About Novara Media

Novara Media is an independent media organisation addressing the issues – from a crisis of capitalism to racism and climate change – that are set to define the 21st century. Within that context their goal is a simple one: to tell stories and provide analysis shaped by the political uncertainties of the age, elevating critical perspectives you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. Driven to build a new media for a different politics, Novara journalism is always politically committed; rather than seeking to moderate between two sides of a debate, their output actively intends to feed back into political action.

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The Global Refugee Crisis is at Our Shores, and We Need to Take It Seriously

Adam Bates - 03 January 2019

As Sajid Javid opens a tawdry leadership campaign pitch on the backs of Channel migrants, it’s easy to want to dismiss it all. Leftist responses have often consisted of “it’s not a real crisis, compared to homelessness/poverty/Brexit.”

This is a mistake. The presence of children in ramshackle boats risking death off our shores is self-evidently a crisis and the deployment of British sea power is an appropriate response. The only problem is that rescue operations will end in deportation rather than the chance to make an asylum application. It’s a crisis, obviously, for those whose lives have been uprooted. And Europe’s cack-handed response to the wider crisis has deepened it into a global security risk.... See more

Latin Venues in Elephant and Castle Forced Out to Make Way for Redevelopment

Ed Gillett - 19 December 2018

The long-running regeneration of Elephant and Castle has been a source of local acrimony for more than a decade. This week, the starkly differing fates of three of its best-loved cultural venues have raised new questions about Southwark council and developer Delancey’s approach to local residents and businesses.

On Thursday, Sadiq Khan gave his seal of approval to the latest stage in the lavish redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, a diverse working-class neighbourhood in south London: the demolition and rebuilding of its central shopping centre. A squat and increasingly dilapidated mid-70s concrete megalith, the Elephant Centre is nonetheless a crucial hub for the area’s under-served minority groups, with everything from Polish cafés and a busy open-air market to African fabric shops and Colombian nightclubs.... See more

Britain’s War in Yemen Can Be Stopped, but the Left Needs to Raise Its Game

David Wearing - 11 December 2018

While our political class obsesses over Brexit, the government is getting away scot-free with doing something infinitely more destructive; something so lacking in basic humanity that it almost defies comprehension. As a leading backer of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) throughout their nearly four year long war in Yemen, Britain has played a highly significant role in the creation of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

At a conservative estimate, 85,000 infant children are thought to have starved to death since the war began, mostly due to a blockade imposed on the impoverished country by Britain’s allies. And, in another highly conservative estimate, 56,000 are thought to have been violently killed, mostly by Saudi-UAE bombing. If this were not bad enough, the country is now on the brink of the worst famine seen anywhere on earth for decades, perhaps a century. Starvation now threatens a staggering 14 million people. The British government has played a significant, active role in making this happen.... See more

Undermining Democracy, Not Defending It: The ‘Integrity Initiative’ is Everything That’s Wrong With British Foreign Policy

Aaron Bastani - 10 December 2018

This weekend a truly extraordinary story was unearthed regarding the machinations of the ‘Integrity Initiative’ (II), a British think tank funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the tune of £2.2m.

While several of the think tank’s tweets – attacking Jeremy Corbyn and key advisors – have garnered the most interest so far, it is leaked documents concerning its working processes and efforts abroad that are particularly shocking.... See more

Stansted 15: Activists Who Stopped Deportation Charter Flight Convicted of Terror-Related Charges

Beth Perkin, Charlotte England - 10 December 2018

A group of 15 activists who prevented a deportation charter flight from leaving Stansted airport by locking themselves together around the aeroplane have been found guilty of a terror-related offence.

The so-called Stansted 15 spent nine weeks on trial charged with an offence that has never been used before in response to a non-violent direct action and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

They were convicted by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday 10 December and will be sentenced on 4 February 2019.... See more

Another Europe is Unlikely: Why Socialist Transformation Won’t Happen Within the EU

Grace Blakeley - 06 December 2018

A lot of ink has been spilled recently on the question of whether socialist transformation is possible within the EU. There are those of us who argue that the EU’s promotion of capital mobility, restrictions on state aid and approach to protecting its borders mean it would be impossible from within the EU for a socialist government to deliver a radical economic agenda. Some disagree with this prognosis, and advocate remaining in the EU.... See more

‘It’s Not a History Lesson Anymore’: The Union Activists Taking on a London Pub Chain

Joe Hayns - 04 December 2018

Since early October, activists have been canvassing Antic pubs across south London, asking colleagues to join a fast-growing campaign for improved wages and conditions across the city-wide chain’s 48 venues.

A mid-October meeting brought together workers and Unite officials, launching a campaign under the auspices of the Unite’s Restaurant, Catering and Bar Workers’ branch. In early November workers launched a collective grievance, demanding double pay over the Christmas period, union recognition, and a roadmap to the London living wage. As this interview went to press, workers reported that management have now refused any wage increase over the forthcoming holiday period.... See more

A ‘Neu’ Union?

