New Statesman (151)

My companion in a pod on the London Eye was none other than Death, destroyer of worlds

"The general would like to see the big wheel." The first time I met General Mikhail Kalashnikov he was wearing fun-fur leopard-skin ankle slippers and his housekeeper's cardigan. He was standing in the doorway of his dacha in the Urals, a cabin by the shore of the reservoir that fed the great arms ...

Madeleines

A new poem by Gary Allen. Gary Allen was born in Northern Ireland and has published 14 collections, most recently Jackson's Corner Photo: Getty

Wilderness and wastelands in Rick Bass's hypnotic short stories

Hopefully, For a Little While will bring the American author the UK recognition he deserves. There is no good reason why Rick Bass is eminently celebrated in America by the likes of Lorrie Moore, Annie Proulx, Joyce Carol Oates and Carl Hiaasen, and yet is seemingly unheard of here in the UK. ...

Mirror mirror: Will Storr's Selfie charts the history of self-obsession

We all want to discover who we truly are – but what happens when we don't like what we find? It's often said that the self is a 'story',' Will Storr writes, early in this exploration of human identity and behaviour. t is built to tell us a story of who we are, and . . . that story is a lie.' As ...

Who's the daddy? Two memoirs that examine the complexities of fatherhood

Both Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell and Fathers by Sam Miller chase what can never really be known. About three-quarters of the way in to his striking memoir, Fathers and Sons, Howard Cunnell writes about a support group he attends at the Tavistock Centre in London with his son, Jay, who is ...

Social media tome #Republic questions the wisdom of crowds

Cass R Sunstein explores how insulation pushes groups towards more extreme opinions. Cass Sunstein, one of the leading public intellectuals in the United States and a former Obama administration official, has worried and written for more than 15 years about the effects of the internet and digital ...

For the first time in decades, there is genuine dissent in Scottish Nationalist ranks

The First Minister is facing pressure to talk less about independence - and bring on new talent in her party. She so recently seemed all-powerful, licensed to reign for as long as she chose, with the authority to pursue the return of our national sovereignty. We would then have the ability to ...

Hyper-partisan Corbynite websites show how the left can beat the tabloids online

If I were a young Tory looking forward to a long career, I'd be worried. Despite their best efforts during the election campaign, the Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Express failed to convince voters to give Theresa May a majority, let alone the landslide she craved. Instead, Labour made inroads ...

Brexit Big Brother is watching: how media moguls control the news

I know the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph well, and I don't care to see them like this. It would take a heart of stone now not to laugh at an illustration of Theresa May staring defiantly out at Europe from the British coast, next to the headline Steel of the new Iron Lady'. Those are, ...

After a year of chaos, MPs from all parties are trying to stop an extreme Brexit

The Greens are calling for a cross-party commission on Brexit. One year ago today, I stood on Westminster Bridge as the sun rose over a changed country. By a narrow margin, on an unexpectedly high turnout, a majority of people in Britain had chosen to leave the EU. It wasn't easy for those of us on ...

The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act. On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern's turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power ...

Skam, interrupted: why is the phenomenally popular teen drama ending before its peak?

The show has been building towards high school graduation – but now it's ending before its lead characters finish school. Have you heard they started their bus already?' No!' One month into high school – and they started their bus.' This Skype conversation between Eva and Isak comes early in ...

The Gallows Pole's ultra-violence turns reading into a kind of dare

Author Benjamin Myers's capacity for the grotesque is constantly threatening to breach your tolerance of it. Here is a tip for the squeamish when reading a Ben Myers novel. Imagine the worst thing that could happen to the characters, and then drop the book, because whatever Myers has imagined will ...

The three avoidable mistakes that Theresa May has made in the Brexit negotiations

She ignored the official Leave campaign, and many Remainers, in pursuing Brexit in the way she has. We shouldn't have triggered Article 50 at all before agreeing an exit deal When John Kerr, the British diplomat who drafted Article 50 wrote it, he believed it would only be used by a dictatorial ...

Who really controls the Labour Party now?

Jeremy Corbyn's allies will struggle to achieve their ambition to remove general secretary Iain McNicol. Jeremy Corbyn's advance at the general election confirmed his place as Labour leader. Past opponents recognise not only that Corbyn could not be defeated but that he should not be. They set him ...

How and why "inspirational" Instagram accounts are stealing photos to spread lies

"They blew it up to make me appear bigger," says Amaya King, whose photo was stolen for the "before" shot in a weight loss picture. The internet loves a glo up. Technically, they began before the term was even invented. Before' and after' pictures of people transforming from ostensibly unattractive ...

Who will take responsibility for the rise in far-right terrorism?

Muslims are asked to condemn Islamist terrorism – should the mainstream right do the same when the attackers are white? Following the attack on a Finsbury Park mosque, both Theresa May and Amber Rudd have issued statements and delivered speeches adopting hard lines against Islamophobia and ...

Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes.  Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes. Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also ...

