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Showing posts from February, 2010

Second Time Around: A classic revisited

Herald Angels
Bill Hagerty

The Miracle of Fleet Street: the Story of the Daily Herald, by George Lansbury (Labour Publishing Company, 1925, price unknown; republished by Spokesman Books, 20009, pp168, £15.00)

This is not exactly the whole story of what, in the early 1930s, was to become Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper. Those wishing to learn about the ferocious pre-Second World War circulation battles, or the anguished slide that saw the paper metamorphose into the short-lived IPC Sun before being given garish new clothes and soaring away under the control of fledgling emperor Rupert Murdoch, must look elsewhere.

Having been born in 1911 as a daily strike-bulletin when London print Unions came out for a 48-hour working week, and resurrected the following year with capital of around £300 as a co-operative Labour venture, the Herald had been publishing consistently for only 13 years when Labour leader-to-be Lansbury recounted its trials and tribulations — there were many —on t…

Public cost of private benefit - A review

Global Auction of Public Assets
Dexter Whitfield

Dexter Whitfield has been one of the most well-informed and effective critics of the whole programme of privatisation of Britain's public services, begun by Margaret Thatcher and continued by New Labour. He is the director of the European Services Strategy Unit, continuing the work of the Centre for Public Services, which he founded in 1973, and has more recently sought to spread his critique worldwide, as more and more countries have begun to move their social infrastructure from a public service into private profit-making businesses. This new book is the result of this extension of his interest. It is, as were his earlier books on the attack on UK public services, both thoroughly researched and immaculately presented.

What began as a specifically British exercise by Thatcher to strengthen the power of capital in relation to labour has been taken up by giant corporations of capital operating in both the developed and developing …

Regime Changers Anonymous

Spokesman 107
Edited by Ken Coates

'The Security Service was officially launched in 1909 with a staff of two, who were supposed to defend the realm against Germany. Later they made a painless adjustment and began to defend it against Russia. As the two engaged ever larger numbers of accomplices it became clear that the realm which they defended consisted of ever smaller tracts of establishment England, setting its bounds somewhat short of the area occupied by the masses of the British common people …

… What can be done to clip the wings of all these spooks? Well, first of all, as far as the junior members of the team are concerned, substantial cuts can be made in their budgets. What precisely is all this intrigue for? How is it to be justified? It should surely be possible to control the expenditures of this kind of service in such a way as to reduce them to a minimum.

Then we shall be told that we need an intelligence service to apprehend terrorists. There are, unfortunately, numerou…