Pat Stack

Bang!

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Graham Stewart

There is a need for a serious study of the 1980s to be written, and Graham Stewart cannot be faulted for trying to capture much of the politics, culture and social change of the decade. Sadly however, he does it from a perspective so adoring of Margaret Thatcher that I suspect George Osborne's copy will be smudged by tear stains on almost every page.

Stewart tries to convey the impression of balanced history rather than polemic, but it becomes swiftly clear that this is not the case.

Outside In

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Peter Hain

This is a very definitely a book of two halves. The first half covers Peter Hain the activist and rebel, the second half Peter Hain the rising Labour politician, MP and member of the cabinet.

Reading the book one thing really strikes you about Hain, that he is most humble about his greatest achievements, and most self-serving about his later (dubious to say the least) claims of achievement.

Hain begins the book with an enthralling account of his parents' liberal yet heroic stance against South African apartheid leading to political exile.

Falklands: self determination for some

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It would appear that Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will not be invited to one of David Cameron's country suppers - these are reserved only for the great and good such as the rational Jeremy Clarkson and the delightful Rebekah Brooks.

The Argentinian president was not even granted the oily Cameron charm offensive, when she attempted to hand him copies of the UN resolutions calling for a peaceful resolution to the Falklands dispute. Apparently "the prime minister refused to accept the documents, turned his back and walked away without a farewell".

Chavs

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Owen Jones

This excellent book provides a long overdue look at the state of the class war in Britain today. It takes as its starting point the demonisation of the "underclass" or "chavs", as much of the media and popular culture choose to portray the poorer working class sections of society.

Owen Jones argues that in modern Britain an aggressive bigoted snobbery has emerged that allows the upper and middle classes to treat with utter contempt those they consider to be beyond the pale of decent society. Even among sections of the liberal middle classes this contempt is deemed acceptable.

33 Revolutions per Minute

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Dorian Lynskey

The book - which is about protest music - starts by looking at Billie Holiday's harrowing classic about lynching, Strange Fruit, and works its way through the world of protest songs right up to Green Day's anti-Bush/redneck song American Idiot.

On the way it charts every major political event in the US and Britain from the 60s, and takes detours into the protest music of Chile, Nigeria and Jamaica.

Eton Whine

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The other day I heard a recording of a Thatcher speech on the TV. It was one of those awful repetitive dogmatic dirges she was so fond of. Immediately the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I felt my hackles rise.

It's amazing that after all this time she alone of politicians of my lifetime can produce such deep loathing and an urge to do something unspeakably violent.

There have been plenty of other politicians I have detested, yet none quite trigger the same feeling, and I'm aware it's not entirely logical. I mean there is so much to loathe about Cameron, Osborne and Clegg, smarmy sons of privilege, hiding truly vicious politics behind vague social liberalism.

Violence and Legitimacy

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Pat Stack argues that the media frenzy about direct action at recent student protests is based on the assumption that state violence is legitimate - and that we don't have the right to win


Photo: Geoff Dexter

When Edward Woollard was sentenced to 32 months in prison for throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of Tory HQ at a student protest, there was no doubt that the British state was making an example of him to warn off student protesters.

Quantum leak

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It's all beginning to feel as if it were a Stieg Larsson novel. You have computer hacking, a journalist exposing the dirty doings of the rich and powerful, outcry and outrage from the said rich and powerful, and before you know it there are attempts to discredit the journalist, legal proceedings and it all ends up in the Swedish courts. All that's missing is a girl with a dragon tattoo.

I have watched the Wikileaks affair with a mixture of astonishment and amusement, and with a deep-seated appreciation of just how nasty and downright corrupt all those people who I'd always assumed were downright nasty and corrupt truly are.

Was I shocked that the lickspittle but bestial Saudi regime wanted the US to bomb Iran? Not for a minute, but to have it in black and white and in their own words was not anything I'd ever expected to see.

Labour's "Red" Ed?

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At times the Labour Party leadership contest seemed to go on forever.

At the beginning it also seemed as if it would be profoundly dull, with four men - of roughly the same age, background and politics - in the running alongside a token "left" candidate in the form of Diane Abbott (token in the sense that she was only there because David Miliband instructed supporters to put her on the ticket).

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