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Showing posts from 2009

Bill Brand – the screenplays.

This latest volume in the Trevor Griffiths series contains all eleven episodes of the celebrated 1976 Thames TV series Bill Brand, which was the fictional account of a young left-wing Labour MP entering Parliament for the first time and attempting to influence the policies of his largely right-wing Labour government.

The series was conceived on election night in 1974, written and produced over the following two years and transmitted in 1976. This was a time of great political and industrial unrest in Britain; it produced the first minority government (under Harold Wilson) since 1931, and Bill Brand was watched with extreme interest by both the political classes and the wider population. At times it seemed almost uncannily prophetic; and many of the issues it dealt with remain of great contemporary relevance.

The series starred Jack Shepherd as Bill Brand, Arthur Lowe as the Prime Minister, Alan Badel, Peter Howell, Lynne Farleigh, Cherie Lunghi and many other distinguished actors.

Bill B…

The Elephant at the Iraq Inquiry

On 23 July 2002, the Prime Minister called a high-level meeting about Iraq. It took place in Downing Street. The minute taker noted that his record was "extremely sensitive". It does indeed contain confidential information about preparations for war on Iraq. Blair's comments are recorded, as are those of the Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Michael Boyce, among others. On 4 December 2009, Boyce appeared before the Iraq Inquiry, and was rather candid about the frustrations of trying to prepare a major military campaign without being able to tell his head of logistics. (Defence Secretary Hoon had told him not to.) Boyce was not asked about his precise comments about military options and critical requirements for the US (basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus), as recorded in the memo of the meeting of 23 July '02. Next week, John Scarlett appears before the Inquiry. He had opened the discussion in Downing Street with an account of intelligence and the latest Joint Intelligence C…
The Dodgiest Dossier

Essential reading as the Chilcot Inquiry into the war on Iraq begins its public hearings in London, 24 November.

These key secret documents include the notorious Downing Street Memo of July 2002, which recorded the candid assessment of the head of MI6, in the presence of Prime Minister Blair, that in the United States 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy'. The documents were leaked in 2005, during the run-up to the General Election of that year. Their authors are amongst the first witnesses to be called by the Inquiry.

A useful and informative independent commentary on the Iraq Inquiry is available online (

Price £4.00 - 80 pages

A New Book by Dexter Whitfield

Global Auction of Public Assets

Public infrastructure in the 21st century is confronted with new challenges; adapting to climate change, meeting the economic, energy, water, transportation and social infrastructure needs of megacities in Asia, megaregions in North America, European city regions and older industrial areas.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the global infrastructure market, financed by investment and pension funds, are fuelling a new era of public asset sales. This first critical global analysis of PPPs examines projects in the UK, France, Ireland, Germany, US, Canada, Russia, Australia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Over US$500bn of PPP projects have failed, most have little or no democratic control or transparency. They are costly, poor value and lack innovation. Ultimately, they are entirely publicly financed by government and/or user charges.

Global Auction of Public Assets proposes a new strategy for public investment. It sets out new priorities, radical…

Gerrard Winstanley 400th Anniversary Meeting

A celebration of the work and ideas of

7pm, Thursday 19th November 2009,

Speakers: Thomas Corns, University of Bangor, co-author of a biography of John Milton, and Ann Hughes, University of Keele, author of “The Causes of the English Civil War” (1998)

Venue: Russell Room, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1 (Tube: Holborn).

“Fortunately for posterity, there was among the Diggers a man of rare talent and originality, Gerrard Winstanley, who has left behind him in his voluminous writings a record of the faith and beliefs with which he inspired this movement … Suddenly, in this year [1648], his interest turned to politics and he wrote the most characteristic of his books, The New Law of Righteousness, which is in reality a Communist Manifesto written in the dialect of its day. Throughout the next year, 1649-50, he was the life and pen of the Diggers' adventure. When that failed, after writing Fire in the Bush, a defence of his ideas addressed to the churches, he pu…

Comedians at the Lyric, London

"Set in a Manchester working-class evening centre in the mid-1970s, the date of its writing, Comedians eschews political theory, professional ideologues and historically sourced discourse on political revolution – all the perceived hallmarks of my earlier pieces – in favour of a more or less unmediated address on a range of particular contemporary issues including class, gender, race and society in modern Britain." Trevor Griffiths writing in Theatre Plays (published in two volumes by Spokesman Books, price £15 each)

An acclaimed new production of Comedians , directed by Sean Holmes, continues at the Lyric Hammersmith until 14th November 2009. Some reviews can be read via ourTrevor Griffithspage.

Theatre Plays One includes Comedians, The Wages of Thin, Occupations, Sam Sam, Apricots, Thermidor, The Party, The Cherrry Orchard

Theatre Plays Two includes Oi for England, Real Dreams, Piano, The Gulf between Us, Thatcher’s Children, Who Shall Be Happy?, Camel Station

Also available:

Responsibility to Protest

After Lockerbie - The Spokesman 106
Edited by Ken Coates

"There has seldom been such unanimity in the British political class as has come about in the last half of August 2009 with the release of the Libyan prisoner, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, on compassionate grounds. This was announced by the Scottish Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, after medical reports forecast that the Libyan was at death’s door, having advanced prostate cancer which probably gave him a maximum life expectancy of three months.