Okja begins as a buddy flick – but ends up in the slaughterhouse

Korean director Bong Joon-ho works with British co-writer Jon Ronson on this tale of genetically engineered superpigs. If Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio responsible for Spirited Away, were to branch out into live action, the result might be something like Okja – at least in part. ...

Cones and cocaine: the ice cream van's links with organised crime

A cold war is brewing to the tinkling of "Greensleeves". Anyone who has spent a summer in this country will be familiar with the Pavlovian thrill the first tinny notes of Greensleeves' stir within the stolid British breast. The arrival of the ice cream van – usually at least two decades older ...

Labour MP for East Lothian Martin Whitfield: "I started an argument and ended up winning an election"

The former primary school teacher still misses home.  Two months ago, Martin Whitfield was a primary school teacher in Prestonpans, a small town along the coast from Edinburgh. Then he got into an argument. It was a Saturday morning shortly after the snap election had been called, and he and other ...

How the fire at Grenfell Tower exposed the ugly side of the housing boom

Nobody consciously chose to harm those at the bottom of society, but governing in the interests of the rich has done it nonetheless. It's impressive, in a way, how quickly we slot horrific new events into the beliefs we already hold. In the Grenfell Tower fire – a tragedy that, at the time of ...

Theresa May missed an easy opportunity on EU citizens' rights

If the UK had made a big, open and generous offer, the diplomatic picture would be very different. It's been seven hours and 365 days...and nothing compares to EU, at least as far as negotiations go. First David Davis abandoned "the row of the summer" by agreeing to the EU's preferred negotiating ...

Jeremy Corbyn faces a dilemma as Brexit solidifies: which half of his voters should he disappoint?

He comes from a tradition on the left that sees the EU as a capitalist club. Imagine a man who voted to leave the European Economic Community in 1975. A man who spoke out against the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, saying that it takes away from national parliaments the power to set economic policy and ...

A year in my life as a Brexit bargaining chip

After Brexit, like many other EU citizens in Britain, I spent a year not knowing what my future held. Here's what that was like. I moved back to the UK in January 2016. I like to say move back', because that's how it feels – I loved living in London so much during my Erasmus year that I always ...

Ed Miliband is interviewing David Miliband on the Jeremy Vine show

Sibling rivalry hits the radio. David was the chosen one, the protege, the man destined to lead the Labour party.  But instead his awkward younger brother committed the ultimate sibling betrayal by winning the Labour party leadership election instead. Not only that, but he lost the 2015 general ...

The High Court is right to rule the benefit cap is "unlawful" for lone parents with small children

The idea this ill-judged policy helps people transition from the social security system into paid work has been exposed as a myth.  Thursday's High Court decision that the benefit cap is "unlawful" for lone parents with children under the age of two is another blow to the Tories failing austerity ...

From hard to soft to the people's Brexit': Theresa May's Britain is in one hell of a frightful mess

Nobody told me there'd be days like these. Theresa May became Prime Minister only because of Brexit. Her insouciant predecessor, whose most substantial contribution to this year's general election campaign was to tweet a photograph of his and his wife's feet as they lay side by side in bed, resigned ...

The new French revolution: how En Marche! disrupted politics

The rise of Emmanuel Macron's party has shattered the accepted wisdom. Alexandre Holroyd bears many similarities to his new boss, Emmanuel Macron. Like the French president, a former banker, Holroyd started his career in the private sector, at the management consultancy firm FTI. At 39, Macron is ...

A year on from the Brexit vote it's striking how little we know about where it will lead

So many questions, so few answers. One year one. Anyone who hoped we'd know what Brexit might look like or even, heaven, forbid, that we'd be inhabiting a post-EU UK by now, must be thoroughly disappointed. Even those with more modest expectations are feeling slightly uncomfortable. Because, a year ...

They should be on bended knee apologising': Chris Williamson warns Corbynsceptic Labour MPs

The MP for Derby North on his return to Parliament, why Labour won in marginal seats, and how party unity could have led to a Labour government. At 5am on election morning, Chris Williamson was ceremonially tearing up some binbags. Two dustbin liners had been taped over the gold and green Chris ...

Watching Bob Dylan on stage made me yearn for the gigs of my youth

Somewhere along the line, I'd lost the punky irreverence that used to make me delight in iconoclasm for its own sake. A couple of weeks ago I failed in my journalistic duty. I went to see Bob Dylan at the Palladium, intending to review it, but I found to my dismay that I simply couldn't. I had ...

Is new Netflix drama To The Bone glorifying eating disorders?

We spoke to people with experience of eating disorders about To The Bone, a film about anorexia coming to Netflix next month. A gaunt and thin girl sits at a stylish breakfast bar in an all-American, middle-class home. A plate of bland food is placed in front of her: pork, noodles, green beans and a ...

Oliver Stone on interviewing Vladimir Putin: "There are two sides to every story"

The director says his conversations with the Russian president, like all of his works, speak for themselves. You're going to start with this blogging bullshit?' Oliver Stone raises his voice at a reporter, a look of fury on his face. The director has been asked about the veracity of a video shown to ...

