Monday, 16 January 2017

The Big Bad Trump and Little Red Riding Gove

re Gove and Trump.

Folk stories are full of images of the weak meeting the strong in moments of apparent goodwill and good feeling, the most famous being Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
Underlying these meetings is usually the idea that the strong can eat the weak one and so in the midst of the goodwill there is the underlying sense that the powerful one is eyeing up the weaker one on the basis that what it can give to the powerful one.


Leaving aside the sexual element in Little Red Riding Hood, it seems to me that now more than ever, in all encounters with Trump, the UK will be eyed up for what it can deliver to the US. People will remember that the post-war loans to the US (only finally paid off in around 2006 I think) were, we were told, something we were supposed to be immensely grateful for, but on the other hand were simply a means for some US fund-holders to make a profit out of cash-strapped post-war Britain. We were Little Red Riding Hood, the US was indeed the Wolf.


Now, Trump has made it 100% clear that he is going to try to lead a regime that will be as ruthless as it can on its relationships with the rest of the world. All that supposed mutuality crap is going to be swept aside. (1. nb most of the mutuality was phoney anyway 2. US power is far, far, far from limitless)


On that last point (2.), we should remember that USA 2017 is a far cry from USA 1946. The US's room for manoeuvre is much less now. Whole chunks of its debt are held by the Chinese, for a start. Perhaps this may make the Trump-ites that more desperate to drive hard trade bargains.


Whatever happens next, we can assume that UK politicians in their craven attachment to US politics, economics and warfare, will keep trying to portray any deals they make as victories and win-win agreements. We can be sure that they won't be.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Haringey selling off public property - largest of its kind in UK

[Notice put up on Facebook]

Folks in Tottenham/Haringey - There is a protest on Tuesday night Jan 17th at the Haringey Civic Centre 6-7 before the meeting of the scrutiny committee. This is against the largest proposed sell off of council owned property in the UK - in the region of over 2 Billion Pounds. If approved it will include the sale of Northumberland Park estate, Broadwater farm estate - with thousands and thousands of families affected. They will be, in the councils terms, "decanted" meaning they will be forced to leave and their homes will be demolished - we have no idea where they will be decanted to, no idea when or if they can return and no idea of the terms for rent when and if they return. This sell off includes, school lands, it includes health centres, a library, commercial properties. This is not only the biggest sell off of council land in London, it will be the biggest in the UK. I urge anyone who can attend to please get out to this demo - we need to keep the pressure on. This is the social and ethnic cleansing of Tottenham. It must be stopped dead.


Stop the Haringey Development Vehicle - protest at Haringey Civic Centre, Wood Green High Road, 6.00pm Tuesday 17th January.

Please share this post, we need numbers, this isnt just about tottenham it is about london and its about principles.

Friday, 13 January 2017

GCSE Trying To Deal With Media Bullshit



GCSE Trying To Deal With Media Bullshit
Question 9:
Please put in order of severity of damage to lower income earners and unemployed on their standard of living (ie wages, benefits, rents, house prices, food prices, standard of public services all included in the words 'standard of living'). Feel free to put figures on these or words like 'a lot', 'not much', none, etc.

2008 crash
tax havens, tax avoidance, tax dodging
government enforced wage 'restraint'
cuts in public services
EU 'red tape'
house price hikes
free movement of people
profit hoarding (ie capitalists not investing in 'business')
spending on wars and armaments
disability sanctions
zero hour contracts
forcing people to go on to self-employed register
Jeremy Corbyn

Thursday, 12 January 2017

What Corbyn actually said



The Press had a good go at saying what Corbyn said.




This is actually what he said.





Speech by Jeremy Corbyn

Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, you voted for a better future for Britain.

One thing is clear, the Tories cannot deliver that. So today I want to set how Labour will deliver that vision of a better Britain.

This government is in disarray over Brexit.

