First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers
"On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
Acknowledged to be one of the few British politicians who became more left-wing
after having actually served in government, former veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn
has died at home aged 88. Tony was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP) for 50 years
, and a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. His legacy can be seen in postage
, in the powerful five questions
, the speeches he gave
, and his diaries
Britain will betray the United States and Ukraine to keep laundering dirty Russian money.
"The city has changed. The buses are still dirty, the people are still passive-aggressive, but something about London has changed. You can see signs of it everywhere. The townhouses in the capital’s poshest
districts are empty; they have been sold to Russian oligarchs
and Qatari princes."
A man who served as UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman
for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal.
Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto's gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester.
In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang's "boss" and was jailed for seven years by a UK court.
UKIP said Bhutto, 35, had "recently" resigned his party membership.
Newly released cabinet papers from 1984
reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure.
The government and National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 mines over three years.
A key adviser to then-PM Margaret Thatcher denies any cover-up claims.
The miners' strike began in March 1984 and did not end until the next year. [more inside]
After a trade dispute, Grangemouth plant
will remain open. Just another case of a greedy union almost driving a company out of business? Perhaps not. Robin McAlpine argues
that this case underlines the broken nature of British industry and its relationship with the unions, as well as the media's ability to report on stories outside of London
In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times
in 2000. Timeline
. However, they refused to release them to the public
. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup
. [more inside]
"In Victorian England,
getting a job was all about who you knew, [but] Charles Trevelyan, the permanent secretary to the Treasury 1840-59, was horrified by the Barnacle types in the civil service, once describing a colleague, as a "gentleman who really could neither read nor write, he was almost an idiot"."
Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech” with radical policies
- "The 42 bills also include legislation to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”.
Britain’s relationship with Europe features prominently in the action plan, with draft laws setting out how the UK would leave the European Union and a Bill to prevent Bulgarians and Romanians winning new rights to work, live and claim benefits here from next year.
All of the proposals were laid before the House of Commons last night after the Tory backbenchers hijacked an obscure Parliamentary procedure by camping out in Westminster for four successive nights." [more inside]
In 1985, McDonalds sued left-wing activists in the UK for libel over a pamphlet accusing the multinational food giant of environmental destruction, abuses of workers' rights and selling junk food. The ensuing trial became the longest-running civil trial in English history, ending in 1997 in a Pyrrhic victory for McDonalds, who had lost millions of pounds in pursuing the case, and won £40,000 for their trouble. (The judgment was later overturned in the European Court of Human Rights.) Now, it has been revealed that the leaflet in question had been co-written by an undercover police officer assigned to infiltrate Greenpeace
. The officer in question, Bob Lambert, had previously spent years infiltrating environmental groups, even fathering children with activists
before disappearing. [more inside]
"The government’s plans for deficit reduction
have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis.
While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
Recession prompted 'unprecedented' fall in wages -
Wages have fallen more in real terms in the current economic downturn than ever before, according to a report.
On top of the rising cost of living, a third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
"The falls in nominal wages... during this recession are unprecedented," said Claire Crawford from the IFS.
Labour said the figures showed there was a "living-standards crisis".
Netflix House of Cards
series starring Kevin Spacey was a remake of a very popular British political thriller of the same name that aired during the 90's. The show begins
by tracking the dark political machinations and skullduggery of an urbane Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, who is conspiring to become Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher's resignation. [more inside]
London mayor (and oft talked-up potential future PM) Boris Johnson is demolished
in a slow motion bicycle crash of an interview. (The whole thing
9 years and 364 days ago, the then MEP (and later cabinet minister), Chris Huhne caught a flight back from Brussels to London Stansted, landing at 10.27pm. He picked up his car, with the distinctive number plate H11HNE, and sped back to his home in Clapham, South London, setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately see him and his wife, economist Vicky Pryce, each sentenced to 8 months in jail. [more inside]
A new MP, Gloria De Piero was taken aback by how many people despised her because of her new profession. So she took to the streets to find out why
. [more inside]
Gu Kailai's trial has concluded but no verdict has been delivered.
Many things about the political background of the murder trial, and Gu Kailai's personal motives, remain unclear, although it is said that Gu has not disputed the charge that she killed Neil Heywood. [more inside]
The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy
: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
Following junior Treasury minister Chloe Smith's disastrous
performance on Newsnight regarding the Chancellor's u-turn on fuel duty, the New Statesmen presents the top
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep"
and the success of sophomore record The Bends
, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead
were under pressure to deliver once more.
So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor
and got to work.
What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity
-- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology
-- through a mosaic of challenging
, eerily beautiful
music unlike anything else at the time.
Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes
, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments
, the band finally settled on OK Computer
, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed
harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review
for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy
for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown
. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
Following an amendment
in the recent Conservative Party budget, VAT on 'Baked Goods
' will be re-instated. In response, the question of whether or not David Cameron
once ate a Greggs
pasty infects the British press. The Telegraph have a live blog
covering what has been termed by some Pasty Gate
Some have said the protest song is dead
. However UK rapper Plan B
looks set to change that by releasing 'ill Manors
' raging against the demonisation of the young urban poor. Ill Manors
is also the name of a film Plan B had directed under the name of Ben Drew. [more inside]
Lembit Opik MP lost
at the last election. Already a colourful figure, (not least because of his past relationships with a weather girl
, Cheeky Girl
, and underwear model
*) has since taken an interesting subsequent career route via stand-up comedy
to recently entering the music business himself by starring
in a video
for a new indie band) (*Relationship may only be for PR purposes, allegedly)
Five senior journalists and editors at the News International tabloid the Sun were arrested on Saturday
along with three public officials as Operation Elveden, the British investigation into bribery of police by News International papers, broadened to include corruption of officials in the armed forces and Ministry of Defence as well. The Guardian reports
that the new arrests escalate the stakes of the ongoing US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of News Corporation, which carries potential penalties of millions of dollars of fines and prison sentences for senior executives. [more inside]
Why Borgen's all the buzz at Westminster A moody, Danish political drama, complete with subtitles, prolonged pauses and superficially consensual continental politics would not seem the sort of programme to become the hot topic in the coffee bars and corridors of the Commons.
