New Statesman (1996)

Articles from Vol. 139, No. 4994, March 29

1974 Had Hung Differently
With commentators beside themselves at the prospect of a hung parliament in May, many have raised the spectre of the February 1974 election, when Ted Heath asked voters to choose between the government and the miners. But surprisingly few have reminded...
3. Progressive
When did everyone become a progressive? When did progressive become a noun? If you think this election is going to be characterised by battles over public spending, you are wrong. It is about who is actually a progressive--forward-looking, liberal,...
Beware the Second Dip
Alistair Darling has delivered his last Budget before the election. The Chancellor had a little room to manoeuvre, given that claims for unemployment benefits have not been as high as was feared and the take from the tax on bankers' bonuses has been...
Big Society, Smarter State, Little Hope
Of the many spivvy brags by the veteran Labour politicians who were secretly filmed by Channel 4 peddling their influence, the saddest was Geoff Hoon's assertion that, once parliament is dissolved, he will have nothing to do. "I'm yours," the former...
Crash and Burn: Greece Is Engulfed in Crisis-And Its Battles Have Only Just Begun
Greeks do a good job of cleaning up. Over the past month, municipal workers have been on a mission to rid Athens of the angry slogans that appear overnight. These range from "Ugly cities burn beautifully" to "Let the plutocracy pay for the crisis"...
Darling's Last Stand: He's Fought off Enemies within and Earned a Reputation as a Man for a Crisis. but, within Weeks, the Chancellor May Just Walk Away
When Alistair Darling sat down to pats on the back from his cabinet colleagues on 24 March, this modest Chancellor could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of what Americans call "closure". Darling, New Labour's improbable survivor, had just delivered...
Dave'n'Sam's Exciting Election Bump
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace ... It is not certain that the blessed...
For the Love of Liberty: How Can We Ensure Our MPs Don't Abandon the Freedoms Won by Milton, Wilkes and Paine? Geoffrey Robertson Puts the Case for a British Bill of Rights
Bonfire of the Liberties: New Labour, Human Rights and the Rule of Law K D Ewing Oxford University Press, 336pp, [pounds sterling]19.99 In what now seems another age, Keith Ewing co-authored a book entitled Freedom Under Thatcher--the joke...
Have a Nice World War, Folks
Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, "bunker-buster"...
I'm a Receipt Offender
At King's Cross, starving and honour-bound never to buy anything from Burger King ever again (see my column from a few weeks ago), I go to the West Country Pasty Company stall and buy a sausage roll. My issue is not so much with the product itself,...
In Sickness and in Health
When did you last meet someone with polio? It's possible that you never have. Although there are an estimated 120,000 people who have had polio living in the UK, the most recent natural infection with the virus happened in 1982. Such is the power of...
Insight into Politics
Political studies as a university discipline in the UK is relatively new. Nevertheless, British expertise in both politics and the allied field of international relations has been rated world class. This reflects, in part, the impact of the discipline's...
Kingdom Come: Can Jeremy Irons Save This Modern Take on Lear?
The Gods Weep Hampstead Theatre, London Literalism is a word that goes well with the qualifier "deadly". In The Gods Weep, Dennis Kelly has taken the cliche of "blood on the carpet", often used journalistically to describe boardroom bust-ups,...
Labour Greed, Priests and School Meals
Tony Benn used to tell us that politics should be about "ishoos, not pershonalities". Now that party differences on issues have become inscrutable, personality is the best way of judging whether someone is worthy of support. And frankly, I never liked...
Men in Tights: Ryan Gilbey Thinks He's Seen Parts of This Superhero Caper Somewhere Before
Kick-Ass (15) dir: Matthew Vaughn There is more disreputable fun to be had watching the Day-Glo action-comedy Kick-Ass than anything else currently on release. But for all that the picture resembles an adventurous revision of the superhero movie,...
"Michael Gove? He Almost Makes Me Want to Vote Tory"
As a bookish type, are you happy to have spent so much of your career in television? Oh, I love telly. It's instant, and it's collaborative, and you have an audience that you would kill for as a writer. Books and telly don't cancel each other out;...
Money Can't Buy You Cups
Rich people are mean. That's how they got rich. Keeping an eye on the coppers. Doesn't mean they aren't also self-indulgent, wasteful, spendthrift, extravagant--throwing money around on their pleasures and hobbies and status. But while doing all that,...
Nanny Doesn't Know Best: The Welfare State, Intended to Improve Everyone's Lives, Has Had a Malign Effect on Equality. We Need a New Compromise between State Socialism and Naked Capitalism: Voluntary Co-Operation May Be the Answer
Over most of the past century, the liberal democracies of the west were distinguished from totalitarian regimes in eastern and central Europe--communist, but also at one time fascist and National Socialist--by representative government and a rule of...
Not a Drop to Drink: As the World Approaches "Peak Water", Social Instability and Conflict Will Inevitably Follow
When you stare down into the clear blue of a swimming pool in Cyprus, threats of water shortages seem distant. Cyprus was once the prized possession of empires, but today the effort needed to water the island poses problems soon to be faced by other...
