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Cover Art by Gaia Stella

Winter 2021

Table of Contents

Ronan Burtenshaw

Against the Centre

The centre is back. But it still hasn’t got any answers.

Editorial

Lily Gordon Brown

The NHS’s Winter of Discontent

Even before the pandemic hit, health workers warned that hospitals were struggling to cope. Now, as they fight through one of the darkest periods in living memory, those at the frontline are increasingly angry at the government’s failures.

Francesca Newton

Britain’s Chumocracy

For a small clique of Tory-aligned business figures, the pandemic hasn’t been a crisis — it’s been a golden opportunity to hoover up government contracts and make millions.

Chris McLaughlin

As I Please: How the Unions Got Covid Right

While the government meandered in mixed messaging, misconduct, and mistakes, trade unions have consistently called the pandemic correctly — but have been ignored.

Chris Thomas

Years in the Making

The NHS crisis didn’t begin with Covid-19 — years of outsourcing, competitiveness reforms, and obsessions over ‘efficiency’ have decimated the public health service.

Nadia Jama

The Fight for Labour Party Democracy

Newly-elected NEC member Nadia Jama on the battle ahead for the Labour left in 2021.

Fraser Amos

The Campus Revolt

Ripped-off students are engaged in the largest rent strike in decades — but that’s only the beginning. The only way to bring about real change is to stop the marketisation of higher education.

Features

Alex Niven

Did Blairism Work?

Tony Blair was the last Labour leader to win a general election, and now many in the party want to emulate his direction — but the New Labour years did little to resolve Britain’s deep social crises.

Grace Blakeley

The Centre Won’t Save Democracy

For decades, liberals have sought to divorce politics from the economy. The technocratic machine this created paved the way for the very right-wing movements they now plan to save us from.

Andrew Murray

The Warmonger Internationalists

The political centre’s recent history suggests its progressive internationalism will be advanced at the point of a cruise missile.

Aaron Bastani

How Liberals Rewrite Their Own History

Ian Dunt’s new book How to Be a Liberal constructs a mythology of liberalism that ignores its role in abetting imperialism, slavery, and fascism.

Daniel Zamora Vargas

The Market Can’t Be Tamed

In the post-war era, centrists abandoned the cause of a truly democratic economy in favour of trying to civilise the market — giving up any prospect of social equality in the process.

Asbjørn Wahl

Class Struggle Built the Welfare State

The welfare state wasn’t created by enlightened dialogue or ‘sensible’ moderate politics. It was won by workers from business interests — after decades of struggle.

Zarah Sultana

Paper Straws Are Not Enough

The climate crisis and ecological breakdown threaten the future of our planet. They can’t be confronted by half measures: we need to tackle their root causes.

Marcus Barnett & Chris Webb

Against Trade Union Timidity

The pandemic taught a new generation that even weakened trade unions can make a difference in people’s lives. If unions can’t seize this moment with imaginative strategies to embolden their members and fight back, a historic opportunity will be wasted.

History

Liam Baker

Tribune’s Tribunes

In the 1960s, the Labour left organised around Tribune and tried to build itself into a parliamentary vehicle for socialism.

a conversation with Anakwa Dwamena, William Shoki, and Benjamin Talton

‘We Face Forward’

Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah sought to build an Africa free from capitalism and imperialism. Although defeated, his legacy remains a source of inspiration for a new generation of leftists.

Chloe Koffman

Remembering Australia’s Green Bans

In the 1960s and ’70s, Australian construction workers created the blueprint for a green class politics.

Culture

Joana Ramiro

A Letter from Lisbon

The Portuguese capital has been turned upside down in recent years by property speculation and vacation rentals. What has its left-wing government been able to do to stop the rot?

Conrad Landin

I Love a Man in Uniform

The 1940s novels of Patrick Hamilton are marinaded in seediness and booze — but within them is one of the clearest and darkest portrayals of British fascism.

Douglas Murphy

Something in the Air

A new book on modern architecture and climate researches the passive cooling strategies that immediately preceded the age of air-conditioning. In the age of accelerating climate change, can we learn anything from them?

Nathalie Olah

Second City Blues

Two new accounts of growing up and leaving Birmingham provide moving accounts of the snobbery and misunderstanding directed at England’s second city.

Charlotte Lydia Riley

Pernicious Messaging

There is an enduring idea that Britain spread the freedom of speech around the world — but it enforced censorship in its own Empire.

Robert Barry

Repetitive Beats

The Design Museum’s show Electronic showcases how a once-revolutionary music has become bourgeois and clichéd, but contains scattered hints at what was once possible.

Hannah Proctor

Ruins of the Mind

Joelle M. Abi-Rached’s new book uses a single psychiatric hospital to tell both the history of psychiatry and the history of modern Lebanon.

Carl Neville

The Trawler and the Seagulls

The Eric Cantona-starring drama Inhuman Resources is an improbable but involving thriller about a worker thrown on the scrapheap who becomes a heroic supervillain  — a character that resonates with recent populist insurgencies of right and left.

Huw Lemmey

Workers in the Saddle

A newly discovered archive of photos from the Spanish Republic depicts the collectives, institutions, and workplaces of a social revolution.

Owen Hatherley

Red Library: Pamphlets

A serious crisis is always a good time for short, sharp, and prophetic pamphlets. The Covid-19 disaster has especially spurred works dealing both with how the crisis has unfolded, and ways activists can survive it.