James McAsh - 19 November 2018

After years of school funding cuts and derisory pay for teachers, the National Education Union (NEU) has stepped up its offensive against the government and its neoliberal education policies. On 15 November, members of the NEU teaching in state-funded schools and sixth form colleges received a ballot on the issues of teacher pay and school funding. The hope is that this will be the first step towards nation-wide strike action.... See more

Decline and Fall: What Next for May’s Deal?

James Butler - 15 November 2018

Theresa May emerged from her five hour cabinet meeting yesterday evening looking like she’d given up. She couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for the deal she’d just pushed through a fractious cabinet, describing it as one might an unwanted birthday gift – not ‘good’, just the best she could get. Her speech indicated the way the government is attempting to spin the agreement: that passing the deal through the Commons is in the ‘national interest’, and the only safe way between the Scylla of ‘no deal’ and the Charybdis of ‘no Brexit’. Effectively, this is legislative Project Fear – unable to defend the deal in its own terms, the government will rely on the threat of doom to attempt to grease its passage. With the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, resigning this morning, the deal and her government is imperilled.... See more

Activists Hold Remembrance March for Refugees Killed Trying to Reach UK

Novara - 11 November 2018

Activists wearing pink veils marked Remembrance Sunday by laying lifeboat-orange wreaths at the Cenotaph to remember refugees who died fleeing conflict and persecution.

Around 40 people marched from the Ministry of Defence to the memorial for war dead on Saturday, carrying candles and placards.

The action, which has happened for the past three years, was organised by a coalition of campaign groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) and Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP)... See more

What Could a Corbyn Government Mean for Britain’s Foreign Policy in Oman?

Phil Miller - 9 November 2018

Last month, over five thousand British soldiers played a giant war game in the Middle East called Swift Sword 3. The operation took place in Oman, a quiet corner of the Arabian peninsula bordering Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Its ruler – Sultan Qaboos – has sat on the throne for nearly half a century. Swiftly after Tory party conference, Britain’s defence minister Mark Lancaster visited the Omani port of Duqm to launch the training exercise. He also opened a new Royal Navy base in Duqm – costing UK taxpayers millions (the full price tag is secret). Just like in Part 1, where we explored British foreign policy towards Bahrain, in Oman it’s clear that the UK is propping up another Arab monarchy... See more

A Ban on Fracking Is Common Sense. Here’s Why

Aaron Bastani - 24 October 2018

On Monday, Jeremy Corbyn released a video outlining how Labour would ban fracking across the UK. Far from utopian, a moratorium on the practice is already in place in Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Further afield it is prohibited in France and Germany.

A Labour government will ban fracking immediately. pic.twitter.com/QJQrs7blYJ
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) 22 October 2018

For those familiar with climate change the most cited ‘greenhouse gas’ is carbon dioxide, or CO2. CO2 is the compound most responsible for planetary warming and rising concentrations of it mean global temperatures are 0.8 degrees higher today than they were 130 years ago.... See more

4 Ways the Labour Movement Must Move Forward on Palestine

Aliya Yule - 8 October 2018

The Labour party has a long and complex history with Palestine due to Britain’s direct role as colonial power, with its troops occupying Palestine from 1917-18 to 1948. Throughout its military reign, the British empire first denied and then suppressed the Palestinian people’s demands for self-determination, whilst giving early support to the creation of an Israeli state in their land.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership marks a turning point for Labour, with recent events showing its expanded grassroots membership overwhelmingly support justice for Palestine – and will put huge pressure on Labour’s leadership in this regard. Following a protracted and ugly struggle over the summer, during which Labour’s NEC felt compelled to adopt the full IHRA definition of antisemitism despite immense pushback from the membership and real concerns about the denial of Palestinians’ inalienable rights, local constituency delegates to Labour party conference placed Palestine high on the agenda in the priority ballot to select motions for debate. When the motion was moved, thousands of Palestinian flags were held high on the conference floor in a moving display of solidarity with a struggling and disenfranchised people....

4 Ways the Labour Movement Must Move Forward on Palestine

Aliya Yule - October 2018

The Labour party has a long and complex history with Palestine due to Britain’s direct role as colonial power, with its troops occupying Palestine from 1917-18 to 1948.... See more

Could a Corbyn Government Change UK Foreign Policy in Bahrain?

Phil Miller - 29 September 2018

While we all know about Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the Palestinian struggle, his progressive foreign policy positions do not end there. Many oppressed peoples are looking at Corbyn’s record of supporting their struggles and daring to dream about what could happen if he became UK Prime Minister. Corbyn gave us a taste at last year’s Labour Party Conference, when he said Britain “cannot be silent at the cruel Saudi war in Yemen, while continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, or the crushing of democracy in Egypt or Bahrain”.

Bahrain is the smallest country in the Middle East, a tiny Gulf island. For Bahraini exiles living in the UK, Corbyn’s shout-out for their struggle was a big deal. To find out more about what Corbyn means to them, I went to the Bahrain Embassy in London and spoke to dissidents protesting on the pavement outside.

