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    The Super Furry Animals on fighting the ‘smug’ Tories, Welsh independence and Jeremy Corbyn

    It’s telling that the main stories from this year’s Conservative party conference have been about what has taken place outside the conference 'safe zone’ rather than inside.

    Whether it’s 80,000 anti-austerity protesters marching on the streets, a small number of anarchists spitting at delegates or Jeremy Corbyn packing out Manchester cathedral, it’s been the Tories’ opponents who have grabbed the headlines, rather than the Tories themselve.

    So last night I took a trip away from the conference bars to Manchester University where the People’s Assembly Against Austerity were holding a benefit gig with Charlotte Church and the Super Furry Animals.

    Before they went on stage. I sat down with Cian Ciaran and Guto Pryce rom the Super Furries to ask why they had chosen to become part of the growing anti-austerity movement.

    Cian: I found out about the People’s Assembly about three years ago trawling the

    Read More »from The Super Furry Animals on fighting the 'smug' Tories, Welsh independence and Jeremy Corbyn
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    The weird thing about this conference season is how happy it is. The Lib Dems were all pleased as punch, as if nothing had happened since the last time they got together. Labour had this frenzied sense of joy electrifying the conference, not because they thought they were going to win – almost none of them really think that – but because things were chaotic and remarkable. And the Tories… Well, the Tories won the election. They actually improved the share of the vote for a governing party and secured their first majority since 1992. They’ve earned the right to be pleased with themselves.

    They’re trying to be understated about it, although it must be said they’re not doing a very good job of it. Michael Gove told delegates he found commentators’ mistaken predictions of a Labour coalition “hilariously” wrong. In the bars of the conference centres, there is a background hum of guffawing and back-slapping. But dig beneath the happiness and there is very little political content here.


    Read More »from Tories are jubilant but there's no heart to their conference
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    By Natasha Dhumma

    The wave of reported knife crime that has dominated London newspapers this summer has now got Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith behind calls to increase the use of stop and search. The Metropolitan Police have also indicated they plan toincrease their use of the tactic.

    According to these voices, the decline in stop and search over the past three years has led to young people feeling invincible and without fear of being caught possessing knives. Not only is this completely unsupported by the evidence, it echoes a policing blunder from our recent history from which, it appears, lessons have not been sufficiently learnt.

    In 2008, Operation Blunt 2, an anti-knife crime initiative was launched in London with the backing of London Mayor Boris Johnson. Under Blunt, the rate of Section 60 searches, which do not require an officer to have reasonable suspicion that an individual has done anything wrong, skyrocketed, and tougher sentences were introduced.

    Read More »from Police must reject reactionary calls to increase stop and search
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    There is a very telling moment in Owen Bennett’s account of being spat at at an anti-Tory demo in Manchester yesterday. It’s not when the Huffington Post reporter is actually spat at. There are always aggressive lunatics on protests. They don’t indicate anything wider about their movement except that it, like all other movements, has its fair share of idiots. It comes afterwards, when police had separated him and fellow journalist Kate McCann off from a section of the crowd.

    As Bennett recounts:

    “I shouted out that we were journalists, and flashed my National Union of Journalists issued-press card. They didn’t leave us alone, apparently we were fair game. I deserved to be spat on, according to more than one person in the crowd. The police told Kate and I we needed to move out of the area or we would ‘get lynched’. I didn’t doubt it. The crowd was getting larger, and angrier.”

    Similar accounts came in from a variety of journalists attending the conference, most of them not writing for

    Read More »from Hatred of the press is reaching toxic levels
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    Zac Goldsmith was today chosen as the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate, with a whopping 70% of the vote.

    The details of the result were less impressive for the party however. Just 9,000 people took part in the ballot, fewer than half of the number who took part in the previous contest which selected Boris Johnson and a tiny fraction of the numbers who have joined Labour in London since May.

    This does suggest that enthusiasm for the green-minded Goldsmith among Tory members is not quite as strong as the headline percentage suggests. Could his support for extending charges against motorists and his opposition to airport expansion have turned some Tories cold?

    At the very least it doesn’t bode well for the Tories’ activist base in London.

