Coming soon: The New Statesman Century

Weidenfeld & Nicolson's 100th anniversary book will feature contributions from George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and Hugh Grant.


From Weidenfeld & Nicolson: 

Weidenfeld & Nicolson to publish


Alan Samson, Publisher Non-Fiction, has bought World Rights from Sophie Lambert of Tibor Jones & Associates for THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY  edited by the magazine ‘s own editor, Jason Cowley. The book will be published by W&N in August 2013 to mark the magazine’s centenary year.

THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY will celebrate 100 years of stellar and influential journalism with a fascinating selection of the most interesting, groundbreaking and amusing writing to have appeared in the magazine.  Contributors include George Orwell, WB Yeats, HG Wells, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, Christopher Hitchens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Dawkins and Hugh Grant.

No British periodical or weekly magazine has a richer and more distinguished archive than the New Statesman, which has long been at the centre of British political and cultural life.  If not quite at the centre, then at the most energetic, subversive end of the progressive centre-left.  

Most of the great political and cultural writers of the last 100 years or so have written for the New Statesman.  Many have been on its staff or were associates of it: HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, V.S. Pritchett, Paul Johnson, Christopher Hitchens and John Gray.  Many of the radical causes of our times were launched in association with or in the pages of the New Statesman -.  for example, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Charter 88.  There is, too, a rich history of illustration and cartoons to draw on, from Low's sketches of the great and the good to the gonzo art of Ralph Steadman and Will Self's early comic strips.

The book is much more than an anthology.  It tells the story of the New Statesman century, from the eve of the First World War to the long aftermath of 9/11 and the Great Recession through which we are still passing.  It looks forward as well as back, offering a unique and unpredictable perspective on a tumultuous century.

Jason Cowley said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this project with Weidenfeld & Nicolson, a publishing house as distinguished and venerable as the New Statesman itself. The book should delight anyone with an interest in good writing, and the history, politics and literature of a tumultuous century.”

Jason Cowley is a journalist, magazine editor and writer.  He became editor of the New Statesman in October 2008. Before that he was the editor of Granta magazine and a senior editor and writer on the Observer. In 2009 and 2011 he was named editor of the year in the Newspaper and Current Affairs Magazines category at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards. He is the author most recently of a memoir, The Last Game (2009).

Published by W&N in August 2013 at £20 in hardback and £10.99 in eBook. For further information please contact Helen Richardson on 0207 520 4449 or email

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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.