As the Prime Minister made clear herself they didn’t plan for it before the referendum and they still don’t have a plan now.

I voted and campaigned to remain and reform as many of you may know I was not uncritical of the European Union. It has many failings.

Some people argued that we should have a second referendum. That case was put to our party’s membership last summer and defeated.

Britain is now leaving the European Union. And Britain can be better off after Brexit. But that’s far from inevitable and it certainly won’t happen with a government that stands by whilst wages and salaries are driven down, industry is hollowed out and public services are cut to the point of breakdown.

Because while the European Union has many problems so does Britain in the hands of Theresa May after six years of Conservative misrule.

Our social care system is failing to provide essential care for people with disabilities and over a million of our elderly people.

The NHS is in record deficit; nearly four million people are on waiting lists, the Red Cross is describing the state of our emergency health and social care as a “humanitarian crisis”.

Our jobs market is being turned into a sea of insecurity, six million workers in Britain earning less than the living wage, nearly a million people on zero hours contracts, record numbers of people in work living in poverty while in fat cat Britain, the chief executives had already received more than most people will earn all year by the third day of January.

My point is this, I don’t trust this government with social care, or with the NHS or with the labour market.

So do I trust them to make a success of Brexit? Not remotely.

Only a Labour government, determined to reshape the economy so that it works for all, in every part of the country, can make Brexit work for Britain.

And there can be no question of giving Theresa May’s Tories a free pass in the Brexit negotiations to entrench and take still further their failed free market policies in a post-Brexit Britain.

The Tory Brexiteers, whose leaders are now in the government and their Ukip allies had no more of a plan for a Brexit vote than the Tory remainers, like Theresa May.

They did however promise that Brexit would guarantee funding for the NHS, to the tune of £350m a week. It was on the side of Boris Johnson’s bus.

What’s happened to that promise now the NHS and social care are in serious crisis? It’s already been ditched.

And it’s not just on the NHS. We have had no answers from the government about any of their plans or objectives for these complex Brexit negotiations.

At no point since the Second World War has Britain’s ruling elite so recklessly put the country in such an exposed position without a plan.

As a result they are now reduced to repeating “Brexit means Brexit”. They are unfit to negotiate Brexit.

That is why Labour has demanded the government come to Parliament and set out their plan before they present it to Brussels and explain what they want to achieve for our country.

But in the glaring absence of a government plan Labour also believes it’s time to spell out more clearly what we believe the country’s Brexit objectives should be.

People voted for Brexit on the promise that Britain outside the European Union could be a better place for all its citizens. Whatever their colour or creed. A chance to regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives.

But beyond vague plans to control borders the only concrete commitment the government has so far made is to protect the financial interests in the City of London. Though maybe that’s hardly surprising from a government that has already slashed the bank levy and corporation tax.

In the last budget there was not a penny extra for the NHS or social care but under the Tories there’s always billions available for giveaways to the richest.

As far as Labour is concerned, the referendum result delivered a clear message.

First, that Britain must leave the EU and bring control of our democracy and our economy closer to home.

Second, that people would get the resources they were promised to rebuild the NHS.

Third, that people have had their fill of an economic system and an establishment that works only for the few, not for the many.

And finally, that their concerns about immigration policy would be addressed.

Labour accepts those challenges that you, the voters, gave us.

Unlike the Tories, Labour will insist on a Brexit that works not just for City interests but in the interests of us all.

That puts health and social care, decent jobs and living standards first and a better deal for young people and the areas of this country that have been left behind for too long.

First, we will open the way to rebuilding our NHS by ending the under-funding and privatisation of health care.

Leaving the EU won’t free up the £350m a week that Boris Johnson claimed but savings in EU contributions could help close the gap.

And we will reject pressure to privatise public services as part of any Brexit settlement. Just as we oppose the attempt to give special legal privileges to corporate interests as part of the EU’s CETA or TTIP trade deals.

