Interview

Ronan Bennett: A sense of impending tragedy

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Writer Ronan Bennett talks to Shaun Doherty about the lead up to the Iraq war, the ignorance of New Labour and being a political writer

How did 10 Days to War, your series of eight short dramas marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, come about?

Someone had come up with the idea of dramatising the run-up to the war in a series of short films. It was green lit, fully financed, and given a broadcast date - which was obviously the anniversary of the war - but had no script. So I was asked.

Solidarity, struggle and resistance

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Iraqi-born writer and activist Haifa Zangana talks to Judith Orr about the struggle of Iraqi women still fighting for the liberation of their country.

Your new book, City of Widows, looks at the history of Iraq and in particular the role of women, which is often hidden in official histories.

During the period of Islam and the emergence of Islam and the building of the Islamic empire, there were always women leaders, poets - quite influential women in society.

Prominent women are more common at times of expansion, and when there have been struggles for national liberation women have been there, and have been quite powerful. So it varies from one period to another historically.

Making drama to quicken the heart

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Trevor Griffiths, co-writer of the film Reds, talks to Phil Turner about why he is committed to making a film on 18th century radical Tom Paine.

During his life Thomas Paine was hounded from Britain, imprisoned in France and treated as a pariah in the US, his adopted country. Why should we celebrate Paine's life and work?

He was one of a fairly long line of British socialists or pre-socialists, radicals whom history has sought to erase in one way or the other.

Playing for the Moment

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The Bays are one of the most exciting bands in Britain, with an innovative and unique sound. Yet you won't find their music in record shops. Band member Simon Richmond talks to Hannah Dee and Martin Smith.

You have made a choice not to make records. Is that because of a musical ideology?

There are two ways of looking at it, and we kind of like to have it both ways. On the one level it isn't really an ideology. It's what musicians have always done, which is perform and entertain. The recorded music industry is about 100 years old whereas performed music is as old as humanity. The choice to perform and not record is more in tune with what the spirit and essence of making music is all about.

Stories of Black Britain in Pictures

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Author Paul Gilroy tells Brian Richardson why he hopes images of past moments of everyday life and struggle will inspire a new generation

Your new book, Black Britain: a photographic history, is a very different type of book from those that have made your name. What persuaded you to curate and write a book based around photographs?

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.

Picket lines and songs of protest

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Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello talks to Martin Smith about playing at stadiums, demonstrations and coffee shops.

Tom Morello strolls into the hotel lobby wearing an IWW baseball cap - the International Workers of the World or Wobblies as they are more commonly known were advocates of militant industrial trade unionism in the early part of the last century. He also carries an acoustic guitar, with the slogan "Whatever It Takes" painted on the front. By any definition Tom Morello is not your average rock star.

Howard Zinn on Making History

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Pathbreaking historian and political activist Howard Zinn talks to Judith Orr about his life, war, class politics and taking sides.

Can I take you back to your memories of childhood in Brooklyn?

This was the 1930s during the depression. My father and mother were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. My father was from the Austro-Hungarian empire, my mother from Siberia. They came to the US and worked in factories, met one another and got married.

Blair in the dock

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Theatre director Nicolas Kent and Guardian journalist Richard Norton-Taylor are well known for their powerful plays based on tribunal hearings. They talked to Mark Brown about their new drama, Called to Account, which puts Tony Blair in the dock over Iraq

An interesting process has taken place since the movement against the Iraq war exploded onto the British political scene. A legal term, which ordinarily would be a topic of discussion for only a small minority of the population, has become part of mainstream public consciousness - possibly millions of people in Britain believe that their own prime minister is a "war criminal".

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