Staring into the abyss

by Andy Newman

jo coxSometimes the rush of the commenentariat to express opinions about contemporary events can seem cynical and ill considered. But I was impressed by two articles which must have been written as almost instant reactions to the tragic murder of Jo Cox, one by Alex Massie in the Spectator and one by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. I felt that both writers spoke for me in expressing what I was thinking myself.

The mainstream Brexit referendum campaign has been fought on the ground of immigration and hostility to foreigners. Demagogues from the right and centre right have unleashed the crudest and basest of emotions in a cynical and irresponsible pitch to get their vote out. Continue reading →

EC referendum: socialists should stay in and fight!

by Barry Ewart

EU_map2An excellent article in New Left Review a while back pointed out that the then Common Market was originally set up to counter the then perceived threat of the USSR, to promote capitalism in Europe, and to give Europe a greater say on the World Stage against the hegemony of the US.

In fact it is argued De Gaulle of France was originally against the UK joining because he believed it would act as a Trojan Horse for the US (which eventually happened) and the dollar was soon to dominate which I would add may explain the enthusiasm of some for the Euro. Continue reading →

Englishness and Welshness in the Battle of Britons

by Mark Perryman

adidas-beau-jeu-euro-2016-ball-2 (1)Mark Perryman previews England v Wales as competing versions of nationhood

The traditional ‘Battle of Britain’ match is of course England v Scotland, the very first recognised international football match dating back to 1872 and the most intense of rivalries ever since. The last time two ‘home’ nations met in a major tournament it was again England v Scotland at Euro 96. The spark in so many ways for the break-up-Britain agenda that was to follow the Blair government devolution referendums a year later and latterly transformed into the SNP ‘tartan landslide’. Once derided by Jim Sillars as ‘ninety-minute nationalists’ Scots today are so busy building a nation they can call their own they haven’t much time left over for their under-performing football team, ouch! Continue reading →

The EU referendum – nine days to go

by Peter Rowlands

EU_ballotIs there anything new that can be said about the EU referendum? Probably not, but it is perhaps worth reflecting on a number of aspects of the campaign and its possible different outcomes, given that it is now apparent that there is a serious likelihood that either Brexit or Bremain win, but by a small margin in either case. It looks unlikely that either side will win with a margin large enough ( I would say at least 42/58% ) to be accepted as definitive, as was the case in 1975 ( 33/67% ). This means that it is likely that the losing side would continue campaigning for a future referendum to reverse the result, just as the SNP have done over Scottish independence. Continue reading →

Euro 2016: Never stop us dreaming

by Mark Perryman

1966-10-11-cover-no-flashAs Euro 2016 begins Mark Perryman offers an 11-point plan finally to end England’s years of hurt

Five decades on from England’s solitary tournament triumph and as the team prepare yet another effort to end these proverbial 50 years of hurt at Euro 2016 it seems as good a time as any to consider a diagnosis. Given it is the Football Association as the game’s governing body that is responsible for fulfilling the ambition a decent starting point is to ask what the FA is for? Football writer Barney Ronay provides a very reasonable answer:

The real problem for the FA is that it has no real power. It is essentially a front , a fluttering ceremonial brocade of a national sporting body. Football may be rich and powerful, but the FA exists at one remove from this, like Prince Charles complaining pointlessly about architecture from the sidelines.

Continue reading →

Why Blair is the guy whose face is on the placard

by David Osland

Tony-Blair-war-criminal-posterRichard Nixon famously told a press conference that he was ‘not a crook’. And in the sense that the late US president was never found guilty of anything whatsoever, the statement is factually incontestable.

Likewise, Tony Blair is not a war criminal, even though contention to the contrary is a longstanding commonplace among anti-war campaigners, repeated endlessly on social media to this day. Continue reading →

Remembering Mohammed Ali: boxer, philosopher and poet

by Ann Pettifor

Mohammed AliAnn Pettifor remembers Mohammed Ali with whom she worked in the Jubilee 2000 campaign for cancellation of third world debt

Mohammed Ali – ‘The Greatest’ – died this weekend, at the age of 74. With his loss, the world is deprived of the terrific energy of a principled, devout and committed man. A boxer, a philosopher and a poet. But for those of us who worked hard to achieve the cancellation of about $100 billion of debt for thirty five of the poorest countries, Ali occupies a special place in our hearts. This great man, celebrated around the world, took time out to join us in London in 1999, and to give his backing to our campaign. Continue reading →

It’s time for Labour to pull together

by Chris Williamson

workers unitedThe outcome of the local elections last month saw Labour’s tally fall just 18 short of the number of seats won in 2012. That was a remarkable achievement given the run-up to the elections could hardly have been any worse.

Labour’s internal arguments inevitably dominated the headlines as prominent malcontents seemed determined to systematically sabotage the party’s election campaign. The worst, but by no means the only, offender was John Mann, whose stage-managed outburst against Ken Livingstone gave the hostile newspapers the perfect excuse to focus on Labour’s travails. These Labour renegades are small in number, but big in terms of their connections in the media. Continue reading →

Fly on the wall documentary “Jeremy Corbyn: The Outsider” (video)

by Newsdesk

For the last two months, a film crew from Vice.com have had behind the scenes access to Jeremy Corbyn and his team. This is the result.

Football: Catching up with Portugal

by Mark Perryman

1966-10-11-cover-no-flash50 years ago England beat Portugal in the ’66 World Cup but Mark Perryman argues English decline has left England racing to keep up with their Euro rivals

Thursday night’s pre-Euro England friendly versus Portugal is bound to provoke a 50th anniversary revisiting of England’s best match of the ’66 World Cup. No, not the much feted final, rather many would argue it was the semi against Portugal. Eventual Golden Boot winner, awarded to the tournament’s top goal-scorer, Eusébio, was in his superlative pomp with the 82nd minute penalty he scored pushing England all the way. Never mind though, the contribution of Bobby Charlton to England’s campaign has tended to be overshadowed by Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick in the Final but it was Bobby’s brace that saved England in the semi, the team running out eventual 2-1 winners. Continue reading →

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