Paul Anderson, George Orwell Studies, vol 2 no 1, 2017
George Orwell at work in the 1940s
No political writer of the 20th century has been subject to more analysis, controversy and speculation than George Orwell – and for good reason.
Many see Orwell as the greatest political writer in the English language of the past 200 years, a consummate stylist, always direct and provocative, and many of his big concerns have continuing resonance even though he died nearly 70 years ago.
He wrote a lot, and in a multitude of genres: fiction, criticism, reportage, poetry, polemical essays and columns. His conception of what is political was breathtakingly broad, he changed his mind over time (and in public), and there are innumerable tensions and contradictions in his life and work. Since his death in 1950, partisans of every political tendency, apart from fascists and Stalinist communists, have tried to claim Orwell as one of their own.
Theresa May ponders Brexit in Brussels
Paul Anderson, Fleximize, 19 July 2017
With parliament shutting up shop for the summer holidays and the Brexit negotiations formally started, the dust is beginning to settle after Britain’s bizarre general election – but only a fool would pretend to know what happens next.
What was extraordinary about the election was that nearly everyone expected it to turn out differently. All but a couple of opinion polls, every columnist in the national newspapers, every TV pundit – and the word on the street from canvassers from all parties – pointed to a giant victory for Theresa May’s Tories and humiliation for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, campaigning on what everyone said was the most leftwing manifesto since 1983. Continue reading
Little Atoms, 7 April 2015
The Beijing Bookworm literary festival offers a chance to explore the limits to criticism in the People’s Republic, writes Paul Anderson
I’m just back in Britain from a whistle-stop tour of China, where I was speaking at the Bookworm Literary Festival, a fortnight-long talkfest organised by the leading independent English-language bookshop in China. I went with Anna Chen, who was one of the headline stars of the show – and it was one of the most stimulating foreign trips I’ve ever made. Continue reading
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
Paul Anderson, Tribune column, 7 February 2014
Labour’s relationship with the trade unions has always been a problem.
The formalities of it date from 1918, when Labour was still, essentially, a means of getting working-class men (no girls allowed) elected to parliament – and when there was a vast number of trade unions, most of them either small or very decentralised. The party then drew up a new constitution (which also included the vague promise of socialism in Clause Four) giving the unions the defining role in the new structure at every level except electing the parliamentary leader. Continue reading
Tribune column, 10 January 2014
Scene in the local off-license, Ipswich, New Year’s Eve:
Old boy from Suffolk (white, about 75, slightly tipsy) Well, they’re coming over here…
Shopkeeper (brown, mid-50s, Punjabi) Yeah, they don’t wanna work, they just wanna nick stuff.
Old boy But it’s better now the scrap’s not cash. They can’t get the wire off the railway and flog it. Now they’ll just sign on.
Shopkeeper They’ve got to stop them coming. It’s out of control.
Tribune column, 29 November 2013
Maybe I’m a naïve libertarian, but I can’t be that bothered whether the Reverend Paul Flowers, the Methodist minister who was chairman of the Co-operative Bank, took illegal drugs and had sex with rent boys.
Not that I think that the Mail on Sunday should have been prevented from exposing him: it’s not good for people who run banks to be off their heads on crystal meth, just as it’s not good for airline pilots to be drunk, and religious leaders who preach against prostitution and hire prostitutes on the side are fair game. Continue reading
Tribune column, 1 November 2013
There’s one song every band can play. If the words don’t ring a bell:
Standing on a corner
Suitcase in my hand
the riff will do it for you. Da – da, da, di, da – da, da, di,da.
OK, maybe not. It’s “Sweet Jane”, and it was not a hit for the New York band that ripped off the lick and recorded it in 1970, the Velvet Underground. Continue reading
Tribune, 18 October 2013
The Daily Mail’s assertion that Ralph Miliband, father of Labour leader Ed, was a stooge of the Soviet Union who ‘hated Britain’ has created a massive storm. But it is only the latest in a long line of right-wing smears against the Labour left – with Tribune as a particular target – claiming it kow-towed to communist Russia … or worse. In an exclusive extract from their new book, Moscow Gold? The Soviet Union and the British left, Paul Anderson and Kevin Davey tell the grisly story of the lies of the 1960s and 1970s Continue reading
Tribune column, 4 October 2013
It’s taken long enough, but at last Ed Miliband seems to be finding a distinctive voice. His speech at Labour conference in Brighton was less than earth-shattering, but it was better than his previous efforts, not least because it contained some hints about what a Miliband Labour government would be like.
The most important, of course, was his promise of a two-year freeze on energy bills – a modest proposal but one sufficiently at odds with the free-market consensus to send the Tory press into a frenzy about how “Red Ed” was plotting a return to the extreme state socialism of the 1970s. Continue reading
Review of Robert Colls, George Orwell: English Rebel (Oxford University Press, £25), Tribune, 4 October 2013
I started Robert Colls’s new biography of George Orwell with some trepidation. Colls is a writer I like who has written intelligently and provocatively on working-class history and the creation of an English national identity – but I was wondering what a new biography could possibly add to the already massive literature on Orwell.
I was wrong to worry. Continue reading