersey Finance. Successive Lord Mayors of London (Not Sadiq Khan, the other Mayor) have called Britain’s satellite havens “a core asset of the City” and a “fantastic adjunct” to the UK. In fact, your cliché tax haven is really just a “booking centre that allows a company to pretend it is located in an Overseas Territory while the real business gets sent up to London.” So says Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands. Or, put another way: “Great dollops of money go into London from here.” That’s Martyn Scriven. ‘Here’ being Jersey, and Scriven being secretary of the Jersey Bankers’ Association. So while your local greengrocer or garage has no choice but to hand over a chunk of
their profits in corporation tax, the bigger fish can take their money safely across the water. Doing so can radically reduce or entirely wipe out your tax bill. Between 2006 and 2011, Google earned $18 billion in the UK. They paid $16 million in tax. That’s a rate of 0.08%. You probably pay 20% on your income. But why should companies pay tax on their profits? It’s their money, right? I can’t put it any better than US Senator Elizabeth Warren: “You built a factory? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. Now look, you built a factory or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” But if taxes are so important, why isn’t anyone stopping all the Starbucks and Googles of this world? What exactly is the tax man doing all day? No matter what it says publically, this Government is on the side of the tax dodgers, not the tax payers. Not only
“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”
did former chancellor George Osborne take every opportunity to reduce corporation tax since coming into office (28% in 2010; 20% in 2015; 15% by 2020), he’s also overseen huge staff reductions at HMRC. And the new boss – the UK’s chief tax man – is Edward Troup, a man who once wrote that “taxation is legalised extortion.” Things look set to get even worse. 15% is heading for tax haven territory. Ireland is only a little lower at 12.5%. The way things are going, Britain will end up a divided nation. On the one hand, a Government and a Revenue that cheer when multinationals enjoy all the benefits of doing business in Britain without shouldering the responsibilities. On the other, the rest of us, who have no choice but to pay for public services that the corporations rely on just as much as us. The last civil war started over an argument about tax. Charles I acted without Parliament to levy ‘ship money’ on his people. He probably said he was ‘avoiding’ parliamentary approval, not ‘evading’ it. But we all know how that ended up for Charlie. The next great civil struggle in Britain may well break out over the same lines. The people versus the new Kings and Queens, the great multinationals that live by their own rules and take what they want. Our new feudal class that believe, like the notorious Queen of Mean, jailed tax evader Leona Helmsley, that “only the little people pay taxes.” Welcome to Britain, tax haven capital of the world. Laurence Peacock
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Let’s talk about
THE GREAT SOCIAL HOUSING SWINDLE
LAST YEAR COUNCILS accepted 56,600 people as homeless while an estimated 635,000 properties lay vacant across the country. Meanwhile, years of mismanagement and neglect of council housing has led to a crisis in the social housing sector; estate demolition in inner cities to make way for luxury flats has become common practice, as the high value of land in areas such as London compels property developers to disregard the needs of council tenants. Now that the Housing and Planning Act has received Royal assent, estate demolition will happen all the more frequently. That’s why we’re making a new documentary, Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle. We want to show the human cost of the housing crisis, focussing on the demolition of council estates for profit and the social cleansing of those not able to pay the market rental value. We also want to counter the negative portrayal of council housing in the arts and media. Television shows like Benefits Street, or characters like the crass Vicky Pollard (Little Britain) and the feckless Frank Gallagher (Shameless) insult and infuriate me as representations of workingclass people. These negative stereotypes have become accepted as accurate portrayals of council housing tenants, which has distorted people’s views on the purpose of social housing. If the people who live in council housing are seen as scroungers and benefit claimants, it’s easier to dismiss the validity of their right to remain in their homes. There’s no shame in living on a council estate. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your council home. Politicians who zealously extol the idea of everyone owning their home are often selling an aspirational dream that simply isn’t possible for the majority of people in Britain. The real people behind the caricatures are being neglected and forgotten. We hope to tell the stories of families and individuals
TOM KENNY, DUNCAN MCCANN & ROBIN GREY
“A third of ofUK UKland land “A third is owned by by the the is still still owned traditional traditional aristocracy aristocracy and and landed landed gentry.” gentry.”