This government could have given the NHS the funding it needs but it has chosen not to. Their tax giveaways to the very richest and to big business hand back £70bn between now and 2022.

That is more of a priority for the Tories than elderly people neglected in their homes, patients dying on trolleys or millions waiting in pain to get the treatment they need.

Labour created the NHS, and it is only safe under a Labour government. We will give the NHS the funding it needs. The British people voted to re-finance the NHS – and we will deliver it.

Second, we will push to maintain full access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs.

But we will also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a genuine industrial strategy essential for the economy of the future, and so that no community is left behind.

Tory governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. They did so again last year when the steel industry was in trouble. Other governments in Europe acted and saved their industry, the Tory government here sat back.

But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs and living standards.

Labour will use state aid powers in a drive to build a new economy, based on new technology and the green industries of the future.

That’s why Labour has set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with regional investment banks that will decide the priorities for their areas. A massive programme of investment that will be needed to rebuild regional economies.

This country is far too centralized. So we will take back powers over regional policy. And instead of such decisions being made in Brussels or in London, we will make sure they taken locally wherever possible. Taking back real control and putting power and resources right into the heart of local communities to target investment where it’s needed.

Third, we will use the huge spending leverage of taxpayer-funded services to massively expand the number of proper apprenticeships.

All firms with a government or council contract over £250,000 will be required to pay tax in the UK and train young people.

No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it, or its parent company, is headquartered in a tax haven.

And we will not buy outsourced public services, such as care for the elderly, from companies whose owners and executives are creaming off profits to stuff their pockets at the expense of the workforce and the public purse.

Finally, a Labour Brexit would take back control over our jobs market which has been seriously damaged by years of reckless deregulation.

During the referendum campaign, many people expressed deep concerns about unregulated migration from the EU.

In many sectors of the economy, from IT to health and social care, migrant workers make an important contribution to our common prosperity, and in many parts of the country public services depend on migrant labour.

This government has been saying it will reduce migration to the tens of thousands. Theresa May as Home Secretary set an arbitrary political target knowing full well it would not be met.

They inflamed the issue of immigration. They put immense strain on public services with six years of extreme cuts and then blamed migrants for the pressure caused by Tory austerity.

And last week a government minister who voted “Leave” told an employers’ conference, “don’t worry, we’ll still let you bring in cheap EU labour”.

Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants because we know where that leads. The worrying rise in race hate crime and division we have seen in recent months and how the issue of immigration can be used as a proxy to abuse or intimidate minority communities.

Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.

When it comes to border controls, we are proud to say we will meet our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution.

To those EU citizens who are already here, we will guarantee your rights.

And we continue to welcome international students who come to study in this country.

We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations.

Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.

At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.

Of course migration has put a strain on public services in some areas that’s why Labour would restore the migrant impact fund that the Tories scrapped.

Sarah Champion is leading for Labour on our policies to ensure better integration and more community cohesion and part of that again will be about restoring funding for English language lessons.

Let’s not forget it was this Tory government that slashed funding for learning English as a second language. As we’ve seen with the Prime Minister talking about the need to strengthen mental health care, while cutting funding by eight per cent it seems the government’s second language is hypocrisy.

It is the ripping up of workplace protections and trade union rights that has allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit both migrant and British labour, and help to keep pay low, and drive down conditions for everyone.

But let’s be clear, public services are not under pressure primarily because of immigration – especially since many migrant workers keep those public services going.

They are under pressure because this Tory government has cut them to fund tax break after tax break to the super rich and big business.

That is the Tory game – low taxes for the rich, low pay for the rest, underfund public services, and find someone to blame , It’s brutal and it’s not working.
Labour will break with this failed model and offer solutions to problems, not someone to blame.

Labour will demand that the Brexit negotiations give us the power to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being used and exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work.

