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
Paul Anderson, in Kevin Hickson and Ben Williams (eds), John Major: An Unsuccessful Prime Minister? (Biteback, 2017)
John Major’s governments of 1990-97 are not often discussed in terms of their impact on Labour – except insofar as Major’s travails with his party from summer 1992, particularly over Europe, provided the backdrop against which first John Smith and then Tony Blair built commanding opinion-poll leads for Labour, culminating in Blair’s general election victory of May 1997.
Even two decades after that triumph, protagonists, commentators and historians typically assign only a minor role to Major in the making of New Labour. As in the dog days of his administration and in Blair’s first years in office, he is still considered primarily as the inept grey man who happened to be at the helm of the doomed Tory ship as Labour rode a tide of popular enthusiasm to win an inevitable landslide. Continue reading
The new conclusion to Moscow Gold? The Soviet Union and the British Left by Paul Anderson and Kevin Davey. Published by Little Atoms, 28 December 2015
By the end of the 1990s, to most observers of the British left, the Leninist era seemed to have come to an end. The Socialist Workers Party, quasi-Trotskyist and owner of a competent offset press in east London, still had some life about it, but not a lot.
The Scottish Socialist Party – essentially the renegade Glasgow office of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency, which had been expelled by Labour in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with SWP and independent barnacles hanging on – had some support in urban western Scotland. And the hardline Communist Party of Britain, the main Stalinist splinter from the ‘official’ Communist Party of Great Britain (which had given up the ghost in 1991, 70 years after its launch with a giant subvention from Moscow), was still influential in a few trade unions. The CPB still had a daily paper, the Morning Star, though hardly anyone read it any more. 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