Megrahi had been sentenced by three Scottish Judges to life imprisonment, following a highly contentious trial in which the Scottish Courts sat in an American airbase in The Netherlands to hear the case of the Lockerbie bomb. A Pan American passenger jet had been blown up on the 21st December 1988, while flying over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie en route for the United States. The evidence showed that a bomb had been secreted in passenger luggage. It had exploded in mid-…

'Constructive Bloodbath' in Indonesia

Spokesman Books have published'Constructive Bloodbath' in Indonesia: The United States, Britain and the Mass Killings of 1965-66, by Nathaniel Mehr, with a foreword by Carmel Budiardjo.

It is receiving postive reviews, as these two notices show: Joyo Indonesia News- David Jardine Jakarta Globe- Armando Siahaan

Tom Paine Remembered - 8 June Old Red Lion London


Readings and Discussion to mark the 200th anniversary of Tom Paine’s death

9 – 10.30pm, Monday 8th June 2009, Old Red Lion Theatre, Angel, London.

With Tony Benn, sculptor Michael Sandle, publisher Tony Simpson, musician Elizabeth Green and Neil Sheppeck of Love and Madness Theatre, alongside contributions from actor and playwright Jack Shepherd and writer Mike Marqusee.


An intimate event, on the 200th anniversary itself of Tom Paine's death, to celebrate and discuss the enduring legacy of one of the most influential radical writers and thinkers in history, at Islington's Old Red Lion Theatre, where Paine actually wrote some of his profoundly important work The Rights of Man.

Featuring a rehearsed reading, directed by and featuring Neil Sheppeck of Love and Madness Theatre, of Jack Shepherd’s play In Lambeth, imagining a meeting between William Blake and Tom Paine.


Tickets: £7, £5 (concs. Please provide or bring evidence when booking).


James Kirkup

James Kirkup has died, aged 91.

In 2004 he sent us a copy of No More Hiroshimas. He had originally collected together this volume of hia A-bomb poems in 1983, but it took twenty years before we published it 'as a real book'.James recounts 'My A-Bomb Biography' in his preface.

Here are the opening lines of the title poem, No More Hiroshimas.

At the station exit, my bundle in hand,
Early the winter afternoon's wet snow
Falls thinly round me, out of a crudded sun.
I had forgotten to remember where I was.
Looking about, I see it might be anywhere -
A station, a town like any other in Japan,
Ramshackle, muddy, noisy, drab; a cheerfully
Shallow impermanence: peeling concrete, litter, 'Atomic
Lotion, for hair fall-out', a flimsy department store;
Racks and towers of neon, flashy over tiled and tilted waves
Of little roofs, shacks cascading lemons and persimmons,
Oranges and dark-red apples, shanties awash with rainbows
Of squid and octopus, shellfish, slabs of tuna, oysters, ice…

The Spokesman and Palestine

Following on from Spokesman 103,Unholy Land, our new issue,Revolutions, continues with thePalestine question.

John Dugard
writes on Apartheid in Palestine.

Richard Falk (UN Special Rapporteur on the situationof human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967) reports on the 'Human Rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab Territories.'

Nurit Peled, co-founder of Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Parents for Peace, encourages people 'to arise and go to Gaza ... or to any other city of oppression in Palestine to see with their own eyes the horrifying ghettoes ... '

Ken Coates situates the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in the context of earlier Russell Tribunals.

George GallowayMP dissects the Charity Commission's obstruction of his remarkable efforts to provide help fpr Gaza.

The Spokesman is available to buy nowthrough our website or any good bookshop.

Unholy Land - The Spokesman 103

‘The first King Herod was born in 73 BC and followed a military career, starting out as a general … his fame among present generations is attributable to the Gospel of St. Matthew, which tells us that the King sent for the wise men who famously came from the East to Jerusalem and asked them where the Christ should be born. They told him that He would arrive in Bethlehem of Judaea, whereupon Herod sent them to search diligently for the young child ‘that I may come and worship him also’. But the wise men were too wise to fall for that one, although according to Matthew they had the advantage of being ‘warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod’. Be that as it may, ‘they departed into their own country another way’. At this point, an angel told Joseph to take the young child and his mother ‘and flee into Egypt … for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him’.

With his victims holed up safely in Egypt, Herod ‘was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the chi…

Spokesman Books New Title

The Shape of Things to ComeThe EU Future Group

By Tony Bunyan of Statewatch £2.00 - Order Online

The Shape of Things to Come examines the European Union’s plans for justice and home affairs, and warns that the Union is embarked on several highly controversial paths. These include: using the ‘digital tsunami’ to create a surveillance society for law enforcement purposes by gathering personal details on the everyday lives of everyone living in the European Union; allowing law enforcement and security agencies, in collaboration with multinational companies, to determine new technologies to be introduced – including recording details of all phone and mobile phone calls and internet usage; removing ‘obstacles’ (judicial authorisation) to the exchange of intelligence between all European Union agencies; and the outrageous idea that a Euro-Atlantic area of co-operation with the United States should be set up to decide on policies fundamentally affecting the rights and liberties of the people of…