Author Archives: socialjusticefirst

By Kasey Barber

Once peaceful and beautiful (photo by: Ahmed.aea.99/wikipedia)

Once peaceful and beautiful (photo by: Ahmed.aea.99/wikipedia)

Tonight the Leader of the Labour Party meets with the Parliamentary Labour Party in a Committee Room of the Houses of Parliament to debate this very question.

The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, following the attack on the streets of Beirut and the bombing of a Russian plane above Egypt, have forced David Cameron and other world leaders to revise their policies for combating Daesh. The international nature of this challenge is indicated clearly by the previous sentence. Nowhere, it seems, is safe from the reach of Daesh militants.

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By Richard Howitt MEP

Richard Howitt, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

Richard Howitt, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

“Killing people to show people that killing people is wrong.”

It should be the very definition of insanity but it is, in fact, a criminal punishment that remains on statute books around the world.

But it gets worse, because the death penalty is used in Saudi Arabia for adultery, in North Korea for theft and in numerous countries, from Pakistan to Indonesia, as a punishment for drugs offences.

This is despite the fact that use of the death penalty for anything less than “serious offences” is illegal under international law.

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by Kevin Smith

New Year’s resolutions offer us the chance to give up various things. When it comes to human rights, we should hang on to what we’re doing well.

It’s a new year, and with the flipping of the calendar page comes the usual push to change, to reform, to be better. I will drink less. I will eat less. I will exercise more. The resolution revolution is upon us.

Needless to say, pondering my could-be-healthier lifestyle got me thinking about human rights. Yes, you’re right – it’s a tenuous link, but hear me out.


Ultimately, governments who care about human rights and try to meet their obligations under human rights law face similar challenges to individuals trying to stay in shape. It’s a constant battle: there is no one-session solution, whether in Parliament or in the gym. Doing the right thing can be painful. Regulating one’s own behaviour requires not only will-power, but long-term thinking. Not doing the right thing might be more convenient in the moment, but ultimately, could lead to shame and embarrassment.

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By Sam Tomlin

So much has been made of Labour’s apparent inability to speak to ‘ordinary people’ in the past weeks and months that it is barely worth repeating.

It has also become clear, however, that the UKIP surge, is built on more than social issues such as immigration (although it is not exactly the strategy to deal with this by parodying this fear as Emily Thornberry found last week). Owen Jones’ insightful article the other day showed how economic grievances are just as prevalent among UKIP voters as immigration as the chart beneath illustrates.UKIPLabour’s inability to tap into these feelings is certainly worrying and is almost certainly a hang-over from the Blair years in more ways than one. The metropolitan liberalism of the party elite is a factor in its apparent disconnection from the working class, but so is its fear of upsetting big business. Read More

By Sophie Caldecott

There’s something rotten at the heart of the fashion industry. We all know it, but we don’t know what to do about it. The Rana Plaza factory collapse of April 2013 in Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 men, women, and children dead, and over 2500 injured, was just one amongst many headlines in recent years that has forced us all to face the fact that pretty much every high street purchase we make has a questionable moral impact.


But how are we, as shoppers who care, supposed to know which brands are good and which are bad, if even the most well-meaning companies in the market do not know themselves? It’s not realistic to expect everyone to buy absolutely everything locally from craftspeople we can physically meet; and anyway, we don’t want to take industry away from markets abroad. Ideally we would be preserving craftsmanship and the economy on both a local and a global scale.

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By Antoine Cerisier & Marc Morgan

The 2014 London Conference on Rethinking Economics

The 2014 London Conference on Rethinking Economics

In the last weekend of June, we attended the Rethinking Economics Conference organised at UCL by the grassroots student association of the same name. Rethinking Economics is a global network of students that, together with other student associations from around the world, crafted the open letter that formed the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics in May 2014. The London conference brought together frustrated academics and students from numerous countries to debate the sorry state of the economics academic discipline. Adair Turner and Ha-Joon Chang made keynote addresses on either end of two days that sought on the one hand to rethink standard concepts and research methodologies, while on the other to introduce marginalised perspectives by largely heterodox-leaning economists. Curriculum reform, admitting pluralism, was the overarching objective of the conference, which clearly sought to displace neoclassical economics from the royal box of economic investigation.

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By Criminonymous

“I’m so discouraged when the papers say the future is hell…”
“But no! They just play on people’s fear because they know that it sells!”
“Well… I’m so discouraged when the government looks after itself…”
“But no! Their duplicity’s not forever a given!”
It’s just so easy to get discouraged by the world that we live in
So many breaches of trust result in feelings of pessimism
That’s why it’s crucial that we recognise civility and decency
In families, communities of people living peacefully
In history, we only ever learn about the minority at war
While harmony among nonviolent majorities is always ignored
And yet, for every act of cruelty that leads to a death
A million peaceful interactions go unnoticed, and yes
That’s why we should be positive!
Because belligerence just isn’t representative
We tolerate it now, but soon we’ll find a balance to suit us
It’s the aggressors, not the utopians, who are the most deluded
We’re on the verge of huge change in every part of our perspectives
In the past, we’ve not been sure enough to make our challenge effective
Now, for every policy taking us in the wrong direction
A thousand members of civil society have used reflective methods
To determine collectively how best to achieve ethical objectives
To work out the most direct ways to lessen the use of weapons
And improve social outcomes on virtually all metrics
Society is hectic
Time flies by, so unrelenting
Progress is not a given
Our generation has to work to make it
But when that opportunity comes
I’m encouraged that we’ll take it