I am not in receipt of any benefits, apart from roads of varying quality and occasional firework displays. And policing, I suppose. And a fire service, should I need it. And museums, parks and art galleries. And free healthcare. And the advantages that have flowed from a free education to tertiary level. And some other bits and bobs. But that’s it.
So, by rights, I should be livid that asylum seekers are given a free house on arrival, that prisons are like holiday camps and that unemployed single mothers are paid more than the prime minister. Except I know that these things are not true.
I don’t wish to suggest that people are stupid, merely ignorant. As a rule, only people who are in receipt of benefits, or who administer them, know how much they are. No one who’s never been inside a prison has any grasp of the realities of incarceration. Only a refugee knows what it’s like to be one.
But most people are not cold-blooded and are quite shocked when they learn how low benefits actually are. If they were to spend one night in a cell, they would cry throughout it. When asked what sentences they think are appropriate for various offenders, they show themselves to be more liberal than judges. And if they were to meet an asylum seeker and hear their story, they would probably want to open their own wallets to help them out.
There are three types of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ stories: the ones that are about very rare instances, the ones that are misrepresented, and the ones that are made up. The duty of politicians of conscience is to say so. To listen, yes, for a bit. Then to say, ‘I hear your concerns, but they’re bollocks.’ That’s just common sense.
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In the first of a series of interviews with migrants' rights and racial justice activists from the US, Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Peter Pedemonti, co-founder and director of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia
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Reclaiming Holloway Homes
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Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
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Protect our public lands
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Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
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Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
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As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform
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Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out
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Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
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A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
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Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
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Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
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Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
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Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
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Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
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Power Games: A Political History
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Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
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