Why the 2017 election was much worse for Theresa May, and much better for Jeremy Corbyn, than it looked

To understand the 2017 result, you need to understand the 2015 one.  There is a lot stuff talking about the election as if Theresa May did quite well – and a lot talking about what Jeremy Corbyn did right, focusing on his vote share rather than his more important gain, vastly increasing the ...

Cheer the Exeter boys in skirts, but we'll have real progress when it's no longer news

You have nothing to lose but your pockets! When I first learned that the boys of Exeter's ISCA Academy were arriving to school wearing skirts, I couldn't help wanting to cheer. Good for them! It's about time someone tackled the blatant sexism of gendered dress codes head on. There's no reason at all ...

Philip Hammond's house gaffe is a reminder of what the Tories lost when David Cameron left

The Chancellor of the Exchequer's blunder confirmed an old fear about the Conservative Party.  Philip Hammond got into a spot of bother this morning describing the need for a transitional agreement with the European Union by comparing it to moving into a house, saying: "you don't necessarily move ...

The moonwalkers: what it's like to belong to the world's most exclusive club

The blue and the white and the brown just hung in the blackness of space." It's been almost 50 years since man first walked on the moon - and it only happened a grand total of six times. From 1969 until 1972, as humanity reached out into space, these men - and they were all men - were at the ...

The NS Podcast #222: Queen's Speech Special

The New Statesman podcast. Helen and Stephen discuss what was left out, watered down and generally squished around in the Queen's Speech - from prison reform to fox hunting - and what kind of stage it sets for the coming parliamentary term. Will Labour's stance on immigration have to change? And ...

Spinning around: what our political fables reveal about us

Do the stories we tell ourselves need to be true? How should we make sense of politics in an age of uncertainty? In times of doubt and turmoil, we reach for familiar narratives that shape the mess of current affairs into a coherent form. And the messier the present gets, the simpler we need the ...

The tale of Battersea power station shows how affordable housing is lost

Initially, the developers promised 636 affordable homes. Now, they have reduced the number to 386.  It's the most predictable trick in the big book of property development. A developer signs an agreement with a local council promising to provide a barely acceptable level of barely affordable ...

Daniel Day-Lewis is a genius, but I'll shed more tears for actors who don't choose to stop

I've always felt respect rather than love for the three-times Oscar winner. Imagine learning of the closure of an exquisite but prohibitively expensive restaurant that you only got round to visiting once every four or five years. There would be an abstract feeling of sadness, perhaps, that you will ...

Radio as shelter: Grenfell Tower was too frightening to look at

No song seemed to fit the mood on Hayes FM. Amidst all this horror, I hope to bring you some light relief. Here's James Taylor.' Two days after the Grenfell Tower fire, a popular community station a little west of the incident was uncertain what note to strike. The repeated ads for alarms detecting ...

The Chancellor's furniture gaffe is just the latest terrible Tory political analogy

Philip Hammond assumes everyone has at least a second home. Right. Got to sort out Brexit. Go on the radio to avoid questions about it and all that. But first of all, let me work out where I'm going to put the ottoman and the baby grand. Actually, maybe I'll keep them in one of my other properties ...

Who Should We Let In? pulls the rug from beneath its viewers' complacent feet

A gold star for Ian Hislop's BBC2 immigration documentary. People talk about context as if it's a straightforward matter: a thing to be conjured with a click of the fingers. But taking the long view, the better to put contemporary stuff into perspective, is a difficult business, on television as in ...

Free movement isn't free: the truth about EU immigration

The UK does not need to leave the single market to restrict European migration - it already can. In the Brext negotiations, the government has unashamedly prioritised immigration control over the economy. The UK must leave the single market, ministers say, in order to restrict free movement. For ...

Give it up Daily Mail, you can't pretend you're nothing to do with Mail Online

The newspaper's insistence on claiming it has nothing to do with its website borders on the ridiculous.  Across the top of the Daily Mail's front page on Thursday a banner screamed: Fake news, the fascist Left and the REAL purveyors of hatred'. No this wasn't another attack on Jeremy Corbyn and the ...

Ukrainians now have more freedom of travel - but less freedom of thought

Ukraine's government is rightly concerned about Russian cyber aggression. But does that merit online censorship? Ukrainians have sacrificed so much in their bid to be recognised as fellow Europeans. Their struggle to extricate themselves from Russian domination is written in the blood of the ...

LISTEN: Boris Johnson has a meltdown in car crash interview on the Queen's Speech

Hang on a second…errr…I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' Hang on a second,' Boris Johnson sighed. On air, you could hear the desperate rustling of his briefing notes and him burbling for an answer. Over and over again, on issues of racism, working-class inequality, educational opportunity, mental healthcare ...

Stephen Hawking's enthusiasm for colonising space makes him almost as bad as Trump

The physicist's inistence on mankind's expansion risks making him a handmaiden of inequality. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves,' Stephen Hawking has warned. And he's not just talking about surviving the UK's recent run of record breaking heat. If humanity doesn't ...