Is Corbynism a 21st century version of Bennism?

In an exclusive and edited extract from the new book The Corbyn Effect Mark Perryman argues there are similarities but important differences too.

Alan Freeman in his 1982 book The Benn Heresy described the mood in the Labour Party while Jeremy Corbyn was getting ready to stand for the first time as Labour’s candidate for Islington North:

Benn now had grounds for hope. The left seemed on the verge of complete triumph. It looked as if only the last bastion – the PLP – needed to be conquered, and with the right wing packing its bags and reselection entrenched in the constitution, this would surely fall in time.”

It didn’t quite turn out like that. First the SDP split then the 1983, 1987 and 1992 defeats and finally Blairist-Brownite New Labour. Throughout these years the Bennite Left was in headlong decline. Thoroughly marginalised, by the time Jeremy stood for leader its parliamentary faction, The Campaign Group, barely existed and was seriously considering its continuing existence. Continue reading

Making an Art of Revolution

Mark Perryman invites us to wear our dancing shoes to celebrate the October 1917 centenary 

To sort of coin a phrase ‘ How do you solve a problem like VI Lenin?’ As the centenary of the October revolution fast approaches the accolades provided by the likes of the Royal Academy, British Library and Design Museum exhibitions will be cleared away and the politics take centre-stage. We’ve already had an inkling of what to expect with the aftermath from Charlottesville sparking the moral equivalence brigade spouting their your communism was just as bad as their Nazism yah-boo sucks effort at intellectual debate. Continue reading

Were You Still Up For? Summer post-election reads

The shock of the General Election hasn’t even begun to settle down. Mark Perryman recommends summer reads to help grapple with interesting times. 

The audacity of hope versus the mendacity of the weak n wobbly. Twenty years ago it took until the early hours before that ‘were you still up for Portillo’ moment established the sheer scale of the Tories’ meltdown. Two decades on this was different. Firstly, the indicator, the exit poll, came a whole lot earlier leaving viewers with hour after hour of ‘surprise’ results to look forward to. Secondly, Labour’s triumph, despite missing the overall majority, was both so unexpected and based on such a radical appeal.   Continue reading

Nothing to lose but our chains: Marx on cycling

As the annual cycling spectacle of the Tour De France begins Mark Perryman argues the case for two wheels good

Who would have guessed it. Karl Marx was clearly a bike mechanic when he wasn’t plotting the downfall of capitalism. “Nothing to lose but your chains” is handy advice when the derailleur slips and furious pedalling propels bike and rider precisely nowhere. Ok, Marx was more interested in liberating the workers of the world than the freedom of the road though with committed cycle-commuter Jeremy Corbyn quite possibly in need of a Downing Street bike rack soon there doesn’t seem a better time to make the case for cycling as the people’s sport. Continue reading

A Riot of Our Own

8th April is the 40th Anniversary of The Clash’s debut album. Mark Perryman asks what the 1977 punk and politics mix was all about.

The birth of punk for most is dated on or round 1976 with the November release  that year of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK with both music and movement kickstarted into the ‘filth and fury’ headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview.

More Situationist than Anarchist Rotten and the rest were of course key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar The Damned, Manchester’s Buzzcocks and the more trad rock Stranglers. Giving the boys’ bands a run for their money The Slits pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their Typical Girls track quite unlike what the others were recording. Continue reading