Obama's Pyrrhic Victory
Yes, President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare reform bill was a real watershed for the US, I enthusiastically told the lady from BBC Radio the day after the bill squeaked through the House. History will compare it to LBJ's historic Civil Rights Act...
Opera Babe: Discovering Verdi's Music Marked a Turning Point for Rufus Wainwright. He Talks to Suzy Klein about Death, Failed Love and Why We Need Saving from Lady Gaga
Rufus Wainwright, the widely acknowledged master of a generation of songwriters and producer of a string of cult hits, is not best pleased to be talking to me in an airless room in Sadler's Wells, London. He is looking unusually ruffled, as he has...
Party for Your Right to Fight: As the Political Studies Association Unveils the 20 Greatest Protest Songs, Mark Fisher Asks If Music Can Change the World If Our Songs Remain the Same
The idea that music can change the world now seems hopelessly naive. Thirty years of neoliberalism have convinced us that there is no alternative; that nothing will ever change. Political stasis has put music in its place: music might "raise awareness"...
Politics Is Not a Parlour Game: Roy Hattersley Responds to Anthony Barnett's Essay "Hang' Em"
Much of Anthony Barnett's "Hang 'em" (NS Essay, 22 March) is so absurd that it is hard to believe that the author--usually a thoughtful man--regarded it as anything but a way of provoking other radicals into expressing more creative and realistic judgements...
Rebecca Goldstein
Do you ever worry whether writing novels is what you ought to be doing? Oh, yes, always. I think that this anxiety is finally quieted, but it does compel me to write a certain kind of novel. I always have to justify it to myself when I write a novel,...
Sam Gets Ready to Stand by Her Pram
In 1992, a year before her husband became president of the United States, Hillary Clinton accompanied him to a TV interview in which he was quizzed about his alleged affair with Gennifer Flowers. Hillary wore a demure turquoise suit and a black Alice...
Sneer Today: Antonia Quirke Blames Radio 4 Presenters for Our Disgruntalism
Today, Woman's Hour, In Our Time Radio 4 A quick word about the high-horsing on Radio 4. This morning, Justin Webb (Today, 22 March, 6am) opened his interview with the perfectly pleasant writer of a superhero movie with: "There's a lot of swearing...
Sweet Nothings: Sophie Dahl Is Running out of Recipes Fast, Writes Rachel Cooke
The Delicious Miss Dahl BBC2 Sophie Dahl says that she has always been interested in food, "primarily because I've always been interested in eating it". Hmm. Doth the lady protest too much? Eating is, I think, central to the whole food experience,...
The 20 Greatest Political Songs: New Statesman Readers and Members of the Political Studies Association Have Nominated Their Favourite Political Songs of All Time. Here Are the Results
Woody Guthrie This Land Is Your Land (1940) Guthrie's post-Depression folk song reached its zenith when it was performed at Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in January 2009. The Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela (1984) Jerry Dammers's song...
The Death of the Nuclear Family
Of all the dangers of a hung parliament, the lights going out is not thought to be one of them. Yet this could be the perverse result, if the Liberal Democrats end up holding the balance of power and insist on halting the UK's nuclear new-build programme...
The Landline That Time Forgot
The spate of recent news stories about the dangers of social networking has only served to remind me how dizzyingly quickly communications have moved on since I was young--a chilling four-word phrase which, having turned 30, I'm now legally entitled...
The Lost Boys Aren't Just in My Head
There is a cast of characters I carry around in my head. There is Anna, an addict, heavily made up, in her flat empty of anything save a bed, a TV, a sofa floating above a sea of rubbish, an overflowing ashtray and half a bottle of whisky. Most of...
The NS Crossword by Otterden
A refraining refrain is titled around the edge of the diagram, clockwise from top left (4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 3). Within the puzzle are four of the words posed alternatively in the song. Their clues are marked * and do not contain a definition. Across...
The Prime Monster Gets Cuddly
Big Gordie is frightening his colleagues again--this time with hugs. Brown has become all touchy-feely since the Prime Monster bullying row. I hear from a surprised visitor to No 10 that he has taken to greeting ministers and MPs with a mighty embrace...
This Budget Was an Elaborate Pause before the Storm
When Alistair Darling rose in the Commons on Wednesday 24 March to deliver his third Budget as Chancellor, the last before the general election (and perhaps the last of the whole New Labour period), he knew that he was engaging in little more than...
This Is No Time to Hang Labour: Neal Lawson Replies to Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett's article reminded me of that old Socialist Workers Party slogan, "Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism", reincarnated as "Neither Cameron nor Brown, but a hung parliament". David Marquand has already reminded...
Will You Play a Tactical Vote?
Battle ready Tactical voting--whereby voters cast their ballots not on the basis of the party they want, but in order to prevent another party from winning--can play havoc with projections. In 1997, tactical votes are estimated to have cost the...
You Want a BTEC with That?
McDonald's is used to being the butt of jokes about providing dead-end jobs flipping burgers and mopping floors, so no doubt it was hardly surprised by the torrent of public outrage that met the news that it has become the first employer to provide...