Lindsey German

London mayoral elections: Race and class in the city

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Race has been an issue in London all my life.

When I look back now, it is nowhere near the racist city it once was. London is visibly multicultural, much of the fabric of London life draws from ethnic minority culture, and there is not the same overt racism and bigotry which has dogged generations of immigrants who have been refused rooms, meals and jobs because of their racial or national origins.

London mayoral elections: Why I'm standing

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The election for London mayor is shaping up to be a celebrity clash between the incumbent mayor, Ken Livingstone, and his main rival, the Tory Neanderthal MP for Henley, Boris Johnson.

It is also getting nasty, especially since the Dispatches programme by Martin Bright last month which attacked Livingstone from a number of angles.

Both are well known figures, and already the level of media coverage surrounding the contest is high. Livingstone is facing daily attacks from London's main paper, the Evening Standard, while representatives of ethnic minorities, not to mention the left, quake at the thought of Johnson running City Hall.

Kosovo - back to the brink

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The Balkan province of Kosovo has been largely forgotten in British politics since the war there nine years ago. It was obvious at the time that the post-war settlement would come to a crisis over the question of Kosovan independence.

If a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo doesn't lead to war, that's only because the Serbs are too war weary and defeated to fight against what most of them see as a further attack on their country.

The "War on Terror": is Iran next?

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With two disastrous wars under their belt, the desperate neocons in the White House are pushing for one more throw of the blood stained dice. Lindsey German looks at their plans for another regime change, while Naz Massoumi writes about the consequences of a potential US attack.

Any faint hopes that Gordon Brown would break from George Bush over his foreign policy were dashed by his Mansion House speech to the Lord Mayor of London and assorted businessmen and dignitaries last month. Once more, wearing the white tie and tails he had specially made for the Saudi Arabian state visit, Brown declared himself a strong ally of Bush: "We will lead in seeking tougher sanctions both at the UN and in the European Union, including on oil and gas investment and the financial sector." Brown added that no one should mistake "the seriousness of our purpose".

The grotesque bargain

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Last month Gordon Brown became the nearly man.

The debacle of his preparing for an election and then pulling back from it has confused and demoralised his own side, and given the Tories a major political advantage. While the election has probably now been pushed back nearly two years, Brown's own popularity has plummeted in the opinion polls.

Soft in the middle

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Anyone who has recently tried to obtain a mortgage or loan will have known Northern Rock long before the current crisis broke - it was a byword for favourable rates.

The company's spectacular demise has sent shockwaves through the money markets, government, investors and general public, who all look on in amazement as something supposedly so good has become so bad.

No one can remember queues outside a British bank as investors struggled to remove their savings. Those scenes seem reminiscent of Weimar Germany or the US Depression of the 1930s. They seem to presage worse economic news to come.

Afghan Women

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Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Zed Books, £15.99

There are few subjects more timely than this study of Afghan women and few people more qualified to examine them. Elaheh Rostami-Povey is a British academic of Iranian origin, a socialist and feminist who opposes imperialism in the region. She has talked to Afghan women in their own country, in exile in Iran and Pakistan, and in Britain and the US.

Relocation inflation

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The ferment over the US subprime mortgage market, which has been helping to make the money markets so unsteady in recent weeks, tends to ignore one aspect: people are so desperate to obtain decent housing they will take on debt they are simply incapable of ever paying back.

The subprime market was aimed at those sections of US society who were too poor to gain mortgage credit any other way. They were people who lived on benefits, or very low wages, and who often had a bad credit rating. Suddenly a few years ago they were promised a dream home bought on credit with very few questions asked.

Tony Benn on life on the outside

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Gordon Brown, the Left outside the Labour Party and the power of popular protest - Tony Benn speaks to Lindsey German and Judith Orr

How different is your political life today, recorded in the latest instalment of your diaries, from your time in parliament?

Before my wife Caroline died she said that if I ever left parliament I should say that I left to devote more time to politics. People laugh, but I've never done so many meetings and broadcasts, and I've written four books, so I have fulfilled that objective.

Still looking for liberation

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Lindsey German has written about and been active in struggles for women's rights for many years. She looks at the changing lives of women and explains what stimulated her to write her new book, Material Girls - women, men and work.

What took you so long? That's a fair enough question about a book which has been seven years in the writing. I first made time to sit in libraries back in the beginning of the new millennium. It seemed that a great deal had happened to women in the decade since I finished Sex, Class and Socialism, and I wanted to write a new book which took into account those changes. It seems incredible now that in the seven years from starting to finishing the book so much has changed again in women's lives.


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