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Rebel Rants

Rebel: a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country; a person who resists any authority.
Rant: to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave: to utter or declaim in a ranting manner; ranting, extravagant, or violent declamation.

WoW’s Rebel Rant Series was launched in 2010 to mark the tenth birthday of the WoW Festival. This unique series brings high profile speakers together with diverse communities to explore and debate important and often difficult, and perhaps controversial issues, and to cut through media sensationalism, fostering community cohesion and a greater understanding of local and global issues. Fantastic audience numbers and positive feedback suggest that the Rebel Rants, in providing a forum for participation and engagement with ideas, fulfil a real need. 

The series began in January 2010 with famed war correspondent, anti sleaze campaigner and former independent MP, Martin Bell who delivered a rant on Democracy Down the Drain? At that time the UK was gripped by the sleaze and scandal linked to MP’s expenses. Martin’s subject, backed up by his book - A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and how to save our democracy, struck a chord with an audience angered at the level of corruption at the very top of the parliamentary ladder.

In February 2009 Germaine Greer took the floor to argue that, for women, Equality is not Enough. A packed house engaged in a lively debate around all issues Feminine as Greer explored the past legacy of The Female Eunuch in the light of the position of women in society today.

In March 2009 Michael Mansfield QC was called upon to talk about Taking Liberties!, giving a curious Liverpool audience the opportunity to get inside one of the great legal minds and justice campaigners of our time.

It was no surprise when Darcus Howe, exploring Race in the UK today, Black Foot on the Backfoot?, delivered one of the most combustible rants so far in April 2010. Ranging across issues from the riots of the ‘80s to current stop-and-search laws, Darcus challenged all there to confront the issues that smoulder below the surface of society today.

Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ was explored by Bonnie Greer in Obama – Is he doing it? in May 2010. Famed for her appearance next to Nick Griffin on Question Time, Bonnie delivered an elegant and strongly argued case to support Obama against a tide of Republicanism criticism one year into his historic presidency.

WoW’s first ever live-streamed event was Peter Tatchell’s  rant delivered in November 2010, arguing that as a society Britain is Not Queer Enough? Peter took on the Vatican, talked about his campaign for civil marriage and inspired a new generation of human rights campaigners.

In February 2011 WoW welcomed veteran broadcaster and Pensioner’s Tsar, Joan Bakewell, for The Silver Revolution – Old age…the age of opportunity? Joan spoke rousingly on issues that affecting the elderly today and on issues they will encounter in the future and argued that old age really is the age of opportunity!

In May 2011 WoW invited the ever controversial Derek Hatton, one of Liverpool’s famous ‘47’ councillors of the Militant 1980s, Derek came to explore the position of the city today in Liverpool: City of Radicals? In a rare foray back into the political sphere he asked and tackled the questions: Can you turn back the clock? Would we do it all again? Is Liverpool still a city of radicals?

Taking the Rebel Rants on tour in November 2011, WoW took number one hip-hop artist, Akala, back to school – Calderstones School to be precise, where he addressed an assembly like no other, rapping and ranting and asking the question on the back of the disturbances in the few months before; were the young people Right to Riot? Year 11 pupils listened and then threw him questions and added their own voice to the debate. A unique Rebel Rant that only WoW can supply was a massive hit with staff and pupils alike.

Benjamin Zephaniah, the nation's favourite living poet, featured in the May 2012 Writing on the Wall Festival, taking on David Cameron's comments on muscular liberalism. Is multiculturalism the new whipping boy for the economic crisis or has it really failed?  Does it undermine western values? What are western values and what does it mean to be British? The fantastic debate took place at St. George's Hall, Multiculturalism or Muscular Liberalism?

Days before the Anti-Austerity demonstration in London on October 20th, Len McCluskey joined WoW for a Rebel Rant, Austerity? My Arse? Len was elected General Secretary of Unite in 2010, promising to ‘campaign against the devastation the Government is unleashing against working people and their communities throughout the land.’ Are we all in it together – or is Austerity Britain for us and not ‘them’ - the bankers and the millionaires? Can the Coalition turn it round or are we all con-demned to spend the next ten years back in Orwell’s Britain of the 1930’s?

Len was introduced by Ricky Tomlinson, who himself is no stranger to working class struggle, having been jailed as one of the ‘Shrewsbury Two’ for his role in the building workers strikes of the seventies.

Media personality, journalist and broadcaster, Janet Street Porter ranted about the rich, the public school elite, and discussed why class still matters in Britain today.

Our latest Rebel Ranter, Owen Jones was standing up and speaking out on issues that have been swept under the carpet for too long. Owen Jones has been at the centre of the big benefits row this year – bedroom tax, austerity and welfare cuts. We know what we’re fighting for but just who are we against?

Watch this space for future Ranters...