We need a drive to provide British people with the skills necessary to take up the new jobs which a Labour government and the new economy will generate. I’ve already set out at the CBI and TUC conferences that this means asking companies to pay a bit more in tax to fund more and better access to education and skills training, and government contractors always providing decent skilled apprenticeships.

We will end the race to the bottom in pay, working conditions and job insecurity, setting up a new Ministry of Labour to get a grip on the anything goes jobs market free-for-all.

Labour will ensure all workers have equal rights at work from day one – and require collective bargaining agreements in key sectors in a properly regulated labour market, so that workers cannot be undercut.

That will bring an end to the unscrupulous use of agency labour and bogus self-employment, to stop undercutting and to ensure every worker has a secure job with secure pay, that’s why we’ll set the minimum wage at the level of the living wage, expected to be £10 per hour by 2020.

Those changes should be made to benefit the whole country.

But while we tackle low pay at the bottom, we also have to address the excess that drives that poverty pay that leaves millions of people in poverty even though they work.

In the 1920s, J.P. Morgan, the Wall Street banker limited salaries to 20 times that of junior employees.

Another advocate of pay ratios was David Cameron. His government proposed a 20:1 pay ratio to limit sky-high pay in the public sector and now all salaries higher than £150,000 must be signed off by the Cabinet Office.

Labour will go further and extend that to any company that is awarded a government contract.

A 20:1 ratio means someone earning the living wage, just over £16,000 a year, would permit an executive to be earning nearly £350,000. It cannot be right that if companies are getting public money that that can be creamed off by a few at the top.

But there is a wider point too. 20 years ago the top bosses of the FTSE 100 companies earned just under 50 times their average worker, today that figure is now 130 times. Last year alone, the top bosses got a 10 per cent pay rise, far higher than those doing the work in the shops, in the call centres, in the warehouses.

So what can we do?

… We could allow consumers to judge for themselves, with a government-backed kitemark for those companies that have agreed pay ratios between the pay of the highest and lowest earners with a recognised trade union.

… We could ask for executive pay to be signed off by remuneration committees on which workers have a majority.

… We could ensure higher earners pay their fair share by introducing a higher rate of income tax on the highest 5 percent or 1 percent of incomes.

… We could offer lower rates of corporation tax for companies that don’t pay anyone more than a certain multiple of the pay of the lowest earner.

There are many options. But what we cannot accept is a society in which a few earn the in two and a bit days, what a nurse, a shop worker, a teacher do in a year. That cannot be right.

This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.

We cannot have the CEO paying less tax than the cleaner and pretending they are worth thousands times more than the lowest paid staff.

So this is Labour’s vision for Britain after Brexit.

Labour will not block the referendum vote when the time comes in Parliament, we will vote for Article 50.

But as the Opposition we will ensure the government is held to account for its negotiating demands.

At the moment they are in total disarray, on Brexit, on the NHS and social care, on the pay in your pocket.

Labour will build a better Britain out of Brexit.

That will start with the refinancing of the NHS and the creation of a more equal country, in which power and wealth is more fairly shared amongst our communities. A genuinely inclusive society with strong and peaceful relations with the rest of the world.

This is Labour’s New Year pledge to the British people.

The state AND capitalism? With Trump the state IS capitalism.



When I first started reading about capitalism and the state, I was struck by the way in which the articles all pointed out how the state (parliament, the justice system, administration) operated ultimately in service to business. That was its job. In the immediate post-war period the Labour Government tried to establish another way of talking about the state as having an independent 'social' function - health, education, transport, social services, welfare. Thatcherism was a clear effort to roll that back (her government called all that health, education, and local government stuff, 'socialism') and since 2010, this 'work' is being completed. Again the charge that this is the state working on behalf of business sticks, I would say. However, all this assumes that there is some kind of fire-break between the state and business ie people in government are not supposed to be actually running businesses which would benefit directly from acts of parliament. The way round that obstacle is for MPs to work the revolving door hopping between work for the state and work for companies that benefit directly from what the government has just legislated.


