Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
It was five years ago that my frustrations with mainstream parties prompted me to get involved in party politics. At the time I felt that the political process simply did not reflect the broad values of most people I knew – and especially those engaged in the anti-war movement.
These values were reflected in an opposition to imperialism and neo-liberalism, although most people I came into contact with very rarely, if ever, used these words to express their concerns.
Instead they asked why our foreign policy could not be based more on cooperation instead of conflict. They wanted a better quality of life for them, their friends and families, and felt people in other parts of the world were entitled to the same as well. Instead what people see today is war and instability abroad, and increasing discontent at home despite an apparently wealthy society. People are worried about the future of their children. They are concerned at widening inequality, the increase of stress and depression, the record levels of binge drinking, drug abuse, violence and vandalism. How could it be that after a decade of uninterrupted economic growth our society could feel more fractured, unequal and unhappy? Why are our kids reported to be the unhappiest in Europe?
The answers to these concerns lie in a critique of the way the way free market fundamentalism has increasingly invaded and distorted our lives, and the need for society to be protected from its all consuming appetites.
The challenge for those of us who aspire to live in a more humane and just society is to be able to explain the source of people’s everyday concerns in a language they immediately understand, and point to solutions that are immediately realisable.
There is a lot of talk in government circles about the need for a ‘national conversation’ about what ‘Britishness’ means in the 21st century. If we are to have such a conversation, it would be well served by looking back to the future.
The ideas of universal healthcare; a living wage; participatory democracy; public services that are accountable to the people who use them; food, medicine and shelter as a human right; these are not particularly radical ideas. They are common sense ideas enshrined in the UN Charter.
Add to that list a foreign policy that places a premium on diplomacy, and international cooperation, plus more decisive action on climate change, and there is the basis of a manifesto a sizeable slice of the British public would sign up to.
Why are these ideas so radical today? At one stage most would have been regarded as the bread and butter of social democracy. They appear radical now only because of the way neo-liberalism has shifted political discourse to the right over the last 20 years. All the while the gap between what the politicians do, and what people want, has widened.
The challenge of building political organisations that can bridge that gap is best realised and tested through day-to-day engagement in the practical struggles and frustrations of people’s everyday lives. Electoral politics, despite its pitfalls, forces such an engagement. Effective campaigning does likewise. Engagement with politics of a mass character is essential. It forces you to absorb the experience of the people you aim to represent, and it puts your views to the test.
It is also essential that we practise what we preach. How we build is as important as what we build. Our political organisations must embody the values that we wish to see reasserted in broader society. Our culture should be one in which disagreement is not seen as disloyalty and where inclusivity is not confined to those who sympathise completely with your own views. Whatever our forms of political organisation they must be places where we bring the best out of people, where the instincts that brought them into politics are raised to a higher political and moral plane.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
The under-30s could be decisive in the general election. Frances Grahl meets young people hit by Tory austerity and looks at what's driving their support for Labour
“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad … it’s quite major,” writes Rebecca Omonira-Okeykanmi.
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell
Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths
Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency
Empire en vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy
Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network
Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker
In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing
After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry
Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again
Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood
7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.
After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani
If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945
On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.
Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow
The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite
Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences