John Newsinger

A Matter of Intelligence

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At the end of March 1933 Guy Liddell, a senior MI5 officer, visited Berlin to liaise with the Prussian political police organisation that was soon to become the Gestapo.

He was given privileged access to the results of their operations against the German left and produced a report on “The Liquidation of Communism and Left-wing Socialism in Germany”. He quite freely acknowledged that “Jews, Communists and even Social Democrats have undoubtedly been submitted to every kind of outrage”.

Them and us in history

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Today when the working class is under sustained attack from the Tories, John Newsinger's new book on the class war in Britain is timely. Here he picks out the lessons from the explosive year of 1911.

The year 1911 is one of the most important in British history. It is not remembered as such because there were no royal babies, no great military conquests or massacres, no notable parliamentary occasions.

Instead it is important because the mass action of hundreds of thousands of British working class men and women shifted the balance of class forces in their own favour.

Living standards were falling, work was intensifying and management tyranny was becoming increasingly oppressive. A fightback was inevitable.

Bloodbath at Waterloo

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The Tories' commemoration of the bicentenary of Waterloo is another example of their wish to boost the image of the armed forces today. John Newsinger relates the real reasons for the battle in June 1815.

The Conservative right was determined to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Waterloo bloodbath in style.

After all, the centenary in 1915 had been spoiled by the fact that, at the time, the British were allied with the French against the Germans who had been Britain’s allies in 1815.

Indeed, there had been more German troops in the field that year fighting the French than there were British.

Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences

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An ex-miner, fiercely proud of the working class, Dennis Skinner has stood out as an uncompromising opponent of Tory governments and their works since he was first elected as a Labour MP in 1970. In his “reminiscences” he makes it absolutely clear that he will die a socialist, a fighter for the class. What marks him out though is his commitment to “extra-parliamentary action”.

The hero of New Orleans

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After hearing that hundreds of racists had joined in the lynching and mutilation of a black labourer, Robert Charles called on black people to take up arms in self-defence. John Newsinger tells his incredible story.

On 23 April 1899 Sam Hose, a black farm labourer, was lynched in Palmetto, Georgia, after killing his employer in self-defence. An excursion train was run from Atlanta carrying over a thousand people to watch the spectacle with the guard famously calling, “All aboard for the burning.” Even by the standards of the time (more than 80 black men and women were lynched in the US in 1899), Hose’s lynching was a brutal affair. His ears, fingers, face and genitalia were cut off in front of a jeering crowd of men, women and children.

For God and the Empire

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The OBE was invented as a way of tying ordinary people to a system in deep crisis, writes John Newsinger, while the man who came up with the idea was part of a cover up into the sexual abuse of children.

The Order of the British Empire (OBE) was created on 4 June 1917. Its motto was “For God and the Empire”. The year of its foundation was not coincidental — it was very much a royal response to the pressures of total war, industrial unrest and revolution.

King George V was very worried that the monarchy was under threat — something dramatic had to be done to attach “ordinary” people to a system that was founded on privilege.

Don't Panic!

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The fear exhibited by the ruling class at the prospect of the break-up of the British state was a sight to behold. John Newsinger looks at the actions of a state machine under pressure.

The Scottish insurgency has been successfully contained by a mixture of threats, scare stories and fraudulent promises, but what a fright it gave the ruling class.

BBC reporter Nick Robinson remarked that he could actually smell Cameron’s and Miliband’s fear when it looked as if the Yes vote was gathering momentum.

It was this fear that led the three party leaders, Miliband, Cameron and Clegg, to make what is likely to become their infamous “vow”. Given the track record of these men one can only admire their nerve.

The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It

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Regular readers of Owen Jones’s various newspaper and magazine articles will be aware that there are, in fact, two Owen Joneses. The radical Jones and the responsible Jones. One week the radical Jones can write of his appreciation of the film Pride, making clear his support for the miners in 1984-85 and endorsing the view that “real change always comes from the bottom up”.

WW1: A just war or imperial conflict?

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We are told that the Great War was fought to stop German aggression. But the bloody conflict pitted imperial states against each other in a war for colonies.

Surely we have nothing to complain of in this war. We shall get Mesopotamia, Palestine, the German colonies in South Africa and the islands in the Pacific, including one containing mineral
deposits of great value… I am told that Mesopotamia contains some of the richest oil fields in the world.” So said British Prime Minister Lloyd George on 23 April 1919.

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