ODAY, AS A COUNTRY, we face huge problems widening inequality, a chronic housing crisis, a dysfunctional agricultural system, multiple public health issues and impending climate collapse. Land is one of the root causes of these problems but is rarely discussed. Indeed, land has been the elephant in the room of English politics for so long we have become accustomed to its absence during important debates.
WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT LAND: The fundamental importance of land becomes clear when you start reframing common questions about the key issues affecting society today: The housing crisis is partly caused by patterns of land ownership that prevent us building enough new, affordable homes: Britain has the second highest concentration of land ownership in the world with 0.36 percent of the population owning two-thirds of the land. Despite claims we are running out
of land, a recent Office For National Statistics report found that a mere 2 percent of our country is built on. So is the housing crisis caused by an increasing population or should we be tackling patterns of land ownership that prevent the building of new homes? The rising cost of land is directly linked to policies that make it lucrative to hoard land and treat it as an investment. Agricultural land is currently seen as safer and more lucrative than stocks and shares, and a way of avoiding tax, regardless of whether it is even being used for farming - indeed prices have trebled in the last 10 years. In some parts of the country, landowners see their land increase in value more than a hundredfold just for securing permission to build housing. How can land and housing prices be brought under control when government policies and market speculation actively drive them up? Inequality finds its oldest expression in the clash between the landed and the poor: A third of UK land is still owned by the traditional aristocracy and landed gentry. Forty seven wealthy landowners each receive over a million pounds a year in land subsidies, whilst the smallest farms receive nothing.
How can we develop a more equal society, whilst giving massive tax breaks and public money to large landowners, at the same time as cutting back on support and services for those in need? Many public health issues are directly linked to trends in land use. Recent studies have connected issues like cancer, respiratory disease, and poor mental health with city living. Cash-strapped councils have started to sell off public parks and playing fields to plug funding gaps. Tate & Lyle Sugar has received more in agricultural subsidies than any other UK organisation this century. How can we tackle obesity and other health issues whilst subsidies flood the market with low quality, cheap food, and people are disconnected from the outdoors? Environmental decline is directly linked to mainstream land management: British soils are at a crisis point. Industrial farming methods, deforestation, and land cleared for sport shooting, have all been linked with floods that have devastated the UK in recent years. How can we tackle environmental issues whilst subsidising the industrial farming techniques that help cause them?
DRIVING CHANGE In short, the status quo benefits the few at the expense of the common good. So how do we address this imbalance? One answer is to support the coming together of all groups that have a stake in this fight, be that urban housing and planning advocates, rural land and farming communities, health campaigners or climate change activists. What sort of conversations would residents of a council estate up for redevelopment have with a young farmer? What common ground would be found between people campaigning for less sugar in our diets and people campaigning to reduce the negative environmental impacts of farming? What can an urban planning expert learn from people campaigning to protect our public footpaths in areas of natural beauty, and vice versa.
FINDING COMMON ISSUES These groups, and indeed the population as a whole, share a common issue - that land is not being used for the common good. They also share potential campaign targets - the planning system, land-based subsidies, and transparency and distribution of ownership,
to name just a few. Who knows what else they share? Up to now there has been little overlap between these groups, and almost no focus on land as a common issue. Framing our struggles in terms of land rights, ownership and usage, will allow us to find much in common with a wide range of people.
BUILDING A MOVEMENT This autumn a coalition of activist networks and organisations are coming together to begin building a movement, hosting events under the banner of ‘Land For What?’. We aim to raise awareness of land as a common struggle. This will mean increasing people’s knowledge about land ownership and the history of land struggles; connecting people to share skills and experiences; and inspiring people and groups to take learning and energy for change back to their communities. The coalition includes the Community Food Growers Network, Just Space, Landworkers’ Alliance, New Economics Foundation, Radical Housing Network, London Quaker Housing, Shared Assets and Ubele. ➲ Find out more: landforwhat.org.uk.
