John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for June, 2015

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Is the Labour party having a nervous breakdown? | John Harris

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Neither the leadership candidates nor party grandees give cause for much hope. Depressingly, current squabbles sound like the noise before more defeat

Watching the daily hurly-burly of debate and pronouncements at the top of the Labour party, one begins to wonder how exactly to characterise what is going on. The phrase that keeps coming to mind is “collective nervous breakdown”, though perhaps that misses the mark.

Thinking about it, the best metaphor might be a row among one of those aristocratic families whose stately home is falling down around them. The fortysomethings nominally in charge might argue, but none of them seem to have a clue how to turn things around; and the older members of the family will not leave them alone, continually poking their nose in to claim that it would all be OK if only someone could find a way of returning everything to the certainties of the last century, when everyone knew their place and that splendid Mr Churchill was in charge.

Related: Labour leadership hustings at GMB conference in Dublin – Politics live

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Where are the women of rock? Ask Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie | John Harris

Friday, June 5th, 2015

It is amazing that every UK festival headline act this summer is all-male – except for the incredible Fleetwood Mac

“Don’t ask me why I obsessively look to rock’n’roll bands for some kind of model for a better society,” wrote the legendary US writer Lester Bangs in 1977. “I guess it’s just that I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment once, and perhaps mistaking it for prophecy have been seeking its fulfilment ever since.”

Some might sneer at his naive romanticism, but anyone with a deep love of popular music should know roughly what he meant. Moreover, with the festival season looming, opportunities to experience one of the same epiphanies abound. The drill is simple: you stand in a field, your mystical leanings perhaps enhanced by a taste of this or that, and watch talented human beings do their thing on stage in the most spectacular way imaginable. If everything coheres, the mixture of lights, music and mass transcendence will do its work, and deliver something often impossible to explain but dizzyingly powerful: righteous if you’re lucky; utopian à la Bangs if it’s a really good night.

‘I think every band should have a girl in it, because it’s always going to make for cooler stuff going on’

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