With Trump, all this has been torn up. Trump and Trump's family are major business people. There is no firebreak. It cannot be possible over a period of 4 or 8 years for acts of government to NOT affect the Trump cohort's business interests. The state and business are fusing.

I suspect that over the next four years, we will hear all kinds of apologies and wriggles about all this. In other words, all the old nostrums about constitutional government will be thrown out the window. In the US there'll be a battle over this, where even quite right wing people will worry about this. There is an incredibly strong strand of legalism over there. Here, we will see all kinds of pathetic grovelling about such crap as 'bringing his business expertise to the White House'.

When people talk about 'populism' they mostly concentrate on the rhetoric. But actually, one feature of populism is for the head of state to put him or herself above parliament to talk directly to the people. (The Perons were a good example of this.) Trump will try to save his skin over and over again through his tweets and TV appearances. Really, helping him in that will be the fact that most people in the US really rate 'business'. So, if you're a 'successful businessman' that means you are in some sense a 'good' person. Trump will benefit enormously from that.

"We have to listen to people's concerns..."

We have to listen to people's concerns about women. When the decision was made to let them into the workplace, no one thought through the impact it would have in our towns and villages, what impact it would have on public services. Some schools have 50% girls in them. That's bound to have an effect. And women have their own way of talking. They need to learn how to talk like the rest of us. Meanwhile it's those on the lowest rung who are hit the hardest. Women undercut wages. They turn up in droves and down go the wages. I think we need a grown up conversation about this. Let's stop accusing people of sexism and address real concerns . I'm not anti women. I've got a wife, and she's a woman, how could I be against women? What I'm saying is if the Labour Party is going to survive we have to listen to what people are saying about women.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Memoirs, autobiographies, biographies - more leftwing readers' suggestions



I asked for memoirs, autobiographies and biographies with an interest for leftwing readers.


For those interested in Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Dave Harker's book Tressell is the definitive biography.


Phil Piratin "our flag stays red"


Bernadette McAliskey..2 books first really good as written just after she became an mp so hangs on an ellipse...

Eamonn McCann "War and the Irish Town"


Two great biographies by Claire Tomalin: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, which I think was her first biography, and The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens.


Too late to get anything in on the left book front. But I agree completely about Primo Levi's If This is a Man and The Truce, the latter very much gives a different account to Soviet army behaviour at the end of WWII (although in no way justifies the horrors). Also Deutscher's life of Stalin. Isaac Babel's short stories of his time in Budyenny's Red Cavalry during the Russian Revolution are semi-autobiographical and give an account of the complexities and difficulties of socialism. His story The Rabbi's Son, about a dying revolutionary, is two pages long if that and utterly breathtaking. It won't leave you. Victor Klemperer's diaries are on a par with Pepys and again give a complex and not unsympathetic story of East Germany post-war but all the diaries must be read. Completely brilliant. All Quiet on the Western Front is partly biographical and unforgettable. Imre Kertesz's Fatelessness. I found his other work unreadable but this was transcendent. Finally Marquez's diaries of his time with Castro.


Keith Richards' surprisingly minimally ghosted autobiography, also 'Mad World' - a biography of Evelyn Waugh that makes you think well of him


Isaac Deutscher's biog of Trotsky, and Michael Foot's of Bevan are two classics every socialist should read.


Gorbals Boy at Oxford,Ralph Glasser's memoir about the drama & turmoil of social mobility.


If This Is a Woman by Sarah Helm (history rather than memoir, but lots of firsthand accounts), If This Is a Man and The Truce by Primo Levi (Levi uomo) and Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi (Levi Cristo).

Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the spirit of the sixties by Mike Marquese


The Olive Grove by Katherine Kizilos retells the stories of her Greek relatives about the partisans in Greece and the subsequent civil war. And So it Goes, Kurt Vonnegut:A Life by Charles J. Shields has sections on the real story behind Slaughterhouse-5 and much else. Already mentioned is the marvellous Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge.