Social housing project on avenue Pablo Picasso in Paris
who are, right now, being uprooted and forced from their homes. The people who live on council estates have rich and varied backgrounds: working-class families, grandparents, single mothers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, journalists and artists. One of the first people we interviewed for the documentary is Ronda Daniel, a 20-year-old woman who lives on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham and is in the second year of a sociology degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). “Communities are being torn apart because people are being relocated,” she tells me. “Think of the impact this has on families, jobs, identity. Being told to go somewhere unfamiliar beca use you’ve been told that you no longer belong in your home is shameful.” Daniel believes that along with the NHS, social housing is an obligation of the state: “It’s something that older generations fought for and worked towards. If people need homes, they must be built and they must be affordable. Every day I see homeless people sleeping outside so-called ‘regeneration’ developments.” Daniel has lived on the Becontree Estate her whole life and is fearful of the threat that the Housing and Planning Act poses to her family, particularly her autistic younger brother. “It means no security for my brother’s future. He is probably never going to be able to live independently because of his needs, and it’s awful to know that he could be made homeless, on top of all of the cuts attacking disabled people.” As a student at the LSE, she has experienced first hand the stigma that surrounds council housing. “At LSE, the classist culture there is nearly always directed at people like me who live in council houses. A student from Balham, whose entire family are university educated, once told me that I was ‘too good to come from a council estate in Dagenham’. I’ve also been referred to as the ‘underclass’, having been told ‘it must be fun
sitting on a couch in a council house all day’. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old to contribute to my household. I’ve also been told I should want to aspire to ‘get out of there’ by an upper class woman from Kensington, as if my identity should be abandoned if I’m to be successful.” I’m appalled at these comments; Daniel is an intelligent, working-class woman who deserves to be treated with respect by her peers. I ask her whether she thinks that the wider stigmatisation in the arts and media has encouraged such narrow-minded views and made it easier for the Government to justify its programme of austerity. “I think it’s because the working class are stigmatised as much as they are that they can get away with these cuts. Benefits Street and How to Get a Council House took care of that, portraying these communities as ‘scroungers’ who were at war with others or under threat.” How did Daniel feel when she heard the former Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to “blitz” poverty by demolishing what he referred to as “sink estates? “I would say to [him], come and live like we do for a week, and see how you fare. Come and see mothers go without meals so their kids can eat, come and see how disabled people live when they are placed in third floor flats. Try and live on minimum wage with seven children. He wouldn’t last a minute.” Critics of the Housing and Planning Act have long described it as an attack on communities, saying that it signals the end of council housing as we know it. It means the end of lifetime secure council tenancies, fewer homes available as social rents, the introduction of a pay-to-stay tenant tax that will hike up the cost of renting, and legislation that forces local authorities to sell vacant high-value council homes. This reduction in social housing has grave implications for anyone who is unable to get on the property ladder. A cycle of expensive private rentals will be difficult to escape. Both the Conservative and Labour parties profit from the idea of affordable housing, but the term is a misnomer. So-called ‘Starter Homes’ are notionally available to first-time buyers under 40, but are still unaffordable for most. Yet the biggest tragedy of the housing crisis is not the inability of many to own their home – it’s the state’s inability to provide a sufficient number of affordable homes to rent for those on lower incomes or without the means to rent privately. Paul Sng is a filmmaker at Velvet Joy Productions.
DID YOU KNOW? Britain has the second highest concentration of land ownership in the world with 0.36% of the population owning two-thirds of the land. Despite claims we are running out of land, a recent Office For National Statistics report found that a mere 2% of our country is built on.
