Beatrice Webb, co-founder of the New Statesman.
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Promoted

New Statesman and the Webb Memorial Trust Essay Competition

Essay competition run by the New Statesman and the Webb Memorial Trust. First prize: £1,000.

The Competition

All interested young people are invited to submit an essay of no more than 2,500 words answering the following question:

The question this year is;

How can business reduce poverty?

The deadline is 22 October 2014.

The winning essay will be published prominently in the New Statesman magazine and on our award-winning website at Christmas.

A first prize of £1,000 will be awarded to the winner. The runner-up will receive £500.

Entrants must be between 18 and 25 years of age.

The results will be announced at an awards reception in London in December (all those whose entries are shortlisted will be invited).

 

Please submit your entry to Roxanne Mashari at info@appgpoverty.org.uk

Submitted entries will be judged by a panel including:

Richard Rawes (Chair, Webb Memorial Trust)

Jason Cowley (Editor, New Statesman)

Paul Hackett (Director, Smith Institute)

Lord Kinnock (Labour peer)

Kate Green MP (Chair, APPG Poverty)

More to be announced

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The Webb Memorial Trust shares a rich history of collaboration with this magazine. Beatrice Webb co-founded the New Statesman in 1913 with her husband, Sidney Webb, the socialist campaigner who became a Labour MP in 1922. In recent years our associated ventures have included supplements tackling issues of poverty and inequality in the UK today, with contributions from leading think-tank directors, heads of charities and policymakers.

In February 2012 the New Statesman, supported by the trust, produced a 15-page policy report that questioned not whether the government should be tackling poverty, but how. Kate Green MP, Chris White MP, Andrew Harrop and Paul Hackett were among the advisers and legislators who made the case for a fairer society.

In March 2013 we produced a second supplement, which focused on the myths about poverty that are grabbing headlines. How accurate are the perceptions of “benefit scroungers” and what effects do these attitudes have on those living below the poverty line? Christian Guy, Kate Henderson, Alison Garnham, Deborah Hargreaves and others discussed low pay, in-work poverty and the social housing stigma, highlighting proactive projects that have made a difference.

This year we collaborated on a third supplement debating whether civil society rather than the state should be the driving force behind the alleviation of poverty. Kenny Imafidon, Ruth Lister, Max Wind-Cowie, Paul Bunyan and John Diamond all contributed ideas on wider society could do to have a real impact, independent of government.

Never has the work of the trust been more important. Tough economic conditions, rising use of zero hours contracts and cuts to the welfare state have put more people than ever at risk of living in poverty. The New Statesman is proud to be partnered with this great institution.

The two supplements can be downloaded from the New Statesman website at: newstatesman.com/page/supplements.

 

 

 

 

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Marvel has moved past the post-credits teaser, and it's all the better for it

Individual stories are suddenly taking precedence over franchise building.

The lasting contribution of 2008’s Iron Man to contemporary cinema comes not from the content of the film itself, but in its Avengers-teasing post-credits scene featuring an eyepatch-sporting Samuel L. Jackson. While post-credits scenes were not invented by Marvel, their widespread adoption in other blockbusters is a testament to Marvel using them to titillate and frustrate.

Fast forward nine years and Marvel’s direction has significantly altered. Having moved to a three-film-a-year structure ahead of next year’s climactic Infinity War, their two releases this summer have featured less explicit connective tissue, using post-credits scenes that are, in typical Marvel fashion, self-reflexive and fun – but this time with no teases for films to come.

Where previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films have trailed characters donning superhero mantles, confrontations to come, or more light-hearted team ups, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 decided to lovingly poke fun at Marvel grandmaster Stan Lee, leaving him stranded on a godforsaken space rock in the outer reaches of the stars. Spider-Man: Meanwhile Homecoming targeted filmgoers who had stayed until the end in expectation of a tease, only to receive a Captain America educational video on the virtues of “patience”.

That isn’t to say that connective tissue isn’t there. Marvel seems to be pursuing world building not through post-credits stingers, but through plot and character. In the past, teasing how awful big bad Thanos is ahead of the Avengers battling him in Infinity War would have been done through a menacing post-credits scene, as in both Avengers films to date. Instead Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 uses character as a tool to explore the world at large.

Nebula’s seething rage is, rather than just a weak excuse for an antagonist’s arc, actually grounded in character, explaining to Sean Gunn’s loveable space pirate Kraglin that Thanos would pit his daughters, her and Gamora, against each other, and replace a part of her body with machine each time she failed – and she failed every time. It’s effective. Thanos’ menace is developed, and you feel sympathy for Nebula, something Marvel has historically failed to do well for its antagnoists. Her parting promise – to kill her father – not only foreshadows the events of Infinity War, but also hints at the conclusion of a fully formed arc for her character.

In the high-school-set Spider-Man: Homecoming, the stakes quite rightly feel smaller. The inexperienced wall-crawler gets his chance to save the day not with the galaxy at risk, but with an equipment shipment owned by Iron Man alter-ego and billionaire inventor Tony Stark hanging in the balance. While such a clear metaphor for widespread change in the MCU might be a little on the nose, the set-up is effective at plaing the film at street level while also hinting at overall changes to the structure of the universe.

Stark gifting Peter a new (and oh so shiny) suit is a key set piece at the end of the film, whereas in 2015's Ant-Man’s Hope Pym inheriting her mother’s own miniaturising suit it is relegated to a teaser. Peter’s decision to turn it down not only completes Peter’s transition past seeking the approval of Stark’s unwitting father figure, but it also leaves the Avengers in an as-yet unknown state, still fragmented and incomplete after the events of 2016’s Civil War. To anticipate Spider-Man joining the Avengers proper is to anticipate the forming of the team as a whole – keeping our collective breath held until we stump up for tickets to Infinity War.

With this happy marriage of the macro and the micro, individual stories are suddenly taking precedence in the MCU, rather than being lost in the rush to signpost the foundations for the next instalment in the franchise. It’s a refreshingly filmic approach, and one which is long overdue. To suggest that Marvel is hesitant to overinflate Infinity War too early is supported by their refusal to share the footage of the film screened to audiences at the D23 and San Diego Comic Con events in recent weeks. Instead, the limelight is staying firmly on this November’s Thor: Ragnarok, and next February’s Black Panther.

Stan Lee, at the end of his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post credits scene, cries, “I’ve got so many more stories to tell!”, a hopeful counterpoint to a weary Captain America asking “How many more of these are there?” at the end of Homecoming. With Disney having planned-out new MCU releases all the way into 2020, entries in the highest-grossing franchise of all time won’t slow any time soon. We can, at least, hope that they continue their recent trend of combining writerly craft with blockbuster bombast. While the resulting lack of gratuitousness in Marvel’s storytelling might frustrate in the short term, fans would do well to bear in mind Captain America’s call for patience.