The Black Count, by Tom Reiss. Fascinating story of General Alexandre Dumas, the mixed-race father of the author of the Count of Monte Cristo, who was one of Napoleon's leading military commanders until he was dumped by the Emperor who restored slavery. A really good read.


Bill Ayers "Fugitive Days" and/or "Public Enemy. Confessions of an American Dissident" both by Beacon Press. "Growing Up Underground" by Jane Alpert. Both memoirists are from the American New Left of the 60s.


Memoirs of a Revolutionary Victor Serge


Like a Fiery Elephant Jonathan Coe about BS Johnson


Harry Belafonte's autobiography. The description of raising and then getting cash to the South during the Black voter registration drives in 1963 (I think) is worth it alone. Also his meetings with Martin Luther King. I knew he was a lefties but had no idea how much...also links with Robeson. I think it's called My Song.


The Comrade from Milan, Rossanna Rossanda. Beautifully written memoir of a woman who was an important force in the Italian Communist Party, one of the founders of the Il Manifesto Movement. A lifelong communist.


Jonathan Coe's biography of BS Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, is a brilliant tour de force, which breaks all the rules of literary biography with great style. I also loved The Last Englishman, Byron Rogers' biography of JL Carr.

Both great books -in writing and in subject - LAFE is extraordinary. Personally (as I've coincidentally just written before seeing this) I think Byron's R S Thomas book just shades it as a truly great book about a truly great man...although I'm currently (re-) reading TLE. Incidentally, only last Saturday I found a signed 1st Edition J L Carr in an Oxfam in Shrewsbury....for £2.49. Result!

It was Coe's biography, bought because I'm a fan of Coe but had never heard of Johnson, that got me into reading Johnson. Very glad I did.

Oliver Postgate (of Bagpuss fame)'s Seeing Things. Not focused on politics but it comes into it and it's lovely (and who doesn't love Bagpuss?)

My favourite genre (the only one that eclipses poetry for me) is biographies. The full set of Benn diaries have their place in the "read more than once" library section, but 25 years after I first read it Leslie Thomas' "This time next week" still makes me think. Like the best friends you have - those who challenge you or always ask "WHY" that sort of thinking. I currently have Raoul Martinez, Francesca’s brother) book "Creating Freedom" next to the bed. All I need now is an early night.


Also- Glen Retief's The Jack Bank, which is his memoir of growing up during apartheid in South Africa. It's a beautiful read. He grew up in Kruger National Park and was part of LGBT and anti-aparthied lobby groups in the 80's and 90's, and was part of the group that successfully lobbied for sexual orientation to be included in the Constitution of South Africa. The Jack Bank won the Lambda literary prize too. I don't read loads of autobiography but it was like reading a novel- just lovely.


Joe Jacobs - Out of the Ghetto - a very raw and amazingly detailed of growing up in the East End becoming a communist who doesn't quite toe the line.

Tony Benn diaries. Francis Wheen's biography of Karl Marx Che Guevara's Bolivian Duary and the motorcycle diaries, Gerry Adams Before the Dawn. Pablo Neruda's Memoirs.


Alex Haley on Malcolm X, Joe Klein on Woody Guthrie and I'm really enjoying Elvis Costello's auto at the moment.

Not very left, but David Attenborough's autobiography reaffirmed my admiration for the man.


John Maclean by Nan Milton; Under the Wire by Bill Ash; Red Shelly by Paul Foot; Tony Benn's diaries; to name a few

The socialist feminism of Angela Carter much in evidence in the recent biography of her by Edmund Gordon


Neruda's beautiful memoir, the title of which I forget


Tony Benn Diaries. and (just about) Alex Haley's Roots.


Now I can say Woodie Guthrie's Bound for Glory. Also loved Harry Leslie Smith's, Laurie Lee's, Road to Nab End.

