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LAST year, Isaac Hughes-Dennis was excluded from school for “political extremism.”
His “offence”? Delivering a speech as part of his English language GCSE course in which he lambasted school staff and authorities for failing to take action to stop the bullying of LGBT+ students.
As those in charge were doing nothing about the issue, students themselves would take action, he declared, ending with the words: “Welcome to the revolution!”
Those words are also the title of Isaac’s self-penned debut album and the songs on it give a pretty clear indication of the political beliefs of the 16-year-old, who describes himself as a “politi-folk comedy musician and occasional magician.”
The nine tracks, many of them gems, include great lines such as: “Enslave the Tories/Lock them up in cages/And only pay them minimum wages.”
Another, imagining a teenage Jesus growing up today, exhorts him to: “Go behind the bike shed for a little smoke/Then turn the water into vodka and Coke.”
At 15, Isaac was teaching music while still attending secondary school in West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley as well as producing his first CD. His main instrument is the ukulele, but he is accomplished on others, including the piano.
He’s a member of performers’ union Equity and, having now left school, he’ll soon be attending music college in Manchester.
For one so young, he’s already got an impressive performance track record, appearing at a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the TUC and for Aslef — “I’ll do anything else the TUC want me to do,” he says — as well as May Day celebrations at the legendary Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He’ll also be playing at Morning Star fundraisers.
A committed anti-fascist, Isaac has taken part in protests against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson,” and performed at anti-fascist concerts and festivals.
At an Extinction Rebellion demonstration a few weeks ago, he glued his hand to the door of the HSBC branch in Manchester because the bank “has got something like £7 billion invested in coal and fossil fuels – one of the big capitalist organisations funding the global climate crisis.”
Isaac attributes his politics to his parents, Peter Lawrence and Caz Hughes-Dennis, both of whom were involved in the environment movement in the 1990s “and that has carried on with me,” he says. “Now I’ve left school, I’m trying to get more involved in political activities.”
He’s making a pretty good job of it so far.
Those at the older end of the left-activist age spectrum wondering whether new generations of activists will emerge to resist capitalism and its creed of greed, profit and exploitation can rest easy if there are many more like him on the way up.
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