John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for October, 2015

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The Lords is a ludicrous affront to democracy and accountability | John Harris

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Democracies have upper houses. But Britain’s upper house gives Andrew Lloyd Webber a say in how the poor survive

The death of satire, part 645: among the Tory peers dragged into the House of Lords on Monday night to support the Conservatives’ cuts to tax credits was Andrew Lloyd Webber. There were claims that a desperate government had flown him in from New York, but the good lord himself said that he was in town to attend the opening night of Cats at the London Palladium, and therefore able to nip over to Westminster to cast his first vote since 2013.

According to his official statement, he did so because he “feels that it is important for democracy that the House of Lords should not override decisions taken by the elected House of Commons”. He was joined on the government side by fellow millionaires such as Karren Brady, the JCB tycoon Antony Bamford, and the newly ennobled lingerie magnate Michelle Mone. To quote from Evita, what a circus, and what a show: a brazen instance of property kicking poverty, which in livelier times than ours might have seen the ghastly and guilty parties chased through the city by the mob.

Related: Cameron refuses to say whether tax credits plan will leave people worse off

To quote from Evita, what a circus, and what a show: a brazen instance of property kicking poverty

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Marxism Today: the forgotten visionaries whose ideas could save Labour – Podcast

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

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

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So you hate the Tories – but what comes next? | John Harris

Friday, October 9th, 2015

While Conservatives plan for lasting dominance, the left seems wedded to the pointless protest of the 80s

“We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We are the Tory haters.”

As a young Labour activist in the 1980s, I marched through Manchester and shouted out that song, and they were doing the same last Sunday. Same chant, same streets – and, as the Conservatives gathered for their conference, the thousands of people who came to protest suggested the exact same bundle of emotions: anger, defiance, and by the day’s end, a creeping sense of the futility of it all. For the next three days, moreover, an ugly show of that pointlessness was laid on by those who signalled their sense of defeat by getting as close as possible to any passing Conservatives and issuing the week’s ubiquitous insult: “Tory scum!”

Labour’s fixation on arcana amounts to political white noise: “people’s QE” is probably the best example

Related: Martin Rowson on protesters at the Conservative party conference – cartoon

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Can anything stop the Conservatives? – video

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

At the Tories’ first gathering as the sole party of government for nearly 20 years, a wearied John Harris finds them brimming with the confidence of power. Outside the party conference venue in Manchester, irate marchers protest about the awfulness of Conservative rule while Cameron, Osborne, Boris and the rest carry on regardless. But could they eventually be felled by the Tories’ hidden weakness – the fact that while Corbynmania surges on, the Conservative party is ageing and shrinking fast?

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Seven final thoughts on the Labour party conference | Gaby Hinsliff, Jonathan Freedland, John Harris, Matthew d’Ancona, Owen Jones, Rafael Behr, Martin Kettle

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

As the conference winds up, our writers address the Ben Okri question, the party’s year zero mentality and Corbynistas v Corbysceptics

There’s been a niggling question in the background at Brighton; call it the Ben Okri question. Jeremy Corbyn quoted the novelist and poet (along with Maya Angelou) and the audience loved it; one fan told me how blissful it was to be led by someone who loved writers like that too. Then an MP told me the response in their constituency would be “who the fuck is Ben Okri?”.

Related: Maria Eagle says Corbyn’s comment on not pressing nuclear button unhelpful – Politics live

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