Estelle Cooch

Thieves Fall Out

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Only five days after George Osborne's Budget handed money back to rich top-rate taxpayers, the Sunday Times published a video showing Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas promising undercover reporters "premier league access" to David Cameron in return for donations of £250,000.

Within 24 hours Cruddas had resigned and Cameron was being pressured to release details of which particular donors he had wined and dined at Downing Street. A day later, Cameron was forced to reveal a list of "significant donors".

Of course, the irony is that anyone actually wanting to read the Sunday Times article would have to pay to get past their website's online pay wall. It seems Murdoch isn't always against cash for access.

Evolve or Be Extinct

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Wiley

In a homemade video from 2003, on a rooftop now close to Stratford's Olympic site, 15 members of London's grime scene came together to perform for a pirate radio station. The video, often shaky and at times blurred, now has over a million views on YouTube and resembles a roll-call for grime music's hall of fame. While Tinchy Stryder and Dizzee Rascal are now global superstars, the equally talented MC Crazy Titch is now serving a life sentence for murder. In the middle of it all is Wiley - often referred to as the "Godfather of Grime".

Every little helps

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"A spirit of anti-capitalism stalks the land, a fire-breathing beast that has shrivelled Stephen Hester's bonus in its nostril-blast, and scorched Fred Goodwin's knighthood, and now seeks whomever else it may devour."

It is not often that Tory politicians paraphrase the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto, but this the conclusion of Boris Johnson amid the furore over the Workfare scheme.

On 18 February when the Right to Work campaign protested at a Tesco store in Westminster, few could have predicted what was to follow. Within a fortnight the minister in charge of the scheme, Chris Grayling, was forced to call a "crisis meeting".

Europe's zombie banks

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The brainchild of Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, the scheme ended up doling out 489 billion euros to over 500 banks. The so called "auction" was billed as a way of averting the entire collapse of the European banking system.

Even more shocking than the actual amount of money given out was the terms under which it was given. For the first time ever the ECB agreed to give three-year loans (in the past it has only been one-year) and did so at a knock-down interest rate of one percent, tantamount effectively to free money.

Putting Socialism back on the agenda

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Estelle Cooch and Jack Farmer spoke to Owen Jones, a left wing member of the Labour Party and author of Chavs, about New Labour, capitalism and the demonisation of the working class

What was it that first motivated you to write Chavs?

Above all it was to put class on the agenda. I wanted to challenge this idea that we're all middle class now and that all that remains of the working class is a feckless rump. The point is that if you don't have class, then you don't have class politics and if you don't have class politics, then you don't have a left.

Unholy row

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In the August edition of Socialist Review I wrote about the crises that have hit successive ruling class institutions, from parliament to the banks. Few would have predicted that the next pillar of the establishment to be riven with turmoil would be the Church of England.

It was the intervention of the police on 15 October that resulted in Occupy London setting up camp outside St Paul's rather than Paternoster Square, home to the Stock Exchange - the original target. An institution that many would dismiss as unimportant suddenly found that it had been lobbed a political hand grenade. The internal division inside the Church produced by 150 tents was a remarkable reflection of the depth of the ideological crisis within the ruling class.

4everevolution

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Roots Manuva

It has been over three years since Slime and Reason, the album that placed Rodney Smith (Roots Manuva) at the forefront of British hip hop. His new album, the imaginatively titled 4everevolution, does not disappoint. At first glance an album with 17 tracks can seem quite hard going. It is testimony to the diversity and range of his music that 17 tracks later and nearly an hour in I was still listening with bated breath.

'Changing the game': how 30 November can transform the unions

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In the build-up to the planned strikes across the public sector on 30 November
Mark L Thomas and Estelle Cooch spoke to socialists in different unions about the mood in the working class and how we can beat back the Tories and rebuild union organisation

"For many years we were told the working class is dead, but we're going to have the biggest strike in generations. We were told that you won't have revolutions, but the 21st century is becoming a century of revolutions," says Brett Davies, the Unite convenor at a Ministry of Defence (MoD) company in Telford.

Crumbling Pillars of the British Establishment

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The phone hacking scandal has rapidly spread to engulf the police, the government and sections of the media. Estelle Cooch looks at the crisis of legitimacy spreading through the British establishment.

A succession of scandals have engulfed British public life over the last three years, each one placing under the spotlight the entrenched corruption of a different institution that governs our lives. First, there was the banking crisis and the huge bailouts that followed, and then came the parliamentary expenses scandal. Now the phone hacking scandal has raised profound disquiet not just about parts of the press but also about the cosy relationship of sections of the media with both politicians and the police.

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