No fan of the author but Tristram hunt on Engels isn't too bad


I'm not a well read man, but Clive James's auto biogs made me laugh and cry, mostly laugh


My father was a freedom fighter by Ramey Barour; Free Born John by Pauline Gregg; Mayakovsky by Bengt Jangfeldt; Good Morning Brothers by Jack Dash


Autobiogs by lynne Segal, Michele Roberts and Sheila Rowbotham


Jack Lindsay's autobiography also his biographies of Wm Morris, Turner, Gainsborough, Courbet


Dusty by Karen Bartlett, Being Red, Howard Fast, I Am Malala, Sarah Churchwell's Careless People about F Scott Fitzgerald, Orwell D.J Taylor, Paul Robeson Here I Stand.


Eleanor Marx by Rachel Holmes


Haven't read that but the two volume biog by Yvonne Kapp is brilliant.


The Road to Nab End by William Woodruff/


Malcolm X's autobiography is my favourite.


Living My Life, by Emma Goldman.


Charlie Chaplin's autobiography


Alan Bennett



Simone de Beauvoir "The Prime of Life"


"My life is over" by Ima Gonna


Red Rosa Kate Evans Graphic biography.


Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast


Currently reading Daniel Bensaid Impatient Life


Journey Through a Small Planet by Emanuel Litvinoff


The Laurie Lee books Cider with Rosie etc


Interesting Times Eric Hobsbawm


Tony Cliff A revolutionary life by Ian Birchall


The Railway Man. Raymond Williams


The Grass Arena by John Healy


Different Every Time - Marcus O'Dair's biography of Robert Wyatt


Borstal Boy, Harpo Marx, Sergio Vieira de Melo, Ernie O'Malley


Tom Paine: A Political Life, by John Keane


In My Mother's House, Kim Chernin



Mary and Bryan Talbot The Red Virgin



Smiling in Slow Motion by Derek Jarman


Tigers Revenge by Claude Balls


Union Dues by John Sayles


My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel my favourite.


Stephen Gilbert Jeremy Corbyn - Accidental Hero


Harry's Last Stand, Harry Leslie Smith


Edna O'brien's semi autobiographical novels gave a voice to the marginalised Irish women of 1960's Ireland tackling issues of gender, inequality, sexual taboos and the Catholic mentality in Irish society. Then, Down By The River, based on a real life case of a 14 year old rape victim and her struggle to get an abortion, a scathing attack on John Paul 2nd's Evangelium Vitae, she never holds back!


William Soutar's "Diaries of a dying man" is incredibly powerful and much more uplifting than it sounds.


C17th:" Memoirs of the life of Colonel Hutchinson [by his wife Lucy]; "A Turbulent, Seditious & Fractious People - John Bunyan and his church [Christopher Hill]; "Free-Born John" [Biography of John Lilburne, by Pauline Gregg]. C18th: "Tom Paine - a political life" [John Keane]; 'Cochrane the Dauntless" [biography of an C18th radical parliamentarian, on whom 'Master and Commander' was based, by David Cordingley]; Jacob Bronowski's wonderful 'William Blake and the Age of Revolution'; "Voltaire Almighty" [Roger Pearson]; "Robespierre - a revolutionary life " [Peter McPhee]; "John Wilkes" [Arthur H Cash]; Charles James Fox- [David Powell] and "Fox' [Stanley Ayling]; Richard Ingrams ' biography of Cobbett; Red Shelley" [Paul Foot- a bit irritating in parts, but still a good read]...

C19th: William Morris [Phillip Henderson]; Shaw - various, including the one by Colin Wilson; Eleanor Marx [Yvonne Kapp]; "Daughters of Erin" [Elizabeth Coxhead - strays over the border into the C20th]; "The Laughter of Triumph- William Hone and the fight for the free press"[ Ben Wilson]. That's enough for now. Time for dinner...

