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Showing posts from April, 2012

Leveson Inquiry

Bernard Ingham (press secretary) wrote to Mrs Thatcher, minuting the discussion at her lunch with Rupert Murdoch on 4 January 1981.

Mr Murdoch tells Mrs Thatcher of his intent to buy The Times and TheSunday Times and the difficulties that he might experience in the form of the unions. He states he is uncertain of his ability: 'to crack a particularly tough nut in the form of the chapel leadership of the clerical staff who had extracted high pay and a short working week'. The letter ends: 'The Prime Minister thanked Mr. Murdoch for keeping her posted on his operations. She did no more than wish him well in his bid, noting the need for much improved arrangements in Fleet Street affecting manning and the introduction of new technology.'
In evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Wednesday 25 April 2012, Rupert Murdoch claimed he 'didn't have the will to crush the unions. I might have had the desire, but that took several years.'
Spokesman Books publish Bad News: Th…

Plan B and beyond

Dexter Whitfield argues that Compass’s alternative economic strategy, Plan B, is not enough. (Red Pepper)

As 2011 wore on, the coalition’s economic failures accumulated in a growing pile of dismal statistics: the cuts were causing the economy to contract, debt to grow and creating a lasting damage to the social fabric. But what was there to challenge the coalition’s Tina (‘there is no alternative’) narrative? With the Labour Party failing decisively to set forth an economic programme that is either convincing or progressive, the need for civil society to deliver an alternative is clear and urgent.

The most significant effort to this end so far is Plan B: a good economy for a good society, launched by Compass in October. It contains proposals to kick start the economy with a modern industrial policy, create a fairer tax system, increase state-led investment via a British Investment Bank, reform financial regulations and advance a social investment state. Supported by over 100 economists…

John Arden (1930 - 2012)

The playwright and novelist, John Arden, has died, age 81. He was a great writer, and long-time friend and supporter of the work of the Russell Foundation. In recent years, he campaigned against the use of Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland as a transit for US military heading to Afghanistan, Iraq and other theatres of war, contrary to the requirements of Ireland's international status as a neutral country. These campaigns also highlighted the use of Shannon for secret "rendition" of prisoners in the so-called "war on terror", who might be tortured on arrival at their destination, as revealed by the Council of Europe.

In 2009, John Arden produced a glorious collection of stories entitled Gallows and Other Tales of Suspicion and Obession, which mingles black comedy with melodrama to probe the underside of Irish and English history from the 17th century to the 21st.

He is the author of a variety of plays, including All Fall Down, which appeared in 1955, Serjean…

Speeches by Tony Benn

“Political speeches delivered at public meetings are in the oldest tradition of democratic debate; and they have retained their importance in the labour movement.

They are a part of the process of mutual education by which the people discuss and learn from their own experience.

These speeches, together with some articles and memoranda written over the years, record at least as much about what I have learned as about what I have tried to expound.

Some of the views expressed do not stand up so well to the test of time. Many are now widely accepted in the movement and outside.

Political arguments tend to be most sterile when they are confined within the limits of conventional wisdom and rotate around the personalities involved in them. The most fruitful are those parallel, analytical debates, rooted in our daily experience, which offer alternative explanations of that experience and open up different perspectives for the future.

Many of the speeches reproduced in this volume were intended to …