    However, in some ways the poor turnout is unsurprising. Unlike Labour’s recent mayoral contest which contained four big names, Zac always looked like a shoo-in against his relatively unknown rivals. In a closer, more high-profile contest, we would

    Read More »from Five reasons why Zac Goldsmith will be difficult for Labour to beat
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    For the first time in a long time, the censors are on the back foot. Efforts to ban secular campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking at Warwick University have been reversed. Then this week, feminist campaigners Caroline Criado Perez and Julie Bindel pulled out of the Feminism in London conference in protest at efforts to no-platform fellow panellist Jane Fae. We are seeing the first signs that the tide is turning in the free speech debate. Event organisers are finally coming under as much pressure from free speech defenders as they are censors.

    (Quick declaration of interest: I went to Warwick for my MA, I’m close friends with Perez and Fae regularly writes for this website. None of that has any bearing really, but it’s worth mentioning because online censors – from the Corbynistas to the safe spaces lot – struggle to accept that anyone holds opinions for any reason other than self-interest. I might as well beat them to it.)

    The Warwick debate started just like all the other travesties

    Read More »from Feminist backlash against the censors shows tide turning in free speech debate
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    For all the faults of his conference speech, Jeremy Corbyn has achieved one very important thing: he brought party conference back to life. The Brighton centre is hosting the most exciting party conference for the last twenty years. There is debate – real, full-blooded political debate – everywhere. In the conference hall, the fringe, the bars, the hallways, the streets. Corbyn said he wanted to turn this place into a festival of politics and he has succeeded.

    For years – since Tony Blair at least – conferences have been dead places. The decision-making power of members over party policy was stripped away. Campaigning and debate were replaced by something akin to a trade fair. Charities and lobby groups set up stands (not unlike the ones Politics.co.uk, I should probably mention, has all over this conference). Lobbyists prowled the corridors looking to secure a few minutes with a junior minister which they could write up to the boss to sound more impressive than it really is. Too many

    Read More »from Corbyn has brought party conference back to life
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    By Anna Turley

    The mothballing of our steelworks in Redcar is a huge blow to Teesside. Generations of men and women of steel have forged the modern world - from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium. But steelworkers here now feel at the mercy of that modern world, powerless to survive in a global market without a government that is willing to back them.

    My heart goes out to all the workers and their families who lost their jobs this week. There are thousands more people affected in the local area - those who work on the ports, carry the coal, supply the gas, wash the overalls and feed the workforce. It is absolutely devastating for our community and the local economy. For many people, steelmaking is all they, their fathers and their grandfathers have known.

    It is the government’s duty to step in and secure the steelworks so that we do not lose the industry on Teesside for good. The industrial marvel that is Redcar blast furnace cannot be allowed to collapse

    Read More »from If David Cameron believes in the "northern powerhouse" why has he abandoned the Redcar steelworkers?
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    Of all the speeches Jeremy Corbyn could have made, this was the most predictable and the most useless. There was no thematic content, no idea unifying what he was saying, no quality in delivery, no attempt to speak to the public outside the hall, no plan for the future and no sign he is prepared to work with the media to communicate his appeal more widely. It was the speech of someone who either doesn’t care or isn’t capable of speaking to anyone outside of his immediate supporters.

    Corbyn’s first and worst mistake was to spend so long attacking the media. He started by mocking the inane tabloid attacks he’s been subjected to, from Chairman Mao bicycles to his supposed support for a meteorite to destroy the earth. This was actually quite funny. It was the right tone – some gentle poking. It could even have been a moderately effective tactic discouraging the more hysterical press coverage.

    But then he returned to the theme halfway through the speech with a lip-spittled attack on the

    Read More »from Corbyn's speech confirmed the main argument of his critics
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    By Peter Reynolds

    Our organisation, Clear, has been mobilising its members as never before to lobby their MPs in advance of the cannabis debate in parliament on October 12th.

    There are honourable exceptions, but most responses have been unhelpful, dismissive and completely failed to deal with the arguments put forward. Most MPs are indoctrinated with the false reporting churned out by the press, scared stiff of the subject and not prepared to look any deeper.

    Usually, from both Tory and Labour MPs, the responses parrot the official Home Office line. Most are too lazy to inform themselves about cannabis and the facts of the UK’s current £10 billion per year policy. This vast sum comprises a futile waste of law enforcement resources and the loss of a huge amount of tax revenue.  It provides funding to organised crime, including human trafficking, and does nothing to prevent any health or social harms around cannabis. If anything it maximises these harms, endangering health, communities and

    Read More »from MPs' letters show how little they understand cannabis policy


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