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NEWSTHUMP SOUTHERN RAIL TO ISSUE
TO SEASON TICKET HOLDERS
Downing Street asks for petitions to be
printed on softer,
The Government has today issued a plea that people handing in petitions to No. 10 print them on softer paper. Many members of the public, especially on social media, possess a touching faith in the efficacy of petitions and regularly share them in an effort to both change the world and make their friends aware what a caring person they are. When these petitions reach their target number of signatories, they are printed off and delivered to Downing Street, where they have contributed to ‘significant’ savings in bathroom hygiene purchases. When David Cameron was Prime Minister, he was happy to just have a big stack of A4 with people’s names and email address on them in the bathroom, but Theresa May has called for a ‘new broom’, according to Downing Street insiders. The Government has issued guidelines for
petitioners which include printing their demands on soft, triple-ply paper with regular perforations and preferably scented with aloe. “It’s not essential, but will help ensure that your petition ends up in the right place as quickly as possible,” said Petitions and Bathroom Supplies Secretary Simon Williams. “Rather than using individual sheets we would also be grateful if you could print off the petition on a single roll for ease of storage. “If you can’t manage that, don’t worry. We have three cats about the place these days and individual sheets can always find a use when one or another has a gippy tummy.” The government went on to insist that every petition delivered to Downing Street is given the consideration it deserves, especially after a large state banquet with the Indian delegation.
We aim to be equal opportunity piss-takers and have no particular affiliation or political preference. It is our stated aim to mock absolutely everyone, eventually. We are not afraid to skip a few steps like checking facts or corroborating sources, and we never let the truth ruin a funny story (it’s much easier just to make everything up). So, for clarification – If you read a story by us, then you are NOT supposed to believe it. It has been completely made up purely for entertainment purposes. It’s also worth noting that we regularly use rude words and stuff, so you need to be 18 to be reading this. All images are courtesy of iStockphotos/Getty and are used for illustrative purposes only, and anyone depicted is a model.
Can you tell what it is yet? Each box contains a close-up image of something. All you have to do is guess what it is! Answers are upside down below the crossword. No cheating now...
“Turns out that trains are just really difficult,” said Southern Rail CEO and total catastrophe Charles Horton. “So, we’re going to get back to first principles. “Why do passengers like trains? Because they’re on wheels. So if we can’t give our passengers the full train experience, then at least we can give them the wheels.” It is understood that passengers holding standard-class season tickets will receive the old-fashioned strap-on metal roller skates, whereas first-class season ticket holders can expect to receive big flashy roller boots with ball bearings and everything. The company is also trying to formulate a practical means of dealing with passengers who don’t hold season tickets. “Obviously, we can’t just give out roller skates to anyone who wants to travel on a Southern train. That would just be mental. “So our current thinking is that if someone just comes in for a ticket somewhere, we nick a shopping trolley from the local supermarket, stick the passenger in the back and give them a shove. “I bloody love privatisation.”
The Precariat Crossword Across 2. Conflict between citizens of the same country (5/3) 4. There are currently 3.7 million children living in ______ in the UK (7) 6. A system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits (7/5) 9. Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual (7) 10. A fart that will destroy the world (5) 12. An elite or ruling class whose power derives from their wealth (10) 13. The large-scale removal from an area of members of a social category (6/9)
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1. The Labour Party getting rid of any shred of democracy. 2. Level of debate on Brexit. 3. The amount of fucks they give about you. 4. The next president of the USA.
“ Triple-ply paper with regular perforations and preferably scented with aloe”
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Southern Rail has pledged to hand out roller skates to all season ticket holders in a bid to actually transport passengers from a place to a different place.
WTF IS IT?!
Down 1. Economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure/services (9) 2. An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state (10) 3. Economic policy that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector (13) 5. Old man that won’t stop until he owns all media, everywhere (7) 7. Provides facilities that enable people or entities to escape (and frequently undermine) the laws, rules and regulations of other jurisdictions elsewhere. (3/5) 8. A small group of people having control of a country or organisation. (9) 11. Individual benefit scrounger that cost the UK tax payer £45 million last year (5)