John Newsinger

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.

US workers: from despair to victory

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After years of vicious repression, US workers rose in 1934 in a series of magnificent struggles, transforming the nation's industrial landscape.

John Newsinger reviews a new book about one of the most significant, that in Minneapolis.

In the aftermath of the First World War the US labour movement suffered a succession of crushing defeats that were to leave it on its knees throughout the 1920s. A countrywide "open shop" campaign saw union organisation broken, driven out of whole industries, and militants and activists sacked and blacklisted.

The Mad Hatter

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Boris Johnson presents himself as a comical toff in touch with the people. John Newsinger takes a look behind the mask at the great hope of the Tory right.

Boris Johnson is desperate to become leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister. His time as Mayor of London has really been little more than a protracted campaign to replace David Cameron, accompanied by regular protestations of loyalty. He has left his "people" in charge while getting on with the more important task of keeping himself in the public eye, courting Rupert Murdoch and massaging the Tory right.

Investment In Blood

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Frank Ledwidge is not a left wing anti-imperialist. Indeed in his new book he actually laments that the RAF did not play a larger role in the recent bombing of Libya. Apparently, the Danes carried out more raids than the British! Nevertheless, he has written two of the most devastating indictments of British involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his earlier Losing Small Wars and now his new Investment In Blood.

The Circus

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James Craig

James Craig's first Inspector Carlyle novel, London Calling, had a killer bumping off the former members of a particularly nasty posh boys' Oxford University Bullingdon-style dining club, the Merrion Club. The killer clearly has the intention of working his way up to the leader of the Opposition, Edgar Carlton, soon to become prime minister, and his good friend, Christian Holroyd, the Mayor of London.

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