Bread and Roses Book Award 2014

LeftCentral Political Book Club 

Image © The Bread and Roses Heritage Comm

The Bread and Roses book award shortlist has been announced the winner to be named in May 2014.  The seven titles are: `Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police` by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Faber and Faber, 2013), `Soldier Box: Why I Won`t Return to the War on Terror` by Joe Glenton (Verso, 2013), `Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973` by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, (Bloomsbury), `Who Needs the Cuts?: Myths of the Economic Crisis` by Barry Kushner and Saville Kushner (Hesperus Press, 2013), `No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers by Katherine Quarmby (Oneworld, 2013), `Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity` by Andrew Simms (Little, Brown, 2013) and Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain by Imogen Tyler (Zed Books, 2013).  The winning title must meet the following criteria:

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You Can`t Say That (Memoirs) by Ken Livingstone

Book review 

Livingstone Ken

copyright Amplified2010

This is a highly readable account of Livingstone`s life beginning with his early years in post-war Britain, a world resembling Mike Leigh`s depiction in `Vera Drake’. London is an incredibly boring place lacking cultural diversity home life dominated by the Daily Express. His Conservative voting parents were socially enlightened although Victorian values permeated Livingstone`s upbringing, to escape he read Orwell, political awakening coming from Horowitz in 1967 `From Yalta to Vietnam`. Harold Wilson`s position on Rhodesia transformed Livingstone`s initially high opinion of the Labour leader and Livingstone delayed joining the party repelled by Callaghan`s treatment of Kenyan Asians.

Racism was a strong generational factor his uncle a member of Mosley`s Black-shirts who refused to watch television featuring black or Irish personalities. Livingstone outlines the racist Conservative campaign during the Smethwick election in 1964 setting the tone for UK politics. The Labour Party mimicked this agenda illustrated by comments made by Mellish and Richard Crossman, notable non-racist exceptions such as  John Fraser MP encouraged black political participation which attracted Livingstone to the Labour Party. Livingstone also worked at Chester Beatty with brilliant “research doctor” Tom Connors and drew closer to Ghanaian colleagues because of Ian Smith`s “racist government in Rhodesia”. Read more of this post

A Marxist defence of Page 3 girls

Brendan O’Neill

Image © Kip Voytek

Proving that the Leveson Inquiry has become a magnet for every campaigner who wants to tame or censor the tabloids, yesterday’s line-up before his lordship included a bevy of feminists angrily railing against Page 3 in The Sun.

For some women’s rights activists, Page 3, with its scantily clad ladies making philosophical comments in speech bubbles, represents everything that is wrong with tabloid culture.

It is sexist and offensive, they say, and it contributes to a climate in which women are looked upon as fleshy objects to be ogled by goggle-eyed blokes. It must be banned, they demand.

Harriet Harman has joined this shrill chorus calling either for the outright banning of Page 3 or for The Sun at least to be put on the top shelf in newsagents, next to porno mags. And yet in her next breath, Harman has the gall to declare: “I am going to be a champion of press freedom.”

That she cannot see any contradiction between campaigning to crush Page 3 and claiming to be a defender of freedom of speech not only highlights the severe irony deficit in New Labour – it also says a lot about the weird politics of the anti-Page 3 lobby.

The fact is that shutting down Page 3 would be an assault on press freedom. If you are committed to true freedom of the press, to the age-old idea that newspapers should be free to publish what they believe to be true or interesting or fun, you can’t then add the caveat “Oh, except for Page 3 in The Sun – that page has got to go.” Read more of this post

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