What have been the most significant successes for social justice over the last 20 years and what are the biggest challenges and opportunities coming up?

2016 has been a momentous year with issues of social justice at the forefront of debates around Brexit and global migration. It is also the year in which Policy Press is celebrating 20 years of publishing to help bring about social change and the launch of University of Bristol Press, an exciting new university press. On 5 December 2016, Melissa Benn, Danny Dorling, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Owen Jones look at the issues and suggest possible solutions.

Audience members have been asked to submit their questions in advance so as many as possible can be answered on the night. Here are those that had been received by 1 December, grouped by theme.


Does the outcome of the Brexit vote demonstrate that our current political parties do not reflect the true social, cultural, economic and political divisions in our society?

How do we overcome the spread of prejudice following Brexit?

How should we, as people dedicated to social justice, move forwards within the new context of Brexit?

How will a ‘Hard Brexit’ affect society in general, and what can be done to prevent the most vulnerable being hit hardest?

What impact will leaving the European Union have on social justice?

Media/ Social Media

To what extent is the traditional media helping or hindering the problem and solutions going forwards?

How far can social media help spread the message of social justice and be taken seriously in doing so?

How can we work to counter the messages of hate and fear spread by elements of the UK media, about immigration for example, which arguably did much damage in the run up to the EU referendum?

Can socialist movements such as Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn ever truly succeed in a society dominated by right leaning, Capitalist media? Or will they forever be left shouting form the sidelines?

Political Parties

Thoughts on whether Jeremy Corbyn has a chance of winning in 2020? (Asked by a Corbyn supporter)

Do you think that by re-electing Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party has compromised their stand against social injustice due to the allegations of anti-Semitism surrounding him?

Why is social justice associated with the labour party and not the conservative party when the reality is mixed?

Which political party has done or is doing the most to improve social justice?

The Future of the Left

Do you see the fragmentation of the Left as a possible hindrance to social justice in the future?

Does the Left have a future in Britain?

Where is the Left going?

How would a government of the radical left overcome the obstacle of WTO and EU single market rules, and certain free trade deals, that effectively outlaw many policies of state economic intervention? Would it have to abandon these organisations, if reform from within turned out to be impossible?

Is it possible to have a socialist government in a globally competitive world and if so what would it look like?

Why is the western world becoming more right wing?

In recent times, the Right has proved very skilled at defining the terms of debate, and the Left has repeatedly fallen into the trap of making arguments within the parameters set by the Right. How do we reverse this?


Can grammar schools ever provide a system by which social justice can be delivered?

Do universities impact upon social injustice, and if so, how?

C S Lewis once said ‘Education without values, as useful as it is, makes seems rather to make man a more clever devil’ – how important do you think the universality of a self-enhancing education is to curb the harmful disparity between the powerless and powerful?

Employment and the Welfare System

Do you think that a Universal Basic Income is something that the Left should be working towards?

How can workers rights be protected in the future with companies increasingly using agencies?

Our welfare system faces many different challenges than those which existed at the time of Beveridge. Is our system still fit for purpose or would a complete overhaul be more effective in tackling some of the key issues like working poor? Should the welfare state still be the key actor to intervene?


Does the housing crisis represent the single greatest challenge to social justice and are rent caps and a land value tax the only effective policy instruments that can tackle this crisis?


Do you think that social equality advances and awareness that have happened within the LGBT community covers all sections of it?

Do you think the LGBT community nationally, and globally, will have the same social justice as everyone else eventually?

Cooperation/ Communalism / Overcoming Isolation

In a world of ever increasing connectivity, how best to go about creating the cooperation between different social justice projects/groups which is needed to tackle complex issues and inequalities?

Some communities in the UK are increasingly feeling isolated and ignored. How can we overcome this and reignite feelings of empowerment and acceptance in our societies?

As one of the main causes of mental health is loneliness and isolation is there anyway we can make our culture more collectivist or is individualism now ingrained in us at birth?

What, if anything, do you think about the path towards greater social justice using the politics of communalism as shown in the revolution of Rojava in northern Syria?

What strategies can we employ to overcome the individualism sold to the public via threats of our powerlessness in the face globalisation, in particular; how do we reach out to the often busy, tired members of the public and persuade them that we need to fight together for social justice, not blame constructed scapegoats of the unemployed or the immigrant?

Making Progress

Does protest have value even if it doesn’t produce tangible outcomes? (e.g. ‘Tories Out!’ protests after the election) How do we move from protest to progress?

How do we create a kinder society?

If you could invite us to do one thing/focus on one campaign/initiative what would it be?

It’s been a problem for years that’s not got better. Is gradual, reformist change ever going to be enough? What will it take to challenge and achieve real progress?

What are the proactive steps we can take to help build social mobility in our society?

What one thing would transform the outlook for disadvantaged children and communities?


What do you think the reason behind inequality in developed countries is? Are developed countries examples of good governance?

Even if you achieve a place at a prestigious university like Bristol, does the class you were born into still affect your life chances?

How can the law help with social justice?

How do you deliver social justice to the children of war zones? Where is our responsibility in helping them recover from PTSD?

In terms of the government’s attempt and failure to bring about a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ (see their 2013 report on transforming rehabilitation), what do you think is the most appropriate, long-lasting and successful way to rehabilitate ex offenders back into society to reduce re-offending rate?

Is cultural appropriation limiting our ability to embrace other cultures?

Is it better to rely on the community-driven voluntary and charity sector to redress the balance and deliver social justice, than a government made up of people many of us did not vote for? If so, is it time we reduced taxes and encouraged/required charitable giving instead?

How do you counter Alt-Right and Far Right opposition?

Do you think the revitalisation of the commons provides a viable alternative to state or private interests and part of the solution to inequality? How can commons be both open and bounded?

What does social justice actually mean by definition, and what does it mean to you in particular and why?

Will globalisation, more porous borders and trade liberalisation help or hinder social justice?

With immigration policy now driving economic policy, and the Left not trusted on welfare and competence, social justice has fallen ever further down the agenda. Is the battle for social justice, and a progressive government, lost for the next decade?

Are humans purveyors of justice or injustice?

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