Even more improbably the central character in Borgen is such an unlikely figure when viewed from the staid, male dominated world of Westminster.
Birgitte Nyborg is an attractive, well-intentioned, left-leaning, green-tinged female prime minister who's worried about her weight and leads a party called "The Moderates".
With the UK struggling through continued dismal economic prospects so grim they are even damaging such an august a tradition as the Indian
restaurant, perhaps a new Royal Yacht to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee will cheer everyone up
This is the story of one cut. Back in October 2010 George Osborne announced £95 billion in cuts to public services, saying he’d leave it to councils to choose what to shut down. Inevitably most of the casualties ended up being unrenowned places, unlikely to stir up much protest - drop-in centers in housing estates, inner-city park rangers, community theatres, etc. I wanted to write about just one of them, about the ripples created by a single closure. I made my selection quite randomly. I chose a place called Youthreach. I didn’t know much about them, only that they offered weekly counseling sessions to young people, aged 11–25, in Greenwich, South East London.
With a coalition government and the recent turmoil over the voting system, sometimes British democracy feels like it's in a bit of a crisis. Thank goodness you can now vote
on issues that really matter
Dozens of concerned citizens will march on London this weekend to protest high taxation and government debt.
Sound familiar? The rally is the first sign of what The Guardian
terms "a radical Tea Party-style mass movement" in the UK. Organisers The Taxpayers' Alliance have previously been linked
to the US-based Freedom Works
"Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind.... The name of this parallel universe is Britain.
The UK's Progressive Tea Party
A 3 hour podcast interview
here) with British comics legend Pat Mills, most famous for the anti-war WW1 strip Charley's War
, the creation 2000ad and many of the most enduring characters within it, superhero hunter Marshall Law
and numerous other comics
. His work usually combines combines dark humour, a dash of left wing politics and ludicrous amounts of violence, now as much as ever with puritan zombie hunter Defoe
. Subjects discussed in the intreview include the death of artist John Hicklenton
, being Irish-English, Sláine
and the comparitive lack of celtic heroes in modern popular culture, Oliver Cromwell and the Levellers
. Bonus link: 20 pages of Metalzoic
, Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neills "lost" story.
Pulp's Common People
- the great class-based song of the 90s?
UK (ex)MP Phil Woolas has indicated he will seek a judicial review of the decision today to void his election victory of earlier this year. He was found guilty of "knowingly making false statements about [rival candidate] Mr Watkins in campaign literature
". Woolas claims the ruling will "inevitably chill political speech
", whereas the Justices' ruling
found that his Election Literature
breached UK laws.
The Chancellor of the UK coalition government has announced the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review, setting budgets for government departments to 2014/15. Total savings will be £18 billion. Local government funding will be cut 7% each year for the next four years. The Arts Council budget will be cut by 30%. 490,000 jobs are forecast to be lost over the period in the public sector. The average cuts for each government department will be 19%.
. HM Treasury Spending Review pages
. Guardian summary
. Independent article
. Nick Robinson's blog for the BBC
. Make your own cuts with the Guardian's interactive tool
. Graphic showing 09/10 government spending
(that is, before the cuts).
Good news for Nick Clegg, deputy Prime Minister of the UK and leader of the Liberal Democrats: he's more popular than the Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron. Perhaps not so good news for the Liberal Democrats' image: that's with Tory party activists
. Meanwhile, Cameron has professed his love of Macs and iPads in an interview
, undoubtedly causing Apple to become instantly uncool in much the way The Smiths and Paul Weller did a few years ago
Last week, the New York Times magazine published an explosive article
about the phone-hacking exploits at the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid News Of The World
under the then-editorship of Andy Coulson, now the the Government's chief of communications
. Following the NYT's investigation, questions about the "unhealthy" relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the press
(particularly Murdoch's News International
, which also includes The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times), and further claims that an independent inquiry was abandoned so as not to upset the Metropolitan Police
, assistant Met Commissioner John Yates was questioned
[video; 4 mins] on Tuesday by the Home Affairs select committee. Following an emergency debate
in Parliament today, which concerned the fact that MPs of all parties may have had their phones hacked (and therefore had their Parliamentary Privilege
breached), the Standards and Privileges Committee
, the most powerful committee in Parliament, is to open an inquiry which will be able to compel witnesses to give evidence
. Meanwhile, former News of the World reporters are coming out the woodwork, claiming that hacking at the paper was "rife"
, and the pressure is on Coulson to resign his £140,000 job at No. 10, with a poll
[pdf] which says 52% of the public says he should go. [more inside]
If politicians were mathematicians.
"I would like to suggest two systems for parliamentary votes, one that would weaken the party system but without killing it off entirely, and one that would protect large minorities. Neither has the slightest chance of being adopted, because they are both too complicated to be taken seriously. But mathematicians wouldn’t find them complicated at all — hence the title of this post." Fields medalist Tim Gowers messes around with political axioms.