John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for September, 2015


Marxism Today: the forgotten visionaries whose ideas could save Labour | John Harris

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

The best guide to politics in 2015 is a magazine that published its final issue more than two decades ago

In May 1988, a group of around 20 writers and academics spent a weekend at Wortley Hall, a country house north of Sheffield, loudly debating British politics and the state of the world. All drawn from the political left, by that point they were long used to defeat, chiefly at the hands of Margaret Thatcher. Now, they were set on figuring out not just how to reverse the political tide, but something much more ambitious: in essence, how to leave the 20th century.

Over the previous decade, some of these people had shone light on why Britain had moved so far to the right, and why the left had become so weak. But as one of them later put it, they now wanted to focus on “how society was changing, what globalisation was about – where things were moving in a much, much deeper sense”. The conversations were not always easy; there were raised voices, and sometimes awkward silences. Everything was taped, and voluminous notes were taken. A couple of months on, one of the organisers wrote that proceedings had been “part coherent, part incoherent, exciting and frustrating in just about equal measure”.

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Related: Yanis Varoufakis: How I became an erratic Marxist

Related: Morning Star opts for youth by appointing Ben Chacko as editor

Related: The Corbyn earthquake – how Labour was shaken to its foundations | Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt

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Trite, glitzy, superficial. No wonder television news is such a turnoff | John Harris

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Viewers will only return when broadcasters abandon their crass formats and boost content and context

Hang out the bunting and contain your excitement, if possible: party conference season is once again upon us, at a time when old-fashioned assumptions about politics look more fragile than ever. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn is the latest unprecedented development. Ukip’s gathering this weekend proves that they have not gone away, and the great political reformation in Scotland continues apace.

The public will largely ignore the kind of pseudo-events that will define Labour’s time in Brighton this week and the Tories’ forthcoming turn in Manchester – yet many broadcast and print journalists will honour these events with a credulous blankness, before a deep sense of anticlimax sets in.

Related: Lib Dem conference diary: What do delegates know that the rest of us don’t?

If it’s going to have any kind of future, TV news needs to uncouple itself from the these staid ways and get out more

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Anywhere but Westminster: an outsider’s view of Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory – video

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

After covering politics away from London for six years, John Harris couldn’t keep away from Labour’s anti-Westminster moment just across the road from parliament. As Jeremy Corbyn claimed the Labour leadership with a landslide victory, outside the hall both supporters and doubters began to consider what comes next

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This refugee crisis was a test for David Cameron. He’s flunked it | John Harris

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

The prime minister could have shown leadership to the nation and his own party. But the response has been pitiful

This is not something I write very often, but I agree with David Miliband. In his capacity as president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, his stern words about the refugee crisis and the UK’s pitiful response were admirably clear and concise, and full of moral urgency: precisely the kind of intervention, in fact, that it would be nice to hear from a few more front-rank British politicians.

Perhaps Miliband’s most cutting point was his argument against those commentators and politicians who still insist that the current emergency is down to “migrants”. That word, he says, “suggests these people are voluntarily fleeing, whereas in fact, if you’ve been barrel-bombed out of your home three times, life and limb demand that you flee. It’s not about being politically incorrect in using the term migrant. It’s simply incorrect.”

Related: How many refugees should the UK take in? | Patrick Kingsley, Diane Abbott, Dan Hannan, Tim Finch

Related: We deride them as ‘migrants’. Why not call them people? | David Marsh

Related: Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees

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