You say tax avoidance, I say sociopaths

Between the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017, and against the fallout of the great 'bankers bailout scam' called austerity, there was a brief period when informed debates around the role of tax and tax avoidance where momentarily occurring in even the mainstream press. After years of justifying cutting public spending in order to bail out the criminally inept bankers, the corporate news media did an about turn and started laying…

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Can 9 Songs still be considered art?

In 2005 I reviewed Michael Winterbottom's film 9 Songs for the Morning Star. One of the things that was most apparent to me at the time was just how graphic the sex scenes in the film were, being that it had been classified as a non-pornographic film by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). I had completely forgotten that I had reviewed 9 Songs, and only remembered it when I was going through my…

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Anarchists, Nazis and the People’s Olympics

In 2012 several things came together in my life at the same time, the essay Gold or Freedom is the first manifestation of that direction. I had been toying with the idea of writing a novel set during the Spanish civil war for several years. During the research stage I came across several historians that were writing in a way that went beyond the standard history texts. Professor Helen Graham's short introduction and Chris Ealham's…

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May Day, McStrikes and my review of McLibel

In the mid 1980s London Greenpeace wrote a fact sheet and started handing it out in front of McDonalds in North London. In 1990 the McDonalds corporation issued libel writs against 5 of the activists. The ploy nearly worked. 3 of the five backed down, apologised and retracted their claims. Two of them didn't. Helen Steel and David Morris refused. What ensued was, at the time, the longest trial in English history. It soon became…

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Attention seekers, progressives and the ruling class – that same old song

Back in 2004 I attended the London European Social Forum. I had been writing and involved in activism and campaigning for a few years by then, and was beginning to struggle with notions of party politics. At the time the Green party was positioning itself as the egalitarian and progressive voice in the UK but with little electoral success, while the Labour party was still firmly in the clutches of the neoliberals, and the socialists…

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The UK deep state, and the progressive left that they target

The UK deep state is very real. The exploiter class is fighting a war with the exploited class. And they are using the state to do it. There are UK secret police. And they are working with US spies to monitor British political activists. The NSA and GCHQ are monitoring us right now, and sharing the information with their chums. As you read this post, there is at least two digital files being updated. Regardless…

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Celebrity revolutionaries and UK democracy

One of the fundamental failings of 'UK democracy' is that the establishment, to all intents and purposes, controls all the levers of power. So, while it is true that a large percentage of the UK population has the right to vote, the real question of how much actual political power exists within that vote, is very rarely discussed. But when Russell Brand decided to throw his hat, albeit still very grubby from his fall from…

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Hotel Rwanda, and our complicity in genocide

In 2005 I reviewed Terry George's superb film 'Hotel Rwanda' for the Morning Star. It tells the story of Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of a hotel in the capital Kigali, during the Rwandan genocide. In hindsight, I think that a little background helps contextualise the importance of this film. In 1994 a campaign of mass violence took place in Rwanda. It has been approximated that somewhere in the region of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu…

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Celebrities, charity singles and hypocrisy

When celebrities get involved in charities, there is always the publicists fear that a secret hypocrisy is lurking somewhere in their past. The unfortunate truth is, when dealing with people that will do almost anything for trinkets and attention, is that it's never really a secret. But it is invariably one of those things that the establishment media are happy to brush under the carpet. I worked in various charities as a fundraiser for many…

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9/11, anti-war protests and democratic shortcomings

In 2003, Red Pepper published one of the first pieces I ever got picked up. It was called Millions Take to the Streets. Shortly after the worldwide anti-war protest in the February I began to think about a piece Gore Vidal had written about 9/11. Then, after watching the protests against the ongoing military and economic attacks on Iraq in London grow from tens of people back in 1998, to hundreds of thousands of people…

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