When I arrived, a tall, wizened man was perched on some wooden pallets and zipped up snugly inside a thick green hoody, framing his wispy brown beard. On this crystal-clear August night, Ali Mushaima’s body temperature was unusually low, but he welcomed me warmly. He had spent the last 25 days camped outside the Embassy on hunger strike, shedding 11 kilos. Ali was starving himself to highlight the case of his father, Hassan, who was jailed for life after leading the pro-democracy movement during Bahrain’s Arab Spring uprising in 2011. Hassan, now 70 and recovering from cancer, is struggling to access healthcare in prison in Bahrain, much to his son’s concern.... See more

Period Poverty Is Unjust. Here’s How Labour Women Will End It

Angela Rayner - 22 September 2018

Last year I was appalled when I read that girls in the UK were missing school because they couldn’t afford sanitary protection, and that some girls didn’t even know what menstruation was.

That simply is not the kind of society I want to live in: one where women are denied both information about their bodies, and the basics necessary for a good life.

As a former Samaritan, it made me think about the incident which started off the organisation: a young girl took her life because her period started, and she didn’t know what was happening to her body.

Eighty years on from that tragedy, it’s time we ended this scandal once and for all.... See more

To Transform the World, the Left Must Look Beyond Elections

Luke Dukinfield - 11 September 2018

The World Transformed (TWT) is, in many ways, an initiative striving to answer some of the key questions and challenges confronting the left today. Taking place parallel to the Labour party conference, the creativity and vibrancy of this four-day-long festival of politics, arts and music is a profound break with the dispiriting orthodoxies of establishment politics.

The resurgence of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn has been a crucible for widespread, youth-led disillusionment with austerity and neoliberal dogma, animated by and consolidating the resistance movements sparked since the financial crash. Labour’s electoral successes have been underpinned by a return to the party’s socialist roots, harnessing the power of its vast membership base to pose a radical alternative to communities failed by business-as-usual. In order to formulate, execute and extend this vision of emancipation, the base must be empowered in and beyond elections through rigorous debate, grassroots organizing, and robust cultures of community-forming crystallised in institutions like TWT.... See more

Wonga Might Be Uniquely Unscrupulous, But the Whole Commercial Banking System is Out to Get Us

Grace Blakeley - 28 August 2018

This month, Wonga – the infamous payday lender – has found itself in financial difficulties. The trouble started when a clampdown on payday lending in 2013 brought some of the industry’s less scrupulous practices to light. Many payday lenders were accused of targeting vulnerable customers with extremely high interest rates, deceptive advertising, and aggressive debt collection practices.

In 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed limits on the amounts payday lenders were able to charge in interest, which has hit profits. But the real source of Wonga’s difficulties has been the dramatic hike in compensation claims from customers who took out loans before 2013. The increased scrutiny to which payday lenders were subjected led to a spike in cases brought against them by claims management companies.

Wonga’s fall from grace has been quite dramatic. In 2011, the company was making £45m in profits on revenues of £185m. Some estimated it was worth up to $1bn. When regulators finally caught up with the payday lenders the party stopped pretty quickly. In 2015, Wonga reported losses of £80m, followed by further losses of £66m in 2016. Today, it is worth just $30m.... See more

Labour’s Obligation to Peace Between Israel and Palestine Starts by Rejecting the IHRA Examples

Aaron Bastani - 17 August 2018

In 2016 the Labour party accepted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This summer it went further, admitting word-for-word eight of the eleven examples alongside that definition, while adding to the other three in its new code of conduct. Those modifications led to swift condemnation, and with Jeremy Corbyn now hinting compromise, wholesale acceptance seems likely.

In truth only one of those examples is a stumbling block in any accommodation. This is the claim that stating Israel is a ‘racist endeavour’ denies Jews their right to self-determination and, as a result, is evidence of antisemitic bigotry.

The nature of the debate principally understands racism as an issue of rhetoric, with limits to free speech necessary to safeguard a minority. It’s unsurprising, then, that the response from those opposed to the IHRA examples view them as limiting justified criticism of Israel’s actions....

Wildfires and Tower Block Blazes Aren’t Freak Accidents – These Are the Fires of Austerity

Alex King - 1 August 2018

The day after wildfires tore along Athens’ east coast, I was stuck in a traffic jam. We were sitting in the seaside town of Mati, the epicentre of the inferno, where at least 91 people are known to have died. Some trees were still smouldering. Many of the houses were blackened shells, others looked like they had been hit by cruise missiles.

Many stuck in the jam were ordinary people; Greeks who had loaded up their cars with supplies and driven out to help. They were motivated not only by a heartfelt empathy for those chased from their homes by fire but, most tragically, by a lack of faith in a hollowed-out, austerity-ravaged state to meet victims’ basic needs in the disaster’s aftermath.

As grief has turned to anger, the parallels with last summer’s Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 71 lives are becoming increasingly apparent. The more we learn, the more we realise these are not freak accidents: the unacceptable death tolls in both the Athens seaside town and the Kensington tower block are a direct result of neoliberal government policies; a withered state that abandoned its people and left them to burn. These are the fires of austerity. And, as always, the charred remains are those of people like us.... See more