John Newsinger

House of Saud: A Family at War

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The British ruling class has for many years made a habit of grovelling to the Saudi royal family. The reason for this is clear: huge amounts of money. The Saudis have spent billions on British weapons. This trade has been recently given a great boost by the Saudi war on Yemen.

Consequently one was entitled to expect that the BBC4 three-part series, House of Saud: A Family at War, would be very much an apology for the Saudis, celebrating the supposed huge strides that have been made in liberalising the regime in recent years.

Gordon Brown, bless him

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In his new memoir the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown seeks to rebrand himself as a cuddly old leftie fit for the Corbyn era. John Newsinger recalls some of the evidence to the contrary.

While there were never any serious policy differences between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, the conflict between the two men and their supporters was not just about personalities, or about who should be prime minister.

1997: The Future That Never Happened

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The 1997 general election saw the hated Tories thrown out, indeed humiliated, and a bright New Labour government take office under an idealistic young leader, Tony Blair. There was widespread hope of change and improvement. It is useful to remember how enthusiastic much of the left was about Blair at this time with one former Communist Party intellectual actually describing New Labour as a “Gramscian project”!

Korean War: ‘Systematic and ruthless destruction’

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It is important that we remember the war that created the belligerent North Korean regime, writes John Newsinger, and that Britain's Labour government supported it at the time, though the public didn't.

The threat that Donald Trump made at the United Nations to “totally destroy” North Korea should not be dismissed, not least because in the early 1950s another US president, Harry Truman, actually did destroy North Korea. Moreover, the destruction of the country was carried out with the full support of the UN, indeed on behalf of the UN.

US aerial bombardment literally laid the country waste. This crime was perpetrated when there was a sensible moderate Democrat in the White House rather than a pathological right wing narcissist.

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

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I really wanted to like this book. Jane Lazarre looks back on her father’s life as a Communist Party (CP) organiser in the US, at her own relationship with him and the influence that he and his politics had on her. Plus she is a wonderfully skilful writer. Unfortunately the book has a fatal flaw. It does not really get to grips with the history of American communism. This is not uncommon, and not just as regards the American CP.

The great royal con trick

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When millions of people are rejecting austerity and support the idea of taxing the rich, how does the monarchy manage to maintain a level of popularity that defies its privileged position? And why is the bigoted Prince Philip treated as a national treasure? John Newsinger investigates.

The “retirement” of Philip Mountbatten from his “public duties” led to a great outpouring of carefully orchestrated royalist propaganda right across the British media. The press carried page after page of lightweight pap covering the life of this royal nonentity. Even the Daily Mirror gave the royal parasite four pages.

Solidarity forever part 9: War and repression

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Part nine of our history of the Wobblies recounts how the First World War changed the terrain — and not for the better.

By 1914 there was a growing acknowledgement within the IWW that despite the huge part it had played in the class struggle, the union had not succeeded in becoming a mass revolutionary force. It had failed to sweep aside the conservative American Federation of Labour (AFL) and lead the American working class to socialism.

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