Add to the list CLR James 'The Black Jacobins'

I'll try this again. Nehrus letters to his 10 year old daughter Indira (Ghandi) are beautiful. Reflections on peace, justice and respect written with a profound respect for her intelligence. A must ...


Not sure if it's left particularly... but the biography of Otto Frank is particularly important reading. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an unromantic view of the Jewish persecution.


Red Square, the autobiography of an unconventional revolutionary by William Ash. I worked with Bill at the BBC. He was an extraordinarily modest man, who appears to have been the model for Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Bill was Canadian fighter pilot who joined the Royal Airforce to fight fascism. He spent much of the rest of his life doing the same.


Julian Cope's autobiography "Head On" is fab. Another engaging and enthusiastically written autobiography is "Crazy From the Heat" by David Lee Roth.

Arthur c Young, travels in France, great documentary piece on France on the eve of the French Revolution. Very perceptive.


The valley - Richard Benson. Astonishing and moving history of 100 years in the life of a south Yorkshire mining family. Just brilliant.


Autobiography of Arthur Ransome. Beautifully written and as well as a first hand view of the Russian Revolution there's Kropotkin and Nansen.


Trotsky - My Life


"Stalin Ate My Homework" Alexei Sayle's autobiography.


"Bird Lives!: The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie (Yardbird) Parker" by Ross Russell is a fine biography.


The Rebel Girl by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Because a White Man'll Never Do It by Kevin Gilbert. 
My Place by Sally Morgan. Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas (autobiographical novel). 
The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny. 
Don't Take Your Love to Town by Ruby Langford. 
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir. 
The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp. 
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. 
And second those who put Trotsky My Life - just brilliant.
 Jonathan Neale's The Cutlass and the Lash brilliantly brings to life life on and off ship in the 1700s. Finally, Lynne Beaton’s magnificent Shifting Horizons charts the political and personal development of two Notts miners' wives during the Great Strike of 84-85.

Love and capital about the marxs is really moving but not sentimental

Claud cockburn's autobiog


Women and the Weimar Republic by Helen Boak


God's Englishman by Christopher Hill


Edward Carpenter by Sheila Rowbotham


Street Fighting Years by Tariq Ali


Maxim Gorky My Universities


Words, Sartre


'A Sense of Freedom' by Jimmy Boyle


Edward Said's memoir 'Out of Place'


Testament of Youth and Testament of Experience- Vera Brittain of course.


The Black Jacobins, CLR James


Bertolt Brecht Journals


Love the autobiographies of Victor Serge and Gorky.


Chris Mullin, it was - he who wrote the novel, 'A Very British Coup',


David Macey's biography of Franz Fanon


Bad Blood by Lorna Sage. An excellent memoir about the destructive possibilities of families.


Grass Arena , John Healy


R.S. Thomas - The Man Who Went Into the West by Byron Rogers.


A Soldier’s Song: True Stories from the Falklands by Ken Lukowiak


Juan Goytisolo, Marks of Identy. Nominally fiction but brilliant analysis of socialist experience of Franco's Spain.


Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times, on Lessing and Brecht.


Roger Casement, The Congo Report. And the Black Diaries.


The General's Son by Miko Peled- a story of a slow awakening....


'True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist' by Breyten Breytenbach


Kropotkin's In Russian and French Prisons, Yashka by Maria Botchkareva and Don Levine.


Sheila Rowbotham's autobiography, Deutscher on Trotsky


Leaving Alexandria, by Richard Holloway. Great inspiration for being good to other people.


Allen Klein - Woody Guthrie: A Life. Terrific.


Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar


Rural Rides...Cobbett


Dennis Skinner's autobiography is a good read.


The Tamarisk Tree, Dora Russell.


The Road to Wigan Pier


'Granny Made Me An Anarchist', by Stuart Christie


The Real Fidel Castro by Leycester Coltman

'The reluctant escapologist ' by Mike Bradwell