Oliver Kearns: What does it mean to say rap music causes riots?

(originally posted at: I couldn't resist looking briefly at how music has been brought into analysis (such as it is) of the riots in London & elsewhere. (I'll begin though, with a disclaimer: I am no expert on the music that's been discussed. Neither, though, are most of the people who've been talking about Read more…

Oliver Kearns: Work is not a social policy: challenging the coalition gov’s ‘welfare reforms’

“Never again will work be the wrong financial choice. Never again will we waste opportunity. We're finally going to make work pay – especially for the poorest people in society.” With these words David Cameron unveiled his new welfare reform bill, seen as the most radical shake-up of Britain's welfare system in decades. The bill's Read more…

Oliver Kearns: Libya: ‘protecting civilians’ vs ‘supporting the rebels’

Debate on the Left about foreign intervention in Libya has thus far focused on three main actors: Qadhafi, 'the rebels' and 'the West'. The legitimacy of or justification for the military campaign now being led by NATO has been defended or critiqued mainly using these three referents. Was Qadhafi ever a progressive? What are the Read more…

Oliver Kearns: The “middle class mob”: press coverage of Saturday’s UK Uncut action

Discourses around protests develop pretty quickly such that it's tricky to try to disrupt them. It took a real concerted effort on the part of activists to change the discourse around the G20 London summit in 2009 from protester violence to police violence. I vividly remember my anger as the media, having been barred from Read more…

Oliver Kearns: British aid: “value for money” – but what values?

A year and a half ago, the then-opposition leader David Cameron announced the so-called MyAid plan for Britain's development policy. The idea is to the get the British public involved in policy by letting them vote on ten ongoing Department for International Development (DfID) projects. The voting would determine where £40m-worth of Britain's aid budget Read more…

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